The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


In a desperate effort to support the indictment of Paul Manafort et al on charges that have absolutely nothing to do with Russian collusion (more on that in tomorrow's post), the trained hamsters in the media are now rehashing the Russian anti-Hillary Facebook ads. Talking hamster heads breathlessly promote the very questionable claim that these ads "reached" 127 million people. Not that the ads influenced those people or that the people even noticed them, but rather that they "reached" Facebook participants. That would be like saying that 20 million people fly over the Grand Canyon at 30,000 feet each year on cross-country flights, so therefore, all 20 million have visited the Grand Canyon. Idiocy.

To date and no matter the hard facts (e.g., Facebook idiocy, Mueller indictments on unrelated charges, meaningless meetings by low level functionaries that led to no meaningful action), the four constituencies have been unable to produce any evidence whatsoever that Trump worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. The latest idiocy is the contention that $100,000 in Facebook ads is the smoking gun that the four constituencies so desperately need. The trained hamsters in the mainstream media reported this as if the Russians had kidnapped Mark Zuckerberg and made him do a hostage video in which he shilled for Donald Trump. Since that gained little traction, they now their newest claim about "reach." Of course, they provide no context, no qualifiers and no proof, but why should that surprise anyone?

Mark Penn (who has been a pollster for the democrats) breaks all of this down:
The fake news about fake news is practically endless. Americans worried about Russia’s influence in the 2016 election have seized on a handful of Facebook ads—as though there weren’t also three 90-minute debates, two televised party conventions, and $2.4 billion spent on last year’s campaign. The danger is that bending facts to fit the Russia story line may nudge Washington into needlessly and recklessly regulating the internet and curtailing basic freedoms.

After an extensive review, Facebook has identified $100,000 of ads that came from accounts associated with Russia. Assume for the sake of argument that Vladimir Putin personally authorized this expenditure. Given its divisive nature, the campaign could be dubbed “From Russia, With Hate”—except it would make for a disappointing James Bond movie.

Analyzing the pattern of expenditures, and doing some back-of-the-envelope math, it’s clear this was no devilishly effective plot. Facebook says 56% of the ads ran after the election, reducing the tally that could have influenced the result to about $44,000. It also turns out the ads were not confined to swing states but also shown in places like New York, California and Texas. Supposing half the ads went to swing states brings the total down to $22,000.

Facebook also counted ads as early as June 2015. Assuming they were evenly spread and we want only those that ran the year of the election, that knocks it down to $13,000. Most of the ads did not solicit support for a candidate and carried messages on issues like racism, immigration and guns. The actual electioneering then amounts to about $6,500.
So ... in an election in which over 2 billion dollars were spent, $6,500 made all the difference. I recognize that far too many democrats appear to be innumerate, but even someone who is numerically challenged can probably understand that the Facebook ads represent 0.000003 of all money spent and that that infinitesmally small fraction couldn't possibly overcome the tsunami of free media (not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in ads) that favored Hillary by wide margins.

Tim Blair summarizes with tongue in cheek:
... all Hillary had at her disposal to counter these social media ads – did anyone actually see them? – was the combined might of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, USA Today, every major television network, all late-night comedy hosts, NPR, CNN, several Fox News presenters, Hollywood stars and music stars, plus tons of Facebook and Twitter content. The poor woman never stood a chance.

Yet we are to believe that somehow, some way, 0.000003 swayed the election. Idiocy!