Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. gestures as he leave the stage after speaking during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
A few days ago, as Robert Mueller was issuing an indictment of three Russian entities (two of which were already under sanctions) and thirteen Russians (none of which are with in the reach of law enforcement), I pointed out the way the left is weaponizing these allegations of Russian meddling to discredit any idea or cause they don’t like as being inspired by Russians. We’re seeing it with gun control after the Florida high school shooting. We saw how they used it to claim the Nunes memo was Russian inspired because someone, of unknown integrity or ability, said that Russian Twitter bots were tweeting in favor of #ReleaseTheMemo.
Yesterday, Newsweek led the charge on another front. According to that bankrupt RICO enterprise that masquerades as a news outlet, Al Franken was brought down by the scourge of Russian, white nationalist and alt-right Twitter bots.
Putin’s MeToo moment?
This is one of the reasons I demanded an investigation not a resignation. The senate got played and Minnesota lost a fine statesman.
How an alt-right botnet took down Al Franken https://t.co/8iAgBgGmMf
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) February 20, 2018
Richard Painter, is the head of the David Brock-created AstroTurf group CREW. You’ve seen him featured on our front page criticizing Trump in his alternate guise as a “former Bush administration ethics official.”
And naturally, Raw Story
Suddenly it's white nationalists and Twitter bots that caused his problems… got it. pic.twitter.com/1TAnfWyxcx
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) February 19, 2018
I’ll leave it to Snopes to tell you what happened as both Newsweek and Raw Story have pulled their stories:
On 19 February 2018, both the news magazine Newsweek and news blog RawStory.com posted stories cribbing from a blog post on Medium.com by “Unhack the Vote,” which reported the #MeToo movement had been co-opted by a network of right-wing Internet trolls and Kremlin-controlled social media bots to force Al Franken, a former Democratic senator from Minnesota, to resign.
Franken announced his resignation amid mounting pressure on 7 December 2017, after Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles-based radio personality, went public with accusations that he had forcibly kissed and groped her during a USO tour in 2006. Franken’s downfall was a result of the #MeToo movement, in which victims of sexual harassment and assault were coming forward in waves and naming their abusers — many of whom lost their jobs and positions of influence.
Although the gist of the stories was that Democrats had been duped into pushing Franken out by a propaganda operation run by Russia and the alt-right, the accuracy of these stories is being challenged. They reported that the attack against Franken was orchestrated in part by “weaponizing” an article by author and writer Ijeoma Oluo to hasten his downfall. But both Oluo and a researcher who tracks Russian-influenced social media activity told us the reports got key details wrong.
Basically, they claim that the Democrats were stampeded into kicking Franken to the curb by Russian, white nationalist, and alt-right Twitter bots. No one else, apparently, really cared. (Here is a quick test to see if you spend too much time on Twitter: how often do you worry about white nationalists and the alt-right? If the answer is much beyond “never” or “say what?” you might need to reevaluate where you spend your time.)
Even after Raw Story had retracted, Newsweek was hanging tough:
Sad commentary on today's media world: Raw Story and Newsweek both fell for the same fake story. Raw Story retracted. Newsweek kept it up. pic.twitter.com/19WLkI4czp
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) February 20, 2018
This is a ridiculous characterization of what happened with Franken and shows the danger of blaming everything on social media influence campaigns. Al Franken had to resign because of what many women described him having done to them. Not because of bots talking about it. https://t.co/IxUhNJyxAA
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 20, 2018
This was Newsweek’s response
Not “blaming everything” on social media. But it certainly played a role.
— Nina Burleigh (@ninaburleigh) February 20, 2018
Nina Burleigh, you’ll recall, is the chick who said she’d be happy to give Bill Clinton a blow job if it kept abortion legal. So there is a consistency in principles here.
But now the article is gone.
This points to the strategy I mentioned at the top of the post. “Research” that can’t be replicated was used to claim that social media bots brought down a U.S. senator. Get ready to see this claim over and over and over because it is a stalking horse to get the right and conservatives banned from social media advocacy.