Watching the Disinformation Being Made and Distributed III: Seth Rich Edition

Yesterday we went through the map and off the looking glass for a tour of the convoluted information pathway used to create a rooted in conspiracy theories, largely evidence and fact free rebuttal intended to proactively protect the President as a result of the recent arrest and indictment of Jeffrey Epstein. This followed our expedition into the dank meme infested murky waters at the beginning of July regarding Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks and behavior during the congressional delegation visit to tour detention facilities for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers on the southern border. This morning, Yahoo News Michael Isikoff broke the news, ahead of a podcast dedicated to the topic, that it was Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, that created the conspiracy theory that Seth Rich was murdered on orders of Secretary Clinton* in retribution for stealing the DNC emails and leaking them.

What is not surprising in Isikoff’s reporting is the information pathway for this disinformation campaign to influence American public opinion by muddying the waters around Russia’s undeclared hybrid war and active measures campaign against the US and to negatively influence American attitudes towards Secretary Clinton. (emphasis mine)

In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.

Yet in a graphic example of how fake news infects the internet, those precise details popped up the same day on an obscure website,, that is a frequent vehicle for Russian propaganda. The website’s article, which attributed its claims to “Russian intelligence,” was the first known instance of Rich’s murder being publicly linked to a political conspiracy.

The Russian effort to exploit Rich’s tragic death didn’t stop with the fake SVR bulletin. Over the course of the next two and a half years, the Russian government-owned media organizations RT and Sputnik repeatedly played up stories that baselessly alleged that Rich, a relatively junior-level staffer, was the source of Democratic Party emails that had been leaked to WikiLeaks.It was an idea first floated by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who on Aug. 9, 2016, announced a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s murder, saying — somewhat cryptically — that “our sources take risks.”

At the same time, online trolls working in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — the same shadowy outfit that conducted the Russian social media operation during the 2016 election — aggressively boosted the conspiracy theories. IRA-created fake accounts, masquerading as those of American citizens or political groups, tweeted and retweeted more than 2,000 times about Rich, helping to keep the bogus claims about his death in the social media bloodstream, according to an analysis of a database of Russia troll accounts by Yahoo News.

So where did the information flow once it was created, injected into the information domain, and then amplified and reamplified? Through the usual suspects of extreme right conspiracists, the alt-right and other white supremacists, the far fringe of the conservative social media and digital news media ecosystem, surrogates of the President. And from there to Fox News, conservative talk radio, and political commentary and then the mainstream news media jumped on it because it was news that Sean Hannity was hammering this insane conspiracy theory over and over, night after night. (emphasis mine)

The “Conspiracyland” podcast traces the spread of the conspiracy theories about Rich. From their origins as a Russian disinformation plant, the bogus theories about his murder emerged as a persistent theme on alt-right websites and then were fanned by right-wing conspiracy entrepreneurs such as Alex Jones of Infowars and Matt Couch, the founder of an Arkansas-based group called America First Media, which bills itself as “the leading investigative team in America in the Seth Rich murder.

Along the way, the idea that Rich was murdered in retaliation for leaking DNC emails to WikiLeaks was championed by multiple allies of Trump, including Roger Stone. The same day Assange falsely hinted that Rich may have been his source for DNC emails, Stone tweeted a picture of Rich, calling the late DNC staffer in a tweet “another dead body in the Clinton’s wake.” He then added: “Coincidence? I think not.”

Within months, the Rich conspiracy story was also being quietly promoted inside Trump’s White House. Questions about whether the White House pushed the conspiracy theories about Rich have been raised periodically over the last two and a half years — and were consistently denied by White House officials. But the Yahoo News investigation uncovered new evidence that the false claim that Rich was the victim of a political assassination was advanced by one of the White House’s most senior officials at the time.

“Huge story … he was a Bernie guy … it was a contract kill, obviously,” then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon texted to a CBS “60 Minutes” producer about Rich on March 17, 2017, according to some of Bannon’s text messages that were reviewed by Yahoo News. (Bannon did not respond to requests for comment.)

The conspiracy claims reached their zenith in May 2017 — the same week as Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in the Russia probe — when Fox News’ website posted a sensational story claiming that an FBI forensic report had discovered evidence on Rich’s laptop that he had been in communication with WikiLeaks prior to his death. Sean Hannity, the network’s primetime star, treated the account as major news on his nightly broadcast, calling it “explosive” and proclaiming it “might expose the single biggest fraud, lies, perpetrated on the American people by the media and the Democrats in our history.

Among Hannity’s guests that week who echoed his version of events was conservative lawyer Jay Sekulow. Although neither he nor Hannity mentioned it, Sekulow had just been hired as one of Trump’s lead lawyers in the Russia investigation. “It sure doesn’t look like a robbery,” said Sekulow on Hannity’s show on May 18, 2017, during a segment devoted to the Rich case. “There’s one thing this thing undercuts is this whole Russia argument, [which] is such subterfuge,” he added.

In fact, the Fox story was a “complete fabrication,” said Sines, who consulted with the FBI about the Fox News claims. There was “no connection between Seth and WikiLeaks. And there was no evidence on his work computer of him downloading and disseminating things from the DNC.”

