Tuesday, February 20, 2018
White nationalist provocateurs, a pair of fake news sites, an army of Twitter bots and other cyber tricks helped derail Democratic Senator Al Franken last year, new research shows. While everyone has been focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to support Donald Trump, the Franken takedown originated in -- and was propelled by -- a strategic online campaign with digital tentacles reaching to, of all places, Japan. Analysts have now mapped out how Hooters pinup girl and lad-mag model Leeann Tweeden's initial accusation against Franken became effective propaganda after right-wing black ops master Roger Stone first hinted at the allegation. A pair of Japan-based websites, created the day before Tweeden came forward, and a swarm of related Twitter bots made the Tweeden story go viral and then weaponized a liberal writer's criticism of Franken.
The bot army -- in tandem with prominent real, live members of the far right who have Twitter followers in the millions, such as Mike Cernovich -- spewed thousands of posts, helping the #FrankenFondles hashtag and the "Franken is a groper" meme effectively silence the testimonies of eight former female staffers who defended the Minnesota Democrat before he resigned last year.
The operation commenced on November 15, when Stone -- who is now banned from Twitter for racism and profanity -- tweeted from one of his accounts "Roger Stone says it's Al Franken's 'time in the barrel.' Franken next in long list of Democrats accused of 'grabby' behavior."
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