A faux “Bernie Bernstein” claims to work for The Washington Post, looking for “damaging” remarks on a political candidate. This guy is no Russian bot. He’s clumsy and obvious, but leaves an entertaining voice message.
Bernstein says he will pay good money — like a whopping $7,000 — to uncover more stuff against U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been the subject of sexual impropriety allegations.
A recent robocall sent to some around the state of Alabama said this:
“Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein. I’m a reporter for The Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old, willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000. We will not be fully investigating these claims, however we will make a written report.”
No, this is not how legitimate journalism is done — ever. Bernstein does a bad impersonation of a journalist — print, TV or otherwise. Looking to discredit media organization? Sure, but to no effect. The con was obvious. So was the ethnic baiting to Moore's base.
Potential disruption continues, however, for all media, even attempted financial disruption for some TV-based companies — possibly from the Trump Administration and the Department of Justice.
Reports have lingered for more than a week now that the DOJ will file a lawsuit demanding that AT&T — as part of its proposed deal to buy Time Warner — should be required to sell off key parts of the company, particularly CNN, to gain approval.
All this has forced the stock price of Time Warner down 15% in the most recent week, with the deal now worth $68.1 billion, down from its original $85.4 billion price tag. From a business perspective, analysts are scratching their heads. AT&T doesn’t own a TV news network, so there is no antitrust concerns.
However, for more than a year now, President Trump has had an ongoing issue with CNN's press coverage. And he has relentlessly, and unprecedentedly, attacked the press.
He can’t get CNN or others to change their coverage, despite his hardcore criticism. But the effects of a possible DOJ action has put AT&T a bit on the defensive.
Russian attempts to stir political and news disruption are pretty well=documented, especially when it comes to the unregulated world of social media — our reluctant new news media organizations.
It's disheartening to see the American government attempt similar manipulations.