We’ve got the following pathway: Russia’s SVR creates the conspiracy theory, it then dumps it through a cutout website where it’s picked up by far right conspiracist and alt-right social media, specifically twitter. RT and Sputnik, which are Russian state controlled news media intended to propogandize Americans and non-Russian audiences in Europe, then reports on it. And Julian Assange promotes it, which further obscured both the GRU’s hacking of these emails and his role as a Russian intelligence asset in disseminating them. From there the conspiracy theory is amplified by the Russian intelligence service adjacent Internet Research Agency bankrolled by “Putin’s Chef” and Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Proghozin. The IRA trolls and bots keep the conspiracy alive where it is picked up by Alex Jones and from there it makes its way to Hannity and Fox News, after a quick detour through Roger Stone, who has a show on Alex Jones’ InfoWars. Once with Hannity it is picked up and reported on as news by the mainstream media and then weaponized in the President’s defense by his new, though not disclosed at the time, defense attorney Jay Sekulow.

What we’re getting, bit by bit, is a network map of the information networks being used to influence Americans. While some of the nodes and links within the information networks may vary a bit from influence operation to influence operation, overall it is the same network that is being weaponized. And a lot of the people in it are Americans targeting other Americans. Sometimes for political gain. Sometimes for profit. Sometimes for the Lulz. And sometimes for all of those reasons.

Nine days ago it was to smear Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez as a tool for distracting from the real issue: that the US is detaining undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, and children separated from their parents in concentration camps. Yesterday it was to create a reasonable sounding, but almost completely fact free prebuttal regarding the President’s longstanding personal friendship with Jeffrey Epstein in light of Epstein’s recent arrest and indictment for sexually trafficking minors. Today we are given a tour of the information network that created and spread the conspiracy theory that Secretary Clinton had Seth Rich murdered as punishment for him stealing the DNC emails. These three examples will not be the only disinformation campaigns that will be revealed. Nor will they be the only ones to leverage this information ecosystem to influence Americans. And they will not all be produced, aided, and abetted by Russia. Other state and non-state actors, including Americans, will continue to weaponize information to influence Americans and America for their own purposes. Until or unless the US government, or failing that, the Democratic candidates and their campaigns, create a viable and effective counter-influence strategy and deploy it operationally, all Americans are at risk from this information warfare.

Open thread!

* As can be seen in the Roger Stone quote in Isikoff’s report, it was easy to weaponize the Seth Rich conspiracy because Republicans and conservatives have been explicitly stating and implicitly implying that Secretary Clinton has been running a 40 plus year operation to murder anyone who crosses the Clintons. According to this larger conspiracy theory, that was pushed into the American information ecosystem during the investigation of Vince Foster’s suicide by Congressman Burton (R-IN) and his lead congressional investigator David Bossie, who went on to be one of the President’s deputy campaign managers, Secretary Clinton killed Foster as she had killed others who had gotten in the way of her or President Clinton’s political, social, and/or economic ambitions. If this conspiracy theory was accurate, WHICH IT IS NOT!!!!!, Secretary Clinton would be the most prolific female serial killer in history. WHICH SHE ISN’T!!!!

130 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    I wonder if we’ll find out that the Russians invented the rigged primary meme.

  2. 2
    Mike G says:

    I’m sure Fox News will be issuing an apology any day now, as concerned as they are with the integrity of their journalism.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Americans will never deal with this because they’d have to admit how unjustly they treated Hillary. That’s Trump’s ace in the hole.

  4. 4

    @Baud: How many of $3 donors to BS were Russians?

  5. 5
    Millard Filmore says:

    “intended to proactively prevent the President”

    Should that be “proactively protect” instead?

  6. 6
    scav says:

    @Baud: Not quite: They’re demonstrably quite indifferent to the wrongs suffered by others; they’re protecting their personal sense of infallibility.

  7. 7
    MomSense says:

    With the exception of a handful, perhaps a baker’s dozen, of reporters it seems like they are covering 2020 much the same way that they covered 2016. What can we do as ordinary people to break through the media narratives?

  8. 8
    ronno2018 says:

    I sort of find these posts to be offensive in the sense they just spread the meme. Yes we need to be aware of methods of influence and “counter-intelligence” actions foreign and domestic, but we just cannot stop social media now. No way to regulate youtube/facebook/twitter for only propagating verifiable facts. etc. It is just a sewer out there.

  9. 9
    TenguPhule says:


    I wonder if we’ll find out that the Russians invented the rigged primary meme.

    Sounds too stupid to be anything else but made in America.

  10. 10
    TenguPhule says:


    It is just a sewer out there.

    I beg to differ. I have seen cleaner sewers.

  11. 11

    From what I have seen, the current conservative slogan for Epstein is ‘There is a photograph of Bill Clinton’s name on a flight log to Orgy Island.’

  12. 12
    TenguPhule says:

    Nine days ago it was to smear Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez as a tool for distracting from the real issue: that the US is detaining undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, and children separated from their parents in concentration camps.

