President Trump’s biggest advantages in the ongoing scorched earth SPIN information war rest on his willingness to devote most of the energy of his presidency to waging scorched earth character assassinations and his use of his personal Twitter account to lob attacks that not only disrupt the Left/mainstream media SPIN attack, but to actually successfully win control of the SPIN cycles. Although, everything in this information war takes on names and terminology that make it sound benign, even the shorthand name itself “spinning”, our SPIN information war provides 24/7 media disinformation and confusion about basic facts on most news stories, foments extreme polarization and disunity, erodes America’s reputation abroad and fuels distrust of the news media and our political institutions.
Yesterday, I spent most of my day watching Amazon Prime’s new Jack Ryan series, after my youngest daughter sent me a message telling me it’s very good and she insisted I would like it. She knew I was a Tom Clancy fan back when the Cold War provided the setting of his stories. The writers of this series took the Jack Ryan character and wrote him into a modern-day, fighting Islamic terrorists scenario rather than the Cold War. I was hooked on this series quickly and watched 6 episodes yesterday.
I’ve often wondered if Tom Clancy was a Sidney Sheldon fan, because the Clancy plotting, using alarming, seemingly unconnected incidents around the globe, then gradually pulling all those incidents together in a dramatic, cataclysmic clash between the good and bad guys, reminded me a great deal of Sidney Sheldon’s high-octane, recipe for plot drama. Clancy also added an unmatched ability to parlay highly technical military info into terms laymen could easily understand.
I bring this up, because binge-watching Jack Ryan, several things stuck in my mind about how the terrorists operate compared to the doddering hierarchy in our intel agencies. The terrorists were using a rapid-fire digital means to transfer large sums of money in $10,000 increments, that the fictional new head of ISIS, developed while studying international banking, living in France as a refugee since the 1980s.
Another interesting operational aspect was one that has been reported in the news in recent years as a means for how terrorists can communicate via some online computer games messaging applications. The scene in the show, where the tech savvy intel peeps explain the use of a computer game messaging by the terrorists to older government officials, realistically depicts the generational gap when it comes to modern technology. This gap runs much deeper in real life, I believe, and has caused a grave institutional blindspot to recognizing the threats posed by social media and even recognizing our SPIN information war as actual information warfare rather than benign political public relations work.
Many people working in law enforcement, national security, top military leadership and top government positions don’t use any social media. In recent years, advice galore permeates warning people in government and law enforcement positions of responsibility to eschew or be very cautious in their social media use. Too many of them are totally clueless of social media’s reach, so when young people in a foreign country are waging large protests or mobilize sophisticated terrorist recruitment video campaigns, with global reach, on shoestring budgets, often our elected officials and top executive branch officials seem amazed and alarmed, while still not bothering to study online social media and messaging platforms as a serious national security concern.
This awareness gap is, in and of itself, a gaping national security vulnerability.
Back in 1990s our modern SPIN information war in America began as a one-sided, left-wing operation run by the Clinton’s political operatives. These people introduced SPIN info war to America, although they masked it as just modern political PR efforts.
At the same time SPIN info war gained prominence among the Left, the political Right began to gain a foothold on using talk radio to galvanize conservatives. By the late 90s, the SPIN-dominated mainstream media (Leftists) began to hype right-wing talk radio as a national security threat and after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 , a massive SPIN effort by the Left worked to create, what I believe is more urban myth than reality, a huge national security threat from right-wing militias… who communicated using online forums. In 2016, the Left reinvigorated this old 90s scare-mongering with a vast, new national security threat – the “alt-right”… who, um, da-ding, were organizing and communicating… online. All that is old is new again, especially in the world of the Left’s SPIN messaging campaigns. They are relentlessly repetitive, in thought and deed, rerunning the same tired old themes trying to cast their political enemies as Nazis or gun-toting extremists.
The main media battlefield for SPIN information warfare in the 1990s was the 24/7 cable news networks, which spawned whole armies of partisan spinmeisters to wage non-stop spin war. In 1996, Fox News opened a potent, new front, giving right-wing partisans a foot on the national cable news SPIN information war battlefield.
