Showing posts with label propaganda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label propaganda. Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull supports an attempt by former prime ministers Howard and Abbott to impose an elitist world view


Here is public comment on and by the main characters in what looks remarkably like an ill-considered and rather crude attempt at a beer hall putsch against academic freedom.

With one of the eight Ramsey Centre directors, Tony Abbott, giving the game away when he revealed that half of the proposed four-person Partnership Management Committee had an expectation that this committee would directly set the Bachelor of Western Civilsation curriculum and hire academic staff.

An expectation which appears confirmed by a statemet attributed to the Ramsey Centre CEO that; “If we feel like it’s not going to go to appreciation of Western Civilization, then we can withdraw the funding.”  

Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation vision statement:

Paul Ramsay was a leading Australian businessman who was passionate about education and wished to educate future generations in the traditions and practices of western civilisation: its history, philosophy, literature, science, theology, music, art and architecture.

He also wanted to create over time a cadre of leaders – Australians whose awareness and appreciation of their country’s Western heritage and values, of the challenges that have confronted leaders and people, with that broad heritage in the past, would help guide their decision making in the future.

The Ramsay Centre Scholarships will provide students from across Australia the opportunity to study western civilisation in this spirit at one of our partner universities. Places will also be available within the BA degrees to non-scholarship holders. [my yellow highlighting]

The ANU Observer, 8 March 2018:

ANU announced plans for a $25,000 a year scholarship associated with a proposed Bachelor of Western Civilization on Tuesday, subject to student consultation. The announcement occurred at a forum for staff and student feedback, where more details of the proposed program were given, though some students voiced concerns.

At $25,000, the scholarship is the largest ever offered at ANU. It will be larger by just above 15% than the Tuckwell Scholarship, which is set at $21,700 for 2018.....

In a question at the forum, one attendee quoted the CEO of the Ramsay Centre, Simon Haines, as saying, “If we feel like it’s not going to go to appreciation of Western Civilization, then we can withdraw the funding.”  [my yellow highlighting]


*The proposed program comprises 16 core courses, typically taken over three years, with an additional Honours year sequence open to outstanding students. Students may replace up to 4 of the 16 BWC courses with 4 courses of classical or modern European language study. Students will be able to take the program alongside other disciplines offered by the University and (in the case of double-degree students) other degrees.

*The different courses within the program consider books from a variety of genres or disciplines (predominately works of literature, history, philosophy, religion, politics) but also including architecture, art and music, 

*The program will be capped at 60 students consisting of up to 30 scholarship recipients in the first year and up to 30 non-scholarship recipients. Up to 10 further scholarships will be made available to students in the second year of the degree.

*A distinct aspect of the proposed program is the use of the ‘Socratic’ approach. The program aims to create active learners engaged with primary texts in classes of no more than six to eight students. These small-group discussions will be supplemented by a series of panel-style discussions where academics from different perspectives engage in discussion with each other and with students.

*Curriculum recommendations will be made by the Partnership Management Committee (consisting of two academic staff from the Ramsay Centre and two academics from the ANU, one of whom is the Dean of CASS) and considered through the normal ANU academic processes[my yellow highlighting]

Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott in Quadrant Online, 24 May 2018:

“The key to understanding the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is that it’s not merely about Western civilisation but in favour of it. The fact that it is “for” the cultural inheritance of countries such as ours, rather than just interested in it, makes it distinctive. The fact that respect for our heritage has largely been absent for at least a generation in our premier teaching and academic institutions makes the Ramsay Centre not just timely but necessary. This is an important national project. It’s not every day, after all, that such a big endowment is dedicated in perpetuity to raising the tone of our civic conversation…..

A management committee including the Ramsay CEO and also its academic director will make staffing and curriculum decisions.” [my yellow highlighting]

Brisbane Times, 7 June 2015:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will personally intervene in the ANU's decision to pull out of a controversial new degree in Western Civilisation, saying he wants to talk to the university's vice-chancellor about it directly.

