“So now the question becomes: how did Russia know to target African American voters, and especially in certain key states,” asked popular #Resistance pundit Amy Siskind in response to a New York Times article claiming Russian social media trolls targeted Sanders supporters and Black voters during the 2016 election.

“I think we’ll get our answers in the coming months from the Mueller probe,” Siskind speculated.

Well that’s a mighty good question there, Amy, and I think the answer is pretty obvious. Clearly Russia knew to target African American voters because Donald Trump called his boss Vladimir Putin and told him about America’s secret racial issues, which nobody in any foreign country could ever know about on their own. Then it was a simple matter of sending the trolls of St Petersburg’s Internet Research Agency to trick Black people into thinking that the American political system hasn’t been working for them, thereby ensuring the defeat of the rightful heir to the presidential throne, Hillary Rodham Clinton. It’s not disenfranchised voters’ fault that Hillary’s coronation failed to take place, it’s the fault of Russian memes on social media which confused their silly heads about who they wanted to vote for!

Or, alternate theory: everything about that question is immensely stupid.

This whole story is unbelievably idiotic. Not just because it’s based on a report by a private cybersecurity company that was founded by an NSA veteran, a company which would have every incentive to bend its findings in the most sensational way possible to attract clients with a viral new “bombshell” story about Russian election meddling. Not just because it infantilizes voters by implying that a smattering of cutesy memes deprived them of independent agency and caused the failure of Hillary Clinton’s historically awful presidential campaign. Not just because of the sleazy gaslighting element inherent in a narrative which insinuates that a populace meant to elect a different candidate but got confused. By far the dumbest thing about this story is the implicit suggestion that only Russian propaganda was at play during the 2016 election, and no other propaganda.

It’s often claimed that the dastardly Russians had a $1.2 million monthly budget for US social media influence in the lead-up to the 2016 election, but that’s false. As Aaron Maté noted back in February, this figure actually covers the Russian troll farm’s total operating budget, which was for “domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in various countries, including the United States.” So the actual monthly budget was some thousands of dollars, and most of the troll farm’s posts weren’t even about the election. Contrast that with Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion campaign budget and the untold billions of dollars worth of free mass media coverage she received, and even if everything we’re being told about Russia’s “influence campaign” is completely true, that’s a microscopic drop in the bucket.

FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver, a fairly reliable establishment loyalist, tweeted today about the new Russia report saying “If you wrote out a list of the most important factors in the 2016 election, I’m not sure that Russian social media memes would be among the top 100. The scale was quite small and there’s not much evidence that they were effective.”

“For instance, this story makes a big deal about a (post-election) Russian social media disinformation campaign on Bob Mueller based on… 5,000 tweets? That’s **nothing**. Platform-wide, there are something like 500,000,000 tweets posted each day,” Silver continued.

For all the fearmongering we see in the mass media about “Russian propaganda”, propaganda from Russia actually constitutes an almost nonexistent percentage of the media westerners consume which is designed to influence the way they think, act and vote. You can go your whole life without ever encountering any propaganda that was cooked up by the Kremlin, yet every day you are surrounded by screens, billboards and literature aimed at manipulating you into supporting the corporatist oligarchy that rules the nation you live in. The only reason anyone thinks Russian psyops have any kind of meaningful influence on people’s minds is because the mass media have been shrieking about it day in and day out for two years without ever contrasting it with the rest of the propaganda they consume.

But within all the hysterical hand-wringing about Russian propaganda there is an important admission: these mass media talking heads are all openly acknowledging that there exists a science for manipulating the minds of the public, and that it is very effective. Now if they could only admit that they are the world’s greatest practitioners of this science, they’d be telling the full story.

