Recent attempts to distort COVID information in Florida are only a symptom of how GOP states will be undercounting or suppressing data. This is only part of the larger GOP project of vote suppression distorted by Trump’s ignorance of public policy. Even Rudy Giuliani has reemerged to flog Ukrainian disinformation about Biden. “The coronavirus pandemic has been a gift to disinformers. They have the infrastructure in place to exploit the crisis and the fear and anxiety it produces to their advantage.”
Key forms of disinformation campaigns revolve around voter suppression; claims of election rigging and voter fraud; conspiracy-mongering; race-baiting; disinformation about reproductive health; and demonizing socialism, Antifa, and leftism.
….homegrown disinformation is a much bigger problem, starting with President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and extending into a vast network of pro-Trump super PACs, right-wing media outlets, and an organized army of MAGA warriors happy to amplify every lie, false conspiracy, and misdirection online. Domestic disinformers have adopted tactics deployed by Russia and other hostile actors in 2016, optimizing them for 2020.
The lessons of 2016 haven’t been lost on the legions of far-right, pro-Trump conspiracy theorists who have their own web-based video and audio shows. With the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout posing threats to Trump’s reelection, the president’s online far-right boosters have taken up disinformation messaging designed to discredit the judgment of public health officials and scientists on the severity of the pandemic and the resulting COVID-19 disease. For instance, Rodney Howard-Browne, a Florida megachurch pastor who convened large church services in defiance of social distancing orders, claimed that the pandemic was “planned” at a 2019 New York event hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And Rick Wiles, a religious-right broadcaster and font of anti-Semitic lies, suggested that the coronavirus emergency may have been “staged” to shut down the U.S. (Despite ample documentation of Wiles’ conspiracy-mongering and anti-Semitism, he is regularly granted press credentials by both the White House and the Trump campaign.)
In fact, MAGA-world influencer Brenden Dilley, whose YouTube channel has more than 12,000 subscribers, laid bare the MAGA disinformation playbook last year when he baldly asserted, “It doesn’t have to be true; it just has to go viral.” In that episode of his show, he used the example of the false claim that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was then running for the Democratic presidential nomination, had a racist knick-knack on display in her kitchen. On a more recent edition of his YouTube show, he reiterated that reasoning when explaining why he was advancing a false story about MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.
The Trump campaign and pro-MAGA super PACs have made it clear that the old rules of politics no longer apply, and their base now largely believes in an alternative reality. The president spreads and amplifies so much disinformation on his Twitter feed that it’s nearly impossible to keep up, and GOP elected officials for the most part now follow suit. Republican operatives have built disinformation tactics into their strategies.
Rudy works with ex-KGB types to continue the disinformation campaign against Biden.
The Biden campaign viewed the release of the tapes as a continuation of a long-standing Russian effort to hurt the former vice president, pointing to the role that RT, the Russian state-controlled news network, played in promoting the tapes and Derkach’s ties to Russian interests.
“They heavily edited this, and it’s still a nothingburger that landed with a thud,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said.
As with Trump’s efforts regarding Ukraine last year, which included pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son, Biden’s circle reiterated how consistent the conversations on the tapes were with official U.S. and European policy at the time and with what Biden and Poroshenko have both said publicly since.
The release of the tape fragments by Derkach is a Russian provocation designed to tarnish Ukraine and drag the country artificially into the U.S. presidential campaign, Poroshenko’s political party, European Solidarity, said in a statement to Channel 5, the Ukrainian television network he owns. The party said it was an attempt to ruin the support Ukraine enjoys in the United States.