Finding Truth While Being Bombarded With Propaganda

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Remember when folks on the left became so obsessed with Russia that they started accusing everyone who disagreed with them of being Russian bots? Democrats and members of the chattering class took such great pleasure in making these bizarre allegations that for a moment, I thought the word “Russian” might replace “racist” in the progressive lexicon.

This was happening after former President Donald Trump took office, and members of the activist media were desperately trying to deceive the public into thinking he was some kind of borscht-eating Manchurian candidate, working in concert with Vladimir Putin. Of course, any sane, rational person knew this was a load of bovine excrement, but they tried anyway.

Now, according to the latest Twitter Files release, those perpetuating the Russiagate hoax knew it was a lie. RedState’s Nick Arama reported that “this latest set shows how much the ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ theme was being pushed to Twitter,” to portray opinions being pushed by folks on the right as coming from “Russian bots” in an attempt to discredit them.

In the thread, journalist Matt Taibbi discussed Hamilton 68, which was a digital “dashboard” that “claimed to track Russian influence and was the source of hundreds if not thousands of mainstream print and TV news stories in the Trump years.”

Taibbi wrote that this dashboard was headed by former FBI counterintelligence official and MSNBC contributor Clint Watts and was created by the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), a neoliberal think tank. Neoconservative pundit Bill Kristol and former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and former Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta, are all on the organization’s advisory council.

The dashboard was created to monitor 600 Twitter accounts alleged to be Russian bots, and it received numerous plaudits from activist media outlets such as Politico, The Washington Post, and others. But Taibbi’s thread revealed that the accounts being monitored were not Russian bots–and Twitter’s content moderators knew it.

The journalist posted screenshots of email exchanges featuring the company’s former trust and safety head Yoel Roth. In one exchange, he notes that the dashboard “falsely accuses a bunch of legitimate right-leaning accounts of being Russian bots” and suggests that Twitter should “just call this out on the bulls**t it is.”

Nevertheless, the company decided against pushing back against the ASD, because other Twitter employees were concerned about exposing the truth. “We have to be careful in how much we push back on ASD publicly,” one communications official argued. Reason Magazine’s Robby Soave pointed out:

This is all extremely damning. An organization with ties to the U.S. national security apparatus falsely portrayed a bunch of mostly right-leaning, Trump-supporting Twitter content as nefarious and Russian in origin. The mainstream media eagerly peddled this incorrect narrative. And Twitter wavered on pushing back because elite sentiment was so disposed to imagine Russian operatives hiding behind every curtain.

Each release of the Twitter Files has been “damning,” as Soave says. But it is merely a glimpse into how deep the propaganda rabbit hole goes. The tough reality is that we are being subject to propaganda, false narratives, and outrage porn propagated by people seeking to advance an agenda who do not have our best interests at heart.

In a climate such as this, how can you and I get to the truth of the issues we are dealing with? I wish I had an easy answer. But the reality is that if we want to avoid being conned, we have to take a step back and look at these situations in a sober manner, with as little bias as possible. We have to be willing to look at all sources – even those coming from those who disagree with our politics.

Our consumption of media has to be as free from bias as we can manage. Find outlets and content creators with proven track records of getting to the truth – even when it means telling people what they do not wish to hear. The more we are willing to dig, the harder it will be for bad actors to manipulate us.


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