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Cambridge Analytica brags about weaponizing 'Crooked Hillary' slogan

This week we learned that an infamous Donald Trump slogan for his opponent -- "Crooked Hillary" -- may have been weap...

Posted: Mar 22, 2018 8:19 AM
Updated: Mar 22, 2018 8:19 AM

This week we learned that an infamous Donald Trump slogan for his opponent -- "Crooked Hillary" -- may have been weaponized on his behalf by Cambridge Analytica in its campaign ads for Trump. In a report by Britain's Channel 4, Cambridge Analytica's CEO, Alexander Nix, claims he orchestrated the online viral growth of some of the most damaging and false narratives about Hillary Clinton -- including the "Crooked Hillary" slogan.

Why does this matter?

Because the Trump team has been attempting to minimize the role of Cambridge Analytica, including its ties to the firm and the impact of the firm's work, for months.

This story, particularly in relation to Cambridge Analytica's work practices, isn't entirely new. There was extensive reporting on the role of the firm in targeting voters back to 2016. News reports at the time confirmed that the Trump team shelled out $5 million in September alone to Cambridge Analytica and referred to the firm as its "secret weapon."

But over the same period our understanding of and concern about the role the Kremlin played in disseminating disinformation across social media channels and the extent to which Russia pushed false narratives about Hilary Clinton has also increased.

As has the work of special counselor Robert Mueller, who is leaving no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of the what, how and why of Russia's involvement in the 2016 election -- and the possibility that the Trump campaign may be connected.

And now the Cambridge Analytica story is beginning to emerge with even greater detail, raising some major red flags.

Not only did the Trump campaign pay Cambridge Analytica millions of dollars to get information to target voters, but we also know now that the Russian researcher who harvested the Facebook data of millions of Americans -- which he then sold to Cambridge Analytica -- also worked with a group at Russia's St. Petersburg University in 2014 on a similar project. Seems like more than a strange coincidence.

Defenders of Cambridge make a similar argument to that of many former Trump campaign staffers and supporters: They simply weren't competent enough to coordinate with the Russians and meddle in an election. That spin rings hollow when it comes from supporters of the Trump team, given the number of undisclosed meetings and the clear willingness to accept damaging information on Trump's opponent. And it certainly does not fly when this same firm claiming naivete also employed a Russian researcher to mine the personal data of Americans and perhaps took advantage of one of Trump's favorite campaign slogans.

There are valid questions about Facebook's policy, too, and how the company didn't disclose -- after it became aware of the issue in 2015 -- that a Russian academic had sold the personal data of millions of Americans to a firm working for the Trump campaign.

And there are valid questions about whether Russia's election meddling changed the outcome. The truth is we don't know for sure.

But regardless of the impact and about the steps that will and should be taken from here, the legal and political question is about the intent of the Trump team. Did the Trump team, with the help of a data firm it hired, coordinate with the Russians to meddle in the election in 2016?

And no one has stated the thrust of the issue more clearly than Hillary Clinton: "The real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania -- that is really the nub of the question. So, if they were getting advice from say Cambridge Analytica, or someone else, about 'OK here are the 12 voters in this town in Wisconsin -- that's whose Facebook pages you need to be on to send these messages' that indeed would be very disturbing."

While there isn't definitive evidence the Russians did such precise targeting -- as Clinton's comments suggest -- there is growing evidence that the Russians gathered intel on Americans and bought anti-Clinton ads on Facebook and other forms of social media to influence the electorate.

And President Trump is really not helping matters by congratulating the very man behind the meddling in the US presidential on his re-election, which he achieved by excluding candidates who presented any real threat of winning the Russian presidency.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5269106
DeSoto332627
Madison229756
Harrison215232
Rankin214628
Jackson199434
Jones177457
Forrest164053
Washington149232
Lauderdale132988
Lee123930
Neshoba119788
Lamar112112
Oktibbeha105435
Lowndes98932
Warren96427
Scott95517
Bolivar94832
Copiah91724
Panola91211
Sunflower90822
Lafayette88111
Holmes84747
Leflore84059
Pike83232
Grenada81320
Yazoo78611
Leake76825
Lincoln74540
Pontotoc7377
Wayne73321
Simpson71227
Monroe70250
Coahoma66310
Tate65023
Marion60118
Covington58811
Adams58425
Marshall5718
Winston57115
George5475
Union53113
Newton51611
Attala49824
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48536
Walthall45318
Chickasaw43819
Noxubee41910
Claiborne40013
Smith38013
Calhoun3788
Jasper3768
Clay37013
Alcorn3574
Prentiss3426
Hancock33614
Tishomingo3204
Lawrence3135
Tippah31212
Yalobusha31210
Itawamba30710
Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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