Reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Center for Media and Democracy have been analyzing 30 gigabytes of documents hacked from the Koch network and the Bradley Foundation, showing their plans for consolidating conservative power in five states - Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. Raw Story has a summary and links to the articles and other background. And, yes, Art Pope's involved. Read on ...
The trove of hacked documents shows that Bradley Foundation has recently given large grants to groups in these states, including a $575,000 commitment to five organizations in Colorado, two of which aim to “defund teachers unions and achieve real education reform”; $1.5 million to two groups founded and mostly funded by the Koch brothers’ biggest ally in North Carolina, Art Pope, to create a “disruptive communications framework” to amplify conservative news; and another $1.5 million to a group in Washington and a field office in Oregon to “educate union workers themselves about their rights” and “defund Big Labor.”
Money for Art Pope to encourage the spread of "disruptive" fake news in NC - any news outlet that reprints one of the Pope organization's op-eds or uses them for a source should be taken out to the woodshed.
NC reporters should be tripping over each other in a rush to talk with these two media outlets and examine the documents for more details about Art Pope's role with these organizations and whether there's any proof of Pope and others violating Federal or state campaign finance or money laundering laws. At the very least, it should remind any NC citizen with half a brain that the Koch brothers and their allies are wanting to use NC as their personal playground and sandbox to spread their own brand of radical politics and hate.
The next time Moore or Berger complains about "out of state agitators", just shove this 30 gigabytes of documents in their face.
I'm willing to bet ...
... cold hard cash that part of this money is being used for fake social media accounts to "amplify" the messaging from Pope's Civitas machine. If you've spent any time at news outlets around NC, I'm sure you've already seen fake accounts - fairly new with a bare minimum of information showing - that all seem to be using the same phrases and dog whistles.
Money to buy Carolina Plott Hound?
That's one of the worst website set-ups (nevermind the zany content) I've even seen. It's hard to tell where one issue ends and another begins. But if they want to waste money on some BS like that, full speed ahead. Channeling Steve Martin, maybe we can sell them a fur sink for their corporate bathroom...
It's not just a website
The main point isn't the website, no matter how amateurish it looks. Plott Hound doesn't look that different from Drudge.
The main part of the strategy for promulgating fake news is dissemination - hiring people to manage and people to write code for fake accounts on social media. The accounts can plant fake stories to spread rumors and misinformation that get shared in conservative circles to set a narrative, creating a mistrust of legitimate news sources in your audience. They can also be used to comment on legitimate stories, pointing to the fake stories or reiterating the talking points. Finally, the fake accounts can be used to give a false impression of support for an organization, candidate, or story through likes or shares.
Before Trump, I already saw the extreme right doing this in smaller ways. On major NC newspaper sites, you would regularly see comments, all looking like they were written by the same person; if you looked at the accounts behind the comments, they appeared to be fake with almost no public info and "liking" the same set of Pope-connected sites and causes.
Back during the debates about gun control after some of the high profile mass shootings, I noticed blocks of accounts on Facebook that kept popping up with comments using the same language on just about every local and national news site. I spent an evening looking over the accounts and doing some Google searching; some were obviously fake and some were genuine, but they all seem to trace back to a handful of people that were employees of the NRA.
Pope and Civitas have been planting news stories and op-eds in local papers around the state for many years. This money will likely be used to ramp up the Pope presence on social media to disseminate fake news in ways that won't be easy to trace or diffuse. During the next election cycle, expect an army of fake accounts, driven by automated scripts and programming, rather than human beings, to be flooding news sites and social media accounts with comments.