Elections

1) Deploy state-run news organizations

A number of state-supported news organizations, including Russia’s RT, China’s China Daily, and Qatar’s Al Jazeera, function in the United States as “big-business foreign-influence operations,” according to Ben Freeman, the author of a book on how foreign governments try to shape U.S. foreign policy. These organizations regularly produce run-of-the-mill journalism, but their coverage is often infused with the political agenda of their patron governments as well. The U.S. intelligence community’s public report on Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential campaign, for instance, details how Moscow’s multimedia “propaganda machine”—in particular the international news agencies RT and Sputnik—parroted Kremlin messaging on the virtues of Trump, vices of Clinton, and corruption of American democracy, seizing on conspiracy theories and hacked Democratic Party emails from WikiLeaks. (Here’s a sample RT headline for an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, published just days before the U.S. election and now boasting 115,000 Facebook likes: “Assange: Clinton & ISIS funded by same money, Trump won’t be allowed to win.”)

Yet U.S. law is murky on whether such an outlet needs to register as a “foreign agent” with the Justice Department, as do U.S.-based lobbyists who engage in political activities on behalf of a foreign government. (China Daily ’s U.S. affiliate has registered, while RT, which rebranded from Russia Today several years ago to downplay its Russia connections, has reportedly designed the business structure of its U.S. arm to bypass the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.) The result, Freeman told me, “is that the American voter doesn’t have a really good sense that [the media outlets] are foreign-funded, state-run operations. If you’re ... scrolling through your television channels and you come across RT, and you see a news segment that’s favorable to the Trump [campaign] or critical of the Hillary campaign, you might think it’s just an objective news source, when in fact this is a Kremlin-funded organization.”


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Source : https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/legal-ways-interfere-election/534057/

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