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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Trump


"The monstrosity of this, reaching Smiley through a thickening wall of spiritual exhaustion, left him momentarily speechless." 
-- John LeCarre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy -- based loosely on the story of the Cambridge Five.

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign

Emma Graham-Harrison and Carole Cadwalladr at The Guardian:
Senior executives from the firm at the heart of Facebook’s data breach boasted of playing a key role in bringing Donald Trump to power and said they used “unattributable and untrackable” advertising to support their clients in elections, according to an undercover expose.
In secretly recorded conversations, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, claimed he had met Trump “many times”, while another senior member of staff said the firm was behind the “defeat crooked Hillary” advertising campaign.
“We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape,” said the executive. “And so this stuff infiltrates the online community, but with no branding, so it’s unattributable, untrackable.”
Caught on camera by an undercover team from Channel 4 News, Nix was also dismissive of Democrats on the House intelligence committee, who had questioned him over Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.
Senior managers then appeared to suggest that in their work for US clients, there was planned division of work between official campaigns and unaffiliated “political action groups”.
That could be considered coordination – which is not allowed under US election law. The firm has denied any wrongdoing
...
 “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting. We ran all the digital campaign, the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy,” he told reporters who were posing as potential clients from Sri Lanka.
The company’s head of data, Alex Tayler, added: “When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3m votes but won the electoral college vote that’s down to the data and the research.
“You did your rallies in the right locations, you moved more people out in those key swing states on election day. That’s how he won the election.”
Daniel Drezner at WP:
And then, over the weekend, this Guardian story about Cambridge Analytica came over the transom, and it is pretty bonkers. It would appear that Cambridge Analytica, a firm that did data analytics work for the Trump campaign, illegally harvested Facebook data so as to develop its influence techniques. The article contains this sentence: “Dr Kogan — who later changed his name to Dr Spectre, but has subsequently changed it back to Dr Kogan — is still a faculty member at Cambridge University, a senior research associate.” Oh, and of course, Russians are involved on the periphery.

The first story was enough to send Facebook’s stock in the United Kingdom down six points. And then, on Sunday, part II of the story broke, and hoo, boy, Cambridge Analytica is gonna be in big trouble:
The company at the centre of the Facebook data breach boasted of using honey traps, fake news campaigns and operations with ex-spies to swing election campaigns around the world, a new investigation reveals.
Executives from Cambridge Analytica spoke to undercover reporters from Channel 4 News about the dark arts used by the company to help clients, which included entrapping rival candidates in fake bribery stings and hiring prostitutes to seduce them.
In one exchange, the company chief executive, Alexander Nix, is recorded telling reporters: “It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they’re believed.”
...
What I want to do, but can’t, is dismiss the whole story as another conspiracy. In a world in which this administration is hemorrhaging scandal after scandal, commentators need to rethink what constitutes a fair deal. And I hate having to think like that.