NBC's Heidi Przybyla reports that Russian trolls boosted anti-Muslim lies from John Bolton's nonprofit
Przybyla: "The Russians saw common purpose with this group, with this Gatestone Institute, in promoting and fanning anti-Muslim news in order to affect elections"
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From the April 23 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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HEIDI PRZYBYLA (NBC NEWS): We have exclusive new details about this nonprofit, the Gatestone Institute, that [national security adviser] John Bolton chaired. And that is that, not only was some of the information they put out patently false, they had false headlines, but some of it was also amplified by Russian troll factory.
NBC News has an exclusive database of deleted Russian troll accounts. We cross-referenced that and found that in at least a few cases, this Russian troll factory, which can be linked back to the Russian government state efforts to influence the U.S. election, was amplifying some of Gatestone's work.
Now, it's important to note that John Bolton himself didn't author any of these pieces, and when I reached out to the president of the Gatestone Institute, Nina Rosenwald, she said they had no idea that this was going on with the Russian troll factories. But what it does show, Mika, is that at least the Russians saw common purpose with this group, with this Gatestone Institute, in promoting and fanning anti-Muslim news in order to affect elections.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (CO-HOST): Wow.
PRZYBYLA: Our database also was only of tweets that affected the U.S. elections. Of course, a database of tweets that affecting the European elections might have more information in it as well.
BRZEZINSKI: So, any response from the White House or from Bolton himself?
PRZYBYLA: We did reach out to the White House a couple of different times, including right before the story was going to run. I was assured that Bolton was aware of the story, but they said that they don't comment on outside nonprofits.
Of course, I was in touch also with the president of this group who sent through numerous articles which required translation. They were in French and German. And in a number of those cases we just, Mika, didn't find that many of them matched the headlines that they were putting out. For instance, we got one that said that there were no-go zones in France and warring Muslims. Well, I had that translated and there was no reference in there actually to quote unquote “warring Muslims.” Now, there was a few different themes that came out in this reporting. One was, for instance, about mosques displacing churches in Britain.
And again, we clicked into that headline and we actually tracked down an expert on religious institutions in Britain. And, guess what, we found that actually the number of churches has been growing because of mass migration from places like Romania and Poland.