I am completely tired of the never-ending 2016 election post-mortems but this latest blockbuster from McClatchy bears discussing:
By Election Day, an automated Kremlin cyberattack of unprecedented scale and sophistication had delivered critical and phony news about the Democratic presidential nominee to the Twitter and Facebook accounts of millions of voters. Some investigators suspect the Russians targeted voters in swing states, even in key precincts.
Russia’s operation used computer commands knowns as “bots” to collect and dramatically heighten the reach of negative or fabricated news about Clinton, including a story in the final days of the campaign accusing her of running a pedophile ring at a Washington pizzeria.
What this McClatchy piece reveals is what we’ve all long suspected: that the barrage of fake news and out-of-context emails released by WikiLeaks wasn’t a “document dump,” it was a surgically precise operation aimed at a specific audience in targeted voting districts. The audience was the far left and “independent” voters, not the far right and conservatives. Conservatives were already signed on to Trump; his support was baked in early. No, this slanderous smear campaign against Hillary Clinton — stuff like this false claim that the Clinton Foundation paid for Chelsea’s wedding — was pushed at what I call the “clothespin crowd,” people who would only vote for Hillary with a clothespin on their nose and needed just a tiny nudge to go third party.
These people found Trump odious — I think most voters did. I think it was clear that Trump’s support was maxed out at number insufficient to win him the White House, no matter what. Trump wasn’t going to get more people to vote for him. What he needed was to peel away Hillary’s support to third parties. You know that old piece of Sun Tzu wisdom, “when your enemy’s forces are united, separate them”? This was that. Oldest trick in the book.
So thanks to all of you Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, Jill Stein and write-in voters for playing along. You were the audience for a Russian propaganda campaign, and you let yourselves be duped. Thanks to you, we ended up with this shit show. Fuck you and your principles, I hope they keep you warm at night now that we have a Supreme Court stacked so far to the right the entire nation is at risk of toppling over. Fuck you and you principles as healthcare is snatched away from millions and an iceberg the size of Delaware is headed for our shores. But Hillary gave a speech to Goldman Sachs so, you know, same difference. Fuck you all.
What I find just so amazing, despite all of this, is that Hillary still got more votes. She took on the far-left Bernie purists and Susan “give me revolution but don’t make me miss my pilates class” Sarandon types. She took on the Republican Party, which has been slandering her for 20 years. She took on Vladimir fucking Putin. She took on voter suppression in places like Wisconsin, which targeted the Democratic base. And she still got more votes! (News flash to progressives: you are not the Democratic Party base. You thought you were? You’re not. The Democratic Party base is people of color, African Americans, Latinos. Welcome to the new liberal world order. Try reaching out to these folks because right now, I’m not seeing a lot of love between white BernieProgs and political POC.)
Hillary got more votes despite all these things, but the precision with which the Russian propagandists unleashed their bot army allowed them to target those swing districts. And here we are today, with a president who “won” the Electoral College and lost the popular vote.
So thanks, third party voters. This one’s on you.