Watching the Disinformation and Influence Operation Being Made In Real Time

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.

Giaritelli, of course, has doubled down. She’s also accusing Congresswoman Escobar, in whose district the facility was located, of also throwing a temper tantrum.

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.

Open thread.

* Obligatory:


Respite for the Rest of Us Open Thread: Drew Magary Is An Excellent Read

If you are a devout member of the Church of the Bleeding-Heart Liberal, it can sometimes be hard to stay single-minded in your choice of target. Maybe they had a difficult childhood! Maybe they’re just too dumb to understand what they’re saying! But then there are people like NYTimes opinionator Bret Stephens, who are richly compensated to say unforgivable things — and, bless him, people like Drew Magary who are (much less richly) compensated to respond:

Bret Stephens went ahead and ruined everyone else’s by scribbling out a bunch of racist bumper sticker slogans in the New York Times. And this time, ol’ Bret did so without the veneer of preciousness that he usually grants to everything he touches…

Nothing bad is gonna happen to Bret Stephens for this, of course. He lives in the same magical fairy-tale land other conservative dudes live in where they receive the largest bullhorn and grandest sum of money possible to cry out to the world that they’ve been sent to the guillotine for daring to speak their precious truths… The Times isn’t gonna fire Bret Stephens. That joint employs some genuinely excellent take havers, such as Charles Blow. But the people in charge over there know that what REALLY drives engagement is letting smug pricks like Stephens and Bari Weiss and four-eyed penis David Brooks scream DEMOCRATS DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO PLEASE ME from inside the battlements of a supposed fortress of impregnable liberalism…

Stephens should apologize for being who he is every fucking day of the week. He’s a repulsive slug of a man. That the Times would let Stephens indulge in the cycle of saying nasty shit and then arrogantly proclaiming that he expects people like Soledad O’Brien—who has had herself quite a week interacting with enormous alt-right shitbags—to apologize to him for daring to question him, is emblematic of the way the paper of record allows itself to get worked over by our least oppressed members of society positing that they are actually history’s greatest victims. Employing Bret Stephens means the Times gets to dodge criticism for being too liberal by going, “Look guys, we even let a shithead like Bret Stephens onto our pages!” Therefore, Stephens gets ample inches of column space to sort out who counts as a real American and who does not, and even makes sure to take an indirect jab at people who seek refuge here and end up dying because of the right wing’s institutional hatred and indifference toward them. And then… THEN… he gets to performatively wallow in the misery he’s sown…

And Stephens, of all people, has the predictable gall to say that everyone ELSE is the reason Trump is gonna win in 2020. It couldn’t possibly be because supposed guardians of democracy have foolishly offered STEPHENS asylum, helping disseminate his garbage into the mainstream and to act as sentry for the entrenched powers that be, and then paying him handsomely for the privilege. Nooooo… couldn’t be. I’d tell this pile of shit to take a look in the mirror. But I already know he’d gladly take me up on the offer, just for all the wrong reasons.


“If you’ve ever wondered what you would have done…”

ProPublica published an exposé today on a secret Border Patrol Facebook group that allegedly comprises more than 9,000 agents and former agents. On the page, they giggle over anti-immigrant memes, including one using the image of the Salvadoran father and his two-year-old daughter who recently drowned in the Rio Grande.

I’m not even going to try to describe what ProPublica found, except to say there’s a shitload of cruelty, racism and sexism, and it’s no surprise people with such a mindset would be complicit in running camps where desperate men, women and children are hideously abused. If Facebook had been around in the 1930s/1940s, this is exactly the kind of shit Nazi concentration camp guards would post.

These agencies need to be burned to the ground, the earth where they stood salted over, and curses placed at the sites to keep the evil contained. Yes, we need to be able to control our borders, but surely non-psychopaths can be found to handle the fucking job.

I saw a photo of a guy at a protest recently holding a sign that said, “If you’ve ever wondered what you would have done in Nazi Germany, you’re doing it now.” Truth.

Excellent Read: “FAMILY Values!… “

(Jack Ohman via

Alexandra Petri is a national treasure:

Let me make one thing clear: The treatment that children are receiving at the border, reported with horror by those lawyers — this is not against my values. Do not misunderstand! I still have more values than anyone. I am a values voter, with values for days, values that go all the way to the floor, values that wave amberly as far as the eye can see!…

We can clearly see that these are just children by themselves, not families, and they are merely covered in filth and tear stains, not exposed to comprehensive sex education, Darwinism or a textbook implying the reality of climate change. So, yes, what’s going on there is in no way an attack on the family. The family is something to be cherished, as luminous as it is theoretical.

It is important to have these values. But I have lots! All the most important, decorative values are the ones I have…

We must have values because people are flawed and fallen. As the Good Book teaches us (it is no “The Art of the Deal,” but it has some points, if you skim it correctly), if you see someone who is suffering, ask yourself, is it possible that this person did something wrong? Not only is it possible, it is probable. Well, then! Probably what they are getting is a just desert. Cross to the side of the road, and let a Samaritan handle it, or some other foreign entity….

If You Ever Wonder How Revolutionaries, Insurgents, and Terrorists Are Created, This Is One of the Ways

We will be paying the price for this maliciously, amoral, immoral, evil stupidity for years and years to come. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, and the children themselves will seek vengeance for what we’re doing to them. And when they do, we’ll act surprised and plead that we’re the innocent victims of unhinged fanatics that hate us for our way of life. We’ll use their attempts to seek vengeance to justify more perpetual and forever war. And to whittle away whatever is left of our constitutional rights and liberties.

Open thread!