    It feels like a month ago.

    We’re starting to experience time dilation as we approach the wingnut event horizon.

  13. 13
    MJS says:

    @MomSense: I don’t know what we can do, but hearing after hearing on any number of administration scandals would help to keep a good bit of the media occupied and somewhat focused. I’m hoping the House Democrats let next Wednesday be the start.

  14. 14
    RepubAnon says:

    I’ve always been impressed by the Republican logic that Hillary was’t tough enough to be President, and that she ran a secret stable of hired killers to eliminate her foes – without leaving any evidence.

    Cognitive dissonance much?

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Millard Filmore: That explains why that sentence made no sense when I was proofing the post.

  16. 16
    Baud says:


    Obama was a feckless tyrant. It’s not cognitive dissonance if your mind is honed to hating your enemies rather than logical consistency.

  17. 17
    Jeffro says:

    I have to hand it to Vlad: he saw how the RWNJ noise machine (h/t David Brock) was set up and how it operated, and he just. fucking. owned them.

    No wonder they can’t turn back: the GOP puke funnel is all they know, and dark money is all that’s keeping their minority in power. Any true American caught in such a position would expose it and beg for understanding/forgiveness.

    Ergo, Republicans are not true Americans, not anymore…

  18. 18
    Scotian says:


    That has been a point I’ve made for years and one of my favourite examples of trying to eat your cake and have it from the GOP.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ronno2018: Because ignoring it is going to make things so much better.

  20. 20
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Eto kakoi-to neznakomyi chelovek.

  21. 21
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    Hey Adam, can you translate Japanese? I asked yesterday, but perhaps more people will see my question

  22. 22
    zhena gogolia says:


    Similar thing with Obama.

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: That’s about to get supercharged:

  24. 24
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    In comments to several posts at bj there have been discussions of trying to find valid pictures of the crowd at Trump’s 4th display and speech. IIRC there seemed to be real confusion about which photo(s) on internet were bcredible.

    That’s a smallish example of how I as an average citizen am caught in a web of constantly changing ‘facts.’ You can suggest following a few people who have proven to be trustworthy, but most of us who read this blog are not following the day’s events on a constant basis. And just think of the majority of Americans who just see the ‘news’ now and then.

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: Given that all he did was update the Soviet information warfare manual for a 21st century information environment, it makes one wonder just how much penetration the Soviets had into the formation of the modern conservative movement and Republican Party starting in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Scotian: How you doing?

  27. 27
    Miss Bianca says:

    @ronno2018: So, let’s see if I’ve got this straight: “Talking about how a conspiracy theory spreads is JUST THE SAME as spreading the conspiracy theory, and it’s all fucked out there anyway so why even bother, and oh by the way, I’m offended just…cause”…is that about right?

    Your concern is duly noted, tovarisch.

  28. 28
    RAVEN says:

    DOJ’s Inspector General Report on Russia Delayed as Steele Found Credible

    One of the two sources said Horowitz’s investigators appear to have found Steele’s information sufficiently credible to have to extend the investigation. Its completion date is now unclear.

    If this reporting is correct, it casts a new light on the story Fox News was telling over the Fourth of July weekend.

    Key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz early in his investigation into alleged government surveillance abuse have come forward at the 11th hour, Fox News has learned.

  29. 29
    Quantumman says:

    I do not think people realize how at-risk we and our country are.

  30. 30
    Fair Economist says:

    @Adam L Silverman: When I see how avidly the RW nutwerk picks up these particular stupid ideas of the zillions out there I wonder if the Russians are doing more than manipulating. Are some of these paid agents? Hannity in particular makes me wonder.

  31. 31
    Quinerly says:

    @Scotian: how are you doing?

  32. 32
    TenguPhule says:

    Strip club to host golf tournament at Trump resort in South Florida

    The event is to take place at Trump Doral, where business has slipped. The Trump name and crest are displayed prominently in the advertising, which touts a “caddy girl of your choice.”

    There are times I fear there is a devil but no god.

  33. 33
    Baud says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Wait, is Pierce suggesting something against Clinton or Trump?

  34. 34
    TenguPhule says:

    Pelosi questions Barr’s credibility, says she’ll no longer address anything he says

    Speaking to reporters, the House speaker once again accused the attorney general of lying to Congress. “He’s lied under oath. I’m not speaking to anything more that he has to say,” she said.

    But she has no interest in impeaching him (or so its been reported).

    We’ll see how this goes.

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Fair Economist: They don’t have to pay Hannity. Or Rush or Pirro or Dobbs or Carlson or Ingraham or Hewitt or any of the lesser lights because they’re getting what they need from them for free.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: He’s suggesting that the depth and breadth of what Epstein was doing is far, far deeper and broader than can be seen. And that when it is all dragged into the light the depth and breadth are going to have significant repercussions that we cannot see or even foresee.

  37. 37
    Soprano2 says:

    I watch CCTV of the sewers regularly for my job. Most of them are much, much cleaner than Twitter and most other social media.