On Thursday, Mr Turnbull became the latest Liberal politician to wade into the furore over the course, which was to be funded by the John Howard-headed Ramsay Centre.
The Prime Minister said he was "very surprised" by the ANU's decision last week to end six months of negotiation with the centre and would be speaking to vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt personally "to get his account of it".

"I find it very hard to understand why that proposal from the Ramsay Foundation would not have been accepted with enthusiasm," Mr Turnbull said….
[my yellow highlighting]

Professor Brian Schmidt AC, Vice-Chancellor and President, Australian National University, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2018:

The news came yesterday that Australian National University remains ranked by QS as number one in Australia and in the top 25 universities in the world. It is a global reputation we take seriously. One that is built on the basis of academic autonomy and free academic inquiry.

ANU has declined donations in the past and will again where we are unable to meet the wishes of the donor within our normal practices. It is right that we explore opportunities openly and in good faith, but it is also right that we let prospective donors know when we cannot provide them with what they want.

Our decision to end negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilization has attracted a great deal of interest. In this case, the prospective donor sought a level of influence over our curriculum and staffing that went beyond what any other donor has been granted, and was inconsistent with academic autonomy.

This would set a precedent that would completely undermine the integrity of the University.

While there has been plenty of noise from all ends about the merits of the study of Western civilisation, the decision at our end has nothing to do with the subject matter.

In fact, the reason we entered into discussions and, no doubt, why we were of interest to the donor, is our global reputation for scholarship and teaching across the full breadth of the Western liberal tradition from classics, history and literature to philosophy, art and music. We offer more than 150 courses in western scholarship. It would take 18 years of study to complete all of those courses.

The opportunity to augment our teaching and research in these areas, along with a generous scholarship program for students, was an attractive proposition for ANU and we were grateful to the Ramsay Centre for considering ANU as a partner.

But at the end of the day, the University operates on the same principles with all donors, whatever their area of interest. Whether it is funding to support the study of Persian language or the study of classics, the same principles apply. The University retains full control of all curriculum and staffing decisions. This actually gets to the crux of the issue here for us. In this case, the donor sought a level of influence over our curriculum and staffing that went beyond any existing arrangements we have.
[my yellow highlighting]

Friday, 16 March 2018

With a royal commission having found that all major religions house and protect paedophiles we still find Liberal Party MPs seeking to extend the influence of priests & ministers in the Australian school system in 2018



Dozens of federal Liberal MPs have reportedly signed a petition calling for a 25 per cent funding increase for the controversial National Schools Chaplaincy Program. 

Whether the budget can afford the funding increase or whether the money would be better spent elsewhere are interesting issues. The bigger legal issue is that the way the chaplains program operates is illegal…….

The High Court has struck down the chaplains program as illegal twice already. In 2012, the High Court ruled the program illegal because the federal government was paying for the chaplains program without any legislation authorising the spending. To overcome the High Court decision, federal Parliament quickly passed legislation to authorise the spending.

The chaplains program again was struck down again in 2014. Federal Parliament can only pass legislation dealing with certain subject matters. The High Court ruled that school chaplains do not fall within any of those.

To get around its own lack of power to run the chaplains program, the federal government now grants money to the states for them to run it. Lots of federal government programs operate this way with the states running programs on behalf of the federal government using federal money.

Getting a job as a chaplain requires a person to be recognised as qualified for the role "through formal ordination, commissioning, recognised religious qualifications or endorsement by a recognised or accepted religious institution". In other words, a person has to be religious and endorsed by a religious group in order to get a job as a chaplain. Atheists need not apply.

Individual schools pick which religion they want their chaplain to be a member of and then recruit a person from that religion for the job.

But it makes no practical sense to require a chaplain to have a particular religion. Chaplains are strictly prohibited from religious proselytising, although there are sometimes reports of chaplains breaking the rules. The High Court even commented that despite the religious sounding job title, the actual work chaplains do has nothing much to do with religion. Justice Dyson Heydon wrote that the work of chaplains "could have been done by persons who met a religious test. It could equally have been done by persons who did not".

