Disinformation: Heartland Institute & Climate Change

“The document, a product of our joint investigation with ZDF Frontal21, gives exclusive insight into the million euro business of climate change deniers. It proves how disinformation is professionally scattered around society with the help of supposed experts, corrupt scientists, intentional spin and YouTube.”

Katarina Huth and Jean Peters, “The Heartland Lobby.” Correctiv. February 11, 2020.

A good place to get an understanding of how disinformation, online radicalization campaigns, etc., work.

How a “Political Astroturfing” App Coordinates Pro-Israel Influence Operations

“…a pro-Israel smartphone app that seeds and amplifies pro-Israel messages across social media — saw its first major test in May 2019. It offered a glimpse of the novel methods by which future influence campaigns will
be conducted and information wars won…[the app] assigns users a series of ‘missions’ — typically a comment, retweet, or ‘like’ — intended to boost pro-Israel content across multiple platforms. Through these missions, Act.IL claims to have reached millions of people.”

—Emerson T. Brooking of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, “How a ‘Political Astroturfing’ App Coordinates Pro-Israel Influence Operations.” Medium.com. August 19, 2019.


“One of the most unique aspects in our activity is our “no-logo” strategy. The no-logo strategy allows anyone to use our content, [sic] and makes it easier than ever to reach audiences that aren’t necessarily pro Israel since they look at the content without a bias that is based on who created the content.”

—Act.IL internal documentation quoted in ibid.

Astroturf, pretending to be or hiding behind a third party to obscure identities and sources of information isn’t unique, it’s what defines astroturf. It’s manipulative, jackass behavior that works only when it isn’t found out. When it is discovered, it reflects poorly both on its origin and the interests they are attempting to promote. Choosing this approach says a lot about someone’s character.

Trump and Brexit Proved This Book Prophetic — What Calamity Will Befall Us Next?

“Fifty years ago, society was organized according to the industrial model. People were passive recipients of information. It was a top-down system with limited choices or diversity. You could buy two or three different types of cars and get your information from two or three different television channels and newspapers. This system produced a relatively uniform “mass audience” that was suitable for the needs of industrial society.

What we have seen since is a complete breakdown of that system. The loss of control over information has resulted in the breakdown of the mass audience and many of the old ideologies. In its place has emerged a more ideologically diverse and fractious public. The public, which is not necessarily synonymous with ‘the people’ or ‘the masses,’ can come from any corner of the political environment today. It is not a fixed body of individuals and lacks an organization, leaders, shared programs, policies, or a coherent ideology. The public is characterized by negation: It is united in being ferociously against the established order.”

—Martin Gurri in interview with Murtaza Hessian, “Trump and Brexit Proved This Book Prophetic — What Calamity Will Befall Us Next?The Intercept. March 3, 2019.

The Problem of Fox News

“Fox is America’s central clearinghouse for hateful conspiracism, including the violent delusions that animated Bowers and Sayoc. A rich cosmopolitan Jew is scheming to help dangerous foreigners invade and despoil the homeland. Barack Obama, Tom Steyer and Robert DeNiro are trying to destroy America for reasons known only to themselves. Blacks want to steal everything for which you’ve worked so hard.

The problem with Fox isn’t just what it puts on its airwaves, but the impact it has on others. It pressures the corporate media to give credibility to its lurid fairy tales. It provides oxygen to the even more paranoid fantasists to its right, turning individuals into stars and other outlets into sustainable projects. And amazingly, Fox has nonetheless managed to present itself as a normal news outlet, like a cuckoo’s egg in a dunnock nest, mimicking the form with radically different content.”

—Jon Schwarz, “Fox News Has Done More to Incite Domestic Political Violence Than Donald Trump.” The Intercept. October 30, 2018.

On a personal note, I was doing a bit of traveling in the southern United States and decided to eat at four fast food restaurants, Arby’s, Hardee’s, Taco Bell and McDonald’s. Three had Fox News playing in the dining area. Taco Bell didn’t have any TVs. The second time it happened, at Hardee’s, I asked the people working there if it could be turned off, and I was informed that Hardee’s management had dictated that Fox News need always be on.

Consider the fact that, on any given day, one third of the population eats out at a fast food restaurant, and it’s a disturbing trend that this propaganda is being mandated by management to be played even when customers explicitly ask for it to be turned off.

Which brings us to the money question: Whose interests does that serve? And why is this a consistent pattern across different chains in that area?