- Dec 2014
- The Milky Way
House Intel Committee Democrats Started The False ‘Russia On Facebook’ Story
https://thefederalist.com/2018/01/18/house-intel-committee-democrats-started-false-russia-facebook-story/As the scandal of the Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee-funded dossier only begins to blow up, those invested in the Donald Trump and Russia collusion narrative are growing desperate. The latest shiny object the media picked up is Russia’s supposed presence on social media during the 2016 election.
Enter Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News’ intrepid reporter who loves taking stories from Fusion GPS, the DNC-funded firm that created the dossier. Isikoff was excited to report that Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate “Russian election interference,” has focused his sleuthing on whether the Trump campaign had anything to do with Russia’s activity on social media: “In just the last few weeks, his prosecutors have begun questioning Republican National Committee staffers about the party digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign to target voters in key swing states. They are seeking to determine if the joint effort was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate, according to two of the sources.”
The story Isikoff advances here is that since Russia’s social media campaign was sophisticated and surely affected the election’s outcome, it is likely that Russia’s social-media trolls received marching orders from the Trump campaign. Not really.
Right away, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump committed a random act of journalism and correctly pointed out that Mueller’s entire premise (if Isikoff’s reporting is correct) is bonkers: “All of that, though, requires setting aside what we actually know about the Russian activity on Facebook and Twitter: It was often modest, heavily dissociated from the campaign itself and minute in the context of election social media efforts.”
Bump concludes: “As it stands, the public evidence doesn’t support the idea that the Russians executed a savvy electoral strategy on social media to ensure Trump’s victory. In fact, it seems less the case that they did so now than seemed might be possible back in July,” when the narrative of Russian activity on social media first came out.
So not only is there no evidence yet that Trump’s social media team colluded with a sophisticated Russian effort, there is no evidence yet that there was a sophisticated Russian effort in the first place. But Bump’s article misses another huge point. At the beginning of his article, Bump refers to the “popular sense” that Trump team members aided the Russians in a social media campaign. The article studiously avoids discussing where that “popular sense” came from: It came directly from Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).