A congressional delegation (CODEL) went to visit several Customs & Border Patrol (C&BP) facilities today. John just put up a post about it here at Balloon Juice Actual. But we weren’t the only ones tracking on it. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, as well as her just being part of the CODEL, set off the expected firestorm. The highly credulous, fabulist Anna Giaritelli, who poses as The Washington Examiner‘s Homeland Security reporter, and who was not on site covering the CODEL, decided to report, first by tweet and then in the Examiner, that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez threw a pair of temper tantrums during the visits. This was picked up by Students for Trump* on twitter and put on blast. Townhall, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, and The Blaze all picked up Giaritelli’s disinformation and published their own stories around it. So while there are at least five articles about this in the conservative news media, four of them simply refer back to Giaritelli’s original reporting, which hasn’t been confirmed by any of the reporters actually in attendance with the CODEL.
Giaritelli, known for her greatest hit of barbering the written quotation of a video interview she conducted with a rancher to make it seem as if discarded Muslim pray rugs had been found in New Mexico by the Border Patrol and other ranchers, has already been called out by a reporter who was actually on site and who live streamed significant portions of the CODEL’s visits. It is unclear if Giaritelli was on site, as she didn’t indicate in her reporting where she was reporting from. Also, all of her sources for this reporting are, of course, anonymous.
I’ve been outside all the facilities she’s touring today around El Paso, and according to everything I’ve seen the part about her leaving the tour is a lie. @AOC was inside each one for the maximum amount of time—first one in, last one out. https://t.co/HeH53W2nTx
— Jonathan M. Katz✍? (@KatzOnEarth) July 1, 2019
I expect that by the evening the disinformation will have fully spread throughout the Republican, conservative, alt-right, and white supremacist information ecosystems. It’ll finish making the rounds of Twitter and Facebook, jump to Gab, the Chans, and the sub-reddits. From there it will be amplified. Most likely by the President’s caddy, Dan Scavino, who runs the President’s social media feeds, Jr, and other of the President’s social media surrogates, as well as the Russian troll and bot networks will pick it up and kick it into high gear. And, if we were able to actually monitor the direct messages of Scavino, Jr, Giaritelli, whomever is running the Students for Trump twitter account, as well as a variety of other Presidential surrogates, including those in the conservative news media, I would be very surprised to find that there isn’t widespread coordination going on between the players on these disinformation and influence operations.
There are two purposes to this disinformation campaign. The first is to dirty up Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman Escobar, and any of the other Democratic members of Congress on today’s congressional delegation. The second is to use this information to influence those who ingest it. To change the story from the President, on the advise of his senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, and with the avid support of his evangelical Christian base, Republican members of the House and Senate, and the Border Patrol Union, establishing an immoral, evil policy of closing ports of entry to meter claims of asylum, thereby slowing them down; separating families when they do make it to the US and attempt to claim asylum; and ongoing, egregious violations of the Flores agreement under which the US government cannot detain undocumented minors, nor treat them in the manner it currently is to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is a hot headed train wreck who abuses the Federal law enforcement officers of the Border Patrol and who now seeks to exact revenge by having the officers at the sites she visited today investigated for no good reason.
We got to watch this disinformation and influence operation in real time today. Out in the open where everyone could see. Imagine what is being done in private?
Updated at 12:15 AM EDT
We now have information regarding what Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez actually did from a reliable source who was with the CODEL.
If there was one message @CBP needed to hear it's that trust is broken between the agency and Congress/the public. Leaking more misinformation won't fix that.
— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019