In other words, there is no genuine occupational requirement for a chaplain to be a member of any particular religion or to be religious at all. The federal government has simply decided that it wants all chaplains to be religious.

Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is inconsistent with the nature of public schools……

Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is also illegal. Each state has anti-discrimination or equal opportunity legislation making it illegal to discriminate against a person on the ground of religion in employment decisions. These anti-discrimination rules apply to public schools and their hiring decisions.

Public schools cannot advertise a teacher’s job and require that only Hindus are eligible to apply. Public schools cannot advertise a cleaner’s job and require that only Baptists are eligible to apply. The reason is because that would be discrimination on the ground of religion in employment.

It’s exactly the same with chaplains. Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is religious discrimination and completely illegal for public schools…..

The state anti-discrimination commissions should do something about public schools breaching religious discrimination laws. If they don’t, someone will eventually go to court and the school chaplains program will probably be ruled illegal for the third, and hopefully final, time.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Having failed to walk the walk Nationals MP & Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources is belatedly trying to talk the talk


Well the Nationals are out there trying to ‘spin’ their party as reasonable and balanced in the hope of repairing political damage caused by the recent Ministerial Code of Conduct-Use of Parliamentary Entitlements scandal.

This was former National Australia Bank rural financial adviser, Nationals MP for Maranoa since July 2016 & Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources since December 2017, David Kelly Littleproud.


The heir to Barnaby Joyce's portfolio has declared he has nothing against renewables, believes climate change is fundamentally reshaping agriculture, and called on city dwellers to wake up to the economic heavy lifting being done by Australia's farmers.

David Littleproud, the banker who came within a couple of votes of snatching the Nationals leadership last week, has no intention of emulating the former deputy prime minister.

"I am in favour of renewables, make no mistake," he said. "It will mean we will have cleaner air to breathe, there is nothing to fear in that."

The Agriculture Minister, who party leaders hope will appeal to a new generation of voters, said renewables needed to be brought in a way that "doesn't impact someone being able to put a light on or a farmer being able to put a pump on".

"The stark reality," he said, is farmers had been trying to deal with the effects of climate change since they were "putting till in the ground".

The 41-year-old rejected calls from environmentalists for an agricultural climate change adaptation plan, but says that's only because farmers will need to do it themselves or risk losing their crop.

His comments mark a relatively climate-friendly shift from Mr Joyce, who promoted Mr Littleproud into cabinet before Christmas....

What David Littleproud does not say is that he has never voted against the Liberal-Nationals party line in the House of Representatives to date.

Which means he is on record as voting against:


And voting for:


Somehow I don’t see Littleproud making much headway with what he calls “a new generation of voters”.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Facebook Inc remains part of the problem


Tin-eared social media giant Facebook Inc demonstrates once again that it is part of the problem and not part of the solution, as it promotes toxic gun culture at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference and fails to come to grips with its part in spreading conspiracy theories and "fake news".

Gizmondo, 25 February 2018:

Facebook has pulled a demo of Oculus Rift's VR shooter Bullet Train from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland amid concerns over gun violence, Variety reported earlier.

It doesn't appear to have been Bullet Train's violent content that prompted the withdrawal per se, but rather that CPAC draws lots of gun rights advocates right at the same time those same National Rifle Association types are drawing a massive wave of criticism in the wake of another school massacre in Parkland, Florida this month.

A number of companies have cut ties with the NRA, like software firm Symantec, which decided to pull discounts for the pro-gun group's members this week. A running New York Times tally of others to do so includes banks, airlines, automotive rentals and services, insurance companies, and a home security company.

As the Times noted on Friday, boycott campaigns tend to fade over time but this time the pressure has built quickly, buoyed by a number of Parkland survivors speaking out on social media and leaving some corporations with no middle ground to recede to.
demo clip of Bullet Train hosted on the Oculus Rift website shows that at least one level in the game involves the player fighting through waves of "resistance forces" in a fairly generic rail station setting. It does not appear to be particularly bloody, though video of CPAC attendees using the game's motion-tracking controls in a vague pantomime of actual shooting probably did not help, either.

