See How a New York Times #FakeNews Story Became the Basis for an Anti-Trump Ad Running in Pennsylvania

fake news, lies, liars, deception, false information, disinformation

The job market apparently is so tight that you can’t even find decent trolls these days.

One of the most reliable Democrat narratives for the past three years has been the disgruntled Trump voter. The white, male, rural, late-middle-age, blue collar, conservative voter who went with Trump in 2016 but, gosh darn-it, he ‘s just so disappointed in Trump and the Russia business and the Ukraine business and the unseemliness of it all that he will vote for a progressive Democrat in 2020 because #OrangeManBad.


It is basically the age old technique pioneered by “seminar callers” on conservative talk radio (“I’m a long time listener, I agree with everything you say, but…”) and “concern trolls” on conservative blogs.

The leftwing PAC, “American Bridge,” a group headed by the odious David Brock of Media Matters, has gotten caught pulling this stunt in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is one of the three states that conspired to put Trump in the White House and it is a must-win state for both parties in 2020 and this is an ad that American Bridge has been airing in that state.

Mark: My name is Mark Graham and I lived in Erie all my life.

Basically, it’s a blue-collar town. It started off large with a manufacturing base, a lot of water shipping, rum running back in the days. I voted for Donald Trump in 2016 because I thought he would make a change.

Question Did he make a change?

Mark: Not for the good. Donald Trump only plays favorites for people like himself not Erie, Pennsylvania. The President’s a bully because it’s his way or no way. He doesn’t understand life around here. He thinks he’s the smartest person ever. I don’t think people believe that. I don’t believe Donald Trump is on the side of American people. I think he’s on his own side. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to be aware of the changes that President Trump has made.

Voting for Donald Trump in 2020 would be like putting gasoline on a fire.


First off, the message is a wrong one for Erie, Pennsylvania where the economic situation is much better today than it was three years ago. And the only way you can say that Donald Trump is playing favorites for people like himself is if you claim that he is a working class, high school educated minority. That is the demographic that has seen the greatest proportional gains over the course of the Trump administration.

In a singular act of journalism, a reporter from ABC affiliate WJET decided to follow up with Mark to get more insights into how Trump has screwed us all.

A Fairview man appears in this political ad stating where his vote during the last Presidential election.

But the story is deeper. American Bridge seems to have found Mark Graham via a New York Times story on disaffected Trump voters.

Mark Graham, a real estate appraiser in this faded manufacturing hub, sat with friends at a gym named FitnessU on the morning after the Democratic debate in mid-September. He had voted for Barack Obama, but in 2016 he took a gamble on Donald Trump. Although he called the president’s conduct in office “a joke,” he was unwilling to commit to voting Democratic in 2020, unconvinced by the 10 party hopefuls the night before.

Jump ahead to October and Democrats in Congress are investigating evidence of President Trump’s possible abuse of power. Mr. Graham has had an electoral conversion.

“Things have changed in the last couple weeks: More stupidity has come out,’’ Mr. Graham, 69, said in a telephone interview last week. He hopes Democrats nominate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but he is not particular. “I’d vote for the Democratic nominee no matter who it is at this point,” he said. “If Mr. Trump gets into another four years, where he’s a lame duck, it’s going to be like adding gasoline to the fire.”


This story refers to Graham as an Obama-Trump voter.

Shocked Face emoji here.

In a later interview to Erie News, this is how Graham described the incident:

During an interview yesterday with reporter John Last, Graham told how he, a registered Republican, became involved with a Democratic political action committee’s ad campaign to discredit the president.

He said it all started with a focus group formed in 2018 by Congressional Candidate Ron DiNicola. Graham said the focus group was comprised of local Republicans who supported DiNicola’s run for Congress. Former Erie County Director of Administration Jerry Mifsud was working with DiNicola.

“I sat through this focus group and a New York Times reporter had sought out Jerry. How he got Jerry I don’t know. Maybe it was DiNicola. Maybe it was the Democratic Party,” Graham said.

The reporter wanted to do a story on President Trump’s popularity in Erie. He asked the focus group how they felt about the president.

“That’s when I told him ‘It’s like if you re-elect this guy it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.’ I just made it up. He said, ‘I like that. I’m going to use that,” Graham said.

A couple of days ago I post on a Chuck Todd interview where he was bemoaning the difficulty the news media has in fighting disinformation. In that post I wrote:


The media is the linchpin in the spread of disinformation, whether it be authored in the Kremlin, as the Steele Dossier seems to have been, or on Capitol Hill by a Democrat congressman. The media falls for this because the products were carefully constructed to fit their politics and their world view, because there is not a newsroom in America today that checks those stories that are just too good to check.

This is a prime example. The New York Times concocts a story about a disaffected Trump voter. That story then serves as the basis for at least one other story and this attack ad run by a progressive PAC. All it would have taken was a single phone call to confirm that Graham voted in 2016. His claim to be an Obama voter in 2012 is likewise suspect.

Unfortunately, there is no penalty at all for this kind of behavior. The New York Times reporter is still employed. The American Bridge ad has already run. And the number of people who see the debunking of this #FakeNews will be dwarfed by the number who don’t see it.


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