Trump and allies ratchet up disinformation efforts in late stage of campaign


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  buzz-of-the-orient  •  3 weeks ago  •  13 comments

By:   Ashley Parker

Trump and allies ratchet up disinformation efforts in late stage of campaign
Trump has repeatedly retweeted false, misleading and controversial videos and content

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Trump and allies ratchet up disinformation efforts in late stage of campaign

For President Trump and his allies, it was a week spent spreading doctored and misleading videos.


© Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images  President Trump surveys destruction in Kenosha, Wis., last week accompanied by former camera shop owner John Rode, wearing glasses. The current owner of the camera shop refused to meet with Trump.

On Aug. 30, the president retweeted footage of  a Black man violently pushing a White woman  on a subway platform under the caption, “Black Lives Matter/Antifa” — but the man was not affiliated with either group, and the video was shot in October. White House social media director  Dan Scavino shared a manipulated video  that falsely showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seeming to fall asleep during a television interview, complete with a fake TV headline.

And Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, released a video  splicing together quotes from activist Ady Barkan  — who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and uses computer voice assistance — to falsely make it sound as if he had persuaded Biden to defund police departments.

For the president and his top supporters, it was a campaign push brimming with disinformation — disseminating falsehoods and trafficking in obfuscation at a rapid clip, through the use of selectively edited videos, deceptive retweets and false statements.

The slew of false and misleading tweets and videos stood in contrast to the approach taken by Biden, the former vice president, who in 2019  took a pledge  promising not to participate in the spread of disinformation over social media, including rejecting the use of “deep fake” videos.

Trump has built a political career around falsehoods, issuing  more than 20,000 false or misleading statements  during the first three-plus years of his presidency. But many experts said the sheer onslaught of the disinformation efforts by Trump and his team in the late weeks of the campaign make the deception particularly difficult to combat, not to mention dangerous to the country’s democratic institutions.

“When you have this disinformation and it’s introduced to one side of the forest, for example, it can travel so quickly through so many different communities and does so many unintentional things before you can even do a fact check,” said Whitney Phillips, assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University. “He’s able to muddy the waters so thoroughly that democracy wilts on the vine.”

By late August, the deceptions came in quick succession. In addition to the misleading subway video, Trump repeated a false claim that just 6 percent of the nation’s death toll in the pandemic was actually caused by the novel coronavirus itself — part of his ongoing effort to portray the virus as less deadly or pervasive than it actually is.

Trump’s campaign shared a short video on Aug. 31 of Biden saying,  “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”  But the video failed to include the full context of Biden’s remarks, which he used to argue the opposite — that Americans are experiencing violence and unrest in Trump’s America.

Then later that day, in an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, the president pushed hazy conspiracy theories claiming — again, with no evidence — that Biden is controlled by people in the “dark shadows” and that a plane full of uniformed “thugs” was descending on cities with the intent of creating violence and discord.

During a Tuesday visit to Kenosha, Wis., which has been the site of unrest after the police shooting of a Black man, Trump held a photo op that was muddier than he made it appear. He met with the former owner of Rode’s Camera Shop, which was destroyed in the riots and fires there, while claiming the man was the current owner of the shop. In fact, he is the owner of the building and not the shop.

The photo store’s current owner, meanwhile, had refused to meet with Trump — characterizing the visit as a divisive “circus.”

Later on Thursday, Trump sent tweets seeming to encourage people to vote twice — and prompting Twitter to place a public interest notice on the missives for  violating the site’s “civic integrity policy.”  The same day, in response to  an Atlantic story  detailing Trump repeatedly denigrating the military and those who served, Trump  falsely claimed on Twitter  that he had never called the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) a “loser” — despite calling him that publicly in 2015, shortly after announcing his candidacy for president.

In the case of the Barkan video, Scalise eventually updated the clip after a public uproar. In  an op-ed in The Washington Post , Barkan warned of the “ominous lessons” he gleaned from the experience: “the ability to use technology not only for good but to mislead and manipulate; the willingness of those with political agendas to resort to such disinformation and propaganda; and the way in which America has cleaved into two separate information universes, with a conservative media ecosystem amplifying falsehoods that then take root.”

Some social media platforms, including Twitter, removed some of the misleading and manipulated content or labeled it as such. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, claimed its out-of-context video saying voters wouldn’t be safe in “Joe Biden’s America” was simply in jest, lambasting “all the triggered journalists who can’t take a joke about their candidate.”

