Monday, February 19, 2018

How the take down of Al Franken was orchestrated by the Right Wing and supported by Russian Twitter bots.

Courtesy of Newsweek:

While everyone has been focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to support Donald Trump, the Franken take-down originated in—and was propelled by—a strategic online campaign with digital tentacles reaching to, of all places, Japan. Analysts have now mapped out how the initial accusation against Franken by Hooters pinup girl and lad-mag model Leeann Tweeden was turned into effective propaganda after first being hinted at by right wing black ops master Roger Stone.

A pair of Japan-based websites, created the day before Tweeden came forward, and a swarm of related Twitter bots made the Tweeden story go viral—and then weaponized a liberal writer's criticism of Franken. The bot army, in tandem with prominent real live human right-wingers with Twitter followers in the millions, such as Mike Cernovich, spewed thousands of posts, helping the #frankenfondles hashtag and the "Franken is a groper" meme effectively silence the testimonies of eight former female staffers who defended the Minnesota Democrat before he resigned last year. 

The operation commenced on November 15, when Roger Stone— who is now banned from Twitter for racism and profanity—tweeted from one of his accounts “Roger Stone says it’s Al Franken’s ‘time in the barrel.’ Franken next in long list of Democrats accused of ‘grabby’ behavior.” 

On the same day, a web domain called was registered in Japan by a developer named Atsufumi Otsuka. A fake-news website was then established at that web address, and then a second one was created a few days later, according to research shared with the voting rights research outfit Unhack the Vote. 

Tweeden’s account of being groped by Franken was first amplified by a network of right wing media, including KABC in Los Angeles, where Tweeden has a radio show, The Hill, Infowars and Breitbart, which mobilized within hours of Stone's tweet and the release of a picture of a Tweeden and Franken clowning around at a USO performance before he was a senator.

By November 17, the trending of “Al Franken” was officially also a Russia Intelligence operation, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization tracking Russian social media accounts, based on a sample taken that day of 600 of the fake accounts.

There is apparently a sophisticated botnet called "The Voty botnet" that was instrumental in pushing a story by a liberal writer called “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You But You Can’t Matter Anymore” out to millions of people.

That article provided legitimacy for actual liberals to pile on Al Franken as well, and before you knew it Democrats like Kirsten Gillibrand were calling for his resignation. 

The rest, as they say, is history. 

And this serves as yet another reminder that it is not only the Right Wing who can be manipulated by Russian tactics online, but also seemingly intelligent liberals.

We have to examine literally every bit of information we see to discover its roots, and to determine if it is indeed accurate, before we accept it as fact.

This puts a huge burden on each of us, but right now this is essentially our only defense against allowing ourselves to be used to spread and weaponize misinformation.


  1. Anonymous4:09 PM

    He should get his seat back in the senate and Gillibrand owes him a public apology.

    Now we will never know if the "other"women that came forward were fake, I am thinking of the last anonymous woman that no details were ever given.

    1. Anonymous4:18 PM

      Yeah that is not how it works.

    2. Anonymous4:59 PM

      @ 4:18 Yeah and we never had the foreign enemy messing with our democracy-too bad how it works.

    3. Anonymous5:06 PM

      "Yeah and we never had the foreign enemy messing with our democracy"

      Really 4:59? No entity has ever messed "with our democracy"?

    4. I'll say it again.

      Al Franken should run for his own seat. Let the people of Minnesota decide who they believe and if Franken is their best representative in Congress.

    5. Paul in Minnesota3:09 AM

      As a Minnesotan, I will trust the Minnesota DFL Party and I will give them money, yet I will give selectively to the other local/state/federal Democratic races of some Democrats in other states. Possibly for some local or state Greens or other progressives. I will not support the National Democratic Party (or whatever it is called). I was disappointed a bit by the whole debacle the last time (less so by the Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton re: the presidency) and more so by the control by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. I didn't like her and what she did then. Compared to Howard Dean running of that position. I don't feel progressives are represented in the current Democratic party apparatus or fund raising mechanism at a national level. Anyway, after this Al Franken debacle, I am not willing to support any of the women (or men) who brought Al Franken down and I want to make certain none of my money helps the people who brought him down.

    6. Anonymous4:45 AM

      Paul in Minnesota, I understand how you feel but you have to remember what the choice is likely to be. Stay uninvolved politically and allow the Republicans and their pals in Moscow continue to destroy the country or stay involved and fight to restore what we once had.

