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REPORT: Did Russia Actually Give Aid to Hillary Clinton?
Medill DC / CCL
We’ve heard it over and over from the media: “The Russians helped Trump get elected.” Now, new evidence shows that the Russians actually supported Hillary Clinton and left-wing causes on social media. Narrative busted.
Facebook revealed earlier this month that Russia financed the purchase of some 3,000 advertisements by using around 500 phony accounts and lawmakers familiar with their content say that they were meant to “divide Americans” and not “to help Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.” Yet, some of these bogus social media accounts and U.S.-based Russian media firms produced unmistakably pro-Clinton content throughout 2016.
That’s right, the Russians were helping Clinton too. How’s that for a narrative shifter?
What we have here is a smoking gun that could revolutionize the debate over “fake news,” and Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Russians didn’t just help Trump. They helped Clinton too. And they played to the worst of the left’s impulses while doing so.
Of course, we don’t have all the ads, because Facebook hasn’t made them public. Facebook said on Monday that it would release all of these advertisements to Congress, but it’s unknown if they’ll become public record.
Russians Urge: Support Clinton!
According to Facebook’s report, Russia was less concerned with seeing Trump become president and more occupied with undermining the legitimacy of the American presidency. A recent report from The Daily Beast details how paid Russian trolls impersonated an inactive Muslim American organization on social media, the United Muslims of America (UMA), to hawk inflammatory memes aimed at fostering this anti-American resistance.
After 29-year old Omar Mateen carried out one of the worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history at an Orlando nightclub frequented by the LGBTQ+ community, the Russian trolls administering the fake UMA account created a Facebook event titled “Support Hillary. Save American Muslims!”
A description of the event echoed the opinions of Trump’s most vocal critics, describing Clinton as “the only presidential candidate who refuses to ‘demonize’ Islam after the Orlando nightclub shooting,” while boasting that “with such a person in [the] White House, America will easily reach the bright multicultural future.”
Russian trolls actually wrote “Support Hillary” and talked about a “bright multicultural future.” That’s not what you’ve been hearing from the mainstream media.
Using Muslim Identity politics
Another event from the UMA posers, “Safe space for Muslim neighborhood,” claimed to include guest speakers Mike Ghouse and Abu Rahma from the American Muslim Association. Fifty-nine Facebook users even indicated that they attended the September meeting.
That’s not the only “smoking gun.” The Hill reported that: “Other ads allegedly highlighted Hillary Clinton’s support among Muslim women.”
Though the Russian-backed Muslim pretenders emulated the same anti-Trump worldview professed by legitimate Muslim civil rights groups, Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera still found ways to excoriate Trump and frame the social media stunt as an attack on American Muslims.
She told The Daily Beast:
Donald Trump was attacking Muslims and Islam during the campaign and now as president. At a time when the American Muslim community has been so vulnerable to hate crimes and other bigoted attacks, Facebook must take responsibility by notifying and providing full disclosure to the American Muslim and others communities that were attacked and by working with the affected communities and the groups that were the victims of cybersquatting to develop ways to address it.
Russian Trolls: BLM ideology best way to weaken America
Russians also established a “Blacktivist” social media account similar in ideology to the controversial Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. On Facebook and Twitter, the Russians emphasized racial divisions, playing to the worst instincts of the left by agitating social justice groups in an attempt to divide Americans over polarizing issues of race and ethnicity.
With 360,000 verified users, the Russian-administered Blacktivist account enjoyed a greater Facebook presence than the official BLM page.
The campaign even organized racial outrage rallies, including a Baltimore-area event meant to commemorate the death of Freddie Gray. Blacktivist messages argued that “black people should wake up as soon as possible” and pointed out that “black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men.”
That’s a shocking revelation. Russia, the left has reminded us repeatedly, is a sinister state actor that poses a danger to the U.S. and is actively working to destroy and weaken our democracy. If the best way they can think of weakening the United States is to support BLM’s racial resentment politics, what does that say about BLM?
It should certainly give any patriotic social justice advocates; our enemies are emboldened and our country is weakened by their activism.
The politics of racial resentment obviously favored Clinton, who argued that the mass incarceration bills signed by her husband were a mistake. Clinton said in 2015:
That’s why I am focused and have a very comprehensive approach towards fixing the criminal justice system, going after systemic racism that stalks the justice system, ending private prisons and ending the incarceration of low level offenders and I am committed to doing that.
