“The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President," an 8,200-word epic in the March Atlantic magazine, launched with staff writer McKay Coppins making a fake Facebook account to follow Trump groups. He was horrified to find “Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories.”
What was successful “spin” in the Clinton and Obama administrations becomes sinister when the Trump team employs it in the Internet age. He wrote:
What I was seeing was a strategy that has been deployed by illiberal political leaders around the world. Rather than shutting down dissenting voices, these leaders have learned to harness the democratizing power of social media for their own purposes -- jamming the signals, sowing confusion. They no longer need to silence the dissident shouting in the streets; they can use a megaphone to drown him out. Scholars have a name for this: censorship through noise.
....Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world’s demagogues and strongmen in power.
....These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.
Under the subhead “War On The Press,” Coppins fretted for a liberal reporter being called out by Breitbart News for his "history of intense Trump hatred."
The New York Times ran a hysterical screed about that Breitbart project, with an identical “War on the Press” headline. Yet journalists scour the social media of conservatives for controversies, even “doxxing” Trump supporters for making “memes” they don't like. Is turnabout not fair play?
Coppins then complained conservative media want to "destroy" the MSM:
"Conservatives have been complaining -- with some merit -- about a liberal slant in the press for decades. But in the Trump era, an important shift has taken place. Instead of trying to reform the press, or critique its coverage, today’s most influential conservatives want to destroy the mainstream media altogether," Coppins wrote.
As if the press has ever been open to conservative criticism.
Coppins concluded by feverishly conjuring up a 2020 Election Night digital riot:
On Election Day, anonymous text messages direct voters to the wrong polling locations, or maybe even circulate rumors of security threats. Deepfakes of the Democratic nominee using racial slurs crop up faster than social-media platforms can remove them. As news outlets scramble to correct the inaccuracies, hordes of Twitter bots respond by smearing and threatening reporters...
Near the end, he again complained about conservative "disinformation": "There is perhaps no better place to witness what the culture of disinformation has already wrought in America than a Trump campaign rally," Coppins griped.
Is it too much to expect that the press who gave us the Russia-gate hoax might hesitate before accusing others of spreading “disinformation”?
(Original graphic by Mishko; Hanna Alandi )