Gage Skidmore / Flickr trump supporters speaking...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

It’s a day of the week, so it’s time for new revelations about the scope of Russian attempts to manipulate public opinion in favor of Donald Garbage Fire Trump. Today’s (other) revelation: The effort to boost Trump and sow opposition to his opponents started within weeks from his descent from his golden escalator.

Russian Twitter accounts posing as Americans began lavishing praise on Mr. Trump and attacking his rivals within weeks after he announced his bid for the presidency in June 2015, according to the analysis by The Wall Street Journal. […]

In the three months after Mr. Trump announced his presidential candidacy on June 16, 2015, tweets from Russian accounts reviewed by the Journal offered far more praise for the real-estate businessman than criticism—by nearly a 10-to-1 margin. At the same time, the accounts generally were hostile to Mrs. Clinton and the early GOP front-runner, Jeb Bush, by equal or greater margins.

That’s an interesting bit of information, because it indicates that the Russian troll farms were much quicker to rally to Trump than has previously been supposed. U.S. intelligence services have previously supposed, at least in their public interpretations of events, that Russian efforts were focused merely on sowing discord during the elections, but only moved toward favoring Trump, specifically, late in the campaign. This muddies that theory a bit.

It wasn’t a piecemeal effort, either:

Many political messages were sent out word-for word by multiple Russian-backed accounts, often within minutes of each other, suggesting a coordinated campaign.

As to why the Russian troll farms jumped so quickly to Trump’s side, even when nobody else in the world considered his candidacy to be anything other than a narcissistic summer joke, that’s up for speculation. It could be that Trump, obviously stupid and barely able to get words out of his word-hole, was immediately seen as the worst possible candidate and therefore the one that would be the most hilarious to promote. Or it may have been a more calculated decision, based on past Russian interactions with Trump and his extended circle of money-laundering friends; moron or no, this was a man who had a proven history of doing unsubtle favors for Russians that needed favors done.

Hard to say. It’s difficult to believe Russia would put its not-entirely-unlimited resources toward screwing with the American election “on a lark”—given the international drama unleashed if and when such acts were revealed. But stranger things have happened.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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