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« Paul Pelosi Police Bodycam Footage Released | Main | Another Surprise! Biden's White House Refuses to Allow Senate Intel Committee Members -- All of Whom Have Maximum Possible Security Clearance -- to See the Classified Documents Biden Was Hoarding »
January 27, 2023

Matt Taibbi's Twitter Files #15: Uncovering the Hamilton68 "Russian Disinformation" Scam

It was all a lie from the start.

Even Twitter knew it was a lie -- and considered going public to call Hamilton68 and Bill Kristol and Michael McFaul and all the shrieking "RUSSIAN AGENT!" smear merchants liars in public.

But they were cowards, and instead tried leaking it to the press.

Who didn't seem very interested in the story.

But Hamilton68's "Secret List" of RUSSIAN AGENTS who proved that right-wing memes and arguments were being "AMPLIFIED BY THE KREMLIN" was always a lie.

That's why they kept the list a secret. If they published the names of the Americans, Canadians, and Brits on the list, people would see it was all a lie.

And then those people, I think, could sue Hamilton 68, Alliance for Securing Democracy, Bill Kristol and, who knows, maybe George Soros too, who is surely one of the donors to this corrupt scheme.

Again, news organizations which do not publicly disavow these Hamilton 68 stories should not be trusted, and subscribers/followers of such outlets -- the @nytimes, @washingtonpost, @CNNnewsroom, @NBCNews, and especially @MotherJones-- should write in to complain.


The whole point was to brand conservative discussion as "Russian Disinformation."

And Bill Kristol was in the thick of it, as usual.

7. The ASD ["Alliance for Security Democracy," another Bill Kristol grift] advisory council includes neoconservative writer Bill Kristol, former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, ex-Hillary for America chief John Podesta, and former heads or deputy heads of the CIA, NSA, and the Department of Homeland Security.

8. News outlets for years cited Watts and Hamilton 68 when claiming Russian bots were "amplifying" an endless parade of social media causes -- against strikes in Syria, in support of Fox host Laura Ingraham, the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Any time conservatives were interested in a subject or had a disagreement with The Regime, Hamilton68 was right there to claim their arguments were all being "signal-boosted" by RUSSIAN AGENTS.

9. Hamilton 68 was the source for stories claiming Russian bots pushed terms like "deep state" or hashtags like #FireMcMaster, #SchumerShutdown, #WalkAway, #ReleaseTheMemo, #AlabamaSenateRace, and #ParklandShooting, among many others.

Almost all of these tweets have screencaps -- evidence -- linked in them. I'm skipping that, but do check the thread to see that.

And now: We come to Hamilton68's "methodology" for branding all of these accounts and all of this social media activity "RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION."

They say they had a list. A secret list, mind you! A secret list so secret they had to keep it secret, so that the Russkies wouldn't know they had the list!

10. The secret ingredient to Hamilton 68's analytical method? A list: "Our analysis has linked 600 Twitter accounts to Russian influence activities online," was how the site put it at launch.

11. Hamilton 68 never released the list, claiming "the Russians will simply shut [the accounts] down." All those reporters and TV personalities making claims about "Russian bots" never really knew what they were describing.


They claimed -- with breathless disregard to how they were repeating the McCarthy-era claims of secret lists of communists (except, um, those lists were real) -- they had a Secret List of Russian Accounts, and they could tell who was being amplified through RUSSIAN MANIPULATION, because they knew who the RUSSIAN AGENTS were.

But it's a secret! The list is secret!

But just trust them!

Would Bill Kristol lie to you?

Well, as a matter of fact: Yes. Yes Bill Kristol would like to you.

14. In layman's terms, the Hamilton 68 barely had any Russians. In fact, apart from a few RT accounts, it's mostly full of ordinary Americans, Canadians, and British.

15. It was a scam. Instead of tracking how "Russia" influenced American attitudes, Hamilton 68 simply collected a handful of mostly real, mostly American accounts, and described their organic conversations as Russian scheming.

16. Twitter immediately recognized these Hamilton-driven news stories posed a major ethical problem, potentially implicating them.

"Real people need to know they've been unilaterally labeled Russian stooges without evidence or recourse," Roth wrote.