    7. I’m with Paul for all the reasons he stated. This is the only way to send a message to DNC leadership. If you just keep supporting them they don’t give a shit what you want or what you say. There will be no change. They’ve demonstrated that more than once.

      Fuck Tom Perez.

  2. Franken was a very effective legislator and on-the-point questioner of all those idiots; no wonder "they" had to take him out. I was very angry when he decided to leave; he should have waited for the Ethics Committee to convene and decide that he was innocent of all charges. That's what we get for having a man of honor in place.

    Come back, Mr. Franken!!!!

    1. Anonymous7:29 AM

      He is too busy spankin' the lil Franken.

  3. Anonymous4:32 PM

    I like Franken too. But, people seem to forget that a) it was several women and b) he copped to his actions. Just shows how widespread this practice has been. 'good guys' too.

    1. Anonymous4:50 PM

      Anonymous women. And no he didn't. He apologized, but he never admitted to groping anyone.

    2. Also worth noting that in this same article it's claimed that right-wing provocateur Charles Johnson tweeted that he was thinking of offering money to any women willing to come forward and say that Franken assaulted them.

      Not hard to believe that other conservatives made similar offers.

    3. Anonymous4:42 AM

      I think that Al Franken is one of the most intelligent men to have served in Congress. In the haste to make accusations, there was a lot that he was accused of with very little (if none) substantiation. He was an easy target because of his past career in comedy and because of his gregarious nature. He wasn't and isn't a lecherous man and I'm sorry that the Democratic women senators, who should have known better, jumped on the Accusation Bandwagon - just like the GOP wanted them to.

  4. Anonymous5:14 PM

    We are living in the tower of babel and we are being very destructive. The downfall of humanity.

  5. It was so easy preying on the weaknesses of the Democrats.

    Gilligrand and Harris and the others were eager to "go high" and jump on the bandwagon to run Franken out of town on a rail. Due process for everyone except their own.

    Gillibrand, Harris and the others should have known better. Especially since we know how social media and the Russians influenced the election. But no, they fell for it again. And now we've lost the greatest threat to the Russians. Al Franken in the senate cross examining Trump's cesspool.

    Gilliband better shut the fuck up. I don't want to hear one more syllable out of her gullible maw. She will NEVER be president. Neither will Harris.

    1. Anonymous6:34 PM


    2. Anonymous7:11 PM

      I'm heartbroken that a Senator that I was proud to have voted for was sacrificed by Gillibrand and Harris. They are dead to me. Fuck them. They are the problem with the Democratic Party.


    3. Anonymous11:45 PM

      Agreed a thousand percent. Shame on Kristen gillibrand.

  6. Anonymous6:16 PM

    O/T but about Trump and Russian misinformation in general. I keep imaging surprising ways in which Trump might redeem himself and step up and fight the Russians who helped get him elected. How refreshing would it be if Trump finally admitted that yes, his campaign was a way for him to become more famous, and he did not expect, or even want to win. Now, realizing that Russia interefered on social media to help him, he decides to come clean and admit it, in hopes that we can send a message to the Russians that we will not tolerate this behavior in our elections.

    *sigh* I wish so much that something good will eventually come from Trump. But day after day, there’s nothing. The man is like a black hole.

    1. Anonymous2:37 PM

      Russia has Sarah Sociopath tapping cells, to get radio response. Soo then its back to stalking again. Yawn. Gosh. Sarah. Is that all ya got? When you g0nna plot with Russia to kill again?
      Problem is Uncle Sams on the line. Has been allong.
      Its Mueller time! HeeHaw!

  7. Anonymous7:24 PM

    I love Franken. I remember reading "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and applauding the man I adored on SNL. I was hoping he would run for POTUS soon.
    But, I must be missing something. Although I found the Tweeden story to be a hypocritical attack on Franken, he was accused of grabbing butts while taking pictures and admitted wrongdoing. He chose to resign, instead of waiting for an ethics investigation. I fault him for both the grabbing and the willingness to resign. As a Democrat, I would have liked a resolution that allowed an amazing, intelligent public servant to retain his seat. We needed him.

    1. Anonymous7:34 PM

      He did not have to resign. Even if he was found 'guily' by some ethics investigation (which I hope that ALL of us can agree is the ultimate irony in DC), It is all on him, and showing he was either really weak, or knew some real hammers were coming down.

