More fallout continues from the Drumming Indian Incident. Friday, a group of kids from Covington (KY) Catholic High School were waiting for their buses at the Lincoln Memorial after the March for Life broke up. A group calling themselves “Black Hebrew Israelites” began shouting insults at them. Even though there was no need, 64-year-old American Indian activist and provocateur, Nathan Phillips, decided that the best way of defusing a situation that didn’t need defusing was to march with his tom-tom into the high school kids, get in the face of one of them, and hammer away with his drum while chanting. This, by the way, is a proven technique for defusing toxic situations and for making friends.
Now we find out that the deceptively edited video was injected into the media’s bloodstream by a sketchy Twitter account that has now been suspended.
Twitter suspended an account on Monday afternoon that helped spread a controversial encounter between a Native American elder and a group of high school students wearing Make America Great Again hats.
The account claimed to belong to a California schoolteacher. Its profile photo was not of a schoolteacher, but of a blogger based in Brazil, CNN Business found. Twitter suspended the account soon after CNN Business asked about it.
The account, with the username @2020fight, was set up in December 2016 and appeared to be the tweets of a woman named Talia living in California. “Teacher & Advocate. Fighting for 2020,” its Twitter bio read. Since the beginning of this year, the account had tweeted on average 130 times a day and had more than 40,000 followers.
In one indicator of the @2020fight’s video’s virality, multiple newsrooms, including some national American outlets, reached out to the user asking them directly about the video.
McDonagh said he found the account suspicious due to its “high follower count, highly polarized and yet inconsistent political messaging, the unusually high rate of tweets, and the use of someone else’s image in the profile photo.”
Molly McKew, an information warfare researcher who saw the tweet and shared it herself on Saturday, said she later realized that a network of anonymous accounts were working to amplify the video.
Hahahaha, an “information warfare researcher” shared the tweet. Keep that in mind the next time you read something by this goof, she’s a fraud.
While the incident actually happened, how it became noticed points to a national actor amplifying what would have been the non-story it was. The article notes the volume of tweets (130/day), the lack of any real political point of view, and the network of supporting accounts. All of these point to an information operation focused on creating discord rather than pushing any particular agenda which implies that it was run by a national actor. In fact, they resemble very closely the documented activities of the Russian Twitter accounts used in the 2016 campaign and which have tie-dyed undies all over Washington. Those accounts simply pumped out memes and news that were designed to trigger one demographic group or another. They used bot networks to amplify the original message and they reinforced success. The volume of tweets generated is indicative of simply throwing stuff against the wall and hoping something sticks.
The reason this took off was not because of the wiliness of the account manager but because the people reading the account’s Twitter messages, that would be our noble firefighters in the media, bought the narrative totally as it aligned with their own bigotry.
The takeaway from this is that the media are actually more susceptible to deceptive news than any Trump supporter they ridicule and they do more damage with it because they have a herd mentality and they will resolutely refuse to check any story that reinforces their world view.