23 comments for “Decoding Fake News

  1. Landon Forsythe
    January 24, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I really enjoyed this episode. As a moderate Republican I’ve been skeptical of the Russian fake news accusations, but your explanation of how they did it makes sense and hopefully it can be prevented in the future. I’m glad you’re back. Your podcasts are challenging and fairly objective.

    • Jamie Jeffers
      January 24, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      The phrase “As a moderate Republican I’ve been skeptical of the Russian fake news accusations” caught my eye.

      It seems like you’re tying your political identity to the way you view Russian intervention. Could you elaborate a bit on that?

    • brian o'blivion
      February 11, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      Landon you might also find the interview of Kasparov by Preet Bharara of interest.
      I’ve been recommending people listen to them as a pair.


  2. Landon Forsythe
    January 25, 2018 at 12:14 am

    Foreign intervention obviously puts a damper on the election. Nobody wants to win or lose anything with an outside influence.

    • Jamie Jeffers
      January 25, 2018 at 12:29 am

      Thank you for such an honest answer. I was only asking because I’ve noticed a shocking degree of resistance on the right and I’ve been wondering what was driving it.

      I’ve been trying to parse it all but I’m all too aware that my lens is narrow and influenced by the fact that I used to be part of the ultra right. So this whole thing has had me a bit puzzled. Left to my own devices, I’d just assume it was tribal epistemology (ie, if it makes my side look bad it cant be true because we’re the good guys), media spheres (ie, it’s not on Fox News so I haven’t heard about it and it can’t be true), or a tribal calculation (ie, I’m going to say it isn’t true regardless of what comes out because otherwise the Dems will win, and that’s even worse than Russians).

      From my old ditto-head days, any of those would have made sense to me back then. But I figured there must be more than that, hence the question.

      And yeah, I totally see where you’re coming from. Zee and I also hate the idea that Russia meddled in our election. It’s a violation of the very nature of having a free and fair society. We also hate that talking about it makes us sound like conspiracy theorists.

      But the more you look at the evidence, the harder it is to deny. So here we are. :/

      • Landon Forsythe
        January 25, 2018 at 1:08 am

        I used to listen to Hannity’s radio show during the 2008 campaign. I still remember the name Bill Ayers from that. Ugh. That’s how you know it’s propaganda I guess.

        There is definitely a lot of tribalism in politics, especially on social media. Unfortunately it seems to be more effective and definitely easier than talking through issues.

  3. VInce
    January 27, 2018 at 2:09 am

    Really glad you guys are back doing this and hope you’ll be able to keep it up regularly. I think the combination of your educations works really well for this kind of thing.

    One of the things I’d like to hear your take on in future podcasts, if it interests you, is the history of election interference, both targeted at at the US and done by the US, and how the Russian interference compares to past incidents.

    My own take is that this is worse, but that might be a little biased since it is so recent and we are living with the results every day.

  4. Loraine
    January 29, 2018 at 2:19 am

    As an anthropologist myself, I really appreciated Zee’s categories of fake news. It helped my brain to organize the the different techniques used to deceive the public. This is very important, because it helps people know what to watch out for, and can help legislation in the future to prevent it, hopefully.

    Also, I can back you up on Russia’s fake news problem with another favorite podcast of mine called The Eastern Border. He references fake news in Russia quite a bit, it’s pretty pervasive. Listening to his podcast has shown me that extreme socialism and the alt right sure have a hell of a lot in common.

    Final note: OMG. You guys. I was following along while you were saying go to twitter, put in deplorables, etc. And as soon as Jamie said the “American flags exploding…” Right in front of me there was literally a picture of an explosion with an American flag behind a picture of a tank with Trump standing on it. I laughed my ass off!

    • Zee
      January 29, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      I’m really glad the categories helped someone other than just me!

      One note: Russia is not a socialist state nor is it pushing a socialist message (under any parameter that would be recognized by modern political science, anyway.) Russia is a constitutional republic that is ruled by a small oligarchy. Economically they are heavily reliant on raw resources – these are exported for private profit. The propaganda in Russia serves these purposes.

