Matt Taibbi has published an investigation about a vast propaganda campaign called “Hamilton 68, launched a year after Donald Trump won the presidency, to smear critics of the Democratic Party, from the left and the right, as Russian assets. Hamilton 68 claimed it used complex data analysis and relied on so-called disinformation experts to ferret out information on social media that emanated from the Kremlin. Hamilton 68, a computerized “dashboard” designed to be used by reporters and academics to measure “Russian disinformation,” was run by Democratic operatives, including John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, and figures from intelligence agencies such as the CIA, the FBI and Homeland Security, as well as neoconservatives and establishment Republicans, such as Bill Kristol, who do not support Trump and have been warmly embraced by the Democratic Party. Mainstream news outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, as well as Mother Jones – which ran 14 stories based on the group’s “research” – cited Hamilton 68 as an authoritative source, even as the site refused to disclose the data or methods it used to make its assessments. Hundreds, if not thousands, of media headlines were flagged as Russian bot infiltrations in online discussions about the Brett Kavanaugh hearings; Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign; the Parkland shooting; U.S. missile strikes in Syria and the Bernie Sander’s campaign and many, many other stories. Fact-checking sites like Politifact and Snopes also relied on Hamilton 68. Taibbi, given access to Twitter’s internal memos and emails by Elon Musk, who bought Twitter, was able to expose not only the fraudulent claims of Hamilton 68, but the failure of the press, which was a full partner in one of the worst forms of censorship since the red baiting of Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, one that targeted people with dissident or unconventional opinions and accused them of Un-American activities.
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