Conversely, Trump was lauded for being the “law and order candidate,” and he underlined his tough approach to prosecuting crime at the 2016 Republican National Convention. However, social justice advocates were quick to call his law and order proposal a “coded racial message.”
Despite the clear pro-Clinton message expressed on the faux BLM account, lawmakers refuse to see any Russian meddling as beneficial to Clinton. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) even argued the unsupportable case that the ads helped Trump, saying, “In many cases, it was more about voter suppression rather than increasing turnout.”
If that is the case, then Russia’s Blacktivist scheme kept Trump supporters from the polls. A study led by David Broockman of Stanford University and Joshua Kalla of the University of California Berkeley found that campaigns “increasingly focus on rousing the enthusiasm of existing supporters instead of reaching across party lines to win over new supporters.”
Collusion or bust
The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called Trump, “The Siberian Candidate” in a witless allusion to The Manchurian Candidate, the 1962 Frank Sinatra political thriller about a Soviet brainwashing plot to install a puppet president. Since this Russian collusion conspiracy was first established, the left has been completely overcome by it and has been unable to accept alternative explanations for Clinton’s failure.
The mainstream press has mysteriously, (some would say dishonestly), refused to admit that Russian advertisements actually supported Hillary and liberals as well as Trump and conservatives.
An Independent article about the Russian/BLM accounts fails to make the connection that the advertisements supported left-wing issues, although the author was quick to point out that “Russian adverts supported a range of right-wing causes associated with Donald Trump’s campaign.”
A Politico report analyzing the effects of Russia’s political encroachment concluded that Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and Trump — everyone but Clinton — benefitted from the fakes news subterfuge. Nowhere does it mention the ads that literally said: “Support Hillary.”
Politico admits, “The ads show a complicated effort that didn’t necessarily hew to promoting Trump and bashing Clinton,” before reversing course and suggesting that “they show a desire to create divisions while sometimes praising Trump, Sanders and Stein.” Indeed, to the mainstream media Clinton was uniquely disqualified from benefiting from Russian interference, despite the fact that the fake Russian accounts actually supported her.
Moscow’s Principal Propaganda Outlet Attacks Trump
RT, a Kremlin-backed publication that the U.S. intelligence community accused of participating in operations to influence the election through fake news, denies supporting candidate Trump, insisting at the height of the campaign season that the billionaire real estate mogul was “so erratic that you’d barely trust him with a drinks order.”
The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections” that referred to RT as Moscow’s “principal international propaganda outlet.” Released during the waning days of the Barack Obama administration, the ODNI report states:
Russia’s state-run propaganda machine—comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik, and a network of quasi-government trolls—contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton.
However, if RT was so consumed with producing favorable reports on Trump, the publication’s editors did a poor job of it. An August 2016 article from RT described the Republican Party candidate explained:
It’s hard to swallow the notion that Russia’s highly educated elite could favor anybody this uncouth and unstable. His foreign policy suggestions on NATO might sound like music to Kremlin ears, but the rest of his platform doesn’t. Trump isn’t merely proposing an American rethink on NATO-area Europe, but a wider American withdrawal from the world and an extremely isolationist outlook.
The Russian news outlet framed Trump as an impetuous candidate that was not only unpredictable, but openly hostile to Russian interests. The report enumerated Trump’s negative qualities, claiming that his support for U.S. natural gas would hurt Russia’s vital oil industry, while arguing that “there’s no certainty he would remain consistent” on any of his pro-Russian proposals.
Russian Papers Staffed by Clinton Supporters — Is anything we’ve been told true?
In a brilliant, non-conformist review of RT’s editorial slant leading up to the 2016 election, The Nation’s Danielle Ryan concluded, “RT America was not pro-Trump.” She points to a lineup of RT broadcasts and articles from some of the most ardently vocal anti-Trump dissidents, such as The New York Times‘ Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, progressive radio host Thom Hartmann and the famously liberal interviewer Larry King.
As for Sputnik, the other Russian media outlet described as a propaganda machine by U.S. intelligence, journalist and social media star Cassandra Fairbanks told the Washington Examiner that she left the organization because there weren’t many Trump supporters.
Fairbanks, who worked at Sputnik for two years, said, “I think this whole witch hunt is very misguided. My editor was the most pro-Clinton person I knew.” She added that the Russian news agency forbid reporters from accepting leaked material from informants because their U.S.-based office lacked legal counsel.
