MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance compared “memes” that Russia used to interfere in the 2016 elections to “cruise missiles” being fired at the U.S. on Tuesday, saying that the memes were designed to make the U.S. “welcome an invasion” from Russia.
“What Russia has done here and where the true brilliance of this intelligence operation comes from is way back in the early 2000s the Russian military conducted a strategic study and started carrying out a disinformation plan in which they said that instead of carrying out kinetic warfare against your enemies, the best thing we can do is create a disinformation and frame around that nation to the point where over time as we are constantly tearing them apart and feeding them with false information, they would actually welcome an invasion,” Nance said. “So Russia has done that to the United States.”
“Then in 2013, they stood up the Russian Federation Internet Research Agency which built all of these memes and tropes which became the cruise missiles of fake news and disinformation designed to do what it did today, take one-third of the United States population and make them refuse to believe what they see before their very eyes and may have elected a president in the process,” Nance continued.
MSNBC's Malcolm Nance compares "memes" that Russia used to interfere in the 2016 election to "cruise missiles" being fired at the U.S. pic.twitter.com/7utHKjD1rn
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 19, 2018
Here are some of the responses Nance received over his claims:
Very foolish to equate agit-prop with actual violence. Such emotionalism helps diminish the reality of foreign harm as it truly exists.
— Daniel Matthews (@udontknowDaniel) December 19, 2018
I never saw any Russian memes. The left is so used to their constituents being lemmings and believing anything they must think everyone voted based on facebook memes.
— Jeff Williams (@JLWNEO) December 19, 2018
That would be considered a "meme missile".. designed to make you laugh on impact.
— Terry (@editor_wp) December 19, 2018
The totality of his projection is striking
— Pat Dixon (@patdixon) December 19, 2018
— Jenna Risman (@Ikneelforone) December 19, 2018
This was laughable, and to hear Brian Williams treat this as a serious news story was even more laughable.
— Laura Barrett (@Barrettgirl04) December 19, 2018
Transcript via MSNBC:
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: A new report out tonight reveals that Russian disinformation teams have targeted the special counsel. Two reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee and focused on the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm, Robert Mueller indicted last February.
According to one of them, “What is clear is that all the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party and specifically Donald Trump. The goal was to reinforce tribalism to polarize and divide, to exploit societal fractures, blur the lines between reality and fiction, erode our trust in media entities and the information environment in government, in each other and in democracy, itself. The interference is still active and ongoing.”
“And notably the trolls have tried to create and amplify the narrative that the whole investigation was nonsense. That Comey and Mueller were corrupt and the emerging Russia stories were a weird conspiracy pushed by liberal cry babies.” Who else? The online posts received nearly 264 million engagements as they`re called across platforms. That includes likes, retweets, shares.
With us to talk about this tonight, and in seriousness, Malcolm Nance, veteran of Navy Intelligence, special ops, Homeland Security, 35 years working in counterterrorism. His latest book is called “The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and his Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West.”
Malcolm, most people if you ask them will say, yes, the schools are in terrible shape except the one my kid goes to. So as a consumer matter, I`m guessing a lot of people think, I`m too smart for this, I`m not going to go for this propaganda, that couldn`t work on me. Tell us what this looks like, what it looked like in 2016, what it still looks like on our phones tonight.
MALCOLM NANCE, AUTHOR, “THE PLOT TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY”: Well, what it looks like is information that is flowing into your telephone, what you think you`re getting across from Facebook and all these other media sources and, of course, the fake media as Donald Trump calls it, is just a fundamental part of your day. Whether you`re listening to a.m. radio, whether you`re reading things on Twitter or you`re looking at photos on Instagram or Pinterest.
What Russia has done here and where the true brilliance of this intelligence operation comes from is way back in the early 2000s the Russian military conducted a strategic study and started carrying out a disinformation plan in which they said that instead of carrying out kinetic warfare against your enemies, the best thing we can do is create a disinformation and frame around that nation to the point where over time as we are constantly tearing them apart and feeding them with false information, they would actually welcome an invasion. So Russia has done that to the United States.
And it began way before 2016. As a matter of fact, the earliest references I have with relation to Donald Trump shows that it started back in 2011 with Maria Butina and the NRA contacts, contacts with the fundamentalist Christian right and the alt-right in the United States. Russia was pushing these disinformation themes then.
Then in 2013, they stood up the Russian Federation Internet Research Agency which built all of these memes and tropes which became the cruise missiles of fake news and disinformation designed to do what it did today, take one-third of the United States population and make them refuse to believe what they see before their very eyes and may have elected a president in the process.
WILLIAMS: And one of your long-held beliefs which simultaneously breaks my heart is that they were so good at picking apart our differences, dividing American against American and knowing such an incredible cost/benefit analysis, it cost them nothing, knowing how to do it easily that you won`t be surprised in the end if they had American help.
NANCE: Absolutely. And the cost of this mission by Russian intelligence and that`s what carried this operation out. The Russian Internet Research Agency was a subcontractor to Russian military intelligence in the FSB, Russia`s national security agency. And it was done at the cost of less than a couple of cruise missiles. They now own the mindset of one third of this nation.
And by doing that, they have managed to now make us not believe anything that we believed before. That diversity was an American factor which made us greater. They have played on the themes of far-right conspiracy theorists from the 1960. The John Birch society, a sideline group. You know, and the farthest extremes of the libertarian parties. They have amplified racism to the point where the alt-right, Steve Bannon`s own creation of gamers is now the wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump campaign and are believers in David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan, Richard Spencer, the neo-Nazi, and Robert Spencer, the Islamophobe, to the point where they`re mainstreamed.
This is how effective this information warfare campaign has been carried out. And let me tell you, this report shows how they went after to suppress the African-American vote and there`s no doubt in my mind or anybody else`s in the intelligence community that doesn`t believe that it took American citizens to assist them in really getting down to where these voters were who needed to be suppressed and they did it in such a fashion, one of their Twitter groups had 366,000 followers on it.
WILLIAMS: Wow. Malcolm Nance, this is why we ask you all the time to come on this broadcast. Scary stuff, but it needs to be said. Needs to be heard. Thank you, sir, so much for joining us once again.