Of course, that’s the part of the story they’ll never tell you. They tell you their concern is that Russians are trying to manipulate your mind with propaganda, but really their concern is that they want to be the only ones manipulating your mind with propaganda. They tell you Russian propaganda is so dangerous that it’s necessary to censor the internet and hide all narratives which aren’t in line with the ruling establishment in order to protect democracy, but really all they want is to have full control of the narratives you consume. This is evidenced in the article by the Washington Post which kicked off this latest round of Russia panic, which reports the following:

The report expressed concern about the overall threat social media poses to political discourse within nations and among them, warning that companies once viewed as tools for liberation in the Arab world and elsewhere are now threats to democracy.


“Social media have gone from being the natural infrastructure for sharing collective grievances and coordinating civic engagement to being a computational tool for social control, manipulated by canny political consultants and available to politicians in democracies and dictatorships alike,” the report said.

There does indeed exist a science for manipulating the minds of the people. It is indeed very effective, and it has been developed, refined and perfected for over a century. Propaganda works, and even establishment mouthpieces like the New York Times and the Washington Post admit it. Think powerful people in your own country aren’t using it on you? Think again.


That was fun. So, the best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitterthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet new merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

45 responses to “Mass Media’s Russia Hysteria Is Openly Acknowledging The Power Of Propaganda”

  1. The NYTimes is not just fanning flames of Russian hatred but also covering for Hillary’s failed campaign.
    The fact is, Hillary was a terrible candidate that ran an awful campaign.
    Anyone familiar with the many failures in her campaign, would question if she really meant to win.
    The fact is, a popular nationalist is just what the Empire needed to counter Russia and China. Hillary is not one to stand in the way of such an imperative. And she is no popular nationalist herself.
    But her friend Trump was. And now he is President. And McCain’s friend Pence is Vice President.
    Dembots will attack such thinking. But one really has to TRY to be as hated by the left and right as Hillary was. She colluded against Sanders then picked Tim Kaine as running mate and brought disgraced Debra Wasserman Shultz into her campaign; she took the black vote for granted and treated BLM coldly; she took $750,000 from Goldman Sacks for a speech but would deny working class people a living wage; she called white conservatives “deplorables” and angered them by championing “Obama’s legacy”.
    If Sanders was a sheepdog (see link below) and Hillary threw the race to Trump, what kind of Democracy do we have?
    Along those lines, the use of British companies by both parties seems quite suspicious. Did Trump really need Cambridge Analytica for voter targeting? We have since learned that Facebook many other companies similar access to its databases. Did the Democrats _really_ need to engage Fusion GPS for opposition research? Why was Simon Bracey-Lane, a British citizen now linked to a British propaganda outfit (Integrity Initiative) working (at no charge) for the Sanders campaign? It is known that CIA uses MI6 when there is a need for operations on US soil.

  2. The Russians ate my homework.

  3. The Deep State are getting nervous, the populist are waking up, the truth is spreading, and confidence in this current system is falling off a cliff, but when you have a dick head Prime Minster like Morrison who takes decisions from his Zionist Pigs in Apartheid Israel, totally ignoring the deliberate murder of the Palistinian’s, AGAINST, what the majority of Australian’s want. Our Parliament, is traitorous scum bag, complicit in the death of innocent Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Koreans, and many other Nations, happy to receive their share of “spoil” from the raping and pillaging of Sovereign countries, in breach of International Law!
    They are PARASITES! And like any parasite, it joins to its host (Australia) and sucks ALL the goodness out, from within, until all that remains, is final death.
    So we must as Australians rise up to meet the challenge, and dispose of these wicked criminal parasites, our Parliament, The Atlantic Council AND United Nations,have proved bias, deceitful, and supportive of US and allies total disregard of International Law! Facts are facts, and prove, this is NO conspiracy theory!

  4. Russia is just an excuse to get support to shut down or censor alt media.

    Lets look back

    In June of 2016 , before Russia was on everyones mind, a bill named “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016” was introduced into the house by Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Ted Lieu. H.R. 5181 . It sought a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions” to counter “foreign disinformation and manipulation,” which they believe threaten the world’s “security and stability.”

    A similar bill was introduced in March 2016 in the Senate long before Russia gate.

    Legislation was passed and signed by Obama in December after the Russia Gate was played up following the election.