In a statement to Variety, Facebook virtual reality VP Hugo Barra said:

There is a standard set of experiences included in the Oculus demos we feature at public events. A few of the action games can include violence. In light of the recent events in Florida and out of respect for the victims and their families, we have removed them from this demo. We regret that we failed to do so in the first place.

Yet the optics of the Oculus Rift demo are probably not the most important issue Facebook should be worried about right now.

Facebook itself has also come under fire for the rapid spread of conspiracy theories about the Parkland shooting, which as CNN noted migrate from internet underbellies like 4chan onto mainstream social media sites via "conservative pages, alt-right personalities, nationalist blogs and far-right pundits." Posts on Facebook promoting the idiotic smear that survivors speaking out against guns were "crisis actors," i.e. some hazily defined variety of professional propagandists paid off to promote gun control, went far and wide; the social media giant repeatedly declined to discuss how it was enforcing violations of its community guidelines against offenders when asked by CNN.

Per the New York Times, it is still really, really easy to find hundreds of posts claiming the shooting was part of a "deep state" black flag operation or the like using Facebook's built-in search option, which kind of calls into question the company's sincerity:

On Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, searches for the hashtag #crisisactor, which accused the Parkland survivors of being actors, turned up hundreds of posts perpetuating the falsehood (though some also criticised the conspiracy theory). Many of the posts had been tweaked ever so slightly -- for example, videos had been renamed #propaganda rather than #hoax -- to evade automated detection.

The spread of the theories on Facebook has also caused some in the tech media to question whether the long-maligned and ill-defined "trending" metric should be retired. Users who post conspiracy theories often rabidly engage with others promoting similar ideas, which in numerous instances means the posts are promoted right to the top of Facebook and other sites like YouTube.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Surprise, Surprise. Nationals appear to be telling pork pies to voters on the NSW North Coast yet again



Echo NetDaily, 15 Februaty 2018:

An animal activist has accused two National Party MPs of 'misleading the public' over claims the RMS has revegetated more than a hundred hectares of land along the Pacific Highway Ballina upgrade route with tens of thousands of koala feed trees.
In recent weeks both roads minister Melinda Pavey and north coast MLC Ben Franklin have made public statements regarding the re-vegetation of koala habitat at Meerschaum Vale to compensate for the damage caused by the highway upgrade construction.
On February 3, Minister Pavey said in a press release that 'the government had re-vegetated 130 hectares of land with 95,000 koala feed trees.'
Then on February 9, Mr Franklin said that 'about 110 hectares, equating to 80,000 koala food trees had so far been planted and there were plans to plant another 20 hectares as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Upgrade.'

Empty paddock

But co-ordinator of Australians For Animals, Sue Arnold, told Echonetdaily she took a field trip to the re-vegetation site earlier this week, which 'revealed an empty paddock with no koala feed trees planted in spite of a sign indicating that the planting was part of a "130 hectares of Koala Food Trees planted".'
Ms Arnold said she was unable to find any other planting sites in the vicinity.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Is this 'fake news' site on YouTube just American home-grown nutters or is this a Russian-backed bad actor?


Freedom Daily says of itself that it exists topresent a forum for discussing meaningful conservative American and world news,from a perspective that is not your normal agenda-based Beltway bull. Articles on Freedom Daily are posted by members who are warriors for America’s freedom.We post and decipher content to a level that is consistent with a common senseapproach and falls in line with the ideals of American liberty and freedom.

This is the text of one of the videos it displays on YouTube.


