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President Trump is largely responsible for spreading disinformation about mail-in voting

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society
the Republican Party
Fox News
The Committee on Public Information

Yochai Benkler
Donald Trump
QAnon —
Maria Bartiromo
Sean Hannity


the Middle East

the White House

North Korea

World War
QAnon and Holocaust

Positivity     44.00%   
   Negativity   56.00%
The New York Times
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Using a quantitative and qualitative study of millions of tweets and tens of thousands of Facebook posts and news stories about mail-in voter fraud — the persistent but debunked idea that people are illegally using mail-in ballots to meaningfully sway elections — the study found that President Trump was largely responsible for spreading that disinformation. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.What’s your main takeaway from mail-in voting disinformation?This looks like a political- and media elite-driven disinformation campaign by the Republican Party, led by Donald Trump, directly from the media elites to mass media — and then social media sort of chimes in and secondarily amplifies it and circulates it around. What we found is that in this area — and the truth is it’s also true in many things related to Covid and masks and a variety of others — that is simply not happening.You said that the media also perpetuates disinformation, and I get that with Fox News and things like that, but are you also saying that, just by covering it, the media is doing so, too?It depends on how significant the intervention is, and it depends even more on how you’ll cover it. Let me say something outrageous.” And immediately you change the agenda.So how should and shouldn’t presidential misinformation be covered?So if you’re reporting: “On Thursday, the president said that mail-in voter fraud is a major issue, Democrats objected. And disinformation about mail-in voting dovetails with the misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic.The president and Republican Party have been trying, have been persuading their followers that Covid-19 is not a big issue. And so if you’re able to eliminate mail-in voting completely, let’s say for the moment, you have a built-in advantage from the fact that you’ve already propagandized to your followers that Covid-19 is not a big deal, right?Why did you focus on mail-in voting disinformation in this study rather than all the other disinformation out there?I want to distinguish here between narrow things like QAnon — Democrats running a global pedophilia ring, which even if they have tens of thousands, even if they have hundreds of thousands, even if there are 2 million people who believe it, that’s not going to move a 330 million-person democracy one way or the other — and questions of, “Who’s to blame for the economic collapse? And how poorly was it managed?” These are the big things that are weighing at the 100 million-voter level when you look at surveys of what people care about.From a historical standpoint, have politicians and their attendant news organizations always spread disinformation at this level, or is this especially bad because we have President Trump who’s so forthright about disinformation?

As said here by Rani Molla