Sputnik U.S.’s former White House correspondent Andrew Feinberg was interviewed by the FBI regarding his employment with the foreign news agency. Feinberg handed over thousands of emails and internal communications to federal law enforcement, and though he suspects that Sputnik has been tasked by the Kremlin to produce news sympathetic to Russia, he rejects the notion that his former employer sought to influence the election in favor of Trump.
“No one there really ever talked about Trump in glowing terms,” Feinberg told Business Insider. “Most of the Americans there just want to do journalism.”
Testimonies and revelations concerning the relatively benign nature of RT and Sputnik have done little to slow the government’s investigation of these entities. While the FBI is still looking into Sputnik’s alleged ties to the Kremlin, they have already requested that RT America register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act — a troubling development for freedom of speech advocates since news outlets have historically been exempted from the 1938 law.
Russians support Clinton and Trump; Trump blamed, Clinton gets a pass
The ODNI report alleges that Russia’s influence campaign was “multifaceted,” and used “state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’” Despite proof that all three of these cyber-espionage tools were used at one point to support Clinton and her progressive ideology, follow-on investigations are only concerned with the benefits that Trump’s campaign received from Russia.
As part of special prosecutor’s Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion from the Trump team, the former FBI director is said to be demanding evidence from Facebook and Twitter. Of course, Clinton, who just completed a media blitz explaining how the election was stolen from her, has applauded the decision by Mueller to expand his investigation to the information superhighway. Clinton told The New Yorker:
The latest disclosure by Facebook about the targeting of attack ads, negative stories, dovetails with my concern that there had to be some information provided to the Russians by someone as to how best to weaponize the information that they stole, first from the Democratic Committee, then from John Podesta.
The fact that part of this weaponization included social media advertisements that were supportive of her own campaign is lost on Clinton. She continued:
This attack on our electoral system was at least publicly encouraged by Trump and his campaign. I hope the investigation in the Congress and by [Robert] Mueller, as well, will give us more information and understanding of what else they really did to us. It’s not going away.
So far, Mueller seems to be doing Clinton’s bidding. Sources claim the special counsel is treating Russia’s social media storm as a “red-hot” issue, and Mueller may have served Facebook with a warrant in order to compel the social media firm to share what they had on Russia.
While Mueller may have succeeded with Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg was initially reluctant to cooperate with House and Senate subcommittees conducting their own investigations of Russian meddling, citing privacy concerns. However, Facebook has reportedly acquiesced to Congressional demands.
Despite the non-partisan nature of the propaganda coming from Russia, conservative-minded news outlets will almost exclusively absorb the fallout from the foreign cyber-intrusion. The FBI investigation of Russian fake news has already extended beyond Russian media to American news sources, such as Breitbart and InfoWars.
Federal investigators allege that the pre-election social media blitz paid for by Russian sources used “bots” to link to stories from these American-based news agencies. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is conducting the probe of Breitbart and InfoWars’ unwitting role in the Russian-engineered social media traffic, even though their participation was not necessary for bots to share their products on Facebook and Twitter.
The left has politicized Russia’s intrusion on America’s electoral system to such an outrageous extent that the true purpose of this influence campaign is being ignored. The American values of liberty, equality, and freedom are at stake — not the political aspirations of Hillary Clinton.
More importantly, it is not the Kremlin that promises to suffer for their intrusive campaign, but the conservative media who will find their articles censored and their ideology stifled by the government’s heavy-handed response. Under the guise of policing for fake news, tech giants like Facebook and Twitter will be afforded the great responsibility of determining whose voice gets to be heard, and moderate republican activists and commentators will find their social media platforms collapsing without notice.
Facebook will share the details of Russia’s advertising campaign with the Senate Intelligence Committee this November. The rest of America will never know just how many bogus Russian accounts were used to support Hillary.
The mainstream media isn’t interested in the truth. They’re interested in hurting Trump, and stifling conservative media, which has made serious inroads into the information marketplace.
But can they cover up a smoking gun this big? Despite lack of access to all of the ads, we now know that the Russians supported Hillary as well as Trump in at least two examples.
That should change everything. Liberals have been arguing that Russia’s support of Trump makes him an illegitimate president since the first days of his presidency. By that reasoning, the Russian’s support of Hillary would make her illegitimate too.
It would be too much to hope for the media to be that consistent but might we suggest that they prudently decide to abandon this narrative in favor of one that isn’t quite as likely to blow up in their own faces?
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