The left in America has a problem. The mainstream media (MSM) has lost its monopoly on news and information for the American people. And now, firms are “hiring small armies of social-media mercenaries to do battle for Democrats.”
Does this mean more paid gun rights foes and self-defense hating trolls commenting at TTAG as we near the election? Count on it.
A new Democratic-aligned political action committee advised by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is planning to deploy technology originally developed to counter Islamic State propaganda in service of a domestic political goal – to combat online efforts to promote President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group, Defeat Disinfo, will use artificial intelligence and network analysis to map discussion of the president’s claims on social media. It will seek to intervene by identifying the most popular counter-narratives and boosting them through a network of more than 3.4 million influencers across the country – in some cases paying users with large followings to take sides against the president.
Why would those paid trolls and sock puppets come to TTAG? Because Joe Biden has a lot more problems than credible rape allegations, an endless parade of inappropriate touching incidents, and political corruption scandals involving both him and his son.
Uncle Joe also has pledged to not only ban America’s favorite rifle, the AR-15, but also to appoint Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke to confiscate them. After all, Old Joe is under the impression these scary guns have killed 150 million Americans since 2007.
Over at Legal Insurrection, they covered Democrats’ past failed efforts at astroturfing to counter actual people and legitimate grassroots activism.
The rapid national growth and incredible political strength of the Tea Party movement shook the left to its tyrannical core. They did everything they could to stop it, from smears and lies, to demonization and ridicule, even then-president Obama got in on the smear action. But nothing seemed to work.
Nothing worked, that is, until the Obama administration pulled out all the stops and deployed a variety of alphabet agencies to actively target the “taxed enough already” movement. Arguably the most effective of these efforts to quash the truly grassroots movement was the deliberate targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS, an action admitted to and apologized for, though no one, including Obama, was seriously held to account.
Since then, the left has tried everything it can think of to create its own version of the Tea Party. Unfortunately for them, everything they can think of is rather limited. Indeed, it’s limited to pathetic, desperate astroturfed attempts to buy “grassroots” support. From the “coffee party” to the “women’s march,” the left keeps trying and failing to buy an effective grassroots movement.
You’d think the continual failure of each such astroturfed leftist “movement” would sink in at some point, that they would clue in to the fact that repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results is insane.
We’ve seen plenty of compensated “astroturfing” among Big Gun Control. Such as David Hogg and his Run For Your Lives organization, covered here at TTAG:
The Big Dollar, Dark Money Contributions That Fund March For Our Lives
March For Our Lives holds itself up as a grassroots gun control org, much like Moms Demand Action. And just like the Moms, the (supposedly) student-led March For Our Lives organization gets their funding not from the little people, but from a group of big dollar donors.
While the NRA and other gun rights orgs raise tens of millions each year primarily from everyday Americans, the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex lacks that kind of grassroots support.
Instead of donations from everyday Americans, civilian disarmament operations rely on dark money from the well-healed to keep the lights on…
Now we learn that 99.5% all of the nearly $18 million raised in the first year by this new “student-led” group did not come from the $25 donations sent in by everyday Americans who just wanted to keep their children safe.
Instead, almost almost $17 million of the total came from exactly 36 donations of between $100,000 to $3.5 million.
And before him, there was the fable of “just-a-housewife” Shannon Watts supposedly ironing her husband’s shirts when she decided to spin up Moms Demand Action.
From the Denver Post:
How a Colorado mother became the National Rifle Association’s worst nightmare
Shannon Watts folded laundry as news of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 children and six adults flashed across her television screen in 2012, rattling something inside the mother of five that couldn’t be stifled. That newfound, burning activism would soon position the Colorado woman to identify herself as the National Rifle Association’s worst nightmare.
The only thing missing from the first line of that fake news report: “Once upon a time….”
Anyone can quickly find Shannon Watts’ actual background as a corporate communications professional and political operative. Under her maiden name, Shannon Troughton, she served as president and owner of VoxPop Public Relations, a boutique liberal PR firm.
And before that? We’ll let her explain from her press release via PR Newswire:
According to PR Week, “Shannon Troughton recently left a position at the helm of a 30-person corporate communications team at WellPoint, one of the largest health insurers in the US, to start her own healthcare firm, VoxPop Public Relations. She started the firm because she saw a need for boutique agencies that can provide the same service at a lower cost during the recession. At WellPoint, she launched a number of key efforts, such as its Zagats partnership, which allows users to rate their doctors, and the establishment of personalized health records for WellPoint members.”
Troughton has worked in public relations for nearly 20 years, specializing in media relations, product promotion, government affairs, and issues and crisis management.
At WellPoint, Troughton led a team of 40 public relations professionals responsible for implementing communications programs for the 14 states in which the company operates, as well as the company’s business units.
Previously, Ms. Troughton served as director of Global Communications for GE Healthcare, a $15 billion medical diagnostics and device business within General Electric.
Troughton also served as director of Public and Corporate Affairs for Monsanto Company in St. Louis..
Troughton began her career as a communications staffer for the administration of the late Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan in Jefferson City and is a graduate of the University of Missouri.
Just your average mom on tennis shoes, right?
And now, the Los Angeles Times (while hiding behind ad blocker blockers) dote upon the latest great idea from Democrats…their plan to use paid trolls and sock puppets to spread disinformation.
As conservative conspiracy theories and deepfake videos race through the internet, defying the fact-checkers and bruising political candidates, Curtis Hougland is trying to fight back by borrowing from the playbook of his adversaries.
Hougland, a technologist and online-extremism expert, is hiring small armies of social-media mercenaries to do battle for Democrats.
These are not troops predisposed to political warfare. They are typically not aligned with the progressive candidate or cause that Hougland’s firm, Main Street One, is representing. But they hold a weapon that’s lacking among internet activists in the echo chambers of the left: large and devoted followings of persuadable voters.
“We are making a bet that human networks can out-compete the bots and trolls and sock puppets,” said Hougland…
Interestingly, all the way back in 2016, the same LA Times had a similar story about this new “frontier” in shaping public perceptions:
Hillary Clinton’s well-heeled backers have opened a new frontier in digital campaigning, one that seems to have been inspired by some of the Internet’s worst instincts. Correct the Record, a super PAC coordinating with Clinton’s campaign, is spending some $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner.
So the Democrat operatives with bylines at the LA Times are re-branding Hillary’s failed “Correct the Record” collection of paid trolls as the new Defeat Disinfo campaign.
Keep all of this in mind as America re-opens for business and Defeat Disinfo’s operatives try to gaslight Americans on Biden’s past public proclamations supporting gun control and confiscations. They plan to be very active as the election nears. Even right here in comments at The Truth About Guns.