Sunday, December 20, 2015

Last Night's Debate, Social Media And ISIS


This morning when I woke up, 49,216 people had voted in Time Magazine's online poll about the debate. I'm surprised that many people even watched the debate... around 10 million fewer than watch weekday night debates. A little update: As Wasserman Schultz had planned, the debate had the fewest viewers of any so far. Only 6.71 million viewers, compared to between 18 and 25 million for the GOP weekday night debates. At what point do Democrats ask why Obama is allowing her to stay on as DNC chair? She's an utter catastrophe for the party and an embarrassment for his candidate. Still, Bernie was the clear winner among Time's respondents-- and on every other online poll I've seen.
Bernie- 84%
Hillary- 13%
O'Malley- 3%
Overall, from a social media perspective at least, Bernie won the debate. His comments got the most attention on Twitter and the most attention on Facebook and he picked up the most followers on each service. Twitter reports that 44% of conversations about the debate were Bernie-focused and 44% were Hillary-focused, although hers were primarily about her closing Star Wars reference-- "May the Force Be With You"-- (a possible quid pro quo for the million dollar contribution she got from Star Wars director J.J. Abrams and his wife). Just looking at my own Twitter feed this morning, I found the biggest number of retweets and engagements I had ever seen on Twitter-- all Bernie policy oriented. Like this one:

Many viewers weren't happy with Clinton's obvious fantasy about ISIS using Trumpf anti-Muslim videos as a recruiting tool. They could but she said that they already are. How does she know? I asked several fact-checking services to look into it. Politifact investigated, talked to her embarrassed campaign, and found that she was lying.
During a Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton took a shot at Republican primary frontrunner Donald Trump, saying that his rhetoric is a gift to ISIS.

"We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears," Clinton said during the debate. "He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."

Not having heard that before, our eyebrows went up when we heard Clinton’s comment, and we weren’t alone. The Twittersphere, on both the right and the left, picked up on Clinton’s statement and questioned whether she had any evidence for it.

Extensive Google searches did not turn up any evidence. And the response from the Clinton campaign did not point to any specific videos.

The campaign pointed to an NBC News article that quoted Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups.

"They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric," she said. "They follow everything Donald Trump says. When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.' "

The article also quoted David Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-Building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, saying that "Trump's incendiary anti-Muslim comments will surely be used by ISIS social media to demonize the United States and attract recruits to fight in Iraq and Syria."

But while such quotes support the notion that ISIS could be making recruiting videos, or will do so, they do not support Clinton’s contention-- offered in the present tense-- that they are currently doing so. tweeted at J.M. Berger, author of the book ISIS: The State of Terror, and Berger tweeted back, "I would be surprised if they had and we didn't hear about it in a big way."

For now, it seems that Clinton has turned speculative left-of-center rhetoric into fact.

Others have wondered if ISIS will use Trump’s statements against the United States. On Dec. 14, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s New Day that "Donald Trump could be a recruitment poster for ISIS because he is fanning the flames of hate."

A few days earlier, Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect, a liberal magazine, wrote a column titled, "How ISIS and Trump Enable Each Other." In it, he wrote, "Trump’s collected speeches are like an ISIS recruiting video."

At PolitiFact, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. We’ll update our fact-check in the event solid evidence emerges. But for now, that evidence does not exist.

Our Ruling

Clinton said that ISIS is "going to people showing Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."

We were unable to find any evidence to support this. The Clinton campaign did not provide any evidence that this is already happening-- only that it could be happening, or that it may in the future. If ISIS was using Trump for recruitment videos, we would expect a frenzy of media coverage over it. We rate this claim False.
And, of course, Trumpf was quick to pounce:

Doesn't he do enough damage already without a generally untrustworthy Democratic candidate making stuff up about him? Thank God, Debbie Wasserman Schultz hasn't weighed in on this one yet! But, caught lying, Hillary's horribly corrupt campaign chairman, John Podesta, doubled down on Meet the Press today, offering, obviously, no proof and further proving to viewers that the Clinton Machine is as dishonest as Trumpf, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina and the rest of the deceitful conservative fabulists running for president. Why does Hillary, who already knows she has a very major trust problem with independent voters, make this kind of crap up? Maybe because she isn't comfortable taking about this kind of stuff-- on the briefing book page below-- in a Democratic debate, even one scheduled by her ally Wasserman Schultz late on the Saturday night before Christmas, during an NFL game and the opening weekend of Star Wars.

So, is Bernie catching up? Short answer is yes. Longer answer: it's tough to run against the establishment. Virtually every Democratic politician in New Hampshire has endorsed Hillary, from conservative governor Maggie Hassan, moderate U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, conservative congresswoman Ann Kuster to most of the state legislature. But Bernie's support among actual Democratic voters is strong and growing. The new CBS/YouGov poll, out today, shows him leading Hillary 56-42%, way beyond the margin of error. Iowa is tougher, but Clinton's lead has shrunk again and she now leads Bernie 50-45%, making caucus night a real toss-up. If Bernie wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton's national margins will collapse. Want to see that happen? Please consider contributing to Bernie's campaign here. One thing we do not need in the White House is another establishment, Wall Street-funded neocon, whether he or she is named Rubio or Clinton. (Yes, I know she's better than a Republican-- much better-- but, remember, she doesn't hold a candle to Bernie and he is far more electable.)

UPDATE: Clinton Caught In Yet Another Lie

I have no interest in Martin O'Malley but it was interesting that he turned the tables on Hillary last night when it came to gun safety. Imagining she had found the one issue she's more progressive on than Bernie, she been trying to paint him as an NRA gun-nut all through the campaign. It;s patently false but many of the low-info supporters who back her aren't bright enough to examine records or do anything remotely like critical thinking, so they endlessly repeat the trope to each other. But O'Malley threw it in her face last night: "Secretary Clinton changes her position on (gun issues) every election year, it seems, having one position in 2000 and then campaigning against President Obama and saying we don't need federal standards."

Her response was a condescending "Let's tell the truth Martin." OK, let's. PolitiFact to the rescue. They found O'Malley claim partially true. They point out in their analysis of her record that "during her 2000 Senate run, Clinton endorsed gun registration, photo licenses for gun owners and ballistic fingerprinting. Clinton continued to push for more gun control while serving as the senator from New York, but in her 2008 presidential run, she seemed to back off a bit."
Positioning herself to the right of then-Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton spoke throughout the campaign about the importance of guns to American culture while still defending Bill Clinton’s record on gun control.

"You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl," she said at a town hall in 2008.

At a 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Clinton gave an affirmative "yes" that she was backing off her 2000 call for a national licensing and registration plan because it would "preempt" cities and states’ initiatives. But she also called for reinstating the assault weapons ban and better background checks for potential gun purchasers.

Clinton responded to another question about her position on a gun registry at a debate in Philadelphia.

"What might work in New York City is certainly not going to work in Montana," she said, explaining her reason to abandon the proposal. "So, for the federal government to be having any kind of, you know, blanket rules that they're going to try to impose, I think doesn't make sense."

"I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns," she went on to say later in the debate. "But I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands."

While Clinton clearly was no longer in favor of a gun registry out of professed concern for individual states’ needs, she did not wholly reject all federal gun laws... O’Malley has a point that Clinton’s positioning on gun control has shifted between election cycles, but it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as he made it out to be. We rate his claim Half True.

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