My brother told me about this McKay Coppins piece in the Atlantic about how the Trump campaign is using, and will use, Facebook to micro-target the base and suppress interest in key Democratic voting demographics by spreading lies. It’s a long article and it’s Sunday so if you’re interested, read the whole thing, because Coppins dissects a number of different themes and approaches, and it’s hard to pick good excerpts.
One of the most disturbing parts of the piece was his reference to Tara McGowan, who is part of Acronym, David Plouffe’s organization that was an investor/founder of Shadow, the company that bobbled the Iowa caucus counting app. Coppins’ piece was probably filed prior to Iowa, and it contains only McGowan’s oft-repeated claim that Acronym is going to fund a $75 million “disruptive” social media campaign. Here’s Vox explainer written post-Iowa that takes a pretty even-handed look at Acronym. It sounds like they’re very good at raising money, and that they used their reputation to lock up a bunch of big donors. Whether they are spending enough of that money, and spending it in a well-organized fashion, is unclear. If the effort is anything like Shadow, there’s definitely some grift and incompetence involved.
Most of us who have been following politics have seen consultants make huge claims about their winning strategies – Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, would be just some website designer trying to punch above his weight if Trump had lost. Instead, he comes off as a bit of a tech genius in the piece. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But we’ve also seen the right grasp and use mass media far more effectively than Democrats. Even back in the days of direct mail, the right arguably did it a lot better than we did, and was there first.
So while I don’t think things are as dire for Democrats as Coppins might think, I also believe that Facebook will be the “but her emails” media story of 2020. And, if his claims about Parscale’s operation are even partially true, we have a serious problem.