Sen. Warner: Congress ‘Going to Have to Address’ Dissemination of ‘Fake News’

By Susan Jones | July 17, 2017 | 5:25 AM EDT

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday that "the whole role of these social media platforms in terms of disseminating fake news is a policy question that we're going to have to address." (Screen grab from CBS's "Face the Nation:" on July 16, 2017)

( – Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member of the Senate intelligence committee, appeared on several Sunday talk shows to discuss the never-ending, constantly expanding investigation into any possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Clearly, this administration has not been forthcoming about what they know and when they knew it in terms Russian involvement in the elections,” Warner told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”



Not only do Senate investigators want to hear from anyone in the Trump campaign who ever met with a Russian – they also want to know if Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner helped Russian trolls target “fake news” to susceptible voters.

“I think the whole role of these social media platforms in terms of disseminating fake news is a policy question that we're going to have to address,” Warner said.

Here is the entire exchange between Warner and host John Dickerson:

“Another area that it's -- it appears you're interested in is the data operation of the Trump campaign, which Jared Kushner was overseeing. Explain that,” Dickerson told Warner.

Warner responded:

Well, we do know that there was a series of Russian trolls, paid individuals who worked for the Russian services that were trying to interfere and put fake news out.

We also know they created what's called bots, in effect Internet robots, that actually could interfere as well. The question we have is, did they somehow get information from some of the Trump campaign efforts to target that interference?

We don't know that for sure. But what we do want to know is, we want -- I would like to talk to the folks with Cambridge Analytica. I would like to talk to some of the folks from the Trump digital campaign.

We do know as well that Facebook, for example, that denied any responsibility during our election, by the time the French elections took place this past spring, they literally took down 30,000 fake sites.

So, they have, in effect, got religion about the need to police fake news. We also know that Twitter -- it's been reported that literally 8 percent of the Twitter accounts are fake, so those accounts can be manipulated as well.

I would like to get -- not to re-litigate 2016, but I think the whole role of these social media platforms in terms of disseminating fake news is a policy question that we're going to have to address.

Warner did not explain how the government might address the matter.

In December 2016, Forbes magazine interviewed Jared Kushner in a report entitled, “How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House.”

The article notes that while Hillary Clinton's campaign depended on traditional media to get its message out, the Trump campaign "delved into message tailoring, sentiment manipulation, and machine learning," depending heavily on social media.

Kushner, the man who ran Trump’s data operation, told Forbes: "I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley, some of the best digital marketers in the world, and asked how you scale this stuff," and "they gave me their subcontractors."

So, Kushner learned the art of "micro-targeting" from his tech-company contacts.

As the data operation grew, Forbes reported, Kushner said he aimed to get Trump's message to voters "for the least amount of cost."

The December article in Forbes noted that Kushner's lack of political experience "became an advantage. Unschooled in traditional campaigning, he was able to look at the business of politics the way so many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have sized up other bloated industries."

Kushner depended on Twitter and Facebook to fuel the Trump campaign, using them to spread Trump's message and also to target potential supporters, gather constituent data and sense "shifts in sentiment in real time."

"We weren't afraid to make changes,” Kushner was quoted as saying. “We weren't afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn't working, we would kill it quickly," Kushner told Forbes. "It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken and scaling things that worked."

Kushner's data operation relied on Republican National Committee's data machine, "and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change."

According to Forbes, the data operation ended up dictating every campaign decision – “travel, fundraising, advertising, rally locations -- even the topics of the speeches.

"He put all the different pieces together," Brad Parscale, who ran the Trump data hub, told Forbes. "And what's funny is the outside world was so obsessed about this little piece or that, they didn't pick up that it was all being orchestrated so well."

The December Forbes article can be found here. The word "Russia" does not appear anywhere in it.

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