By Penny Hoffmann
In a paper classed as private and confidential, titled “Democracy Matters: Strategic Plan For Action”, Media Matters, American Bridge, CREW, and Shareblue are all actively fighting against right-wing misinformation, and social media platforms such as Facebook and Google have agreed to be their allies.
In the document, the current hurdles for the goal are highlighted. An analysis of their opposition, what Shareblue and their associates have already accomplished to get to this goal, and what is promised for the future are detailed. Their mission began in 2017 and will last for four years, up until Trump runs for presidency again in 2020.
The document even highlighted how they got Facebook to support their plans:
“During the 2016 election, Facebook refused to do anything about the dangerous rise of fake news or even acknowledge their role in promoting disinformation: Mark Zuckerberg called the notion that fake news is a problem “crazy”. In November, we launched a campaign pressuring Facebook to: 1) acknowledge the problem of the proliferation of fake news on Facebook and its consequences for our democracy and 2) commit to taking action to fix the problem. As a result of our push for accountability, Zuckerberg did both. Our campaign was covered by prominent national political, business, and tech media outlets, and we’ve been engaging with Facebook leadership behind the scenes to share our expertise and offer input on developing meaningful solutions.”
This is what Media Matters and their associates have already accomplished:
“Media Matters has already secured access to raw data from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. We have also put in place the technology neccessary to automatically mine white nationalist message boards and alt-right communities for our archive. We will now develop technologies and processes to systematically monitor and analyze this unfiltered data.”
“Our digital efforts were largely focused on changing the narrative with the traditional media versus voters. This worked to a point but wasn’t enough in the face of a news media incentivised by profit and access and fearful of intimidation and bullying by the Trump forces.”
“In 2016, a full two-thirds of Facebook users used the platform to get news. Facebook’s algorithm fuels confirmation bias by feeding content from outlets that tell the users what they want to hear. Fake news purveyors exploited this vulnerability. Fake news purveyors exploited this vulnerability for profit and political influence.”
The paper also provided a “competitive analysis” whereby their rivals and the threats they pose were highlighted. Their competition is right-wing media, but more specifically: the Conservative Media Research Center, Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and Donald Trump (obviously) and his Trump TV.
Here is what the paper said about Breitbart, for example:
“Breitbart, which has received millions in funding from extremest billionaires close to the Trump administration, provides a nexus point in the so-called alt-right (the newest branding for American white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny) to exploit vulnerabilities throughout the media landscape. With a powerful ally in the White House (former chief executive Steve Bannon will be Trump’s chief strategist), Breitbart plans to export its brand of anti-establishment racism on a global scale.”
Media Matters lists what their top outcomes are and what they will “focus on achieving” in the next four years, which began in 2017:
“In the next four years, Media Matters will continue its core mission of disarming right-wing misinformation, while leading the fight against the next generation of conservative disinformation: The proliferation of fake news and propaganda now threatening the country’s information ecosystem.”
“- Serial misinformers and right-wing propagandists inhabiting everything from social media to the highest levels of government will be exposed, discredited. Journalists, activists, allies, politicians, and the general public will routinely utilize and weaponize our research products to understand and take action against the changing media ecosystem and the extremists seeking to manipulate it. We will continue to break engagement records and dramatically expand and diversify our reach by presenting our research in multiple formats on a variety of platforms. Key right-wing targets will see their influence diminish as a result of our work.
– Internet and social media platforms, like Google and Facebook, will no longer uncritically and without consequence host and enrich fake news sites and propagandists. Social media companies will engage with us over their promotion of the fake news industry. Facebook will adjust its model to stem the flow of damaging fake news on its platform’s pages. Google will cut off these pages’ accompanying sites’ access to revenue by pulling their access to Google’s ad platform.
– Toxic alt-right social media-fueled harassment campaigns that silence dissent and poison our national discourse will be punished and halted. Hundreds and thousands of activists will join our campaigns to push back on alt-right harassment. Key alt-right figures will lose credibility and influence in response to our research and pressure.”
American Bridge, a participant for this plan, is given orders that aim to make it “the epicenter of Democrats’ work to regain power”. It has three goals that will be in favor of the Democrats:
“American Bridge will cement itself as the standard-bearer of opposition research, build on its role as a progressive clearinghouse for information that drives the narrative on Republican officeholders and candidates, and be at the epicenter of Democrats’ work to regain power – starting in 2017 and building to 2020. Here’s what success will look like:
– Trump will be defeated either through impeachment or at the ballot box in 2020.
– The balance of power will shift back to democrats. We will measurably impact US Senate, gubernatorial, and state legislative races.
– We will free ourselves from solely relying on the press. Our robust digital program will reach voters directly online.”
CREW is another participant in the plan to get Trump out of office. Crew has four goals that will aid in doing so:
“CREW will be the leading nonpartisan ethics watchdog group in a period of crisis with a president and administration that present possible conflicts of interest and ethical problems on an unprecedented scale. CREW will demand ethical conduct from the administration and all parts of government, expose improper influence from powerful interests, and ensure accountability when the administration and others shirk ethical standards, rules, and laws.
Here’s what success will look like:
– Trump will be afflicted by a steady flow of damaging information, new revelations, and an inability to avoid conflicts issues.
– The Trump administration will be forced to defend illegal conduct in court.
– Powerful industries and interest groups will see their influence wane.
– Dark money will be a political liability in key states.”
Shareblue, another participant, is planning to replace Conservative influence on social media with influence from Democrats instead. They plan to harm Trump’s presidency by “emboldening the opposition and empowering the majority of Americans who oppose him”. Shareblue has five goals in order to aid Media Matters’ plan:
“- Shareblue will become the de facto news outlet for opposition leaders and the grassroots.
– Trump allies will be forced to step down or change course due to news published by Shareblue.
– Under pressure from Shareblue, Democrats will take more aggressive positions against Trump.
– Shareblue will achieve financial stability while diversifying content offerings and platforms.
– Top editorial and writing talent will leave competitors to join Shareblue.”
Media Matters is against “even the slightest bit of normalization of Trump”. Funnily enough, Media Matters plans to resist Trump’s authoritarianism by utilizing authoritarianism themselves by means of, for example, collaborating with social platforms in order to remove what they deem as “fake news”. Thus, authoritarianism, in their eyes, is fine if they themselves do it:
“We are going to fight for the things in which we believe, and we are going to fight against any attempt to erode the cornerstone work and values of the progressive movement and this pluralistic nation… Media Matters will be vigilant in holding news media accountable for even the slightest bit of normalization of Trump. We will encourage journalists to defend standard practices, like the protective press pool and media credentialing, and strive for higher standards against this threat… we are going to resist the normalization of Donald Trump. His every conflict of interest, his every bit of cronyism, his every move towards authoritarianism, his every subversion of our democratic systems and principles, his every radical departure from foreign and domestic policy norms… we are going to contest every effort, at every level of government, to limit rights, rescind protections, entrench inequality, redistribute wealth upwards, or in any other way fundamentally undermine the tenets of egalitarianism that must serve as the bedrock of our democracy.”
Predictive technology, collaborating with social media platforms, omnichannel communications, and a massive grassroots truth squad are all methods Media Matters will use to monitor fake news. Predictive technology will allow individuals and outlets who participate in fake news, misinformation, and harassment, to be identified by Media Matters.
Here is what content Media Matters also corrects:
“Media Matters’ issue teams are focused on correcting misinformation on: gun violence and public safety, LGBT equality, reproductive health and gender equality, climate and energy, and economic policy.”