Netflix’s House of Cards helped Russian troll factory workers craft messages messages slamming Hillary Clinton that they posted in comments section of Washington Post and New York Times reports during the 2016 presidential race. This according to a Yahoo report from Michael Isikoff, as explained to CNN’s New Day this morning.
Watching House of Cards was supposed to help the trolls write messages to sway the election, Isikoff said he learned while interviewing a worker from the troll factory Internet Research Agency. The worker, who went by the name “Maksim,” said they were “forced” to watch House of Cards, in English because “It was necessary to know all the main problems of the United States of America. Tax problems, the problem of gays, sexual minorities, weapons.”
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They were assigned to target Americans in the comments section of popular websites including WaPo and NYT, with messages slamming Clinton with scandals about her family and her email server; they were also required to post about guns, gays, and religion.
“The House of Cards element is new. We hadn’t heard that before,” Isikoff told New Day’s Chris Cuomo, while acknowledging the series’ vision of politics hews much closer to Russia than the U.S. “We don’t have evidence of major American politicians ordering the assassinations of political foes or journalists, which we do have in Russia,” Isikoff conceded.
If “Maksim’s” intel is true, it would not be the first case of political life imitating TV. Back in 2007, advocacy group Human Rights First warned of a startling increase in the number of torture scenes depicted on primetime television and the real-life implications, pointed the finger at TV series 24 and Lost.
American interrogators in Iraq were taking cues from TV shows, the group insisted, bringing a West Point commander, and retired military interrogators, to Hollywood to discuss their concerns with producers of the two series.
A former U.S. Army specialist who questioned prisoners in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, as well as several other facilities around Iraq, said he had seen mock executions like that used in 24.
One professor at a military academy reported Jack Bauer represented one of his biggest training challenges. Another was distressed that, on American TV, “the good guys are depicted as successfully employing what I consider…illegal, immoral and stupid tactics, and they’re succeeding.”
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