  38. 38
    NotMax says:

    Based on what we have been exposed to and gleaned about Dolt 45, it wouldn’t be amiss to go back and review every shooting on Fifth Avenue over the past 40 years. //

  39. 39
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    We’re starting to experience time dilation as we approach the wingnut event horizon.

    You know what? It was exactly, to the day, one year ago when those 18 Thai scouts were rescued from that cave.

    And honest to gods, if someone had walked up to me and said “How long ago was that thing with the Thai kids in the cave,” I would have said, with strong confidence, “That must have been back in 2013 or -14.” It truly seems as though it’s been years, not a mere twelve months.

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: Not really sure what’s up with the NBA and WNBA here.

  41. 41
    Fair Economist says:

    @Adam L Silverman: How do they laser in on the Russian conspiracies so well? There has to be some kind of direct connection.

  42. 42
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Does the Jr. tag mean they’re underage? //

  43. 43
    MomSense says:


    Same question to you. I’ve been thinking about you, Q. Hoping you are finding comfort.

  44. 44
    TenguPhule says:

    Country rock band Confederate Railroad has been barred from performing at an state fair in Illinois because of its use of the Confederate flag, the Associated Press reports.

    Illinois’ governor cancelled the band last week.

    “This administration’s guiding principle is that the state of Illinois will not use state resources to promote symbols of racism,” a spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

    Some Republicans in Illinois have pushed back, with one arguing that other state fair musical acts were equally worthy of censorship. One Republican pointed to Snoop Dog, who recently released an album whose cover features the rapper standing over a corpse toe-tagged with Republican President Donald Trump’s name.

    Another band scheduled to play at the state fair released a statement in solidarity with Confederate Railroad: “This ‘political correctness’ has to stop. It’s tearing our country apart.”

    Cue world’s second smallest violin.

  45. 45
    TenguPhule says:

    The spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee has offered a rare comment about a witness interview.

    Felix Sater, the Moscow-born businessman at the center of the Trump Tower Moscow project, “has not fully cooperated with the committee,” the spokesman said, per Politico’s Andrew Desiderio.


  46. 46
    Cacti says:

    The GOP has fully embraced its role as a subsidiary of the Russian Federation.

    Unfortunately for us, we haven’t been able to keep the rot from spreading, as we appear to have at least two Kremlin assets vying for the Dem nomination, in Wilmer and Gabbard.

  47. 47
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    So glad to see you here. I think of you many times a day, and hope you’re doing as well as can be expected. Or better!

    Truly, you’re in my loving thoughts. I wish you much comfort for as long as you are with us.

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Fair Economist: I’d pay good money to get access to the direct messaging for a lot of these people. There’s a lot of behind the scenes communication to coordinate messaging and dissemination of the information. Some of it we’ve seen as when Hannity tried to contact Assange and wound up directly messaging a parody account.

  49. 49
    Anne Laurie says:


    There are times I fear there is a devil but no god.

    Many many many gods, some of whom self-interestedly act in ways we perceive as ‘devilish’. It’s networks all the way down — and up!

  50. 50
    TenguPhule says:

    Donald Trump’s 4 July “Salute to America” cost the US military $1.2m, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

    The event sparked controversy for its use of taxpayer dollars and putting the president at the center of the holiday celebrating American independence.

    The Pentagon figure did not reflect the cost to American taxpayers. It instead detailed the amount of money spent on the transportation of military equipment and flying hours.

    I think the Pentagon is understating the costs. There is no way it was only 1.2 million even if it was limited just to transportation. Not for five armored vehicles plus the aborted flyover.

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: From the WaPo article:

    Carlos Alamilla, the charity’s director, said his group serves about 40 youths in Miami. “We provide everything. We provide fitness, nutrition, basketball and academics,” he said.

    The charity’s website says it is “a non-profit organization under the laws of the State of Florida.” However, Franco Ripple, a spokesman for the state, said Tuesday that it is not registered as a charity in Florida. Alamilla did not immediately respond to questions about why his organization’s name was missing from state records.

    A spokeswoman for the NBA and WNBA said that the leagues were not affiliated with the tournament and that their logos were used in the ads without permission.

    Alamilla said it gave him pause to affiliate his charity with an event put on by a strip club: “It doesn’t jive with what we do, you know.” He said he also dislikes Trump because of the conditions in which his administration is detaining migrant children. “He’s contrary to everything we believe,” he said of the president.

    Still, Alamilla said, he decided to accept the money — but also ban his charity’s child clients from attending.

    “None of my kids are going to be participating in your event,” he said he told the organizers. But, he said, “if we can get some help, you know, for our programs starting now . . . it would be okay.”

  52. 52
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Some of it we’ve seen as when Hannity tried to contact Assange and wound up directly messaging a parody account.

    Why are these people so comically inept? Not that I’m complaining. BTW, did you see my comment at 21?

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: I looked at the reporting on this earlier and it doesn’t cover the operational cost for the aircraft. I guarantee this is far, far, far below what the actual cost to the Pentagon was.

  54. 54
    Baud says:

    Chris Hayes called out The Nation for promoting the Seth Rich theory.

