McCarthyism Inc.: Terror Cranks Sold America the Russia Panic
McCarthyism Inc.: Terror Cranks Sold America the Russia Panic – TruthDig
This September, Oklahoma GOP Senator James Lankford alleged that the widely popular #taketheknee Twitter hashtag that promoted NFL protests against racial injustice was, in fact, a Russian influence campaign spawned by Kremlin operatives. Hours later, Lankford’s claims received uncritical coverage from the New York Times’ Scott Shane and Daisuke Wakabayashi, who asserted that Russia was attempting “to influence social media discourse and foment division in the United States.” The assertion by Lankford added fuel to a wider narrative darkly insinuating covert Russian influence behind Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements.
The New York Times cited a new organization called the Alliance for Securing Democracy as the source of the allegations about the NFL protests. According to the Times, the ASD has tracked 600 Twitter accounts supposedly “linked to Russian influence operations” and exposed their nefarious agenda. A day before Lankford’s comments, the ASD asserted that a Russian online influence network had amplified the trending hashtag promoting NFL protests, #taketheknee, with the aim of promoting racial disharmony in the United States. Given that ASD refuses to name the Twitter accounts it is monitoring, the allegation is almost impossible to verify.
ASD researchers and advisors have become go-to pundits for mainstream reporters seeking expert opinions on Russian online meddling. They have been endorsed by John Podesta, the founder of the Center for American Progress and chief of staff for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Julia Ioffe, the Atlantic’s Russia correspondent, has also weighed in to promote the ASD’s efforts. Both highlighted the ASD’s Hamilton 68 Dashboard as a scientific barometer of Kremlin influence over the American social media landscape.
According to the New York Times, the ASD is a “public policy research group in Washington,” and a “bipartisan initiative” with no apparent agenda other than scrubbing the stain of subversion out of American democracy. Hosted by the German Marshall Fund, one of the most respected think tanks in Washington, the ASD has been granted the patina of credibility.
However, an investigation by AlterNet’s Grayzone Project has yielded a series of disturbing findings at odds with the established depiction…
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