Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica said that the firm “was heavily involved in Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential campaign,” to an undercover British television reporter.
Channel 4 News televised the latest installment of a wide-ranging investigation into the London-based firm just hours ago. Broadcast in the U.K. Tuesday evening, Alexander Nix said of his work for Trump: “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy.”
Cambridge Analytica suspended Nix as the program aired Tuesday.
“Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,”
Cambridge Analytica said in a statement.
Nix noted that he had met Trump “many times,” and revealed his company used a self-destructing email system that he said leaves no trace. “No one knows we have it, and secondly we set our … emails with a self-destruct timer … So you send them and after they’ve been read, two hours later, they disappear,” he said. “There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing.”
A reporter carried out undercover interviews posing as a middle-manager for a client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka, Nix was accompanied by Mark Turnbull, managing director of the firm’s political division, and Alex Tayler, the company’s chief data scientist.
The report managed to obtain video of Turnbull describing how the company could create proxy organizations to feed negative material about opposition candidates on the net, including Facebook.
“Sometimes you can use proxy organizations who are already there,” he said. “You feed them. They are civil society organizations … Charities or activist groups, and we use them — feed them the material and they do the work … We just put information into the bloodstream to the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape. And so this stuff infiltrates the online community and expands but with no branding — so it’s unattributable, untrackable.”
In other words, they used “fake news” when the word actually meant real fake news, used by the Trump organization and the media companies behind him, before Trump commandeered the term to mean coverage in the New York Times he does not appreciate.
Regardless, Cambridge Analytica’s days may well be numbered, and the firing of Nix may signal the death throes because the discussion involving “self destructing emails” could easily be construed as an admission to destruction of evidence – if the company knew that such emails evidenced a crime in some way.
Hillary Clinton recently was quoted as perfectly summarizing the twenty million dollar question:
“So you’ve got CA, you’ve got the Republican National Committee, which of course has always done data collection and analysis, and you’ve got the Russians. And the real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania — that is really the nub of the question. So if they were getting advice from say Cambridge Analytica or someone else about OK here are the 12 voters in this town in Wisconsin — that’s whose Facebook pages you need to be on to send these messages that indeed would be very disturbing.”
Want to know what is even more disturbing? That the company likely knew that all along, and found a way to ensure that the evidence itself “self-destructed” and would not be left around to find by, say, federal investigators.
Good-bye, “Nix,” you’re just a high-tech G. Gordon Libby.