  55. 55
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Alamilla said it gave him pause to affiliate his charity with an event put on by a strip club: “It doesn’t jive with what we do, you know.” He said he also dislikes Trump because of the conditions in which his administration is detaining migrant children. “He’s contrary to everything we believe,” he said of the president.

    Still, Alamilla said, he decided to accept the money — but also ban his charity’s child clients from attending.

    Every man has his price. Few are so cheap.

  56. 56
    Amir Khalid says:

    Actually, they were a football team.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: A dozen, at most, kanji. Almost all of them related to martial arts. So I’m not going to be much help here.

  58. 58
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: I saw that.

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: Beinvinidos a Miami!

  60. 60
    kindness says:

    The Right knows they are being used by the Russians. They don’t care. They think this all helps them.

    They used to call that treason.

  61. 61
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I see. That’s alright. Thanks for telling me

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: Sorry bout that. Have you considered calling your local college or university’s Japanese Studies or Asian Studies department to see if there’s someone there who might be able to help?

  63. 63
    Steve in the ATL says:

    Republicans and Russians are the worst. They’re like, um, cookies with peanut butter AND raisins.

  64. 64
    Raven says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: Do you recall my story about the Japanese Army “Blouse” that my dad brought back from the Pacific? I gave it to a Professor who is Japanese and she was going to return it to the Embassy and hopefully get it to the family? I also had a sign and she translated it for me.

  65. 65
    Baud says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    Never cross the threads.

  66. 66
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Let’s be fair. It’s like cookies with peanut butter AND raisins AND possibly some anthrax.

  67. 67
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @TenguPhule: I’ll be surprised if the charity sees a dime. This is a Trump venue they’re using.

  68. 68
    TenguPhule says:


    Let’s be fair. It’s like cookies with peanut butter AND raisins AND possibly some anthrax.

    And baked in a tire rim.

  69. 69
    TenguPhule says:


    Never cross the threads.

    There is a very slim chance that we will survive.

  70. 70
    rikyrah says:

    Maddow reporting about a sexual assault of a migrant child at the Yuma, Arizona facility.😠😠😠

  71. 71
    Mart says:


    Chris Hayes called out The Nation for promoting the Seth Rich theory.

    The Nation’s editor/publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel’s husband – Stephen F. Cohen – writes about and is a professor of Russian Studies. He is also a long time Putin apologist. Heard him on XM radio many times when Thom Hartman broadcast out of RT studios. Stuff like – what do you expect Putin to do in Ukraine with NATO and the Obama administration putting the squeeze on the old Soviet block?

    ETA – funny, just recalled he had Wilmer on out of the RT studios for an hour segment Friday’s – Brunch with Bernie.

  72. 72
  73. 73
    BlueDWarrior says:

    The biggest problem I have with all of this is that 30% of the population that wants a reason to hate those we’d call liberals, minorities, etc. Regardless to the veracity of that reason.

    There is no truth needed, no facts or rigorous theory needed. Just the idea – the one that says ‘you are right’ and ‘they are wrong’.

    All these people on the right (and a smattering on the anti-establishment left) ever needed was the idea, any idea, that they could leverage against the establishment Democrats. And they’re so thirsty you could convince them to drink sand in a desert.

  74. 74
  75. 75
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @TenguPhule: I see what you did there

  76. 76
    Jay says:

    Canada’s anti-election-meddling panel will look into domestic threats as well as foreign interference during this fall’s campaign:— Carl Meyer (@ottawacarl) July 9, 2019

  77. 77
    MomSense says:


    Interesting. Do you have a list of the data nerds? We can always amplify their work.

  78. 78
    rikyrah says:

    Congresswoman Pressley informs Crypt Keeper Conway to

    “Keep my name out of your mouth”


  79. 79
    Mart says:

    As stupid as this stuff sounds to us, it impacts folks. Told a woman I worked with you are not taking the conman seriously. She said she could never vote for Hilary as she had 23 people who crossed her murdered. I said nuts, but she had read the list and the true story behind each murder. Friendly with a Haitian and I said he must be sorry about Hillary losing. He said I do not know his politics. The fact that the Clinton Foundation stole all the money from Haitian relief efforts made it so he voted for Trump. I later read that Miami Haitians were targeted by Oxford Analytica on Facebook with dozens of crooked Hillary in Haiti stories.

  80. 80
    debbie says:


    Our cost should be zero. I heard footage of the event popped up in his campaign ads the very next day.

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mart: They’re still pushing the Haiti conspiracy theories. It is also where Chelsea is brought into the conspiracy as the next generation Clinton bad actor.

  82. 82
    Jay says:

    Carol Orr,
    Emily of the State,
    Gwenn Snyder is uncivil,

    For a start, they have links and cites.

  83. 83
    Scotian says:

    For all asking, not so good, starting chemo tomorrow afternoon. It’s palliative not curative but maybe it can get me a few more weeks to spend with my wife. Thanks for all your well wishes and caring it really does bring comfort. I will try to update tomorrow night on how the first chemo round started.

