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Mackey writes: "Cam Harris, a recent college graduate hoping to build a career as a political consultant, received an unwelcome email from a New York Times reporter this month. As the reporter, Scott Shane, recounted on the front page of Thursday's Times, he had discovered that Harris was the publisher of a fake news site dedicated to smearing Hillary Clinton."

Cameron Harris in Annapolis, Maryland, January 16, 2017. (photo: Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times/Redux)
Cameron Harris in Annapolis, Maryland, January 16, 2017. (photo: Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times/Redux)

Major Fake News Operation Tracked Back to Republican Operative

By Robert Mackey, The Intercept

20 January 17


am Harris, a recent college graduate hoping to build a career as a political consultant, received an unwelcome email from a New York Times reporter this month. As the reporter, Scott Shane, recounted on the front page of Thursday’s Times, he had discovered that Harris was the publisher of a fake news site dedicated to smearing Hillary Clinton.

So Harris did what came naturally. He started to spin. First, he admitted that he had written the hoax news articles casting Clinton as a criminal on his site, Eight of his stories attracted enough attention on social networks to merit debunking by Snopes, the fact-checking site, and one of them, published a month before the election, attracted six million readers with the headline, “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.”

But when he was asked about his motives for posting elaborate disinformation about Clinton online over the course of 11 months, Harris was a little more economical with the truth. Even though he had attacked Clinton relentlessly on Twitter during the campaign, and voted for Donald Trump, Harris told The Times that his goals were purely financial. He had focused on potentially damaging fabrications about Clinton, he claimed, simply because those pieces generated more clicks and so more ad revenue than attacks on Trump.

“I didn’t really have a political motivation whatsoever,” he told Shane in a subsequent Facebook Live interview. “It was a way to make money.”

What Harris failed to mention to The Times, however, is that during the entire time that he was spreading lies about the Democratic presidential candidate, he was employed as a legislative aide and campaign manager for a Republican member of the Maryland state legislature, David Vogt III.

Harris also concealed from The Times that when he sat down to create his anti-Clinton fiction “at the kitchen table in his apartment,” he was living in Vogt’s basement in Brunswick, Maryland. As Maryland’s Frederick News-Post reported on Wednesday, an FEC filing related to Vogt’s failed race for Congress earlier this year listed the same home address for both the state lawmaker and his young campaign manager, Harris.

Vogt fired Harris Wednesday afternoon, after the Times story went online, and said he had no idea what his young aide and tenant had been up to at that kitchen table. “I was shocked to hear that he could do such a thing,” the legislator told The Washington Post.

Harris backed that account in a text message to the Frederick News-Post. “Delegate Vogt was not involved in any way,” he wrote.

He then posted a long statement on Twitter, which included a brief apology and a longer discourse on “the dynamics behind” the spike in election-related fake news.

But even if Vogt was entirely unaware of the anti-Clinton hoaxes regularly published by his aide, the fact that these pieces were produced by a Republican operative during an election campaign suggests that at least some of what we now refer to as the new phenomenon of fake news might be better described by using an older term: “dirty tricks.”

Seen through that lens, Harris — like the many other Trump supporters who concocted fake medical records or spread malicious rumors about Clinton in the guise of news reports — is part of a long tradition exemplified by Watergate-era dirty tricksters like Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser.

As Stone boasts on his website, he “was the youngest member of the staff in President Richard Nixon’s re-election camping in 1972, the notorious CREEP — Committee for the Re-Election of the President. In a New Yorker profile, Jeffrey Toobin explained that Stone’s work for CREEP began when he dropped out of college and found a way to dupe reporters into printing false news:

Stone moved to Washington to attend George Washington University, but he became so engrossed in Republican politics that he never graduated. He was just nineteen when he played a bit part in the Watergate scandals. He adopted the pseudonym Jason Rainier and made contributions in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance to the campaign of Pete McCloskey, who was challenging Nixon for the Republican nomination in 1972. Stone then sent a receipt to the Manchester Union Leader, to “prove” that Nixon’s adversary was a left-wing stooge. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+57 # Radscal 2017-01-20 18:03
One of the results of deliberate disinformation campaigns is that they discredit truthful dissent.
+20 # dipierro4 2017-01-20 23:44
"One of the results of deliberate disinformation campaigns is that they discredit truthful dissent."

