|The lesbian witch|
“Correct the Record” is a pro-Clinton super PAC founded and run by a man named David Brock—a former conservative hit man whose greatest hits include the vicious defaming of sexual assault victim Anita Hill when she threatened to subvert the Supreme Court appointment of conservative justice Clarence Thomas. Just for fun, here’s Brock on himself from a 2001 “confession” designed to promote his tell-all, come-to-Jesus book:
The reformed version of Brock has been the same vicious, defamatory creature of his past, but this time on behalf of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He went from being one of the most fearsome propagandists of the conservative right—one who arguably set Bill Clinton’s impeachment in motion—to…well, to one of the most fearsome propagandists of the political left. He’s good at what he does, and his “progressive media watchdog group” Media Matters for America quickly became a force in D.C., with millions in donations and the support of the Center for American Progress.
But Brock reserves his talent strictly for the establishment wing of the political left, and as the founder of Correct the Record, the infamous pro-Clinton super PAC, he has already brought his old flame-throwing instincts to bear on Bernie Sanders, sending trackers to follow him around the campaign trail to categorize every misstep, and even attempting to tie him to Hugo Chavez.
On the public side of things, David Brock has been fairly quiet during the primary cycle, mostly because the real mud-slinging has yet to begin. Hillary Clinton needs Bernie Sanders voters in the general election, so the full-throttle negativity has been limited. The real fun for Brock will begin after the convention. But one place where he and others have been far more active is the online realm—an area dominated by the young, and thus by Sanders supporters.
Using a tactic called “astro-turfing,” Clinton surrogates like Brock have attempted to advance the concept of the “Bernie Bro,” and to promote the idea that Sanders supporters are little more than a sexist cult. The moderator of the thriving Bernie Sanders for President Reddit page, preparing for an onslaught, recently outlined one common form these attacks take:
Yesterday, Correct the Record announced they’d be taking it a step further. A new initiative called “Barrier Breakers 2016” will use $1 million (for now) to “help Clinton supporters push back on online harassment and thank super delegates.”
This is a comical definition that does its best to hide the true purpose: Paying online trolls to support Hillary and antagonize Bernie and his supporters in an attempt to level the playing field. More language from the statement:
The focus of the “digital task force” of paid trolls will be predictable: Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and everywhere else people may come across political messaging.
The aim is clear—muddy the waters, and limit the potential of online progressive activism, which has raised millions of dollars for Bernie Sanders and undoubtedly recruited thousands of voters to his cause. One common reaction to the news is shock—the idea that this is “unprecedented” in American politics. That may be true, but there’s a clear model here, and it comes straight from Russia.
If you haven’t yet read Adrian Chen’s wonderful New York Times Magazine feature “The Agency,” I recommend that you do so now. It’s an incredible look at the “Internet Research Agency,” which employs “hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters; it has often been called a “troll farm.””
Some of these employees spent their time posting in comments sections, while others went so far as to start their own blogs on seemingly non-political subjects, only to weave political messages into their content when they had an audience. But this wasn’t just about convincing Internet users to support the Kremlin’s positions. It was also about turning the Internet into a political wasteland, so that if anyone sought information that might be against Kremlin policy, they’d encounter a confusing morass and feel immediately discouraged. Chen met with a liberal campaign manager named Leonid Volkov who emphasized this point:
This is exactly what’s happening with David Brock’s “Barrier Breakers 2016.” In fact, I’d be surprised if the Internet Research Agency, and perhaps Chen’s article, wasn’t a direct inspiration. This is not about providing a “a presence and space online where Clinton supporters can organize and engage with one another,” and anyone who believes that message has been fooled. This is about attacking the ability of Clinton’s enemies to organize themselves online. As Chen wrote of the Russian troll factory, “its target is nothing less than the utility of the Internet as a democratic space.”