MSNBC Terrorism Analyst Details The “Deliberate” And “Massive” Russian Propaganda Effort To Elect Donald Trump
Malcolm Nance: "This Was Watergate 2.0, Only They Got Away With Everything"
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From the November 29 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
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CHRIS MATTHEWS (HOST): During the campaign, American security agencies suspected Russia and Vladimir Putin himself of orchestrating a breathtaking cyberattack into undermining U.S. democracy. In October, the U.S. formally accused the Kremlin of directing hacks of the Democratic National Committee, and last Friday, The Washington Post reported that Russia helped spread fake news in an effort to damage democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Specifically Russia's propaganda arm -- Sputnik, it's called -- falsely alleged that Clinton was taking a Parkinson's drug to treat fatigue and that a U.S. base in Turkey was surrounded by Turkish troops during last summer's coup. Well, the Kremlin's propaganda machine also pushed a fake story that people were paid to protest at Trump rallies. Some of these stories were read more than 8 million times. For more, we're joined right now by Malcolm Nance, MSNBC terrorism analyst and author of The Plot To Hack America. Malcolm, give us a sense, we know about the hacking of the DNC material and what John Podesta and that served to create a little mishegas in the Democratic world, embarrassed some people, Donna Brazile, people like that get into trouble over that. So we know that part. Tell us about the other part of their mischief making here, this fake news, this attempt to create propaganda that gets into the hearts and minds of voters here.
MALCOLM NANCE: Well, it's been very, very well documented over the last three to four months that Russia has -- and we've always known this because as you said a little earlier, people running around chasing the KGB and the Soviet Union. The country may have changed its political leadership, but they have not changed their propaganda and intelligence operations machinery. And they applied every aspect of that against this U.S. election including highly detailed propaganda organizations and using their state organ Sputnik, Russia Today, and paid trolls who operated -- The New York Times identified them operating out of St. Petersburg, the trolls of Alinka who created thousands of pro-Trump organizations and Twitter feeds and Facebook feeds and spread propaganda on a massive scale.
MATTHEWS: How do they get -- have there ever been examples where they penetrated into the mainstream press here? They've gotten into one of the major news networks, have they gotten into any major quality newspapers? Have they broken into our system which we do, I know the right doesn't, but I trust. Have they ever broken through the wall into real journalism here?
NANCE: Well, I personally can't attest to them breaking into the mainstream media. But what I can attest to is that they broke through the entirety of the alternative media world that guided all of the Trump campaign, tweets coming from Donald Trump and tweets going throughout their entire constellation of pro-Trump organizations. Russia practically ran that. I myself have been attacked by pro-Trump trolls and featured in Sputnik once it came out that we had identified their intelligence operation.
MATTHEWS: What do you think their primary goal, if they have one? Was it to get Trump elected or it was to diminish the worldwide respect for our democracy?
NANCE: I would like to think that an organization of the FSB's magnitude led by a former director of the -- a former KGB officer and director of the FSB would only want to create mischief and mayhem in the United States electoral system. But the process was so deliberate, an organizational operation like this would have taken hundreds of operators who would have had to have watched carefully the machinery of the United States on a minute-to-minute basis with regards to hacking and leaking the information in the way that they did. To do that that means that they were -- and obviously they only favored one candidate, and that candidate was elected.
MATTHEWS: And clearly going after the Democratic National Committee and embarrassing the people with all of those emails clearly was not addressed to the Republican National Committee at all.
NANCE: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, the only hacks that occurred, as we understand it, was Lindsay Graham -- an adamant opponent against Russia and the Ukraine -- John McCain, and Colin Powell. Colin Powell, who would have been the most noteworthy of the conservatives who would have endorsed Hillary Clinton. And they took him out very early by mid-September. So this was Watergate 2.0, only they got away with everything.