    Other countries-unions like UK, EU, France and even Russia itself have since approved or proposed similar legislation.

    Then we saw Prop or Not come out in early 2017, and not long after increased censoring by twitter and facebook in the midst of Orange tweeting out fake this and fake that.

    So yeah, the Russia hysteria has a purpose, but the principal target is controlling what you can read and talk about, and not Russia. In fact, maybe Putin is just one of the Fake Wrestlers since control of the media and silencing those opposed to his neoliberalism works for him.

  5. Caity, I find it quite interesting that, no matter how many columns you write on this topic, each one comes across as new and fresh and as a full introduction to the topic.

  6. Caitlin, again you show that just listening to what comes out of their mouths tells us what they are.

  7. Hey Siggy’s [Freud] nephew, Edward Bernays, wrote the book “Propaganda” and boasted that he could make the average american proletariat [i.e., the goy] purchase nonessential consumer goods at the drop of a hat.

    He was also instrumental in negotiating the untenable conditions of the Versailles Treaty [the impetus for WWII] and managed to induce the poor unsuspecting America woman to smoke [branding the cigarette as a “torch of freedom”–the “liberation” of women carried-on by CIA asset Germaine Greer ]–one way to reduce the population.

    Another nice jewish person– Sheldon Adelson, alone–gave the Trump campaign $81,000,000 with the understanding that Trump would place Jerusalem as the criminal state of Israel’s capital and also required that Trump pull out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50773.htm

    So yes, the propaganda thing is happening–[what tribe owns and operates the social media platforms?] but at a much higher level than any irrelevant Russian memes.

    1. Just as the propaganda machine can twist any news item into pro-Israel propaganda, some people (you) can twist anything into anti-Semitic bullshit.

      1. Gene, contrary to zionist propaganda telling the truth is not anti-semitic.

    2. Garys, you are definitely on to it. Just one correction tho. The CIA did not exist back then but your premise is still valid. TPTB at that time used the precursor equivalent to the CIA. And you misspelled Freud. The correct spelling is Fraud.

  8. How do we know you’re not working for the Russians ;)…?

    1. Caitlin uses a mysterious process called thinking that US elites in their hysteria and desperation have abandoned.

  9. usatodaytrending.com/…/12/12/google-ceo-russia-linked…4700-in-2016

    Dec 12, 2018 · Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified on Tuesday that “ad accounts linked to Russia” spent “about $4,700 in advertising” to politically influence Americans during the 2016 presidential election season, offering his remarks during an exchange with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday in Washington, DC.

    1. https://www.wnd.com/2018/02/is-that-russia-troll-farm-an-act-of-war

      ACT OF WAR

      This Russian troll farm is “the equivalent (of) Pearl Harbor,” says Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee, handling any impeachment, if Democrats retake the House.

  10. Remember, U.S.A. is #1 (repeat ) @ propoganda and Lies, Wars, and UnTruths. Free Assange BDS

  11. You are making some serious yet scurrilous charges here Caitlin. For what you are doing is questioning the very integrity of government. Do you actually believe that the government and TPTB that own it and their presstitute MSM would lie and use propaganda as a form of control?! This is treason (does not matter whether you are a US citizen or not, you filthy non-American).
    The simple fact is that there is no such thing as propaganda because it is against the law for the government to lie to the people. At least I think there are such laws. Anyway, the government simply does not lie. It does not use lies and propaganda about anything else so why would they start doing so now on this one issue?! The reality is that the government does not use lies and propaganda on other matters such as race, male/female relationships, international relationships, culture, LGBTQM5%BATMANSYMBOLQQANDWHATTHEHELLTHROWINANOTHERQXY&Z issues, crime, and race again. And it sure as hell does NOT use lies and propaganda for “climate change”. In fact not only do I support the left’s call for imprisoning those who dare question the government’s integrity over “climate change” I also firmly support locking in a cage any human being who dares question the integrity of Russiagate the same as those who question “climate change”. Government is above your petty suspicions.

