The story begins, as do many absurd examples of hyperbole in madhouse that is Washington DC, with bobbleheaded Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. That’s the committee in the House investigating, ad nauseum, the RUSSIA!RUSSIA!RUSSIA! collusion debacle.
Having run out of steam on Trump-Russia collusion, Bobble has deftly shifted to a new hysteria-du-jour to keep the faithful terrified and marching bravely on under their knitted genital hats: Russian Bots.
A few weeks ago, Bobble responded to the social media drumbeat of #ReleaseTheMemo, demanding that the internal Republican memo on the Russia investigation be opened to the public. The hashtag had taken off on social media. But where others on the left saw a problem, the indefatigable Mr. Schiff saw opportunity. Yes, the memo pretty much debunked what was left of the collusion meme... but it offered a new foe to be feared, one that would rally the dispirited troops once again to his call.
Bobble glommed on to a report from a secretive website called “Hamilton 68”. Hamilton 68 was formed in 2017 by anti-Trump partisans to counter the nefarious refusal of the Trump administration to take Russia!Russia! seriously. It employs unidentified experts who use undisclosed methods to track undefined Russian internet propaganda across the internet and then issue unsubstantiated reports confirming their preconceived bias. Bobble and Hamilton 68, in short, are twins separated at birth.
And Hamilton 68 had reported that Russian bots were flooding Google, Facebook, and Twitter, pushing the #ReleaseTheMemo movement.
Bobble, using his grossly swollen noggin to formulate a Clever Plan, pumped the Hamilton 68 charge to his friends in the media and then, with the greatest of umbrage, demanded immediate Justice from the guardians of the internet. He vigorously berated his (former) best friends, Facebook and Twitter, for letting the purported Russian bots run wild in their systems. The turncoats.
Politico was the main media driver of the drivel, bleating that “Trump fans and Twitter bots made #ReleaseTheMemo go viral”. (Clinton supporters are ‘supporters’; Trump supporters are ‘fans’). But the cry was soon picked up by Newsweek, which chimed in with “Russian bots might be behind the controversial #ReleaseTheMemo campaign”. (Republican positions are always ‘controversial’). USA Today concluded that “Russian Twitter Accounts push #ReleaseTheMemo”. (We’re easily pushed.)
The problem with this, unfortunately, was that Facebook and Twitter --- no friends, they, to Republicans --- did exhaustive checks of their systems and promptly concluded that there was nothing to the story: there were no Russian bots. The hashtags were coming in from all directions, but from legitimate websites and addresses.
With all due apologies to the secret decoder ring experts at Hamilton 68, Twitter and Facebook have lots of access to their own servers and systems, and: no bots.
Reality is no bar to Bobble, however, and he bravely soldiered on. In the face of the rejection of his Russian Bot scare by those purportedly disseminating said Bots, he simply went back and re-bleated that the social media and search engine companies must now “take more action” against the thing that didn’t happen.
Facebook, getting a bit annoyed, responded flatly that “our internal Information Security team has not become aware of information or activity of a sort that would prompt further review.” Full stop period implied.
Politico countered by reporting that noble Bobble and his ilk were now demanding that “the companies must deactivate the bot accounts if they violate user policies. They want Twitter and Facebook to notify users who may have seen posts from the bots and to describe how they’ll prevent similar foreign influence campaigns in the future.”
Think about that one: Facebook has to ‘deactivate’ something that isn’t activated, notify users of something that didn’t happen, and then stop the thing that didn’t happen from happening again. Facebook execs must feel like they’ve fallen down the rabbit hole as the target-du-jour of the wild-eyed Mr. Schiff. To which, one can only gloat that when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Meanwhile, the Russian Bot meme has taken off on wings of irrationality across the entire political landscape, Bobble riding proudly astride the lead bird, freakish dome lifted nobly to the sun. Consider that the absolutely laughable and howlingly clumsy Russian faux-campaign ads, including everything from lurid fisticuffs between Hillary Clinton and Jesus Christ to "Buff Bernie" coloring books "that suit for all people", are now considered by large swaths of the left-wing punditry as “a serious danger” to our democracy and --- I am not making this up --- "the most serious attack on America since 9/11" , and it's readily apparent that Bobble is once again crazy like a fox.
And now, of course, we have what Bobble labels the ‘pro-gun’ movement on social media following the Parkland shooting. Given that over half of the country favors the 2nd amendment and opposes additional restriction of gun ownership, one might be forgiven in assuming that a large number of social media posts would favor that position, even without interference by the geniuses who brought us lurid posters of Satan arm-wrestling Christ. One, according to the hysterical media, would be misguided.
Nope. Hamilton 68 is back on the job. It's Russian bots again. And, reliably, here comes the media in full cry.
Flee. Flee for your very lives. The bots: they are coming for you.