  84. 84
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Adam L Silverman: @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: When I want a Japanese translation, I go to the little Japanese market one suburb over.

    My cousin’s son married a Japanese woman and whenever there is an occasion that requires a greeting card, I go over and ask them to write my thoughts in Japanese. They are always happy to oblige.

    I mention this because they are easy to find — they always behind the counter. College professors can be hard to track down.

    This is all assuming there is enough of a Japanese Community up Goku’s way.

  85. 85
    Kattails says:

    @RepubAnon: Yes, definitely too-whatever, but not feminine enough because pantsuits and not baking cookies, but assuredly warmonger of the worst sort and also not healthy at all, look she fainted!! Blood clots! Trump obvs. MUCH healthier/very stable genius. I’m so thankful to all those MAGAS and Bernie and Jill people who saved us from the devastation that would have clearly been wrought by a Hillary presidency.
    Got a better look at the Bernie T-shirt I mentioned a while back, it actually says at the top “Hindsight” over a pic of Bernie and below that “2020”. (Sorry bros, I think my “Foresight” was 20-20 in that case.)

  86. 86
    Another Scott says:

    In other news,


    “If you trigger this instability, you don’t need to continue to force the ice sheet by cranking up temperatures. It will keep going by itself, and that’s the worry,” said Alex Robel, who led the study and is an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “Climate variations will still be important after that tipping point because they will determine how fast the ice will move.”

    “After reaching the tipping point, Thwaites Glacier could lose all of its ice in a period of 150 years. That would make for a sea level rise of about half a meter (1.64 feet),” said NASA JPL scientist Helene Seroussi, who collaborated on the study. For comparison, current sea level is 20 cm (nearly 8 inches) above pre-global warming levels and is blamed for increased coastal flooding.


    How did the researchers integrate instability into sea level forecasting?

    The researchers borrowed math from statistical physics that calculate what random variables do to predictability in a physical system, like ice flow, acted upon by outside forces, like temperature changes. They applied the math to simulations of possible future fates of marine glaciers like Thwaites Glacier.

    They made an added surprising discovery. Normally, when climate conditions fluctuate strongly, Antarctic ice evens out the effects. Ice flow may increase but gradually, not wildly, but the instability produced the opposite effect in the simulations.

    [ simulation video ]

    “The system didn’t damp out the fluctuations, it actually amplified them. It increased the chances of rapid ice loss,” Robel said.


    tl;dr – In addition to climate change causing more rapid melting of glaciers, it’s causing larger variations in the melt rate making things like sea-level-rise more difficult to predict.

    Also, Record rainfall in DC yesterday….



  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    There is a very slim chance that we will survive.

    Isn’t that basically your stock response to everything?

  88. 88
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Actually, they were a football team.

    SEE? It’s been such s long time, I can’t even remember!

  89. 89
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: There was a time in the ’90s when I subscribed to The Nation, The New Republic, and The Economist.*

    *Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

  90. 90
    Kay says:

    Ayanna Pressley
    ‏Verified account
    5h5 hours ago
    More Ayanna Pressley Retweeted Kellyanne Conway
    .@KellyannePolls oh hi Distraction Becky. Remember that time your boss tore babies from their mothers’ arms and threw them in cages? Yeah take a seat and keep my name out of your lying mouth.

    I love every word of that.

  91. 91
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Scotian: Here’s hoping the chemo is effective and the side effects few — and there are lots of meds to manage the the side effects these days.

    I’ll be thinking of you, sending good energy your way, and looking for your report tomorrow night.

  92. 92
    Jay says:



  93. 93
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    Republicans and Russians are the worst. They’re like, um, cookies with peanut butter AND raisins.


  94. 94
    plato says:

    Is dunford a trump tool?

    A senior general has said the US wants to create an international military coalition to safeguard waters around Iran and Yemen.

    Marine General Joseph Dunford said he wanted to “ensure freedom of navigation” in the region, which provides essential trade routes.

    Last month the US blamed Iranian-backed fighters for attacks on two tankers.

    Gen Dunford said the US was in talks with a number of countries who had the “political will” to support the plans.

    The US would provide “command and control” ships, he said, but the aim would be for other countries to offer boats to establish patrol between those ships.

    Gen Dunford said the US would “work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities” each country has to support the initiative.

    They are going to ratchet up the war noise peaking around the election times, aren’t they?

  95. 95
    Another Scott says:

    @Scotian: I join with everyone here in sending good thoughts your way.

    Comfort to you and yours.

    Best wishes,

  96. 96
    Jay says:

    Skinhead cop with right-wing militia slogan tattoo arrests Jewish woman for protesting concentration camps.We're living in Bizarro world.— Brunswick1961 (@brunswick1961) July 8, 2019

    For those interested, the tattoo say’s “come, and take them”, in Greek, which is an AtomWaffen tattoo.

  97. 97
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I don’t even know what the real facts are with Haiti, but I’ve always assumed it was bullshit and basically there were some nonprofits that did a bad job – and Hillary gets the blame because of course she does.

    Never had the patience to go wade through the bullshit.