Published on Feb 5, 2018
Over the last several weeks, the walls have been closing in around Barack Obama and the rest of his liberal minions in Washington D.C., as more evidence is revealed to the public concerning the criminal acts committed under his watch. It is apparent that the pressure is getting to the Obama family as Michelle has distanced herself from her corrupt husband by taking long vacations overseas alone. A damning video has emerged that could be all the evidence President Trump needed to put both Barack and Michelle Obama behind bars for a long time, and there is nothing they can do about it. 
Over the last two Presidential terms, the American people have had to sit and watch as Barack Obama made a mockery of the constitution and our nation's laws. For too long Obama was able to get away with numerous crimes, and we as conservatives began to feel hopeless. However, that all changed the moment that Donald Trump stepped on the scene, breathing new life into our country and promising that those who were corrupt would face dire consequences. 
The left scoffed at the very prospect of a Trump presidency, but to be safe, they began to craft a devious plan to protect the criminal elite hiding in D.C., knowing that Trump would come after them all. After Trump won the presidential election, the left sprung into action ready with their plan to protect their own including Barack Obama and of course, Hillary Clinton. 
Trump is not anyone's fool and was well aware that when he stepped foot into the White House. Trump knew the White House would be teeming with swamp creatures poised and ready to attack. Trump bided his time and made sure he chose wisely on who to allow into his inner circle, and one man who made the cut was Inspector General Michael Horowitz. 
Horowitz is what you would call a police departments "internal affairs" field, where he investigates the FBI and DOJ to ensure that all are playing by the same rules and held to the same standard of integrity as everyone else. Also, it is important to note that Horowitz was not a fan of the Obama administration after witnessing the despicable crimes that these leftist rats thought they got away with, such as the Hillary Clinton email scandal. 
The Inspector General conducted a sting operation last year into the corrupt FBI and DOJ and what he found was astounding. In fact, the Hillary email scandal and the Russian-collusion false narrative is just the beginning of the horrific crimes that occurred under the Obama administration. 
The FISA memo is mere child's play compared to the rest of crimes Obama and his minions committed, which brings us to the damning video. 
Rep. Steve King recently found an interview with Barack Obama in April 2016, where he "guarantees" to the American people that there was no corruption occurring in the FBI and DOJ. Well, that is funny since the FISA memo states that members of Obama's administration signed off on warrants to wiretap Trump based on false information. It was not just false information, but it was information that was manufactured all lies in a fake Russian scandal in an attempt to impeach Trump if he did get elected. 
Of course, you know this is driving Obama and Michelle crazy since they see the writing on the wall. The Obama's still have some friends left in D.C., and the word on the street is that there will be an inditement for Barack coming at the end of March. Now, here is where some could say is just a coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences and neither should you. 
According to recent reports, Barack Obama is planning on taking his corrupt tail to New Zealand in March to celebrate the opening of Air New Zealand's new route to the U.S. Here is more from New Zealand Herald: 
"Former US President Barack Obama will finally go ahead with his promise to visit New Zealand on a trip in March. 
The Herald on Sunday understands Obama will visit on about March 21 arranged by Air New Zealand. 
It is understood the contract is due to be finalised and the visit announced next week. 
The reason for the visit is unknown but there has been speculation Air NZ is about to launch a new route to the United States, likely Chicago which is Obama's hometown.
Snopes calls Freedom Daily a disreputable website. One can understand why.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Is @Team_Trump45 an underground Trump election campaign Twitter account?


Peel back the layers and it appears highly likely that this Twitter account which Donald J. Trump, first as a presidential candidate and now as US president, likes to retweet was actually created by his election campaign team.




Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Study finds Trump, right-wing extremism and fake news won the media battle during the 2016 US presidential election campaign


In which Facebook Inc is identified as a major commercial player in the media landscape and a significant purveyor of fake news, as well as giving page space to highly partisan and clickbait news sites.

