Idiot Voters and Trolling the Internet: Russia, Social Media Giants and US Elections

The program usually pokes fun, riddles and irks a fourth estate that has long given up the chase for verity.  Media Watch, after years of weather beaten but reliable service, remains Australia’s only real source of genuine critical comment about journalistic practice and its poorer practices. Over the years, it has exposed fictions, unearthed myths and lampooned incompetence.

Not, however, on this occasion. The November 13 program seemed to swallow the gruel on Russian interference in the US elections of 2016 with an un-ironic, unflinching insistence. Political figures from Congress and testimony from the Senate Judiciary Committee.  And, most of all, the US voter was made to look the fool.

Paul Barry, the host, explained that “Russians were spreading dirt on Hillary Clinton, using stolen Democratic Party emails, which Russian intelligence offered to the Trump campaign in 2016.”  Nothing is mentioned about any internal Democratic grievance, or dimension, that would have also fed this, not to mention the compromising accuracy of those emails.

What this program persistently emphasises is “dirt” – more appropriately gold dust, be it to elector or Trump supporter – that placed Clinton in a poor light.  Barry runs segments featuring a concerned Representative Adam Schiff, who claims to “now know as a result of the guilty plea by Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, that the Russians approached the Trump campaign as early as…

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