Tuesday News: Burn before reading

PRO-TRUMP FAKE NEWS SITE COULD BE NC STATE STUDENTS: On Monday, administrators of the group told McClatchy News they are students at N.C. State University in Raleigh who are conducting a “social media project to see how fast news will spread.” They did not provide their names. “Truth is not the goal,” administrators said in a private Facebook message. “Getting Trump re-elected is the ultimate goal.” A spokesperson from N.C. State told McClatchy News they had no knowledge of “any type of ‘social media project’” the page administrator cited. Winston-Salem police said incorrect stories have been shared on social media about its officers doing good deeds. The department didn’t name North Carolina Breaking News, but the Facebook page has shared stories about the Triad city. North Carolina Breaking News has also shared false reports about unconfirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina, a woman in Wilmington who gave birth to 18 babies in a single pregnancy and conspiracy theories involving a 6-year-old killed in South Carolina. It has encouraged its followers to vote a straight Republican ticket to “help prevent Coronavirus.”

BOLTON WANTED TO TESTIFY IN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, CRITICIZES TRUMP POLICIES AT DUKE: Breaking his silence, former national security advisor John Bolton visited Duke University on Monday to speak about national security challenges. He spoke to a sold-out crowd of 1,200 people in his first appearance since the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump finished. Bolton criticized Trump’s approach on foreign policy, specifically with North Korea, saying it was “doomed to fail.” Since his ouster, Bolton has not given any interviews or spoken publicly about a book he is writing, to be titled, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir." Bolton associates told The Times, "He believes that he has relevant insight to present before senators vote on whether to remove Trump. He is also concerned that if his account of Trump’s Ukraine dealings comes out after the trial, he will be accused of withholding potentially incriminating material in order to increase his book sales." The Senate voted against hearing from Bolton or any other witnesses in the course of voting, along party lines, to acquit Trump on the two articles of impeachment.

LINDBERG TRIAL BEGINS TODAY IN CHARLOTTE: North Carolina's largest political donor in recent years and two associates are heading to trial on corruption-related charges nearly a year after a federal indictment was filed against them. Greg E. Lindberg, an insurance company magnate and investor, along with Lindberg consultant John Gray and former Lindberg company employee John Palermo, were expected in Charlotte federal court on Tuesday. Jury selection will occur before opening statements and evidence are presented in the case. Federal prosecutors contend the three participated in a scheme to bribe elected North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey with up to $2 million in campaign money so scrutiny of Lindberg's businesses would ease. Causey, a Republican, told law enforcement voluntarily about what was happening and agreed to cooperate with authorities, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

BLOOMBERG HEADS INTO DEBATE WITH A TARGET ON HIS HEAD: Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg qualified for Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday, setting the stage for a clash that will test the staying power of a campaign that has so far been defined by its astronomical advertising spending. Many leading contenders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination have made clear that they hope to turn the debate into a showdown over Bloomberg’s record on race, his enormous spending on the contest and the history of confidentiality agreements he has struck with women who accused him of making inappropriate comments in the workplace. Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey confirmed in a statement Tuesday morning that Bloomberg would attend the debate. “Mike is looking forward to joining the other Democratic candidates onstage and making the case for why he’s the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country,” Sheekey said. “The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process.”

WARREN SUPPORTERS CLAIM SHE IS BEING ERASED: When her caucus-night speech in Iowa was cut off, her campaign aides complained privately to cable networks. When her speech after the New Hampshire primary was not carried live at all, they took their criticism public. “Elizabeth hasn’t been getting the same kind of media coverage as candidates she outperformed,” read a recent fund-raising email to supporters. “We can’t count on the media to cover our campaign fairly, so we’re taking our case directly to voters.” If the campaign is trying to rally supporters at a time when Ms. Warren’s candidacy hangs in the balance, it is also trying to move on from some recent political events: Her much-touted campaign organization did not show a dramatic payoff in the first two contests, and polling in Nevada, South Carolina and Super Tuesday states has shown little improvement among the black and Latino Democrats she once thought could spring her to the nomination. At events in Nevada, backers rattled off talking points like members of Ms. Warren’s press team. They pointed to polling that showed her with more support among nonwhite voters than Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. They noted her large staff on the ground in states that vote on Super Tuesday. They criticized the “corporate media” in ways that echoed supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “She’s a female candidate, and the media hasn’t taken her seriously,” said Matt Newton, 46. “They give so much attention to the male candidates.”



Could be, but I don't think so

This new site has a strong human presence, with verbiage that carries a racist tone. Words like "thug" and "colored" scattered here and there, and a very active editorial/management element. Dozens have been banned from commenting after raising questions, whereas the other fake news sites had no human presence detectable.

Of course, those other Facebook pages had very little traffic, so this could be a new approach by the same entities to get more bang. But this one feels more like right-wing trolls (like some who have come here), clumsily attempting to gaslight the left. They "accidentally" posted a news story in Cyrillic, which I believe was done just to get people to conclude it's a Russian operation. Trolls get off on shit like that.

Page has been removed

Hopefully by Facebook and not the trolls themselves, but we'll have to keep our eyes open for its replacement.

Facebook has now announced...

that they are taking down North Carolina Breaking News. Whether the blast of publicity or complaints to Facebook or their own systems to detect trolling finally did the trick is an open question, but at least they're acting correctly. Of course, it would have been nice if the page hadn't been left up for a month to pull its dirty tricks and accumulate over 50,000 followers, but there you have it. At least it will be gone and we can watch for any other efforts to do the same kind of thing (and there will be such efforts, you can lay good money on it.)