“A paid army of ‘former reporters, bloggers’,” et al.
In keeping with the lumbering awkwardness of Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary campaign that has included herding reporters like cattle and adopting a phony Southern accent, Team Hillary has concocted a new means of countering widespread unflattering comments about Hillary online. Unlike Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Hillary does not enjoy an enthusiastic following even among those who support her, so she does not have the army of online people voluntarily engaged in defending her against attacks from both the left and the right.
The solution? A vast network of highly paid online pro-Hillary trolls funded by a David Brock super PAC, “Correct the Record,” that will be coordinating with the Hillary campaign. The plan, apparently, was to hire a bunch of people to do what other candidates’ supporters do for free . . . and to make it look grassroots and organic.
When the Internet’s legions of Hillary hecklers steal away to chat rooms and Facebook pages to vent grievances about Clinton, express revulsion toward Clinton and launch attacks on Clinton, they now may find themselves in a surprising place – confronted by a multimillion dollar super PAC working with Clinton.
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.
The plan comes as Clinton operatives grapple with the reality that her supporters just aren’t as engaged and aggressive online as are her detractors inside and outside the Democratic Party.
The lack of engagement is one of Clinton’s bigger tactical vulnerabilities, particularly when compared with rivals like Donald Trump, whose viral social media attacks are legion, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is backed by a passionate army of media-savvy millennials.
According to the LA Times, ” a paid army of ‘former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers; and others” will form this paid Hillary troll network.
“It is meant to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical,” said Brian Donahue, chief executive of the consulting firm Craft Media/Digital.
“That is what the Clinton campaign has always been about,” he said. “It runs the risk of being exactly what their opponents accuse them of being: a campaign that appears to be populist but is a smokescreen that is paid and brought to you by lifetime political operatives and high-level consultants.”
Brock, founder of the progressive organization Media Matters, is behind this latest attempt to astroturf Hillary support and enthusiasm.
The LA Times continues:
The task force designed to stop the spread of online misinformation and misogyny is the brainchild of David Brock, a Clinton confidant who once made a career of spreading such misinformation and misogynistic attacks against her and Bill Clinton. His critics say he kept his taste for dirty tricks when he switched sides to become one of the Clintons’ most valued operatives.
The mere mention of Correct the Record makes some critics seethe. Super PACs are typically prohibited from working in tandem with candidates, but Correct the Record is doing just that by exploiting a loophole in campaign finance law that it says permits such coordination with digital campaigns.
The left is great at astroturf ideas but not so great in their execution (does anyone remember the Coffee Party?), and it doesn’t look like this effort will be much different in terms of its success. Instead, it is ripe for mockery.
The reaction to the initiative from supporters of Sanders has been predictable – and it has not been to reconsider their vitriol toward the front-runner.
When actor Tim Robbins was confronted on Twitter after making the dubious assertion that election fraud is robbing Sanders of votes, he accused tweeters who challenged him of being paid shills for Brock. Within an hour, he had directed a variation of the same message at 88 different tweeters:
“Dear @CorrectRecord operatives, Thank you for following today’s talking points. Your check is in the mail. Signed, @davidbrockdc”
All of this is reminiscent of Obama’s various schemes to counter negative comments about him online. From “flag the fishy” to Attack Watch, the Obama administration has tried variations on this sort of thing, and the result has been some of the most hilarious ads and tweets in recent memory.
Remember this from Misfit Politics?
#CorrectTheRecord is generating its own mocking tweets, mostly (so far, anyway) from progressives and may be on its way to the dustbin of troll history, too:
— Jay Nelson ⏳? (@StoneSculptorJN) May 8, 2016
— ? Rebel Without A Pause ? (@YodaLivesNOW) April 30, 2016
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