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It is 2016 yet again — not less than from Russia’s perspective.
Russia’s state-sponsored messaging about Bernie Sanders’ presidential marketing campaign was extra impartial within the fall.
However over the previous six weeks, this protection has shifted to reflect pro-Sanders speaking factors first used within the final presidential marketing campaign, mentioned Clint Watts of the Overseas Coverage Analysis Institute, who has been monitoring Russian interference constantly.
“What’s actually come on sturdy simply within the final 30 to 45 days are very comparable narratives that we noticed in 2016 about Sanders,” Watts instructed NPR.
Whereas Sanders has acknowledged on the marketing campaign path that he was briefed by the intelligence group about Russia’s efforts to spice up his marketing campaign, he has been steadfastly against that help, saying at a latest debate: “Hey, Mr. Putin, if I am president of the USA, belief me, you are not going to intervene in any extra American elections.”
It is not clear exactly how a lot Russia is doing to assist Sanders through the anonymity of our on-line world, however nationwide safety officers warned on Monday that social media agitation and disinformation have continued by means of this yr’s presidential race.
An announcement signed by prime Trump administration officers harassed that international actors have been spreading “false info and propaganda about political processes and candidates on social media in hopes to trigger confusion and create doubt in our system.”
That features an ever-changing variety of candidates and matters primarily based on Russian strategic targets, together with reportedly the reelection of President Trump.
Following the 2016 presidential election, the intelligence group devoted a considerable portion of its evaluation on Russian meddling to RT’s efforts to affect politics and gas divisions in the USA.
Whereas monitoring protection on Russian information companies RT and Sputnik, Watts has seen an ongoing development: Whereas most protection stays impartial, Sanders receives considerably higher protection than his opponents.
In accordance with figures launched by Watts’ group, Sanders obtained the next share of optimistic protection — greater than 2 1/2 instances — than some other Democratic candidate, and much more than President Trump.
And, Watts provides, “the vital half is that they [the two networks] have been extra unfavorable about everybody else.”
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Jessica Brandt, head of analysis and coverage for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, has monitored Russian authorities messaging to look at their narratives about Sanders.
“These [narratives] are typically that the company media and the Democratic institution, the DNC and elites, are rigging the system in opposition to him and endeavoring to disclaim him a win,” Brandt mentioned.
The Mueller investigation discovered that the Web Analysis Company, a Kremlin-linked “troll farm” primarily based in St. Petersburg, had tried to spice up Sanders over then-candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“One of many issues I believe Russia appears to be like at once they see Bernie is that he is somebody who’s speaking a few rigged system. He is speaking concerning the elite aren’t with you,” mentioned Mieke Eoyang, vp of the Nationwide Safety Program at Third Method, a center-left suppose tank that opposes a Sanders candidacy.
One other method to gauge the character of Russia’s help for Sanders is by inspecting inauthentic social media accounts which were taken down for having ties to international affect operations.
For instance, in October Fb introduced that it had suspended dozens of Instagram accounts originating in Russia however focused at an American viewers, with obvious hyperlinks to the Web Analysis Company.
Fb shared its information with Graphika, a social media analytics agency, which mentioned that 4 of the suspended accounts had a give attention to praising Sanders.
He was the one candidate on the Democratic facet who was a spotlight of those faux accounts, based on a Graphika report. And in some circumstances, these accounts plagiarized memes and feedback straight from the Sanders marketing campaign.
One publish learn: “Hundreds of thousands of individuals in America need to get an training. And Bernie Sanders is their final hope.”
The Sanders marketing campaign contends that Russia is making an attempt to do its finest to sow discord within the race — not elect Bernie Sanders.
And marketing campaign co-chair Rep. Ro Khanna argues that the senator has been a fervent advocate of options to international interference.
“Sen. Sanders has been on the forefront of election safety. What we want is paper ballots. What we want is investments in our election infrastructure. What we want is sensible regulation in opposition to disinformation campaigns,” Khanna instructed NPR.