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Monday, February 24, 2014

What Scott Walker has in common with a certain recently deposed Ukrainian criminal

If you ever come across a “gee, but Scott Walker is swell!” comment under a news story, blog post, or Reddit comment thread, assume it’s paid propaganda and call the commenter out for it — not because the odds show it’s likely to be true, but because actions like this deserve profoundly negative consequences:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: In the heat of the 2010 governor’s race, Scott Walker urged both county employees and campaign aides to go to news websites and post comments promoting him and his record, newly unsealed documents show.

It was just such anonymous posts by a county worker on campaign issues that prompted prosecutors to expand a secret “John Doe” investigation — launched to probe into missing money in a veterans fund — to also examine whether taxpayer dollars were being used illegally to finance political operations.

In one instance in May 2010, for example, a close ally posted online a portion of a Walker email almost verbatim on a Journal Sentinel story just minutes after receiving the directive. Walker had sent the note to an inner circle that included county administrators as well as campaign operatives.

Tapping out a message on his campaign Blackberry on the afternoon of May 4, 2010, Walker urged county aides, campaign staffers and other trusted volunteers to go to an online Journal Sentinel business story and respond to critics of his plan to privatize the airport in the comments section below the story.
The legitimacy of pro-Walker statements online need to be challenged, because this sort of activity is the very definition of state-sponsored propaganda. It’s also just a hair short of sock puppetry, making it extremely dishonest. If the people who pull this sort of thing wind up worse off because of it, then they’ll stop doing it. So, when an online comment goes something like, “Yah but Walker is so awesome, too!” then just go ahead and assumed they’re on the guv’s payroll.

And this credibility problem is what Scott Walker has in common with a certain corrupt Ukrainian politician, currently on the run from his own people.
Buzzfeed: Several conservative bloggers repeated talking points given to them by a proxy group for the Ukrainian government — and at least one writer was paid by a representative of the Ukrainian group, according to documents and emails obtained by BuzzFeed.

The Ukrainian campaign began in the run-up to high-stakes Ukrainian parliamentary elections last year, and sought to convince skeptical American conservatives that the pro-Russian Party of Regions, led by President Viktor Yanukovych, deserved American support. During that period, articles echoing Ukrainian government talking points appeared on leading conservative online outlets, including RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media.

The emails and documents, which include prepackaged quotes from election officials and talking points that some writers copied nearly word-for-word, offer a glimpse into how foreign governments dodge tight Justice Department regulations on foreign propaganda to covertly lobby in the United States: The payments were routed through a front group in Belgium to an American consultant, who has urged writers not to cooperate with a reporter investigating the campaign.

The model resembles a recent stealth campaign in which bloggers were paid by the Malaysian government to write favorable stories, though the Ukraine campaign appears to have involved smaller sums of money.
So there’s the common thread: American conservatives on the turd-polishing payroll. At this point, there’s ample evidence that a lot of opinion-making on the right is paid propaganda BS — so really, if you take any of it without a massive grain of salt, you’re literally a grade-A, first-class chump. But take a look at the company Wisconsin’s embattled governor keeps on this one: gangsters and dictators.

I wouldn’t trust this guy. And that advice comes unbought, by the way.

[photo via Wikimedia Commons]

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