President Trump, reportedly, does not use the internet or use email, but he does tweet from his private cell phone. His information appears to be gleaned from extensive TV viewing of the cable TV news spin battles. He also uses Twitter, but follows very few people (47 follows today). Although, Twitter does not explain exactly what “algorithms” they use to generate each user’s Twitter feed, it is safe to assume that it is based on your followers list, which informs what your interests are. Trump’s Twitter feed should be of keen interest to America’s national security people, because he is so prone to exploitation and manipulation, with his Twitter supposedly being his only online information source. Trump’s media follows include: The Drudge Report, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Eric Bolling, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Jesse Waters, Geraldo Rivera, Diamond and Silk, Greta Van Susteren
Trump was burned retweeting an Ann Coulter tweet by a far-right extremist in the UK, as I’ve mentioned before. He also got burned earlier than the Coulter retweet over a of a Mussolini quote retweet. Trump retweets stuff he sees in his Twitter feed. Now, let that sink in as to the importance of knowing what on earth shows up in Trump’s Twitter feed and who determines what goes into his feed. I feel sure Trump’s Twitter feed is not left to some benign algorithms to determine what he sees.
Social media political formats come and go. The Excite message boards disappeared shortly after impeachment. Much later I used the Yahoo politics chat rooms, always looking for a way to find an online medium to expose what happened to me in 1998. The yahoo politics chat room crowd migrated to another chat room messaging site, same as how the National Review Disqus comment section ended and supposedly a couple of NRO Disqus moderators migrated to Qwiket to set up a NR refugee comment section. Very quickly that Qwiket NRO refugee site morphed into a more modern version of The Drudge Report… The America First News.
Another interesting 2016 site conversion was the site, The Conservative Treehouse, which sports Andrew Breitbart images on the main page wallpaper background. This site was heavily invested in selling “crowdsourcing” investigations into the black grievance industry pre-Trump. They do come up with a lot of interesting information, that “crowdsourcing” from commenters does not explain. They also run the image of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier weekly and post Bible verses to present the image of a conservative right-wing site. That site morphed into Trump Polling Central during 2016, with detailed, up-to-the-minute Trump rally and polling information. I suspect both might be foreign front operations. That the popular Disqus comment section at National Review would be dismantled in 2016, months before the election, then refugees directed to this Qwiket site (there was a piece in The Corner at National Review announcing this Qwiket location) and then that Qwiket location become a another DrudgeReport type news aggregate site with a comments section seems more than a tad odd. It looked to me like a deliberate effort to sabotage and demolish National Review’s NeverTrump hold-outs.
I’m writing all this, because the “Fake News” hysteria was spin from the Left to use as cover to prod facebook to censor Trump-supporters on facebook and gin up the “Trump/Russian Collusion” spin hysterics. Trump hijacked that “fake news” spin and turned it right around on the Left. In recent months allegations of “shadow-banning” and muting conservatives on facebook and Twitter began rumbling. A couple weeks ago, several online social media platforms acted in unison to ban Alex Jones from their sites.
This seems to me like a precursor to setting the stage to disband Twitter politics. The only problem is American journalists rely on the SPIN messaging advantage Twitter provides them to within minutes, using the power of rapid-fire, mass retweets of Dump on Trump “news” stories, to generate SPIN cycles to attack Trump.
Until the Left and mainstream media, who collude constantly to spread Trump dirt, find another online platform, for now Twitter looks to be their default online battlefield. If they work to dismantle Twitter to take down Trump, they are left with an online vacuum and Trump still controls the POTUS bully pulpit. All these media hysterics about whether to cover WH briefings, let Kellyanne speak, not cover POTUS are all part of the SPIN information war, not about seriously reporting the news. That so many “journalists” engage in these debates publicly speaks to the total corruption of American news reporting, They are as much invested in SPIN information warfare as President Trump.
And back to my original line of thought (until I veered off a bit). There’s a serious problem when top national security policymakers have no real concept of the power of social media platforms, no realization of the serious threat our scorched earth SPIN information war really is, and remain totally unaware of the importance of becoming well-versed in social media operations as another potent means for information warfare to be waged both in and against America.
We have top generals who don’t have any idea about the power of social media, messaging apps or the grave threat that a SPIN war run amok can create an information void, caused by an overload of SPIN messaging being disseminated and no calm, serious means to sift through the SPIN pile-on to get quick, accurate, reliable information to the American people. In this SPIN hysteria mode, with the media vs. Trump often running through several spin cycles a day now, it’s becoming obvious that at some point social media and/or SPIN-generated hysteria will incite mass hysteria incidents, flash mobs, or worse.
Are America’s top national security leaders aware and ready for this looming threat?