Spy on the Inside

21 05 18

Trump Hits a New Low

On Wednesday Donald Trump hit a new low when he when he said that undocumented immigrants “aren’t people, they’re animals”.

Somehow, in a presidency dominated by cruelty and callousness, this is still one of the most shocking and disgusting things Trump has said. But his words are more than just deplorable — they’re dangerous, and they reflect Trump’s desire to stoke fear and turn Americans against one another.

We refuse to stay silent as hateful bigots work to strip our neighbors, friends and family of basic human rights. Add your name now to condemn Trump’s bigoted words and demand he apologize immediately.

The Traditional First Anniversary Gift is Paper

By Melissa Ryan

This week marks one year of the Special Counsel’s investigation. Trump and his troll army are making quite a fuss about the anniversary, pushing the narrative that Mueller and his team haven’t found anything and that the investigation is nothing more than a “witch hunt.”

The latest version of this is the conspiracy theory that the FBI planted a spy in the Trump campaign. The Frogs have been all over this one from the dark corners of the Internet all the way to Fox & Friends where President Trump picked up on the theory and amplified it further on Twitter.

Defender-in-Chief Rudy Giuliani has been on TV defending Trump with his usual bluster, calling for the Mueller probe to end because “we’ve tortured this President enough” and employing the LOL nothing matters defense, saying that Mueller’s own team has assured Trump that a sitting president can’t be indicted anyway.

Trump’s supporters might (OK, probably) take the latest Frog Squad freakout at face value and determine that our President is the victim of a deep state conspiracy. But my view is that their messaging over the past month has been one of increased desperation. I’ve written a lot about how a person faced with facts that challenge their belief will at first deny the fact, and then reframe their belief so that the fact no longer applies. We’re seeing this on a grand scale right now. We’ve gone from no collusion, to all politicians collude with foreign powers, to even if Trump did collude it doesn’t matter because there’s nothing anyone can do about it. All indications are that the Frogs at home are still on board.

Meanwhile, here in reality, this week has been a news tornado of Russia and collusion stories. Per usual, none of them have come from the Special Counsel. Congress however has been super busy:

  • Cambridge Analytica whistleblower testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I live-tweeted the hearing and recapped it for Media Matters.
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed the Intelligence Community’s assessment that yes, Russia did try and sway the 2016 election for Trump. Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chair Mark Warner issued the statement jointly and promised a full report will come shortly. It’s worth noting that all but one Republican Senator on the committee was willing to go on the record in support of the statement.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee also released transcripts of Donald Trump Jr’s testimony before their committee. There were multiple interesting tidbits in Jr’s testimony including that he was very much willing to collude with Russia had the opportunity arisen.
  • Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released preliminary findings from the committee’s own Russian interference investigation. The report essentially says that there are still more questions than answers but given that so many Trump associates have refused to cooperate, they can’t come to anymore conclusions. No indication if Republicans on the committee will release their own report or leave it as is.
  • In the meantime, Senate Intelligence remains the only committee in Congress that’s managed to keep their investigation into Russian interference completely bipartisan. I’m eager to read their full report.

I have no idea what comes next. Conventional wisdom is that Mueller will have to wrap up soon or wait until after the midterm elections so as not to sway voters. But does conventional wisdom even apply anymore? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is that Trump is acting like a man backed into a corner with few options left. The Frogs will defend him to the very end but every day they have less to work with and their messaging becomes even more divorced from reality.

Hating, Dating and Procreating: Online Dating and the Alt-Right

by David Lawrence

The racist alt-right is, crucially, a movement seeking esteem and status for resentful white men who believe they have been sidelined in modern society.

The loose movement holds extreme, toxic and profoundly maladjusted attitudes to gender roles. A central uniting belief in the alt-right is that feminism has led women to selfishly prioritise their own autonomy over their duties to the family, neglecting their biological desire to become the “trad wives” (traditional spouses) of “alpha males” and increase the white birth rate.

Such jaundiced views are presumably key to explaining the dearth of women in the movement; alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer has estimated that women constitute just one-fifth of the movement’s followers (even despite his reported claims that women secretly desire alt-right boyfriends due to their “alpha sperm”).

To remedy this, some on the alt-right have turned to online dating sites, infiltrating mainstream services and even creating alternative sites with the explicit aim of helping those involved in open racism bond over their shared far-right politics.

Read more >


  • The latest report from Data & Society, Analyzing Scriptural Interference in Conservative News Practices hits close to home for me. It explains a lot of what I observe from evangelical relatives on Facebook.
  • A new study from the University of Buffalo indicates that during disasters, active Twitter users likely to spread falsehoods. Researchers found “86 to 91 percent of [Twitter] users spread false news, either by retweeting or “liking” the original post. 5 to 9 percent sought to confirm the false news, typically by retweeting and asking if the information was correct. 1 to 9 percent expressed doubt, often by saying the original tweet was not accurate.”
  • Mozilla surveyed 47,000 people and asked their feelings about Facebook: ”The top takeaways? Most people (76%) say they are very concerned about the safety of their personal information online. Yet few people (24%) reported making changes to their Facebook accounts following the recent news of privacy concerns around Facebook.”



Save the Date: The first ever Ctrl Alt-Right Delete conference is coming up soon! June 28th in Washington DC. You can pre-register here!



Fake News Horror Show: I’m helping organize a cool event in NYC June 7-8, Fake News Horror Show, convening researchers, digital media experts, technologists and those concerned with the political and social implications of computational propaganda, to imagine the worst. Picture a science fair of terrifying propaganda tools – some real and some imagined, but all based on plausible technologies. I’m also speaking on a panel organized by Media Matters.

You can register for Fake News Horror Show here.


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