      • Jen
        March 17, 2018 at 10:35 pm

        Yeah, it’s all about the veneer of respectability – elections, media but it’s not a falsehood to say that the media is owned by a small coterie of businessmen (as in the US and UK) but they are controlled tightly by the kremlin in a way that the White House and number 10 can only dream of. I don’t think it’s too far to call it a dictatorship without the obligatory ideology. I think western Russian apologists miss this point- that although we’re all manipulated to a point due to advertisers, money etc, and we justifiably get cynical about it, it is NOTHING to the extent that goes on in Russian. I mean, how much, and how far, does the BBC criticise Theresa May compared to the amount of criticism Russia Today has about Putin? I think, that’s a question people need to ask to those Russia apologists.

  5. Thomas
    January 29, 2018 at 5:34 am

    I think you mentioned a polls in this episode in which a large chunk of conservative respondents defined “fake news” as “news we dislike”. I’m looking around for a link to that poll. You got one for us?

    • Jamie Jeffers
      January 29, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      Gah, damnit. That one is on me. We were speaking fast and furious on that show, and it had just come out. The “that they like” was the result of me speaking a bit too fast and freely, rather than pulling up a script.

      Here’s the phrasing directly from Gallup/Knight’s report “ACCURATE STORIES CASTING A POLITICIAN OR POLITICAL GROUP IN A NEGATIVE LIGHT”.

      When I read that poll I assumed that, given the way the Right uses the phrase “Fake News” and the high degree of Tribal Epistemology among that particular group, the Republicans weren’t thinking about accurate but negative stories about Hillary Clinton.

      But fair point, I spoke way too quickly and merged my assumption along with the description of actual poll results as we were chatting. Sorry about that. :/

      Link: https://kf-site-production.s3.amazonaws.com/publications/pdfs/000/000/242/original/KnightFoundation_AmericansViews_Client_Report_010917_Final_Updated.pdf

      • Thomas
        February 19, 2018 at 3:21 pm

        Thanks. I actually got roped into a round table at an academic conference: fake news in the Middle Ages. I think the idea is a little weird, but whatever. I’m game. So I’m researching fake news.

        Come to think of it, you do the British History Podcase. Maybe you should do a crossover episode.

  6. Matt
    January 30, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Its interesting you frame “stage 3” around 34 minutes as a hostile interference with our information system. other analysts from other countries have worried about this threat from Russia since before the 2016 elections. I’ll use my favorite example from my dissertation: Kazakhstan’s been, for years, trying to defend its “social infosphere” from external threats by promoting the native Kazakh language. Most Kazakhstanis grew up with Russian as a first language, and anyone that turns on a radio or TV is inundated with Russian media. Kazakhstan has observed that there are virtually no ISIS recruits going from Central Asia to the middle east, mainly because ISIS propaganda typically comes in Arabic, English, and a handful of other Western languages, but ISIS rarely publishes in Russian. Clearly, fear of information threats, or threats to information security on a societal level is a concern on an international scale.

    The Russians have been practicing information warfare for YEARS. One of my personal favorite early examples is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It’s a complete fabrication, a piece of libel, mostly likely written by the Tsar’s secret police in the late 1800’s. And yet, it is one of the MOST published pieces of antisemitic literature worldwide, along with books like the Mein Kampf and the International Jew by Henry Ford. The big difference is the Protocols is very similar to “Fake News” in that it’s written by a ghost writer pretending to be someone else to stoke tensions, while Ford and Hitler weren’t operating under false pretenses and proudly displayed their racism.

  7. Rachel Miles
    February 1, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Can you provide citations/reference list with URLs and/or DOIs to the sources to some or all of the items you cite in your episodes? I think this would be rather helpful to your listeners. Furthermore, it helps others track research dissemination and discussions.

    I’m an academic librarian by profession, and those types of citations are extraordinarily helpful, especially if they are provided on a web page. They have the potential of being picked up by research impact data providers and can make it easier for others to discover where and when research is being discussed. This also potentially helps your show/website to be discovered.