White House spokesman Judd Deere dismissed the idea that the president is actively promoting disinformation, saying that “the American people never have to wonder what the president is thinking or how he feels about a particular topic.”

“The media routinely manipulates the President’s words and takes him totally out of context, but that will never stop him from unapologetically calling out their biased reporting, raising important questions, or suggesting common sense ideas to solve problems,” Deere said in an emailed statement.

Democrats, however, argue that the messages spread by Trump and his allies go beyond mere political trickery.

“Spin has been something that folks in politics have come to expect, but this is the invention of a totally new reality,” said Lily Adams, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee’s Trump response team. “Because they can’t run on the reality that every American is seeing, they’re inventing a new one.”

Joan Donovan, research director at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, described Trump’s strategy as “terminal incoherence,” a deliberate effort to so “flood the zone” with misleading information that “it really makes it hard for people to understand what the stakes are of life and death information, like what’s going on with the coronavirus.”

Trump has repeatedly retweeted false, misleading and controversial videos and content, with his aides sometimes claiming that he never watched the videos or did not fully understand what he was sharing. His team has declined to put in place any system to prevent the president from blasting out disinformation.

“Retweeting is now his plausible deniability strategy. He now says, ‘I didn’t watch the video, I just retweeted,’ ” Phillips said. “If it’s not an active strategy that they sat down to work through, it is still what is communicating the most pernicious elements of his communications strategy in 2020.”

There were several prominent examples of deceptive videos presented at the Republican National Convention last month, when Trump formally accepted his party’s nomination. In one instance, event organizers created a video featuring four tenants of federal housing programs in New York talking about Trump’s record on public housing — but three of the four people interviewed for the video later said they didn’t support Trump and  were misled about the purpose of the production.

The president also hosted a naturalization ceremony at the White House that was used in another convention video — but again,  several of the participants said they were not aware  that their ceremony would be featured prominently at the convention.

Daniel Effron, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School, said that from a psychological perspective, repeating a false claim is an effective strategy because it makes the falsehood more familiar.

“The concern is not just that we’re post-truth in the sense that you can say anything and people will believe it,” Effron said. “It’s that we’re post-truth in the sense that people won’t believe anything that anyone says and, worse, they won’t care. It’s that we become morally numb to all the falsehoods swirling around.”

Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement that Trump’s misinformation is intended to obscure his poor leadership.

“The coordinated effort by Donald Trump’s campaign to promote conspiracy theories, manipulate media to mislead Americans and lie about Joe Biden is the clearest signal yet they know they’re losing,” Ducklo said.

For some like Barkan, the actions of Scalise and others in Trump’s orbit are not missteps. They are deliberate “disinformation test balloons that should put every single one of us on alert.”

“If they can without consequence make it seem as though I said something I didn’t, what else can they do?” he wrote in the op-ed. “What else  will  they do?”

Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.


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Buzz of the Orient
1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago
"Daniel Effron, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School, said that from a psychological perspective, repeating a false claim is an effective strategy because it makes the falsehood more familiar."

If you tell a lie often enough....Trump has learned from the Nazis how to fool the people.

If you limit free speech, as Trump attempted to do with The Stars and Stripes, and with journalists, and if you limit the rights that Americans have to vote, by doing everything possible to stop mail-in ballots.....Trump has learned from Xi Jinping, leader of China's Communist Party, how to make sure he can stay in power. 

So, Americans, are you going to vote for a wannabe dictator?

Mark in Wyoming
1.1  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    3 weeks ago
If you tell a lie often enough

Well i will give the nazis the credit for perfecting such a notion , but anyone with a centilla of intelligence and education can also tell that that notion has existed in social politics for as long as there has been politicians seeking power . for many millenia , and that no government has ever been immune from using "misinformation " or outright lies about those they see as threats to their power.


SMH , have a good night.

2  bbl-1    3 weeks ago

No offense Buzz, but the Trump has been doing 'this' even before he was cheating on his first wife.  lol.

Honestly though, Trump has transformed America for the worse.  I just can not understand why he has the support he does.  Does not make any sense at all.  None.

Buzz of the Orient
3  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago
 I just can not understand why he has the support he does.

Nor can I.  Maybe the educational system in the USA needs to be upgraded. 

