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August 30, 2017 03:43 PM UTC

A case study in Russian influence: Republican officials parroting Russian twitter-bots

  • by: Charles Buchanan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Slate has an article out detailing Russian bot attempts to sow discord in the United States by ginning up racial strife in the wake of the tragic Charlottesville rally. It’s worth the read:

The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund that tracks efforts to undermine democratic governments, monitors a collection of 600 Twitter accounts that are known to be linked to Russian influence, including openly pro-Russian users, accounts that take part in Russian disinformation campaigns, and automated bot accounts that parrot Russian messaging. They found these accounts busy at work in the days after Charlottesville. “PhoenixRally,” “Antifa,” and “MAGA” were among the most common hashtags used by these accounts this week.

The Antifa hyperbole has been around for a while, but lately it has been a real obsession for many on the right. They seem to use it in a “whatabout” fashion either subconsciously or overtly in order to mitigate the damage from the close association Trump has created with racist and anti-American Nazi elements on the right.

Let me be clear: I am no fan of political violence. I denounce it categorically. I do not seek to escalate negative passions. But rather than confront the racist figures within their own party, including many we have reported on in the Colorado Times Recorder, the Colorado GOP has chosen to point at Antifa and make wild claims, exaggerating their numbers and their crimes in an effort to muddy the waters. Both sides!

Having said that, behold the paranoid thought bubble of the former Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Derrick Wilburn, who recently wrote this absolutely nuts conspiracy mongering article on the Allen B. West website:

Not only is Antifa just as bad as Nazis, Antifa was pretending to be Nazis and they are the ones who committed the violence! 

Joshua Hosler is a one time GOP candidate and current Vice Chair of the El Paso County GOP and does the work of ten Russian bots. He has no less than a dozen posts over the last week making increasingly hyperbolic claims about Antifa. Here is a typical example in which Joshua retweets Mike Cernovich. Cernovich is the extremist who helped push the “pizzagate” hoax which culminated in a person walking into the pizza restaurant with a gunto “investigate” and possibly free the fictional child sex slaves:

Even the cops are in on it!

Next we have Shawn Mitchell, a former Colorado state legislator. People like Mitchell are perfect marks for Russian influence campaigns. They tend to be extremely paranoid, think in apocalyptic terms, and imply constantly that mass violence is just around the corner.

Note that Shawn describes Nazi skinheads in sympathetic terms—”sick of being maligned and pushed aside”—before feeling compelled to “condemn” them.

Finally, we come to a guy who should really know better. Sitting State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton). Neville is ready to treat Antifa as “domestic terrorists”. This is pretty amazing considering that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies see the sovereign citizen movement and so-called “alt-right” (who are actually KKK, Nazis, and white supremacists) as the number one domestic terror threat in the United States and that the violence in Charlottesville was committed by an actual Nazi.

Then of course there is Confederate flag tattoo guy Justin Ratzlaff, the sitting Chair of the Otero County GOP, who thinks that if we start taking down Confederate statues then “people will be next”. I can only assume he thinks groups of Antifa are gonna start kidnapping people and “disappearing” them in the night. This is some extreme paranoia when you consider that the GOP controls all branches of government.

Who needs a Russian bot army when you have members of the Colorado GOP fanning the flames like these guys do? Let’s hope the violence they imply might happen is not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether they know it or not, they are willing pawns in Putin’s effort to sow discord and racial strife in the United States.

This story appeared originally in the Colorado Times Recorder


19 thoughts on “A case study in Russian influence: Republican officials parroting Russian twitter-bots

  1. Also Tim Neville doesn't know better.  He is an extreme right-wing ideologue who thinks the US needs to conform to his worldview.  

    But, hey, he is the arbiter of his own facts. 

  2. One wonders how deep the conspiracy would have to run so that David Duke and Richard Spencer were taken in by the "United the Right" invitation, thus serving as cover for a false flag operation. And to set up reports about the driver's past enthusiasm while on high school trip to Germany.

    If the antifa can be that devilishly clever, perhaps they have been setting up a Colorado False Flag operation swirling round the Neville family. Creating a whole set of "leaders" of the right who will, on some future signal, lead conservatives into political irrelevance or somehow discredit the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

  3. BlueCat used to refer to Moldy and his ilk as "the Borg."

    That really does accurately describe them. They're all drones linked into a collective but occasionally speak through one of their mouth pieces.


      1. Yes, they did. And they called him Locutus. But eventually the Enterprise crew disconnected him from the hive and made him fully human again.

        Sadly, I think it's too late to do anything to help Moderatus.

  4. Infographic on frequency of alt right buzzwords, propagated by Russian sources:

    The article's from NewsTalkers, via Securing Democracy.

    I don’t think most of our trolls are even aware that they are pushing Russian-generated propaganda.

    Miss Nixon yet?

    1. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave at his descendants parroting Russian-generated propaganda.

      1. This kind of fits with the topic.  The Russians do want us to be as dysfunctional as possible and Trump taking money away from disaster recovery and using it for his bigly wall fits his pattern of subverting our country for his Russian overlords.

      1. According to Moderatus, Sen. James Inhofe, and the Screaming Yam, all is well, nothing to see here, and it's all a big hoax perpetrated by Jina and Al Gore.

        Fake news….probably created on the same Hollywood set as the moon landing. 

  5. Who is this Justin Ratzlaff? (posting the Federalist Society’s veiled threats) Any relation to Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff and Jace Ratzlaff? Do you know, Moderatus?

    That meme Justin Ratzlaff posted reeks of the same racist threats Georgia lawmaker Jason Spencer made to a black attorney – that she may “go missing” if statues are threatened.

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