    And, others can followup on your citations. Humans tend to not followup with these types of things unless there is an “easy button,” e.g., an easy-to-follow hyperlink, especially if they have to transcribe what you are discussing.

    This is *just* a suggestion.

    I love your podcast, and it definitely helps me better understand our news and information communication and dissemination in this country, something that all librarians take part in. All librarians are always helping others to dissect and analyze bits of information, but this show gives a bigger picture to mass communication. Thank you so much for doing this show. I look forward to future episodes.

  8. Donald Ball
    February 8, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    I’m glad you’re back. I have a few observations to share with you:

    1. While your reading of “globalist” seems to be how it was used initially in its resurgence, I think it very quickly became widely used as a synonym for “Jewish”.

    2. It’s a little thing, but you incorrectly, parenthetically, asserted that Comet Pizzeria is in Washington state. If we have to fact check the little things, your broader conclusions will have to be taken with more grains of salt than they might otherwise deserve.

    3. I would add another category of Fake News, or Fake News disseminators: trolls in it for the lulz. These are folk who aren’t necessarily fully aligned with the Breitbarts and the like, but who enjoy disruption for its own sake.

    • Jamie Jeffers
      February 9, 2018 at 4:48 am

      Yeah that Pizzeria thing was embarrassing. We issued a correction on the site, but it’s still a bit embarrassing. It was the result of Zee and I talking quickly and since it was kind of a minor flavor detail, rather than directly relating to the fact pattern or analysis, it sort of slipped under the radar and I didn’t catch it until after it went live. Sorry.

  9. brian o'blivion
    February 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    The Preet Bharara interview of Kasparov might be of interest to people here as well.


  10. brian o'blivion
    February 11, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Not social media but other interference (either by the .01% or putin) was in the FCC comment period on net neutrality. Leah presented the research at Shmoocon 2018 and the video will be available in a couple of months but Ars Technica covered it. FCC is stonewalling releasing the webserver logs so point of origin may be determined.


  11. Jen
    March 12, 2018 at 5:52 am

    Hi, I love your show but want to clarify about Brexit- you said that there was a sudden groundswell and this was due to Russian interference. Although Brexit does play into Russian hands, there has always been a anti Europe resentment in the uk, both among the political elite esp the Tory party and the ‘people’. Brexit was a result of many things coming together: dissatisfaction of austerity and freedom of movement, the government cherry picking eu laws and blaming eu when things went wrong, Dave Cameron being too cocky about his recent election successes (eg Scots referendum) but above all, the total lack of ANY decent political debate on Europe either before or after the referendum leading to complete apathy about the eu (anything anti eu was automatically racist whenever people expressed legitimate concerns about losing jobs due to increased competition), combined with a total ignorance about what anyone outside London felt about anything. Also, if the press and politicians (both of which ARE london-centric) are calling you a moron for being anti eu, then that is never going to end well.

  12. Jen
    March 12, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Hi, before I get myself banned from this site, i have to concede, on further reading, that we might have been ‘played’ but not necessarily just by Russia. All the above is true but going from what you said, the final push may have come from ‘outside influence’, though to be fair, we did have Obama weighing in on the issue which didn’t help the remain campaign. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Russians aren’t just trying to polarise opinion – muddying the water is enough so ppl don’t know what to think so become overloaded and walk away.

    I’ve just found this article from the guardian (a left wing national newspaper) about Cambridge analytica (below). I also remember reading another article somewhere (I forget where- hopefully not fake news I try to be a discerning reader) that stated some people are trying to find out what information Facebook/CA has on them but can’t use the US laws but are using the UK law instead as CA has a base here.

    Keep up the good work, this is all very interesting,


  13. Anonymous
    July 30, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Just a small correction… Rt is Russia today, not Russian Times (as you said). .. I think

  14. Susan Polson
    December 15, 2018 at 3:19 am

    I’m looking for examples of circular reporting, I swear I heard on either Zee’s podcast of a shop talk on bbl, but now I can’t find it. Please help, I need to keep my grades up and the literature review is already gonna bring me down. Got to ace the circular reporting assignment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.