Missouri Republican Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who represents the 4th district encompassing the Southern parts of the Kansas City Metro, says Russia is exploiting U.S. squabbles through its social media intervention.
During a House committee hearing this week, Hartzler spoke about a report that Russian Twitter trolls and robots increased the panic during Mizzou’s 2015 campus protests and elsewhere by putting out fake information tweets and inflammatory statements.
“I think as Americans, we need to wake up,” said Hartzler. “This is what our adversaries are doing across the world, whether it be Russia or China.”
Hartzler, whose district includes Mizzou, said Americans should rally against the new type of warfare the country’s enemies are waging. She described the activity as egging it on. In one instance Russian trolls put out fake news that the KKK was on campus. This resulted in a hastily implemented warnings to African-American students who were rightly frightened, and the addition of dozens of additional security staff patrolling the campus. That was only one of several instances in which Russia exploited the tense situation.
“It’s like when someone gets in a fight and there’s someone in the back of the room saying ‘Yeah, punch him! He’ll think you’re weak,’” she said.
An Air Force Colonel’s report said the social media account tied to Mizzou’s unrest pretended to be from Columbia but was traced back to Russia.
The anti-racism protests led to the resignations of Mizzou’s president and chancellor and left a mark on the school’s enrollment figures.
While no evidence has been found that Russian intervention in the 2016 election was effective, that intervention has led to a more polarized political environment. One important fact has been learned after month’s of investigations: Russia did not intend to help either Clinton or Trump, but rather wanted to sow seeds of discord and make political divisions sharper. This was evidenced in part when it was learned that after the inauguration of President Trump, Russia covertly sponsored anti-Trump protests across the country which were carried live on CNN and MSNBC and promoted by Hollywood activists. In effect, Russia fooled the American media into thinking anti-Trump sentiment was widespread and they fell for it.
Investigations into an alleged Trump-Russia collaboration are coming to an end without any indictments brought forward on that accusation. Now both Democrat and Republican investigators are turning their attention to how Russia just wants to cause chaos in America’s culture and political landscape–regardless of who the president is.