February 21, 2020
There is a sense now that anyone can blame Russia for anything. But if you have that sense, you would be wrong.
Russian wizards could potentially be responsible for anything, but the only people who can blame them for anything is the establishment.
Bernie Sanders on Wednesday raised the possibility that social media accounts harassing his critics may, in fact, be Russian bots operating in disguise. But top security officials say they’ve seen no such activity. The platforms themselves hinted the same. And experts in the field are now saying that the Senator’s inference may cause harm by eroding trust for when such behavior does, in fact, occur.
When pressed about his supporters’ attacks on members of the Nevada Culinary Workers Union and its decision not to endorse Sanders’ signature Medicare for All healthcare policy, Sanders raised the specter of Russian intelligence activity. He said it wasn’t “too paranoid” to recall Russian meddling in 2016. “I’m not saying that’s happening, but it would not shock me.”
The debate night comment marked the second time Sanders has alluded to the possibility of Russian disinformation stoking his online supporters’ alleged toxicity. In a CNN townhall two days prior, Sanders used a similar variation of the talking point when challenged over the Nevada issue. “And I don’t—you know, want to be overly paranoid here—is that, you know, we live in a crazy time. And there are a lot of folks out there who do bots and all this other thing. I saw some of those things. And there are people out there who want to divide the progressive movement.”
In response to questions from The Daily Beast, Twitter didn’t specifically weigh in on whether or not there’s evidence to back up the suggestion of Russian involvement in the feud over the Culinary Workers Union. But the company did issue a statement that said its employees “proactively monitor Twitter to identify attempts at platform manipulation and mitigate them” and that “if we have reasonable evidence of state-backed information operations, we’ll disclose them following our thorough investigation to our public archive — the largest of its kind in the industry.”
I’ve been accused of being a Russian bot for supporting Donald Trump. Yet I undeniably stoke the toxicity of Bernie Sanders supporters, and in this case, I am definitely not a Russian bot, but am a legitimate Bernie Sanders-supporting Neon-Nazi.
This is all totally insane.
The only thing that it does is strip people of their humanity. They tell you you can’t have your own opinions. If you have opinions that the establishment disagrees with, you’re a Russian bot. Or maybe you’re just evil, if the establishment is benefiting from you spreading ideas that it disagrees with.
I don’t necessarily fault Bernie for wanting to get in on this gibberish. They’re using it as a weapon against him, and he wants to turn it around on them. However, I do fault him for thinking it would be possible to turn it around on them. The entire hoax is based on baseless claims from intelligence agencies and the tech companies themselves. Zero evidence or documentation of any of it has been presented during the entire years-long campaign. Of course they have the ability to decide who is and isn’t a Russian hacker.