  98. 98
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I hope this is far in the future, but — as you yourself have anticipated — when the day comes that you don’t really feel like communicating with Balloon Juice, I hope you’ve told your wife how to log in, what your handle is, and most assuredly that we all want to know how you are progressing. As we’ve seen and experienced many times, this is a community — for all our snarling, ad hominem tussles — that comes together instantly for a hurting Jackal, or a needy animal, or a worthy political candidate.

    Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make this leg of the journey easier.

  99. 99
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @plato: No he’s not. He retires next month though.

  100. 100
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Scotian: We’re keeping good thoughts for you!

  101. 101
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: The Molon Labe tattoo, as well as stickers and patches and embroidery, are widely used by 2nd amendment absolutists in the US.

  102. 102
    plato says:

    So much terrible Trump news flying by so fast that E. Jean Carroll’s credible account of Trump rape seems like months ago. Its only two weeks.

    — Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) July 10, 2019

    Every day, same/different shit. Fuck the wwc.

  103. 103
    Kattails says:

    @Scotian: Sending warmest thoughts your way. We value all the time we have with you.

  104. 104
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: I know a fair amount about our various responses to disasters in Haiti since the 1990s. The real mistake the Clinton administration made was getting played by the big corporate pork producers in the US and their lobbyists to intervene when there was a small scale outbreak of disease among Haitian pigs. The domestic American producers pitched a freak out, backed by a ton of money for lobbying, to get the Clinton administration to do something to prevent it from being brought to the US and then spreading through the industrial pig farms. The solution the industry proposed was that the US would pay to round up the pig population of Haiti, destroy it, and then replace them with new, non diseased pigs. Of course, this being the US, the industrial pork producers got their fingers into the till. The Haitian farmers were offered micro loans to replace their pigs, to be purchased from the industrial producers in the US, because the buyout of their diseased pigs didn’t cover the cost of the new ones. And the new pigs, while adapted to living in factory conditions in North Carolina, were not adapted, as were the indigenous Haitian pigs that were destroyed, to the heat, humidity, and geography of Haiti. So they got sick and died and had to be replaced. All of this done without paying attention to the fact that pigs were wealth in Haiti. They were not just food, they were currency. So this whole messed up policy and strategy made things worse for everyone except America’s industrial/corporate pork producers who turned a tidy profit.

    The conspiracy theories, however, never actually deal with this. Instead they focus on something the Clinton Foundation was supposed to do in 2010 in the aftermath of the earthquake. Which is how they’re able to drag Chelsea into it as she was working for/with the Clinton Foundation at the time.

  105. 105
    Another Scott says:



    LOLGOP Retweeted Raw Story

    The guys who spent a decade telling us that allowing insurance to cover birth control violated their deeply held religious beliefs are fine with this.LOLGOP added,

    Raw Story Verified account @RawStory

    Trump and Jeffrey Epstein were the only two guests at a party with 28 women flown in for the ‘entertainment’: NYT report

    7:28 PM – 9 Jul 2019

    Is the Wingnut Singularity actually approaching??!


  106. 106
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Another Scott: peak GOP was a lie.

  107. 107
    Bill Arnold says:

    Various smart people (e.g. emptywheel) profess to think that the Steele Dossier is a fiction, that he was duped by the Russians. The reasons that they believe this are not entirely coherent and mostly of the style “the Russians do things like this”. Well, yes. They (and others) also do influence operations to cover up truths.
    I have been increasingly (over the past 2.5+ years since the dossier appeared :-) entertaining the possibility that this was an artisanal influence operation, at a very high level because it is hard to trick people like Marcy,, and that there are actual and very interesting truths in the Steele Dossier. Perhaps related to the active CI investigations.

  108. 108
    James E Powell says:


    I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! Let’s do it!

  109. 109
  110. 110
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: See, I wasn’t even aware of the Clinton Administration era stuff at all, and that’s legitimate for criticism.

    But all I ever hear about is the 2010 effort under Obama and Hillary, and lots of stuff about how it was a Clinton Foundation slush fund that… somehow was going to benefit Hillary directly. The only thing about this that I think is true is that Hillary allowed groups that had previously successfully worked with the Clinton Foundation (and been vetted) to the front of the line, which doesn’t strike me as a real problem and doesn’t really account for the vitriol I see about about the disaster response.

  111. 111
  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @James E Powell: No shit.

  113. 113
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Another Scott: Yeah but remember, Trump and Epstein weren’t close at all. And they had a HYUUGE falling out, or so says the basement dwellers in QANON

  114. 114
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @VOR: Okay, so a charity went off the rails like I was guessing earlier. What did that have to do with Clinton?