Excerpts from Harvard University, Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society, Rob Faris et al, Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, 16 August 2017:

Both winners and losers of the 2016 presidential election describe it as a political earthquake. Donald Trump was the most explicitly populist candidate in modern history. He ran an overtly anti-elite and anti-media campaign and embraced positions on trade, immigration, and international alliances, among many other topics, that were outside elite consensus. Trump expressed these positions in starkly aggressive terms. His detractors perceived Trump’s views and the manner in which he communicated them as alarming, and his supporters perceived them as refreshing and candid. He was outraised and outspent by his opponents in both the primary and the general election, and yet he prevailed—contrary to the conventional wisdom of the past several elections that winning, or at least staying close, in the money race is a precondition to winning both the nomination and the election.

In this report we explore the dynamics of the election by analyzing over two million stories related to the election, published online by approximately 70,000 media sources between May 1, 2015, and Election Day in 2016. We measure how often sources were linked to by other online sources and how often they were shared on Facebook or Twitter. Through these sharing patterns and analysis of the content of the stories, we identify both what was highly salient according to these different measures and the relationships among different media, stories, and Twitter users.

Our clearest and most significant observation is that the American political system has seen not a symmetrical polarization of the two sides of the political map, but rather the emergence of a discrete and relatively insular right-wing media ecosystem whose shape and communications practices differ sharply from the rest of the media ecosystem, ranging from the center-right to the left. Right-wing media were centered on Breitbart and Fox News, and they presented partisan-disciplined messaging, which was not the case for the traditional professional media that were the center of attention across the rest of the media sphere. The right-wing media ecosystem partly insulated its readers from nonconforming news reported elsewhere and moderated the effects of bad news for Donald Trump’s candidacy. While we observe highly partisan and clickbait news sites on both sides of the partisan divide, especially on Facebook, on the right these sites received amplification and legitimation through an attention backbone that tied the most extreme conspiracy sites like Truthfeed, Infowars, through the likes of Gateway Pundit and Conservative Treehouse, to bridging sites like Daily Caller and Breitbart that legitimated and normalized the paranoid style that came to typify the right-wing ecosystem in the 2016 election. This attention backbone relied heavily on social media.

For the past 20 years there has been substantial literature decrying the polarization of American politics. The core claim has been that the right and the left are drawing farther apart, becoming more insular, and adopting more extreme versions of their own arguments. It is well established that political elites have become polarized over the past several decades, while other research has shown that the electorate has also grown apart. Other versions of the argument have focused on the internet specifically, arguing that echo chambers or filter bubbles have caused people of like political views to read only one another and to reinforce each other’s views, leading to the adoption of more extreme views. These various arguments have focused on general features of either the communications system or political psychology—homophily, confirmation bias, in-group/out-group dynamics, and so forth. Many commentators and scholars predicted and measured roughly symmetric polarization on the two sides of the political divide.

Our observations of the 2016 election are inconsistent with a symmetric polarization hypothesis. Instead, we see a distinctly asymmetric pattern with an inflection point in the center-right—the least populated and least influential portion of the media spectrum. In effect, we have seen a radicalization of the right wing of American politics: a hollowing out of the center-right and its displacement by a new, more extreme form of right-wing politics. During this election cycle, media sources that attracted attention on the center-right, center, center-left, and left followed a more or less normal distribution of attention from the center-right to the left, when attention is measured by either links or tweets, and a somewhat more left-tilted distribution when measured by Facebook shares. By contrast, the distribution of attention on the right was skewed to the far right. The number of media outlets that appeared in the center-right was relatively small; their influence was generally low, whether measured by inlinks or social media shares; and they tended to link out to the traditional media—such as the New York Times and the Washington Post—to the same extent as did outlets in the center, center-left, and left, and significantly more than did outlets on the right. The number of farther-right media outlets is very large, and the preponderance of attention to these sources, which include Fox News and Breitbart, came from media outlets and readers within the right. This asymmetry between the left and the right appears in the link ecosystem, and is even more pronounced when measured by social media sharing…..

