Russia

Sean Hannity is the favorite useful idiot of Russian trolls

According to a January report from Mother Jones citing data compiled by the nonpartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy, Kremlin-linked internet trolls relied on content from Fox News host Sean Hannity to undermine the investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The reports says that Hannity’s website, hannity.com, was one of the most popular domains shared by a network of Kremlin-connected Twitter accounts.

In one example from December 20, Hannity tweeted out that the FBI was involved in a “conspiracy” to take down President Trump.

“CONSPIRACY,” he tweeted. “GOP Lawmakers Says FEDERAL CONSPIRACY to Prevent Trump Presidency.”

The tweet above led to Hannity’s website being among the top-shared domains by the Russian troll network for the day.

During the height of the media coverage surrounding Devin Nunes’ memo on the Justice Department and FBI’s alleged misconduct in the Russia investigation, Hannity opened his January 18 show with a direct message to Mueller: “Your witch hunt is now over. Time to close the doors.”

In the following hours, the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo was tweeted out 3,700 times by 600 Kremlin-linked accounts.

From Mother Jones in January:

Since the Hamilton dashboard launched last August, Fox News in general has often appeared on the trolls’ most-shared list.

But the more recent Hannity links seized upon by the Russian trolls echo a deceptive style seen with content from far-right conspiracy sites like Gateway Pundit and True Pundit. One recent example: a Hannity.com link headlined, “KNIVES OUT: Elizabeth Warren GOES AFTER Oprah Winfrey over 2020 run”—leading to a story quoting Warren as praising Winfrey for a “fabulous speech.” Another Hannity link shared by the trolls recently carried a headline claiming “Fusion GPS says FBI likely funded ‘Trump dossier’ author” and crediting Breitbart News. The Hannity links shared this week continued to demand the release of the Nunes memo and hammered at the freshest conspiracy theory, the alleged disappearance of FBI officials’ allegedly biased text messages.

According to former CIA official John Sipher, Fox News and its most vocal Trump defenders play right into Russian hands.

“A weak FBI is in the Russian interest,” he told Mother Jones in January.

“They will use all the tools at their disposal to pile on and amplify the negative messages. At the very same time that we should be coming together to defend ourselves, partisan supporters of the president are attacking the institutions that are protecting us,” he continued. “There needs to be a level of trust and awareness that [FBI and DOJ] are working on behalf of the people, and are not partisan hacks.”

“While it might be in the immediate, short-term interest of a few right-wing politicians, they are helping our enemies and risk doing long-term damage to our democracy.”

Featured image via Gage Skidmore (Flickr) 

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