Roger Stone, Russia, and the 2016 roots of the “Stop the Steal” disinformation campaign

Over the past several years, when trying to understand the objectives and tactics of Vladimir Putin, I’ve found Russian dissident, chess grand master, and human rights activist Gary Kasparov to be an incredibly useful resource. Well, a few days ago, when discussing Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 presidential election, choosing instead to spread dangerous conspiracy theories about the integrity of our U.S. electoral system, Kasparov suggested that this had been Putin’s game plan back in 2016, when the Russian dictator was certain that Trump, whom he was working on behalf of, would lose the election to Hillary Clinton. At that time, according to Kasparov, Putin’s hope was to spread conspiracy theories about Trump having actually won, thereby weakening trust in our democratic system and detaching Americans from their “shared reality.” And, it would seem, Kasparov thinks that Putin and those serving his interests in America are doing the exact same thing now, in the wake of Trump’s decisive loss to Biden. Here’s the thread from Kasparov’s Twitter feed.

OK, so I was still thinking about this today, and wondering how much stock to put in Kasparov’s theory, when I happen across a CNN article titled, “Stop the Steal’s massive disinformation campaign connected to Roger Stone.” Here’s an excerpt.

It is an internet battle cry: Stop the Steal has swept across inboxes, Facebook pages and Twitter like an out-of-control virus, spreading misinformation and violent rhetoric — and spilling into real life, like the protest planned for DC this weekend.

But while Stop the Steal may sound like a new 2020 political slogan to many, it did not emerge organically over widespread concerns about voting fraud in President Donald Trump’s race against Joe Biden. It has been in the works for years.

Its origin traces to Roger Stone, a veteran Republican operative and self-described “dirty trickster” whose 40-month prison sentence for seven felonies was cut short by Trump’s commutation in July.

Stone’s political action committee launched a “Stop the Steal” website in 2016 to fundraise ahead of that election, asking for $10,000 donations by saying, “If this election is close, THEY WILL STEAL IT.”…

A Stop the Steal Facebook group was managed by a loose coalition of right wing operatives, some of whom have worked with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The group amassed hundreds of thousands of followers in little more than a day before Facebook shut it down on November 5 — the day after it was launched.

Also on November 5, Bannon started his own “Stop the Steal” Facebook group; he changed the name to “Own Your Vote” the following day. It was not removed by Facebook, but the social media company did later remove several other pages affiliated with Bannon…

Spinoff pages sprung up soon after like brush fires, with Facebook struggling to quickly snuff out the spreaders of bogus information.

All the while, Roger Stone and Bannon have been in full disinformation mode. Stone has appeared on the show of far-right radio commentator Alex Jones to trumpet groundless claims that Biden is trying to steal the election; Bannon is echoing similar conspiracy theories on his podcast, calling the election “a mass fraud.”

“We’re calling it a fraud or we’re calling it a steal — stop the steal,” he said on a November 4 episode.

Despite efforts by Facebook to shut down the misleading content, it was too late. The cluster of groups and pages — which altogether had amassed 2.5 million followers, according to an analysis by activist group Avaaz — had seeded a jungle of misinformation that is being shared — and believed — by millions of Americans…

So, is it possible that Kararov is onto something when he suggests that Russia and their confederates here in the United States, like Roger Stone, are merely executing the plan that had been in place since back in 2016, when they had every reason to believe that Trump would fail to win the presidency? Is it possible that Trump’s refusal to concede has less to do with his fragile ego, and his pathological refusal to publicly accept defeat, and more to do with a Russian disinformation strategy that’s been in place since 2016? There might be something to it. As our fellow Michigander Marcy Wheeler reminds us all this morning, there’s more than sufficient evidence, after all, to conclude that, back in 2016, Stone’s “Stop the Steal” efforts may have been coordinated with Russia. It’s certainly worth considering, right?

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15 Comments

  1. Lynne
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Russia exploits stupidity. I mean Putin is a genius when it comes to working people. He is a master manipulator and it scares me how easily so many Americans can be manipulated.

  2. Posted November 14, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t John Barr, Jr. be posting all the evidence of the stolen election here? He’s really dropped the ball.

  3. Dirtgrain
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    It sure does feel like Putin, again, has a hand in it. I imagine he had a hand in Brexit, too.