Our data suggest that the “fake news” framing of what happened in the 2016 campaign, which received much post-election attention, is a distraction. Moreover, it appears to reinforce and buy into a major theme of the Trump campaign: that news cannot be trusted. The wave of attention to fake news is grounded in a real phenomenon, but at least in the 2016 election it seems to have played a relatively small role in the overall scheme of things. We do indeed find stories in our data set that come from sites, like Ending the Fed, intended as political clickbait to make a profit from Facebook, often with no real interest in the political outcome…..

Our observations suggest that fixing the American public sphere may be much harder than we would like. One feature of the more widely circulated explanations of our “post-truth” moment—fake news sites seeking Facebook advertising, Russia engaging in a propaganda war, or information overload leading confused voters to fail to distinguish facts from false or misleading reporting—is that these are clearly inconsistent with democratic values, and the need for interventions to respond to them is more or less indisputable. If profit-driven fake news is the problem, solutions like urging Facebook or Google to use technical mechanisms to identify fake news sites and silence them by denying them advertising revenue or downgrading the visibility of their sites seem, on their face, not to conflict with any democratic values. Similarly, if a foreign power is seeking to influence our democratic process by propagandistic means, then having the intelligence community determine how this is being done and stop it is normatively unproblematic. If readers are simply confused, then developing tools that will feed them fact-checking metrics while they select and read stories might help. These approaches may contribute to solving the disorientation in the public sphere, but our observations suggest that they will be working on the margins of the core challenge……  

In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election. We document that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda: when reporting on Hillary Clinton, coverage primarily focused on the various scandals related to the Clinton Foundation and emails. When focused on Trump, major substantive issues, primarily immigration, were prominent. Indeed, immigration emerged as a central issue in the campaign and served as a defining issue for the Trump campaign.

We find that the structure and composition of media on the right and left are quite different. The leading media on the right and left are rooted in different traditions and journalistic practices. On the conservative side, more attention was paid to pro-Trump, highly partisan media outlets. On the liberal side, by contrast, the center of gravity was made up largely of long-standing media organizations steeped in the traditions and practices of objective journalism.

Our data supports lines of research on polarization in American politics that focus on the asymmetric patterns between the left and the right, rather than studies that see polarization as a general historical phenomenon, driven by technology or other mechanisms that apply across the partisan divide.

The analysis includes the evaluation and mapping of the media landscape from several perspectives and is based on large-scale data collection of media stories published on the web and shared on Twitter……

Immigration emerged as the leading substantive issue of the campaign. Initially, the Trump campaign used a hard-line anti-immigration stance to distinguish Trump from the field of GOP contenders. Later, immigration was a wedge issue between the left and the right. Pro-Trump media sources supported this with sensationalistic, race-centric coverage of immigration focused on crime, terrorism, fear of Muslims, and disease.

While coverage of his candidacy was largely critical, Trump dominated media coverage…..

Conservative media disrupted.
Breitbart emerges as the nexus of conservative media. The Wall Street Journal is treated by social media users as centrist and less influential. The rising prominence of Breitbart along with relatively new outlets such as the Daily Caller marks a significant reshaping of the conservative media landscape over the past several years…..  

Donald Trump succeeded in shaping the election agenda. Coverage of Trump overwhelmingly outperformed coverage of Clinton. Clinton’s coverage was focused on scandals, while Trump’s coverage focused on his core issues.
Figure 1: Number of sentences by topic and candidate from May 1, 2015, to November 7, 2016

On the partisan left and right, the popularity of media sources varies significantly across the different platforms. On the left, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, and Vox are prominent on all platforms. On the right, Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Caller, and the New York Post are popular across platforms.

Table 1: Most popular media on the right from May 1, 2015, to November 7, 2016

Table 2: Most popular media on the left from May 1, 2015, to November 7, 2016

Disinformation and propaganda are rooted in partisanship and are more prevalent on social media.

The most obvious forms of disinformation are most prevalent on social media and in the most partisan fringes of the media landscape. Greater popularity on social media than attention from media peers is a strong indicator of reporting that is partisan and, in some cases, dubious.

Among the set of top 100 media sources by inlinks or social media shares, seven sources, all from the partisan right or partisan left, receive substantially more attention on social media than links from other media outlets.