Agreed, but the damage goes much further. We are in a situation where what matters in the world is the "truth" that one can create by planting certain beliefs or certain images into people's consciousness. What we old folks might think of as "objective truth" does not matter; rather, it has all the real-world significance of the sound of one hand clapping in the forest with nobody around to hear (to combine a couple of koans) i.e., no significance at all. This may always have been true, but now we are living in a period where the technology and the skills exist for people like Harris to create reality at will, and to install a President over us.
+21 # Radscal 2017-01-21 14:03
"Fake News" is everywhere. Even the corporate media news reports that have a basis in reality are more like the movies that state "Based on a true story."

And yes, it's been going on forever, but with newer technology is much more convincing.

William Randolph Hearst worked with Thomas Edison to film "war scenes" in New Jersey that were shown in movie theaters as "news reels" of the Cuban Revolution in order to motivate USians to start the Spanish-America n War.

We had CNN "journalists" in a studio in Atlanta pretending to be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1991's Gulf War I.

Now that Eastern Aleppo has been liberated, we can learn that they had no electricity, and no internet or cell phone coverage for 3 months prior to the liberation. That means that ALL of the Tweets and Facebook postings we saw of brave civilians calling for the US to destroy the Syrian government were fake. EVERY ONE.

There is every reason to be skeptical of every bit of "news" we get.
+4 # dipierro4 2017-01-21 20:57
Radscal: Thank you for the response. There were things there there that I did not know.
+8 # Radscal 2017-01-22 13:31
You're welcome, and thanks back atcha.

The thing is that very few USians know most of the facts about most any "news" events. We are swimming in an ocean of PR/propaganda.

And when we search alternative sources to get a fuller picture, we often encounter disinformation deliberately planted to misdirect or confuse us. And even when we do discern the truth, we are ridiculed by those who have not yet broken through the wall of propaganda.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, as Tommy Jefferson said.
+3 # mighead 2017-01-22 16:43

Hadn't heard that story of Syria...
But I'm guessing the identical scene is going on in the ethnic-Russian half of Ukraine...
I've read that all benefit payments like pensions, etc.
Have been stopped...
Basically all of the rest of any payments also...
All of the water and electricity infrastructure has intenionally been blown up to make the area "uninhabitable"...
and the last I heard...Russia was dealing with a million refugees...but that was a year or so ago...
so the number has probably doubled by now...

Just amazing the HUMANITARIAN damage that goes on with all these wars we've been participating in!!!

Not to mention our DRONES!!!
+1 # Radscal 2017-01-22 19:25
The Bolivian actor/film maker Carla Ortiz spent months in Syria, filming both "rebel" held and government held territory for a documentary she hopes to release in a few months.

Here, she was interviewed for 6 minutes by CNN, and it's sort of funny to see the Talking Heads inability to react to her first-hand witness testimony:

From what I've read about Eastern Ukraine, it's not nearly as cut off. The insurgents control most of the utilities. But yes, Ukraine stopped paying pensions, and government-paid workers, and has cut off many of the necessities that used to come from the West.

The Saker has been doing some of the best reporting on Ukraine:
+2 # AshamedAmerican 2017-01-21 00:33
Perhaps his true motivation?
+5 # Jaax88 2017-01-21 17:32
And truthful reporting.

I wonder how much of the Hillary is a warmonger and wanted war with Russia was fake info as opposed to true reporting?
+5 # dipierro4 2017-01-21 21:04
"I wonder how much of the "Hillary is a warmonger and wanted war with Russia" was fake info as opposed to true reporting?"

Sadly, not much. I recall hearing recordings of her talking about Putin as an "Evil Dictator."

I wish it had been different. I voted 3d party, seeing HRC as a warmonger. Given Trump's recent conduct and what I have learned about him, I might do it differently if I could do it again. Not because I have any confidence in HRC, but rather because The Donald is worse than I had imagined.
+3 # Radscal 2017-01-21 21:37
I got my views on HRC being a warmonger from HRC's own words and deeds.

But there probably was "fake news" about that, too... which is my point. If apologists for someone or some policy can point to a fake story, they don't feel obliged to answer for all the real stuff.
+2 # mighead 2017-01-22 17:02
Re: her views as a warmonger from HRC's own words and deeds...