    This video was going around last week–in case you missed it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQPsKvG6WMI

    Divide and conquer.

  4. Posted November 15, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Vlad has a hand in everything. He is the master manipulator and all the evils befalling our poor abused nation is at Vlad’s direction. Vlad is such a master that Kasparov is a rube in comparison. Vlads moves were decades ahead of any counter moves we might every imagine. He is the anti-christ after all.

  5. Wobblie
    Posted November 15, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    It is really no surprise that we need to demonize Vlad as he hands the US its proverbial geo-political ass constantly. The US is a country that is incapable of honoring agreements. Other nations know this and now leave us out of multi-national agreements. Worlds largest trading bloc forms, Excludes US. The new economic block accounts for over a third of worlds economy.

    https://asean.org/joint-leaders-statement-regional-comprehensive-economic-partnership-rcep-2/

  6. Lynne
    Posted November 15, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    oh. ARe you still sensitive because Putin fooled YOU too, wobblie?

  7. Posted November 15, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    No Lynne, I only tout his praise to get your goat. He is a Russian Patriot. That is not hard to understand. You humanitarian imperialist just don’t get how other counties are happier without our interventions and sanction regimes our hypocritical abuse of human rights and our fomenting of color revolutions in their countries. Trumps foreign policy of trying to prop up the empire through threats and blustering has failed. Our economic demands which place other nations in debtor relationships with the US are over. No one gives a rats ass about our “intellectual property”, if it is out in the world, it belongs to the commons for all to use. They don’t care about our desire to privatize and financialize their public spaces, they will use it to provide social support to their citizens instead. A multi-polar world outside of US control is growing–get used to it.
    The countries that most obviously intervene in our politics no one cares about, but Saudi and Israeli influence has embroiled us in one war after another–I guess it is what Empires do–

  8. Posted November 15, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Kasporov demands respect as a chess player, in much the same way Solzhenitsyn demands respect as an author, and both respect as “dissidents”. But the politics of both suck as far as I can tell. Kaporov is financed through his chairmanship of the Human Rights Foundation which is funded by,
    According to financial disclosures on its website, HRF donors include DNC Treasurer Andrew Tobias, actor Kelsey Grammer, human rights campaigner Bill Browder, actress Anne Archer, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, Blockhain founder Brock Pierce, actor Gary Sinise, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, technology investor Peter Thiel, and fashion designer Zang Toi. HRF has also received funds from numerous foundations including the Arcus Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Community Foundation of Wyoming, the Combined Federal Campaign, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Foundation for Democracy in Russia, the John Templeton Foundation, the Roger Firestone Foundation, and the Vanguard Charitable Endowment.[non-primary source needed] HRF is also supported by the Brin Wojcicki Foundation, which was created by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and biotechnology analyst Anne Wojcicki.

    If an American politician relied as heavily on foreign plutocrats for support (say Saudi Princes or Dual Israeli citizen Casino magnets) we would be suspicious. As a domestic critique of Putin, some one worth listening too, as a commentator on US affairs, pretty worthless as he seems to rely upon a liberal establishment for his wherewithall.

  9. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 15, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    You droning twerp, barky. You never admitted those years of lies you told every day about rushin khaloozhin.

  10. Posted November 15, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The Democrats should be adopting a new program. 52 states for the 2022 election. Two Senators from Georgia, the Dems get the majority. The House has already approved Statehood for the State of Washington, Douglas Commonwealth, and now Puerto Rico has passed a referendum calling for statehood. These should be items two and three in the new Congress, right after certifying Biden as President.

  11. Bob
    Posted November 15, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    There are reports that Jim Watkins’ son admitted his father is Q and that he’s pretty much done with it. He also allegedly couldn’t care less if Trump is president. It was all about creating chaos and making a buck. Evidently hosting child porn sites isn’t lucrative enough.

  12. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 16, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Neato. I haven’t heard that. Who is reporting it and what do they claim he said exactly?

  13. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 16, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Talking about the fake parler account, dumbass?

    Ron
    @CodeMonkeyZ
    Parler has many issues and i will never make a parler account under any situation.

  14. Ypsilanti Truther
    Posted November 16, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    What does the Q Calendar have in store for us today?

    How many days are we now past the magical “111” date when everything was supposed to be revealed?

  15. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted November 16, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Oh did I say that? Why do you have to make things up to try to get over on someone?

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