    2. Anonymous5:58 AM

      He did not admit wrongdoing. He was forced to resign. You really have no choice when your entire party turns on you trying to win purity point with SJWs. You'll notice the accusations stopped after he resigned. Because the bots got what they wanted.

    3. Anonymous7:51 AM

      So was it the bots or the people in his party 5:58? If he had the balls to stay and fight he could have. This is entirely on him and his political fortitude.

    4. 7:34

      That is the difference between the GOP and the Democrats.

      The GOP embraces and protects it's miscreants.

      The Democrats shun and attack theirs, even when it's only a rumor or accusation. Just look how many were forced to resign under Obama, only to be vindicated when it was too late.

      And now Franken.

      Once his own party turned on him he didn't have much choice. I wouldn't be surprised if he was so disgusted he chose never to involve himself in politics again. Which would be a damned shame.

      Perhaps he'll run for Governor.

  8. WA Skeptic7:38 PM

    I'd like to have a more nuanced response to harassment accusations. Not every occasion should call for the guillotine; apologies, acknowledgements, etc., whatever punishment is considered appropriate, but not defenestration every time. He was far too good at taking the various rascals to task in public; that's why they had to take him out.

    Run, Al, Run!

    1. Anonymous4:34 AM

      It seems that the guillotine is only set up when a Democrat has been accused. Republicans get away with a lot more.

  9. Anonymous9:29 PM

    Democrats are so polite. Republicans have always fought dirty. When Michelle Obama said we go high they go low it was true.
    That's why Donald is in the White House. He's playing dirty as we speak and Putin, who knows well how this game is played, tutors him.
    Will we get through this? I sure in the hell hope so. I hope Donald and Putin get theirs eventually.

  10. OT:

    Pennsylvania court just slapped the GOP upside the head.

    "Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court on Monday issued a new congressional map to replace the state’s current one, which the court said is so partisan it violates the state’s Constitution.

    The Supreme Court drew the map after Republican lawmakers and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) failed to come up with an agreement by the Feb. 15 deadline."

    It was a case of get it done by Feb. 15 or we'll do it for you.

    That's called discipline. Clear communication of requirements. Clearly lay out consequences for success or failure to meet requirements. Immediately consequences.

    "Republicans controlled the redistricting process in the state in 2011 and drew a map that gave their party a considerable advantage. In 2012, 2014 and 2016, they won 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats, even though the party only won about 50 percent of the popular vote. GOP voter registration also lags behind Democrats significantly in the state. In a 5-2 decision last month, the state Supreme Court said the map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state’s Constitution.

    Democrats have been closely watching the redistricting battle, because it could offer a chance for the party to pick up a handful of seats in Congress. The Brennan Center for Justice estimated that the old map had accounted for an additional three to four GOP seats in Congress.

    Preliminary analyses of the new map showed congressional races in the state being much more competitive for Democrats."

    Do it or we'll do it for you.

    Now it's done.

    The GOP can choke on it.

  11. Anonymous1:08 AM

    When the so-called "greatest democracy on Earth" succumbs to social media bots, you really had fuck-all to begin with.

  12. Anonymous4:33 AM

    Al Franken, one of my favorite members of the Senate, was targeted because he was outspoken about the Russian collusion. I sincerely hope that the Democratic women senators who jumped on the bizarre bandwagon and failed to give Franken the support he deserved feel ashamed of themselves now. The country lost an excellent senator, one of our best, when Franken resigned.

    The next target is likely to be Adam Schiff because of his fearlessness and courage in calling out Trump's involvement in the collusion. It's already begun - with Trump's vicious tweet(s) over the weekend. I hope the Democrats in Congress will support Schiff and prevent the onslaught.

  13. Anonymous9:07 AM

    "It’s gross, he’s gross, and these women’s careers were clearly harmed. Then she demands that Thomas be impeached, not because of that harm, but because he lied about it to Congress.

    [B]ecause of the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath, saying he had never talked to Hill about porn or to other women who worked with him about risqué subject matter.

    Lying is, for lawyers, a cardinal sin. State disciplinary committees regularly institute proceedings against lawyers for knowingly lying in court, with punishments that can include disbarment. Since 1989, three federal judges have been impeached and forced from office for charges that include lying. The idea of someone so flagrantly telling untruths to ascend to the highest legal position in the U.S. remains shocking, in addition to its being illegal.
    (Thomas, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on a detailed list of queries.)"

    Yes, it is shocking and illegal.



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