17.Some Twitter execs badly wanted to out Hamilton 68. After Russians were blamed for hyping the #ParklandShooting hashtag, one wrote:

"Why can't we say we've investigated... and citing Hamilton 68 is being wrong, irresponsible, and biased?"

18.Yoel Roth wanted a confrontation. "My recommendation at this stage is an ultimatum: you release the list or we do," he wrote.

However, there were internal concerns about taking on the politically connected Alliance for Securing Democracy.

19."We have to be careful in how much we push back on ASD publicly," said future White House and NSC spokesperson Emily Horne.

20."I also have been very frustrated in not calling out Hamilton 68 more publicly, but understand we have to play a longer game here," wrote Carlos Monje, the future senior advisor to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.


21. So the "legitimate people," as one Twitter exec called them, never found out they'd been used as fodder for mountains of news stories about "Russian influence." Because the #TwitterFiles contain the list, they've begun finding out.

22."I'm shocked," says Sonia Monsour, who as a child lived through civil war in Lebanon. "Supposedly in a free world, we are being watched at many levels, by what we say online."


23. "I've written a book about the U.S. Constitution," says Chicago-based lawyer Dave Shestokas. "How I made a list like this is incredible to me."


24. "When I was growing up, my father told me about the McCarthyite blacklist," says Oregon native Jacob Levich. "As a child it would never have occurred to me that this would come back, in force and broadly, in a way... designed to undermine rights we hold dear."

25. Even Twitter execs were stunned to read who was on the list. Wrote policy chief Nick Pickles about British comic @Holbornlolz: "A wind-up merchant... I follow him and wouldn't say he's pro-Russian... I can't even remember him tweeting about Russia."

26. I'm listed as a foreign bot?" said conservative media figure Dennis Michael Lynch. "As a proud taxpaying citizen, charitable family man, and honest son of a U.S. Marine, I deserve better. We all do!"

27. Consortium editor Joe Lauria too was angered to find he was on the list, which targeted voices across the spectrum: "Organizations like Hamilton 68 are in business to enforce an official narrative, which means excising inconvenient facts, which they call 'misinformation.'"


32. It was a lie. The illusion of Russian support was created by tracking people like Joe Lauria, Sonia Monsour, and Dave Shestokas. Virtually every major American news organization cited these fake tales-- even fact-checking sites like Snopes and Politifact.

"Even fact-checking sites like Snopes and Politifact."

LOL.

Is he joking? Was that a gag?

33.Twitter didn't have the guts to out Hamilton 68 publicly but did try to speak to reporters off the record. "Reporters are chafing," said Horne. "It's like shouting into a void."

34. Roth was offended by the idea that tweets on certain themes suggested subversion. "Can we talk about how incredibly condescending...? If you talk about these themes, you must have been duped by Russian propaganda."

Even Yoel Roth rejected Bill Kristol's corrupt, defamatory disinformation.

35. Again, even Roth, like most Twitter execs an ardent Democratic partisan, saw that the Hamilton scheme would lead people "to assert that any right-leaning content is propagated by Russian bots."

36.At least two other research institutions that used similar methodologies -- and were cited as sources in news stories -- were also criticized in Twitter email correspondence.

37.MSNBC, Watts, the Washington Post, Politico, Mother Jones (which did at least 14 Hamilton 68 stories), the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and the offices of politicians like Dianne Feinstein all refused comment, unless this counts:

asdresponse.jpg

38.This was an academic scandal as well, as Harvard, Princeton, Temple, NYU, GWU, and other universities promoted Hamilton 68 as a source...

39.Perhaps most embarrassingly, elected officials promoted the site, and invited Hamilton "experts" to testify. Dianne Feinstein, James Lankford, Richard Blumenthal, Adam Schiff, and Mark Warner were among the offenders.

40.The mix of digital McCarthyism and fraud did great damage to American politics and culture. News outlets that don't disavow these stories, or still pay Hamilton vets as analysts, shouldn't be trusted. Every subscriber to those outlets to write to editors about the issue.

More coming from his site, Racket News. That's his renamed substack, which was formerly TK News.

digg this
posted by Lamont the Big Dummy at 02:06 PM

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