3.1  TTGA  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3    3 weeks ago
Nor can I.  Maybe the educational system in the USA needs to be upgraded. 

Do you mean upgraded to a political indoctrination system?  I don't think so.  Not a good idea at all, but it is being tried.

However, I can tell you why Trump has the support that he does.  The reason is that we are totally fed up with scumbag professional politicians and will no longer tolerate them.  Trump may be many things, but he is NOT a professional politician.  That alone makes him the lesser of two evils.  On a social and ethical scale, Trump ranks about two steps above a used car salesman.  While that's not a very appealing ranking, the professional politicians, including Biden and Harris, rank about three steps lower than a pimp.  A pimp is at least selling something useful.  All the professional politicians are selling is jawbone, innuendo and slander in an attempt to gain power.  That is totally unacceptable.

Buzz of the Orient
3.1.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  TTGA @3.1    3 weeks ago

No, I meant educated to be critical thinkers.  

I don't recall ever in my lifetime witnessing such a chaos in the USA.  If over my years the "professional politicians" have managed to avoid that I see no reason to be as critical as I am.  I'm worried about my son and his family that are living in Wisconsin, and I'm concerned about my friends on NT, including you.  Other than that, you know I have no skin in the American game, and you know that originally I had no beef with Trump, and even appreciated his stance on Israel, but now that he has been deliberately attempting to harm me and the people I love with the excuse that it is good for Americans (which it is NOT), my feelings did not change on their own, he CHASED me away, and although there is little that I can do to convince voters to not vote for him, I will do whatever I can to accomplish that, no matter how much certain members of NT try to insult and disparage me. 

3.1.2  Gazoo  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.1.1    3 weeks ago

“but now that he has been deliberately attempting to harm me and the people I love”

“the excuse that it is good for Americans (which it is NOT)”

how is he trying to harm you and your loved ones? By putting the “fair” back in “fair” trade? He is trying to undo the damage done to this country by “professional politicians” you mentioned. He was voted in as president by Americans to do what’s best for Americans, not the chinese or any other foreigners. 

how is it not good for Americans to have trade with other countries that  is actually fair? I have no ill will toward the chinese people, or any other groups of people, but i want American politicians to put America and Americans first. They were elected to work for Americans and do what is best for us, not foreigners. That is simple common sense. It amazes me that some people think otherwise. 

Buzz of the Orient
3.1.3  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Gazoo @3.1.2    3 weeks ago

If you were to study the economics more intimately, you might find that his trade wars and tariffs are just making life more expensive for the American people, and me as well.  If you were to be honest about his negligent mismanagement of the virus you would realize he has caused Americans to become infected and to die in RECORD numbers as compared to everywhere else in the world.  If you were to pay attention to his xenophobic racist comments about the virus you would realize that Asian Americans have been experiencing harrassment and attacks like never before.

I will give you one example (although I could give you more) of how his tariff policy will cost Americans more.  When he was at a Whirlpool factory he hoped to gain votes by announcing a damning tariff on Canadian aluminum.  Yes, that cost Canada more, and whatever costs Canada more reduces the value of my pension that I rely upon to live, BUT, now every can of soda, every can of beer, is going to cost Americans more money to buy,  How has that little ploy helped the American people.  I'm sure it is going to make an awful lot of things that Americans buy that have any aluminum in them MORE MONEY, and at a time when so many have no extra money to spend. 

Thrawn 31
3.1.4  Thrawn 31  replied to  Gazoo @3.1.2    3 weeks ago

You do not seem to understand how international trade, or capitalism in general, work...

Honestly, you are starting to sound like a socialist in the purest sense in that you seem to be on the verge of arguing that government should dictate to private businesses where they manufacture their products and what prices they charge.

3.1.5  bbl-1  replied to  TTGA @3.1    3 weeks ago

Uh actually, Trump is not a professional anything.  Except maybe a money launderer and a few other nefarious things.

3.2  bbl-1  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3    3 weeks ago

Explain Betsy DeVos.  Why did the Trump select her and why did the senate confirm her?

Buzz of the Orient
3.2.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  bbl-1 @3.2    2 weeks ago

Money, money, money.....most likely big donations.

Actually, I wasn't talking about just private schools, but her appointment most likely explains the problems with public education.

Thrawn 31
4  Thrawn 31    3 weeks ago

The guy tells a lie with every breath, is it even possible for him to lie more?


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