The Russians are coming again... to U.S. media! All to help President Trump win the presidency, again, according to The New York Times. They are aiding Bernie Sanders as well, according to The Washington Post.
Confused? First, where could this interference happen — social networks, traditional TV, radio, search? What, no transparency? That’s a no-no in today’s modern media world.
The New York Times reporter who broke the story told MSNBC the Russians are using the same playbook they used in 2016. That means social media -- Facebook and Twitter. (What CPM increases are the Russians paying?)
Part of that 2016 plan, according to analysts, was that Russians also touted Sanders against Hillary Clinton. Why? Because the belief was — then and now — that Trump could more easily beat Sanders. (Russia was no fan of Clinton when she was Secretary of State during the Obama Administration.)
Back to Trump: He had no problem soliciting or getting help from foreign countries, even mentioning a Scandinavian country on ABC. Russia? He hasn’t ruled them out. Trump says nothing about Russian interference.
Bernie Sanders gave this statement Friday: “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president, I will make sure that you do.” He added: “Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend. He is an autocratic thug who is attempting to destroy democracy and crush dissent in Russia.”
The New York Times story about possible Russian involvement in the upcoming Presidential election comes by way of U.S. intelligence agencies; they operate under the Trump Administration.
What about the social media players? In October 2019, Twitter said it is no longer taking political advertising. But Facebook is still in the game.
All this means a Facebook executive who oversees political advertising now needs to sift through not just obvious political advertising, but any social-media content with political themes that may be quietly backed by bad foreign actors.
And maybe it’s not just social media.
Maybe Russian-backed TV political advertising can find a way to hack into new connected TV-OTT platforms. OTT platforms reportedly have already seen rising advertising fraud. The specific kind is not yet known.
Even if you believe all this is an incredible fantasy, ask yourself what the consequences would be if iffy advertising actors just attempted to openly buy U.S. media for their advertising and content. What’s the downside for those buyers?
President Trump was recently acquitted by the GOP in his impeachment trial, under the dubious reasoning that his actions — while not entirely appropriate — are perfectly legal as long as his decisions are in the “national interest.”
Who will stop him if he claims Russian-backed advertising in the U.S. is just that?
TV Watch is waiting for the first eye-opening social media ad: “We’re Russians for Trump and Sanders. Data available on request.”