Last week a new web tool was launched by former FBI special agent Clint Watts to track pro-Russian Twitter bots. The new tool, which is able to track 600 different Twitter accounts which are believed to be related to Russian-sponsored influence and disinformation campaigns, has shed a tremendous amount of light on just what the Russians did and continue to do to help President Trump’s agenda, while also influencing American politics.
While the repercussions of these bots were most severe during the 2016 presidential election, many of them are still active and still trying to influence President Trump’s actions. To make things even more shocking, however, is the fact that Senior White House Adviser Steve Bannon appears to be following or working in unison with these bots, via his continued ties to the news organization Breitbart.
Take for example one of the top trending bot hashtags over the last week, according to Watts’ new tracker, #FireMcMaster. This hashtag was being pushed furiously by the Russian-controlled bots after it was revealed that McMaster had cleared Susan Rice of any wrongdoing related to the possible unmasking of individuals within the Trump campaign. These bots were not the only ones furiously pushing for McMaster to be fired by the President. Bannon’s former news organization, Breitbart, had more than 10 headlines on their homepage attacking McMaster as well — headlines claiming that McMaster was ‘Deeply Hostile to Israel and to Trump,’ along with others that have been a regular sight on the webpage over the last week.
It certainly doesn’t seem like a coincidence that 600 of the top known Russian bot accounts on Twitter have furiously pushed the #fireMcMaster hashtag at the same exact time that the former Bannon-run Breitbart was pushing out story after story trying to discredit the 3-star general.
Ordinarily, a right wing paper should be able to publish whatever the hell they want, even stories which are being pushed by Russian disinformation campaigns. However, Bannon is still dictating what is done at the news organization, while working as one of the President’s closest advisers. In fact, Trump gave Bannon an ethics waiver to continue working with Breitbart soon after he joined the White House.
The ironic thing about all of this, is that it appears as if Bannon and the Russian bots are pushing for the ousting of McMaster, while Trump and General Mattis are pushing back in the opposite direction. The only question that’s left is whether or not Bannon is directly or only indirectly taking orders from the Russians in determining the narrative of the news organization he once ran.