    1. Surely missing a sarcasm flag….

      1. Paul, I was hoping the “you filthy non-American” comment would be evidence to my facetiousness. But given the insanity of the current state of affairs an /s should probably have been used.

    2. “Against the law to lie…?” Are you lining me??? They have passed laws in the U.S. that makes it *specifically* and very intentionally legal to lie and propagandize the citizenry! *Totally legal*! And it happens daily.

      1. Doug, please see my reply to Paul above. One should always -ALWAYS – assume that the government is lying about everything. Only fools and lunatics think otherwise. That was the point of my post.

  12. Not a fan of deadspin, but this video mashup is brilliant and apropos:

    1. wow – excellent video, which reminds me: 90% of mainstream media is owned by only 6 very large corporations….americans have to be the most propagandized people that have ever lived on the face of the earth …

  13. So, let me ask this…What’s the worst thing we could imagine Russia could do? Here’s an imaginary situation, a thought experiment.

    What if, perhaps, Vladimir Putin paid for an ad on MSNBC during the election and got on TV, and just flat out told the American public that Russia did not want war with the US please and preferred us to vote for an American president that wanted normal relations and peace. (And by the way, it’s true. Russia does not have territorial ambitions or want a thermonuclear war that would destroy the planet and doesn’t need a war economy like the US does.) A message of peace? They want to save America and Russia both from an apocalypse?

    If that’s the worst “meddling” that could happen, how could anyone here object? Promoting peace? Is that really so awful? Nobody in American would have to follow his preferences and vote for his preferred candidate. Maybe with enough Russia hatred spread around, a lot of people would vote the opposite way.

    1. Good hypothetical. I’ll add to it, if you don’t mind. Putin dials up MSNBC and says he wants to buy that commercial — to run every day for the 30 days leading up to the election. Try to imagine the turmoil at MSNBC as they tried to decide whether or not to allow the commercial to air — specifically, whather it would have helped or hurt Hitlery.
      While I’m typing, several peacenik R and D candidates have run for the presidency in the past. None were elected. Not even close. That says something about US voters. Gabbard and Stein may run as a peaceniks in 2020. What are their chances of winning?

      1. Yes, especially if he offered enough money, say, a billion dollars a commercial! Wow, those whores would have a hard time turning down the money. That’s talking their language, and everything here is for sale for the right price. I remember with delight their motto on RT a few years ago,” Truth is the best propaganda.” Brilliant! Why couldn’t the MSM have thought of that! BUt they can’t..Think, that is..

        1. Even evil Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke before he died on the new paradigm in US politics evidenced by the Occupy Movement of a new political awakening fostered by the rise of the Internet. So it’s not entirely hopeless to see a peace candidate really arise.

      2. I haven’t completely given up on third party “peacenik” candidates. Yes they keep failing but it might not be forever. As long as the Democrats continue refusing to give their voters what they need, and voters awaken to their status as chumps, it might take several years but the discontent might seep in to the point where one of the parties becomes conspicuously irrelevant to the awakened majority of voters. This kind of thing takes time, and we can only hope.

        1. Both parties are irrelevant, as evidenced by the fact that less than half of eligible voters actually vote. Of course it’s really just one party, serving the rich. It’s going to take actions in the street, on a continual basis and non-cooperation in our own demise.

    2. We’d have to shut down MSNBC as an *agent provocateur*. (Hmmm…..maybe we could entice Mr. Putin to advertise on ALL the Mainstream Media!)

  14. It’s baffling to me that anyone takes this nonsense seriously. It makes no sense whatsoever! Is this ridiculous propaganda really affecting normal people or is it just the lame media throwing crap us and hoping it will stick?

  15. As much as I detest the methods and medthology that Nate uses, I have to admire him after reading the totally incomprehensible replies to his post.
    The ignorance runs as rapidly as the rivers during the spring runoff.
    Well done Caitlin.