These sites do not necessarily all engage in misleading or false reporting, but they are clearly highly partisan. In this group, Gateway Pundit is in a class of its own, known for “publishing falsehoods and spreading hoaxes.”

Disproportionate popularity on Facebook is a strong indicator of highly partisan and unreliable media.

A distinct set of websites receive a disproportionate amount of attention from Facebook compared with Twitter and media inlinks. From the list of the most prominent media, 13 sites fall into this category. Many of these sites are cited by independent sources and media reporting as progenitors of inaccurate if not blatantly false reporting. Both in form and substance, the majority of these sites are aptly described as political clickbait. Again, this does not imply equivalency across these sites. Ending the Fed is often cited as the prototypical example of a media source that published false stories. The Onion is an outlier in this group, in that it is explicitly satirical and ironic, rather than, as is the case with the others, engaging in highly partisan and dubious reporting without explicit irony.


Asymmetric vulnerabilities: The right and left were subject to media manipulation in different ways.

The more insulated right-wing media ecosystem was susceptible to sustained network propaganda and disinformation, particularly misleading negative claims about Hillary Clinton. Traditional media accountability mechanisms—for example, fact-checking sites, media watchdog groups, and cross-media criticism—appear to have wielded little influence on the insular conservative media sphere. Claims aimed for “internal” consumption within the right-wing media ecosystem were more extreme, less internally coherent, and appealed more to the “paranoid style” of American politics than claims intended to affect mainstream media reporting.

The institutional commitment to impartiality of media sources at the core of attention on the left meant that hyperpartisan, unreliable sources on the left did not receive the same amplification that equivalent sites on the right did.

These same standard journalistic practices were successfully manipulated by media and activists on the right to inject anti-Clinton narratives into the mainstream media narrative. A key example is the use of the leaked Democratic National Committee’s emails and her campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, released through Wikileaks, and the sustained series of stories written around email-based accusations of influence peddling. Another example is the book and movie release of Clinton Cash together with the sustained campaign that followed, making the Clinton Foundation the major post-convention story. By developing plausible narratives and documentation susceptible to negative coverage, parallel to the more paranoid narrative lines intended for internal consumption within the right-wing media ecosystem, and by “working the refs,” demanding mainstream coverage of anti-Clinton stories, right-wing media played a key role in setting the agenda of mainstream, center-left media. We document these dynamics in the Clinton Foundation case study section of this report.

The New York Times, 6 September 2017:

Fake Russian Facebook Accounts Bought $100,000 in Political Ads

Providing new evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on hot-button issues purchased by a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin.

Most of the 3,000 ads did not refer to particular candidates but instead focused on divisive social issues such as race, gay rights, gun control and immigration, according to a post on Facebook by Alex Stamos, the company’s chief security officer. The ads, which ran between June 2015 and May 2017, were linked to some 470 fake accounts and pages the company said it had shut down.

Facebook officials said the fake accounts were created by a Russian company called the Internet Research Agency, which is known for using “troll” accounts to post on social media and comment on news websites.

The disclosure adds to the evidence of the broad scope of the Russian influence campaign, which American intelligence agencies concluded was designed to damage Hillary Clinton and boost Donald J. Trump during the election. Multiple investigations of the Russian meddling, and the possibility that the Trump campaign somehow colluded with Russia, have cast a shadow over the first eight months of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Facebook staff members on Wednesday briefed the Senate and House intelligence committees, which are investigating the Russian intervention in the American election. Mr. Stamos indicated that Facebook is also cooperating with investigators for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, writing that “we have shared our findings with U.S. authorities investigating these issues, and we will continue to work with them as necessary.”….

In its review of election-related advertising, Facebook said it had also found an additional 2,200 ads, costing $50,000, that had less certain indications of a Russian connection. Some of those ads, for instance, were purchased by Facebook accounts with internet protocol addresses that appeared to be in the United States but with the language set to Russian.