I watched a YouTube video of her saying that Russia's cyber moves "against us" were grounds for "military action"...

After all of Snowden's disclosures...s he's talking about OTHER COUNTRY'S CYBER MOVES???!!!


I also squirmed when I heard her call Putin HITLER!!! As ex-sec'y of state, she was present in Ukraine with Bill and Chelsea two months before the protests started...promi sing Ukraine a 'golden EU future' like Poland was now enjoying, etc.. So she knew better than anybody that those neo-Nazi snipers that shot up Maiden Square were OUR NAZIS that OUR CIA trained for that task in Poland!!! Apparently, the demonstrations were too calm and the protests were moving too slowly...and they just never got VIOLENT like we needed them to be to overthrow the (democratically elected!!!) 'Russian' President!!!


And I'm still CRINGING when I remember the photo of McCain giving their group a Nazi Salute with the Swastika flag on the stage wall behind him while he was giving them a rousing speech about our support for them and letting them all know that we were on their side!!!
+1 # Radscal 2017-01-22 19:35
Yes. The US-fomented "revolution" went south on them when Ukrainian President Yanukovych signed an agreement with "Klitch" and other leaders of the legitimate opposition on February 21, 2014. That agreement was brokered with EU nations and Russia.

He agreed to cut Presidential power, pardon all but the most heinous of the criminals during the "protests" and remove the riot police from the Maidan. He also agreed to hold early elections, knowing he would almost assuredly lose.

The US State Department issued a statement lauding the agreement, but... remember "F*ck the EU!"?

So, on February 22, as the police withdrew, the neo-nazis charged into the Parliament, beat Ministers and charged the Presidential offices intent on murdering the President.
+17 # DongiC 2017-01-20 21:05
These Republican operatives are downright venemous. They can have an explosive effect and really screw up elections.
+2 # Spence 2017-01-20 23:13
There were enough truthful articles about Hillary, making up stories is not helpful to anyone.
+8 # Thomas Martin 2017-01-21 00:03
Unfortunately, truth and reason are still necessary in creating a better world!
+30 # RGV.REG 2017-01-21 00:27
Why isn't this man in jail for helping rig an election?
+7 # pegasus4508 2017-01-21 16:15
Why can we not find something to charge him with since he worked for Maryland State?
+3 # Speedbird9 2017-01-21 22:35
Quoting RGV.REG:
Why isn't this man in jail for helping rig an election?

To state the obvious: IOKIYAR.
+4 # candida 2017-01-21 01:41
Another result is they fool a lot of people, even those who are supposedly on the "Left," like many on this site who cited fake news stories in their hatred for Hillary. An example is "Hillary will start WWIII." I saw this absurdity repeated various times by posters here. According to an interview on NPR, this meme was started by the Russian governmen (on Russian media).
+10 # Radscal 2017-01-21 14:07
I got that story from Hillary herself, who referred to Putin as "Hitler," and demanded a "no fly zone" to protect the terrorists in Syria, which even the Chair of the Joint Chiefs said would result in war with Russia.

Her "major foreign policy speech" was mostly one-liners mocking Trump, but when she did talk abut foreign policy, it was threats against Russia.
+2 # lfeuille 2017-01-21 17:43
Many people think that WWIII has already started. The US is engaged in military operations in how many countries? I can't remember, but it is a ridiculous number for a country that claims to be a bastion of democracy. But the point is, that Hillary, by her own admission, would be even more aggressive. Eventually, all these mini wars will merge into one giant one else steps are take to roll it back. She wouldn't do that. Hillbots are just so selective in their ability to hear what Hillary says. They just ignore the things they don't like.
+20 # mavrant 2017-01-21 11:27
The more I read, the more I believe that we, as honest and truthful people, came with a knife to a gunfight. The takeover of our country was a well planned scheme by the less than 1%, taking into account how the the arrogance and duplicity of the dnc, could be used to their ends. Can we learn from this humiliation is the question?
+20 # opinionaire 2017-01-21 12:34
Did anyone else have a visceral reaction to the name Christian Times Newletter? While I am not surprised, I continue to be appalled at the cheapening of those trying to hold on to Christian faiths.

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