  16. Russian hackers exposed systemic DNC corruption to thwart Hillary’s coronation, the Russian bot army overcame the establishment consensus to unleashed a working class revolt with Brexit, Putin used his KGB dirt file to blackmail Trump into winding down the war in Syria, and now the Russians have sown online discord to usher in a grass-roots populist uprising in France against a corrupt ruling class, and so on… Does the mass media in the West realize that all its obsessive reporting is only making the Russians look like the liberators of Western civilization?

    1. You’re talking about the US, not Russia, now, right? You sound mixed up on your facts.

      The Russians wound down the war in Syria against the US terrorists because they defeated them militarily instead of feeding them like the US, right?

      The US sowed discord online through French social media to start a color revolution in France, like they’ve done in Ukraine and dozens of other places, right? There wasn’t any discord before?

      The Podesta tapes were leaked by a disgruntled US intel source and were true information that voters were entitled to know, right?

      Is it possible that Russia is doing exactly that, making US corruption look bad, to save us?


      1. I think that it is quite possible, maybe likely, that had Hitlery been elected, she would have led the US to a war with Russia in Syria that may have turned nuclear.
        I think Trump may have done an unofficial deal (perhaps during the one-on-one meeting in Helsinki) with Russia with the goal of the present standoff — the US not being entirely kicked out; but I might very well be wrong on this. Had this deal become known, it would have been the end of Trump. (Remember the congress people demanding that the interpreter be subpoenaed in order to find out what the two had said to each other?)
        The peace process between the US, North Korea and South Korea is still alive. Again, the US is not yet in a war with Russia in Syria and Agent Orange may still meet with Mr. Putin if the Mueller hoax/fishing expedition finally shuts down. IMO, these are all cause for at least some ray of hope. OTOH, AO’s behavior against Iran, Yemen, Somalia, etc. etc. are despicable.
        What’s interesting to me is that the Deep State is completely ignoring AO’s violations of the Constitution with respect to making war on the world without congressional approval. He could be impeached, tried and hung by the neck until dead in the space of two weeks for these continuing crimes. But the Deep State will not go after him for those crimes because doing so would prevent the next Liar and Murderer In Chief from carrying on the US’s wars in support of USD hegemony, which MUST continue or the US economy would collapse.

        1. “Hitlery,” as you called her, Ishkabibble, is an amoral psychopathic raving madwoman with an unquenchable thirst for power. She even openly threatened Russia with nukes in retaliation for a mere claimed Russian cyberattack, during the campaign. Full-spectrum military dominance, she wants. If she can’t have a nuclear war with her as president, she’s going to get one by blackmailing Trump into doing it. She is extremely dangerous.

          1. JRG, very well said! It is beyond me how anyone cannot see the vileness of that beast. Hell, I think even TPTB could see she was too erratic, unstable and deadly for them to use as their next puppet.

    2. You definitely are knackered.
      Do get the basics correct. Do listen to Bill Binney.
      The systemic DNC corruption was exposed via a leak (internal to the DNC, let’s choose an arbitrary person, perhaps one Seth Rich), not via a hack by external entities.
      Bill clearly explained the technicalities of this scenario.

  17. Re Nate Silver’s comment, “What fraction of overall social media impressions on the 2016 election were generated by Russian troll farms? 0.1%? I’m not sure what the answer is, but suspect it’s low, and it says something that none of the reports that hype up the importance of them address that question..”

    The issue is addressed by the book Cyberwar: How How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President, by Kathleen Hall Jamison.This is a sober, scholarly examination of the subject, and you should consider it. Also consider that you might be overstating your argument.

  18. This is the initial stage of removing all Russian-sponsored media in the western MSM. The stated reason will be that it is causing “divisions” and “discord” in western democracies. That’s what the truth does in an MSM of 24/7 lies. Too mad no western MSM is still capable of reporting the truth. If it was, it would be either in jail, residing in the Ecuadorian embassy or claiming asylum in Russia. I hoped I would not live long enough to see this day.

    1. change “mad” to “bad”. My bad.

Leave a Reply