Friday, May 26, 2017

Chasing Squirrels: How He Used Facebook To Win, and, Why The FBI Wants To Talk With Jared Kushner ... by gimleteye

The New York Review of Books, of all places, has just come out with a fine piece of investigative journalism, "How He Used Facebook To Win". Sue Halpern, the reporter, does the deep dig we've been encouraging. There are still missing pieces of the puzzle, but one thet is answered here:

“We’ve modeled this,” the unnamed (Trump) senior campaign official told Green and Issenberg. “It will dramatically affect her (Clinton) ability to turn these people out.” And it did. Democratic turnout in battleground states was weak, which was crucial to Trump’s victory. Tallying it up three days after the election, David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, noted:

In Detroit, Mrs. Clinton received roughly 70,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did in 2012; she lost Michigan by just 12,000 votes. In Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, she received roughly 40,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did, and she lost the state by just 27,000. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, turnout in majority African-American precincts was down 11 percent from four years ago.

Trump’s digital team was also aided by the candidate’s unbridled use of Twitter, by WikiLeaks, by fake news generators like Breitbart, and by an army of so-called “Twitter bots,” automated Twitter accounts—many of which are thought to have emanated from Russia and at least one thousand of which the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer claimed to have created. Together, all this sent a river of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messages coursing into cyberspace, giving the Trump campaign a continually self-reinforcing narrative. And then there was the candidate himself and his blustery, contradictory pronouncements, often pandering to voters’ racially tinged resentments. This might have been the undoing of another candidate, but for the Trump team it turned out to be an asset.

“Trump didn’t have a lot of ‘Here is my agenda, here is my narrative, I have to persuade people to it,’” Catalist’s Laura Quinn told me.

The Trump world was more like, “Let’s say a lot of different things, they don’t even necessarily need to be coherent, and observe, through the wonderful new platforms that allow you to observe how people respond and observe what works, and whatever squirrel everyone chases, that’s going to become our narrative, our agenda, our message.” I’m being very simplistic, but that was the very different approach that truly was creative, different, imaginative, revolutionary—whatever you want to say.

How does this issue -- Trump's connection to Russia and the use of sophisticated social media manipulation -- connect with Jared Kushner. We know Trump doesn't even use a computer (cell phone and Twitter feed, yes). The data operation was in Jared Kushner's portfolio. It is likely Trump knew about it only in the most general way. The fact that so much of Russia's disinformation campaign centered on the same themes as Trump's campaign raises the prospect of collusion, but how does one prove that when the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is among the top Trump campaign officials who are known to have met with high level Russians.

Both Sessions and Kushner omitted contacts with Russians on their security clearance forms.

No president in U.S. history has ever had such long standing financial connections with nationals of a hostile foreign power as Trump with Russia. As former CIA Director John Brennan testified to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week: this was a circumstance that caused the intelligence community great concern during the campaign.

American citizens deserve the whole truth. President Trump calls it a "fake" story, but if this sad presidency has demonstrated anything, it is that Trump has elevated smoke and mirrors to an entirely new level and one that profoundly damages democracy.


Anonymous said...

I want to know how the media and polls got it so wrong. Oversampling democrats, just the whole it was her turn thing and the Obama panic at the end when the Obamas were campaigning with lots more energy than her.

The Russians did not write the leaked emails, so that part of the story is pointless. Media seemed out of touch with Trump who hit topics his voters identified with.

Anonymous said...

I think the bottom line is:
People fed up with politics telling them vote for me because the other is the boggy men. After getting shafted by NAFTA, made homeless by repeal of banking regulation, traumatized by exporting democracy, and gerrymandered out of relevance,

Well by golly, it was time for a new kind of gong show clown.

Apparently it will take a whole lot more pain for "The People" to wake up and make wise decisions.

Gimleteye said...

There is a further point: what kind of hubris did it take for the Clinton campaign to completely miss the boat on what was happening on social media. I can understand a blogger like me, being out of touch with the application of messaging through extremist channels -- and using sophisticated software to tailor those messages to voters -- but how did a presidential campaign miss what was happening? I've heard it called, political malpractice. We are suffering the result.

Anonymous said...

Treason and/or espionage against the United States of America with Russia can result in the death penalty, or mandatory 5 years in prison, and inability to ever hold public office. I have never heard of a President asking the Russians to set up a secret communication channel in their embassy so they can talk directly with Putin and no American intelligence officials can listen.