2018, a year consumed by misinformation

PolitiFact names its Lie of the Year; Google gets questioned about hate-filled videos on YouTube; and the Washington Post conducts a new poll to see if the public buys Trump's mistruths. Joan Walsh and Oliver Darcy join Brian Stelter to discuss.

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 4:14 PM
Updated: Dec 17, 2018 4:37 PM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Hack attack continues

We should be thinking about this in the present tense, not in the past tense. The workweek is beginning with a NEW warning that Russian hackers continued to support President Trump and sow division in the United States well after the 2016 election. This time the warning comes in a report commissioned by the Senate.

In fact, TWO reports about Russian interference are due to be released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday. Per CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, "the reports are based on data provided by the social media companies to the committee, much of which has not yet been made public."

O'Sullivan says "the reports don't appear to contain any bombshells, but they do shed light on the totality of the effort -- and it is vast. Read O'Sullivan and Kate Sullivan's story here...

Russia's aid to Trump "intensified" after election day

On Sunday night the Washington Post's Craig Timberg and Tony Romm wrote about a draft of the first report, which was completed by Oxford. The report documents how Russian operatives "used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters' interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office."

Timberg, speaking on Ana Cabrera's CNN show Sunday night, said the Internet Research Agency's efforts "actually intensified after election day," particularly on YouTube. He added: "There's no reason to think the Russians stopped. Why would they?"

Big Tech's role...

Thanks to O'Sullivan, CNN has some inside info about the second report, which was produced for the Senate by New Knowledge, an online intel firm. According to his source, the firm told the intel committee that social media companies might have provided the "bare minimum" amount of data for the probe. The firm also "advised lawmakers that there are likely more Russian accounts that the social media companies failed to identify, according to the person familiar with the report."

Big Tech has repeatedly said that it fell short in recognizing what was going on...

The IRA's media strategy

Donie O'Sullivan emails: My source says there's a whole section in the New Knowledge report devoted to examining the Internet Research Agency's "media impersonation and diminishment strategy."

NEWS IMPERSONATORS: The researchers found there was 44 Twitter accounts posing as US-related news organizations that had amassed more than 600,000 followers. The report notes that many of the phony news organizations posed as local outlets, and may have been based on studies that show Americans trust local media over national outlets. As CNN and other outlets have previously reported, the group also set up a bunch of phony sites targeting specific groups, such as "Black Matters US" that posed as a black activist group and actually conducted real interviews with Americans (always online or over phone)...

ERODING TRUST: The researchers found the Russians consistently "attempted to erode trust in mainstream media," I am told, and regularly portrayed WikiLeaks in a positive light.

The bottom line

The more we learn about the 2016 interference, the better. And it's especially important to understand what has happened since then. What are foreign actors doing now, and why? What's being done about it?

This isn't like a broken arm — something that can be fixed with time and attention. No. This can only be managed — it's a chronic condition like diabetes...

Trump's twittery weekend

A Mid-Atlantic rainstorm meant a weekend full of Trump tweets. He live-tweeted Fox shows; called Michael Cohen a "rat;" kicked The Weekly Standard while it's down; attacked Bill Kristol without having the decency to tag Kristol in the tweet; called "SNL" a "Democrat spin machine;" said "unfair" coverage "should be tested in courts;" insulted Jeff Sessions; and used the phrase "witch hunt" four times in a single day.

At one point in the tweetstorm, Ryan Lizza commented, "two tweets in one morning that would lead to calls for impeachment in normal times." Hey, speaking of Lizza...

Lizza and Nuzzi are writing a 2020 book together

Ryan Lizza and Olivia Nuzzi are pairing up to write a book for Simon & Schuster about the 2020 election. This is the first major book acquisition for the publisher's new Avid Reader imprint, which is being led by Jofie Ferrari-Adler and Ben Loehnen.

Nuzzi has a loyal audience at NYMag... and Lizza at Esquire... They've had editors reach out to them separately about potential book projects... But the notion of working together was much more enticing. Lizza and Nuzzi's media power couple status is not the hook for the book however -- the book aspires to be the definitive account of the 2020 race, both in DC and on the trail, told in the reported narrative style that both writers are known for...

FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

-- Another case of Rudy Giuliani going on TV and making things worse for his client? "Giuliani indicates conversations with Trump on Trump Tower Moscow occurred later than previously known..." (CNN)

-- New NBC/WSJ polling re: whether Trump has been honest about the Russia probe: 34% say yes, 62% say no... (NBC)

-- This is a great read by Roxanne Roberts: "Robert Mueller is the most unknowable man in Washington." She says "virtually everyone within Mueller's orbit refused to talk about him..." (WaPo)

HQ Trivia CEO found dead

Deepest condolences to Colin Kroll's family, friends and colleagues. The CEO and co-founder of HQ Trivia was found dead in the bedroom of his NYC apartment on Sunday morning. He was 34.

"The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death," per CNN's story. The NYT spoke with Kroll's father, who said Kroll "worked too many hours and too hard. I think New York City got to him a little bit."

As news of his death circulated on Sunday, Kurt Wagner's Recode story from last month recirculated. Wagner examined Kroll's recent promotion to CEO, "internal turmoil" at HQ Trivia, and concerns that the startup was just a "one-hit wonder." The story showed that Kroll was under tremendous pressure.

Time mag on a hiring spree

Three's a trend: Jeff Bezos bought WaPo and the paper hired lots of people. Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the LA Times and the paper is in the process of hiring lots of people. Marc Benioff bought Time, and now the magazine is posting 25 new jobs.

>> Benioff believes "in the potential of the brand," Time CEO and EIC Edward Felsenthal told me on Sunday's show. Read Jackie Wattles' recap of the interview here...

First look at Ramin Setoodeh's "View" tell-all

Variety's New York Bureau Chief Ramin Setoodeh has been working on a book about "The View" for the past three years. Now it's time to reveal the title, the cover and the release date:

St. Martin's Press will publish "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of 'The View'" on April 2, 2019. Whoever came up with the title deserves a bonus!

St. Martin's chair Sally Richardson: "The book is just like 'The View' itself: outrageous, shocking, moving, funny, and a true reflection of American culture."

Setoodeh has gone back to the creation of "The View" 21 years ago and has documented all the ups and downs since. He interviewed Barbara Walters, Rosie O'Donnell, Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, Jenny McCarthy, Meghan McCain, Bill Geddie, Anne Sweeney, Cindi Berger, Brian Teta, Candi Carter -- practically everyone involved with the show -- with a couple exceptions.

"The two cohosts who never agreed to sit down with me — even though I'd interviewed them both before — were Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck," Setoodeh told me. "Read it and you'll see why." Here's the Amazon page...

Read more of Sunday's "Reliable Sources" newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

-- Smart column by David Dodson for CNN Business Perspectives: "To hold Facebook accountable, stop calling it a tech company..." (CNN)

-- What?! "Arizona newspaper publisher uses his publication to accuse wife of poisoning attempt..." (AP via NBC)

-- "The tremors that continue to shake many newspapers are now moving through new media companies..." (WaPo)

-- Jim Rutenberg's Monday NYT column: "The most powerful print publication in America might just be The National Enquirer..." (NYT)

-- Yes, but... As I illustrated with this timeline on Sunday's show, the Enquirer suddenly stopped promoting Trump when its parent company was subpoenaed in April... So Trump has lost one of his biggest boosters... (CNN)

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Oxford
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75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
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Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 73°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the end of the weekend. We will see our area filled with plenty of sunshine but clouds will be on the increase into the evening hours. There will be some changes for the start work week in our weather forecast as low pressure brings back some chances for showers and thunderstorms.
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