The “Russian-American propaganda complex,” the campaign to discredit U.S. intelligence services, and associated “dossier-driven misinformation campaigns” mobilized by anti-vaxxer pseudoscientists are just some of the tactics that also seemed to have been used in the 2016 presidential election to support or deter a sitting president.
The closest link is between the “Quilliam network”—a loose coalition of Right-wing alternative-news sites that advocate many of the same Trumpian policies and who function as what one researcher described as “information warfare against liberals.”
In one such example, Mike Cernovich, a critic of vaccines who refers to himself as “the Lenin of the internet” in one of his blog posts, delivered an undisclosed bounty to the former U.S. military intelligence officer Erik Prince of Blackwater for forwarding a discredited email in 2015 that stated President Barack Obama put U.S. intelligence services in a “national security risk” of hacking. Such fear was apparently influential enough for Trump to continue to pay attention to them at the conclusion of a 2016 campaign.
A Trump aide is said to have also asked Prince about Russia’s activity in 2016, to which he replied that, as a typical paranoid, Prince wouldn’t want to “waste his time.”
The network of Quilliam sites—like Infowars—are on the right and grew much from a challenge to the mainstream media. Now they’re looking to capitalize on their contacts to influence the 2020 election, specifically “pandemics,” such as avian flu, fentanyl and bee-deer diseases.
Quilliam now plans to apply the same kind of “information warfare” style on environmental issues. For example, it would offer a hefty bounty to whistle-blowers in “epidemic” areas like drug abuse, PTSD, autism, climate change, and suicides, according to the network’s founder, Asim Qureshi. “FDR would never do this,” quipped one operative at Quilliam. Another quipped, “The Big Mac is to Russia as the booby prize was to Hitler.”