Cambridge Analytica brags about weaponizing 'Crooked Hillary' slogan

This week we learned that an infamous Donald Trump slogan for his opponent -- "Crooked Hillary" -- may have been weap...

Posted: Mar 22, 2018 8:19 AM
Updated: Mar 22, 2018 8:19 AM

This week we learned that an infamous Donald Trump slogan for his opponent -- "Crooked Hillary" -- may have been weaponized on his behalf by Cambridge Analytica in its campaign ads for Trump. In a report by Britain's Channel 4, Cambridge Analytica's CEO, Alexander Nix, claims he orchestrated the online viral growth of some of the most damaging and false narratives about Hillary Clinton -- including the "Crooked Hillary" slogan.

Why does this matter?

Because the Trump team has been attempting to minimize the role of Cambridge Analytica, including its ties to the firm and the impact of the firm's work, for months.

This story, particularly in relation to Cambridge Analytica's work practices, isn't entirely new. There was extensive reporting on the role of the firm in targeting voters back to 2016. News reports at the time confirmed that the Trump team shelled out $5 million in September alone to Cambridge Analytica and referred to the firm as its "secret weapon."

But over the same period our understanding of and concern about the role the Kremlin played in disseminating disinformation across social media channels and the extent to which Russia pushed false narratives about Hilary Clinton has also increased.

As has the work of special counselor Robert Mueller, who is leaving no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of the what, how and why of Russia's involvement in the 2016 election -- and the possibility that the Trump campaign may be connected.

And now the Cambridge Analytica story is beginning to emerge with even greater detail, raising some major red flags.

Not only did the Trump campaign pay Cambridge Analytica millions of dollars to get information to target voters, but we also know now that the Russian researcher who harvested the Facebook data of millions of Americans -- which he then sold to Cambridge Analytica -- also worked with a group at Russia's St. Petersburg University in 2014 on a similar project. Seems like more than a strange coincidence.

Defenders of Cambridge make a similar argument to that of many former Trump campaign staffers and supporters: They simply weren't competent enough to coordinate with the Russians and meddle in an election. That spin rings hollow when it comes from supporters of the Trump team, given the number of undisclosed meetings and the clear willingness to accept damaging information on Trump's opponent. And it certainly does not fly when this same firm claiming naivete also employed a Russian researcher to mine the personal data of Americans and perhaps took advantage of one of Trump's favorite campaign slogans.

There are valid questions about Facebook's policy, too, and how the company didn't disclose -- after it became aware of the issue in 2015 -- that a Russian academic had sold the personal data of millions of Americans to a firm working for the Trump campaign.

And there are valid questions about whether Russia's election meddling changed the outcome. The truth is we don't know for sure.

But regardless of the impact and about the steps that will and should be taken from here, the legal and political question is about the intent of the Trump team. Did the Trump team, with the help of a data firm it hired, coordinate with the Russians to meddle in the election in 2016?

And no one has stated the thrust of the issue more clearly than Hillary Clinton: "The real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania -- that is really the nub of the question. So, if they were getting advice from say Cambridge Analytica, or someone else, about 'OK here are the 12 voters in this town in Wisconsin -- that's whose Facebook pages you need to be on to send these messages' that indeed would be very disturbing."

While there isn't definitive evidence the Russians did such precise targeting -- as Clinton's comments suggest -- there is growing evidence that the Russians gathered intel on Americans and bought anti-Clinton ads on Facebook and other forms of social media to influence the electorate.

And President Trump is really not helping matters by congratulating the very man behind the meddling in the US presidential on his re-election, which he achieved by excluding candidates who presented any real threat of winning the Russian presidency.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 556381

Reported Deaths: 7098
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1158471682
Ramsey47939856
Dakota42586422
Anoka38655415
Washington24993274
Stearns21052219
St. Louis16821298
Scott16013117
Wright14818127
Olmsted1276297
Sherburne1064880
Carver984945
Clay783490
Rice7649101
Blue Earth698640
Kandiyohi628181
Crow Wing618186
Chisago550650
Otter Tail543973
Benton532297
Mower451132
Goodhue444172
Douglas442870
Winona438649
Nobles400648
Morrison396059
McLeod395255
Isanti378259
Itasca373653
Beltrami372957
Polk366067
Steele364014
Becker356048
Lyon348648
Carlton329452
Freeborn328129
Pine312321
Nicollet307542
Brown294739
Mille Lacs282150
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Todd268830
Cass250426
Meeker237437
Waseca231421
Martin213429
Wabasha19953
Roseau197818
Renville172543
Hubbard172341
Dodge17193
Redwood166335
Houston162614
Cottonwood157021
Fillmore15179
Pennington151019
Chippewa146537
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Faribault144019
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Watonwan12569
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Swift100018
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Cook1460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 358085

Reported Deaths: 5821
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56023604
Linn20310330
Scott19111234
Black Hawk15560306
Woodbury14906221
Johnson1405881
Dubuque13162202
Dallas1090196
Pottawattamie10763162
Story1031547
Warren555686
Clinton537790
Cerro Gordo522986
Webster508391
Sioux506673
Marshall477274
Muscatine460796
Des Moines441965
Wapello4254120
Buena Vista421940
Jasper407670
Plymouth397479
Lee368555
Marion354575
Jones293155
Henry286337
Bremer279360
Carroll279351
Crawford261840
Boone258833
Benton250355
Washington249550
Dickinson242343
Mahaska224850
Jackson218242
Kossuth213063
Clay211225
Tama206671
Delaware203039
Winneshiek194433
Page190421
Buchanan188831
Cedar184423
Fayette183041
Wright180435
Hardin179942
Hamilton178149
Harrison176473
Clayton167155
Butler162534
Mills158720
Cherokee157138
Floyd155442
Lyon154841
Madison154119
Poweshiek152733
Allamakee149151
Iowa145524
Hancock143734
Winnebago136131
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Cass134654
Calhoun133211
Jefferson131035
Emmet128740
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Sac127319
Louisa127249
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Mitchell125341
Union124132
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Humboldt118326
Guthrie117929
Franklin112821
Palo Alto111022
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10050
Clarke98323
Keokuk94730
Monroe94128
Ida89733
Adair84532
Pocahontas83721
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75516
Lucas74923
Worth7098
Taylor65312
Fremont6139
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
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