  115. 115
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Bill Arnold: The dossier is raw intel, largely from human sources. That means that even if everything is completely on the up and up, some of it will be what we call RUMINT (rumor intel), some of it will just be wrong, and some of it will be accurate. Most likely, given where he was collecting the information from, what Steele was able to collect from his sources is a combination of accurate raw human intelligence (HUMINT), RUMINT that might or might not be accurate, and deliberately placed disinformation planted with him for provocation purposes. In a normal intelligence operation the HUMINT would be combined with and validated against intelligence from other sources such as signals and other forms of electronic intelligence (SIGINT and ELINT), geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), and imagery such as pictures posted on social media and other sites on the Internet or in the traditional media to validate certain items, as well as information collected from open sources like newspapers and other news sources (OSINT). This is all then sifted, reviewed, reviewed again, compared, and contrasted and then a draft assessment would be produced. That draft assessment would then be circulated among subject matter experts and peer reviewed. First within the team where the assessment was being done, then in the larger section, then within the directorate. Revisions will be made, then it will be peer reviewed again. It will then be reviewed at the supervisory level outside of the team and the section and then circulated to the other intel community agencies that contributed for them to comment and make recommendations for further revisions. The assessment will then be finalized, filed, and distributed.

    Steele was producing, at best, a first pass assessment. So the dossier is very close to raw intel with a highly experienced subject matter expert’s initial and preliminary assessment. Because Steele was working on his own and not for an intel agency as he was retired and worked as a consultant and contractor.

    My take, as someone who has worked in a niche portion of human intelligence (cultural intelligence, which also overlaps and includes a variety of other sources and methods such as geospatial analysis and imagery analysis and open source analysis), has taught how to do this, has applied it operationally, and has consumed intelligence produced by others for various assignments, is that parts of the dossier are legit, parts are RUMINT that will likely never be validated, and parts are purposefully planted disinformation for provocation purposes. I think I’ve consistently said this here on the front page and in comments since the dossier was first reported on and then leaked and posted. And this lines up with what far more experienced intelligence and counterintelligence officers, national security lawyers (of which I am not and do not claim to be), and national security professionals than I have said. It is also, from the reporting I’ve read, what MI6 concluded after Steele gave a copy to his former boss who was the director of MI6.

    Emptywheel, for the umpteenth time, is a specialist in literature. She is not, nor has she ever been, an intelligence officer. She is not, nor has she ever been, a producer or a consumer of intelligence product. She is not, nor has she ever been, a lawyer, especially one who works in national security. And she is not, nor has she ever been, a national security professional. Her expertise in doing deep contextual reading and archival research are important tools, but they are important tools she’s applying without any experience or expertise in the areas she’s trying to work in. That doesn’t necessarily make her wrong. But she has a significant educational, knowledge, experiential, and expertise gap.

  116. 116
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: The people that do the humanitarian stuff on the ground, from the Humanitarian Refugee Management (HRM) officers to the economic development and redevelopment officers from USAID all work through local and regional NGOS and contractors who are vetted. Proper US based charitable foundations, such as the Clinton Foundation, usually use the same NGOs and contractors precisely because they’ve been vetted by the State Department pursuant to Federal statutes and regulations.

  117. 117
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Got it. Seems like a mighty thin reed to hang another Clinton conspiracy on, but they don’t really require any evidence.

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Bless their hearts!

  119. 119
    Gin & Tonic says:


    Stephen F. Cohen – writes about and is a professor of Russian Studies. He is also a long time Putin apologist.

    Way late and this thread is probably dead, but Cohen has been a “fellow traveller” since the middle Brezhnev era, essentially his entire academic career.

  120. 120
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: It is immortal. It has inside it blood of kings. It has no rivals. No other threads can be its equal.

  121. 121
    tobie says:

    @Scotian: I just saw your post. I haven’t been around much lately so I didn’t know what you were going through. I’m so sorry to hear the news. May every day be filled with joy and comfort and may you and your wife find serenity in each other’s company.

  122. 122
  123. 123
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Argue with wordpress. It highlighted it as wrong and when I tried to change it, WP autocorrected it. I think the spellcheck and autocorrect on WP is set to Esperantu. Or Welsh. But definitely an obscure language.

  124. 124
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman


    Esperanto, amiko.


    Easy trick to remember its when used as a possessive – mentally plug in his instead. If it works there, then it is a possessive, and realize his does not contain an apostrophe, so neither should its.

  125. 125
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: No shit, really, that’s how it’s versus its is supposed to work? How have I lived this fucking long without that.

    If it was up to me, I’d blacklist every single fucking commenter we have that feels the need to be the pedantry police.

  126. 126
    Mo MacArbie says:

    Long as we’re proofreading now, when all but two sentences of a seven-paragraph blockquote are in bold italics, what actually is being emphasized?

  127. 127
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    As I ungracefully age I find it sometimes gets more confusing, and have found it a handy trick when in doubt. YMMV.

    Oh, and it’s pedantry posse; we’re (sadly) not unionized. :)

  128. 128
    UncleEbeneezer says:

    Until or unless the US government, or failing that, the Democratic candidates and their campaigns, create a viable and effective counter-influence strategy and deploy it operationally, all Americans are at risk from this information warfare.

    Just curious: What would/could this look like in practice? And is there any realistic chance that it could be sold to candidates/campaigns to actually get them onboard?

  129. 129
    Mart says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I think its his, unless it’s not his. (Got a “C-” in technical writing.)

  130. 130
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Dead thread, but thank you for that long response; much appreciated.

Comments are closed.