Below is an archived edition of Ctrl Alt Right Delete, a weekly email newsletter. This edition was published on 11/19/2017. Members of Factual Democracy Project have access to past editions. Subscribe to Ctrl Alt Right Delete.
Ugh, I Guess We Have to Talk about Roy Moore
The Frog Squad went all in defending Roy Moore this week. Given the the way they’ve enjoyed the takedowns of fallen entertainment icons Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, and Kevin Spacey, the mental gymnastics involved in defending Moore are super impressive. Their rule of thumb is that whatever liberals are accused of is obviously true, but when the finger is pointed at one of their own, there’s obviously a conspiracy afoot. /r/The_Donald and #MAGA Twitter spent considerable energy this week dragging Moore’s accusers through the mud. They’re even angrier at Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment for pressuring Moore to drop out.
I’m over all the shock and outrage at the Frogs as well as the Christian right for defending Moore. This is where the far right is and has been for awhile now. Recall that this same coalition continued to support Donald Trump after he was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault last year. Morality is only useful when it helps the coalition keep their preferred power structure in place. Maintaining control and building power are the priority. There’s also clearly a disconnect, as shown in a recent HuffPost/YouGov survey, which found that “Trump voters almost universally find the accusations against Bill Clinton credible, but are far less likely to believe O’Reilly or Trump mistreated women. A 52 percent majority of Trump voters outright dismiss the allegations against Trump.”
If you’re watching all this and wondering, How is Russia exploiting Roy Moore for their own purposes? The nonpartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy has an answer. From their latest newsletter:
In a concerted effort to distract from sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore, no fewer than three unique stories promoted by [Russian disinformation] the network attempted to paint the accusers as liars, unstable, or democratic plants. The most egregious of the bunch (and the top URL on Hamilton 68 as of Sunday night) was a completely fictitious story from a website registered in the Republic of Georgia (that has since been taken offline) which claimed that one of the accusers is currently on Michelle Obama’s personal payroll. While the story could be laughed away as an obvious example of for-profit fake news, the theme was later incorporated into a Fox Newsstory that sought to discredit the accuser by revealing that she had once worked on [a D]emocratic campaign. While the latter claim happens to be true, the incorporation of themes from unverified sources into credible news streams is an example of the online information laundering ecosystem.
Russia’s goal is to destabilize democracy. Roy Moore is a gift from heaven. Most Americans are repulsed by him, but there are enough people who believe that electing a child molestor is preferable to electing a Democrat that Moore could still actually win his race. The system is clearly broken and is it any wonder why so many Americans opt out of engaging at all? It makes perfect sense that Russian operatives are fanning the flames. Not to support Moore but to incite American anger and disgust at our political system. But, as I wrote last week, Russia might be priming the pump but they didn’t create Roy Moore. That’s on us.
Papa John’s Does Not Endorse Nazis
Speaking of mental gymnastics, I’ve greatly enjoyed watching Papa John’s PR team work overtime to distance themselves from their burgeoning reputation as being the pizza of choice for Nazis. The trouble began when CEO John H. Schnatter, a Trump donor, suggested that his company’s earnings were down because the NFL hadn’t been able to “resolve” (read: shut down) the national anthem protests. This prompted Andrew Anglin, Nazi and founder of The Daily Stormer, to declare Papa John’s the official pizza of the alt-right.
In a short Twitter thread, Papa John’s attempted to clarify that Schnatter’s opinion had not changed but he hadn’t meant to be divisive. Papa John’s supports the right to protest but also wants everyone to honor the anthem. So I guess whatever your view, Papa John’s hopes to convince you that they agree. Papa John’s wants to be the pizza for everyone, “Except neo-Nazis — those guys.”
Nothing says we mean business like a brand using the middle finger emoji on social media!
Final Call: The Persuasive Effects of Disinformation
Factual Democracy Project’s final call will discuss the effects of disinformation campaigns on a population over a sustained period. As Americans learn more about how their social media is being manipulated by Russia and other hostile actors, this call will focus on the effects of such manipulation. From Ukraine to the US our panelists will discuss the effects of sustained disinformation and what those seeking to inoculate themselves should be on the lookout for.
Please join us this Tuesday, November 21, 1 PM EST.
This call is moderated by Oliver Chinyere, digital strategist and host of Fake it ‘Til you Break it. Panelists include:
- Tom Jensen, Director, PPP Polling.
- Claire Wardle, Research Fellow at Harvard Shorenstein Center and Founder of First Draft News.
- Margo Gontar, co-founder and editor of the Ukrainian fact-checking and propaganda-debunking website StopFake.
- Nate Snyder, Former Senior Obama Counterterrorism Official at U.S. DHS & U.S. Countering Violent Extremism Task Force. Before joining the Department of Homeland Security.
- Angelo Carusone, President, Media Matters.
This call is sponsored by Fenton.
This series is made possible in part thanks to the generous Civic Sponsorship of Ruth Ann Harnisch, an activist investor using private funds to underwrite this exchange of information so that YOU can take action to create the world you want to live in.
- Want to argue with your conservative relatives at Thanksgiving? Don’t. Organize instead. (Extra Newsfeed)
- Here’s the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit (Wired)
- Hate crimes rose about 5 percent in 2016, FBI report says (Huffington Post)
- The making of an American Nazi (The Atlantic)
- Secret finding: 60 Russian payments “to finance election campaign of 2016” (Buzzfeed)
- How a Russian troll fooled America (Digital Forensics Research Lab)
Want even more links? Be sure to like the Ctrl Alt Right Delete Facebook page. I post articles there all week. A lot of what doesn’t make it here will get posted over there.
Next week is Thanksgiving in America. I’ll be celebrating with my family so there will be no newsletter. When we come back, a cool milestone, Ctrl Alt Right Delete will mark its one year anniversary! The first edition went out on December 4, 2016. Look for some reflections, best of’s, and probably a few stats to show just how much this has grown.
That’s all for this week. Thank you as always to Nicole Belle for copy editing. I hope that everyone who celebrates has a happy Thanksgiving.