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In-Depth Interview: Journalist Gareth Porter Uses Journalism to Debunk Shaky Claims of New York Times

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Journalist and historian Gareth Porter returns to discuss his new article, exposing exaggerated claims of Russian skulduggery on Facebook in 2016.Porter’s article was published last week at ConsortiumNews, showing inaccurate claims in the late-September recap of Russiagate by NY Times reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti.

Both Porter and your humble host consider Shane to be a credible reporter, and credit him with caveats in stories on Russiagate, including the quote from the September 26 report that that claims “can neither be proven nor disproven”.

We note how many “progressive” media figures, including Thom Hartmann, claim that Mueller’s convictions and plea deals amount to proof of “collusion”, even though Manafort and the others have not been tried on such charges.

Porter explains that the numbers cited by The Times about Facebook are grossly exaggerated, with “potential impressions” being treated as click-throughs.  He notes that Facebook estimates that only 1 out of 10 posts in a news feed are actually read by the user.  When you compare the modest traffic attributed to all Russians, including government actors, it’s infinitesimal compared to the $80 million-plus the Trump campaign spent on dark-targeted Facebook ads.

Porter also looks at the role of Twitter bots in amplifying tweets by the candidates, and argues that the impacts cited by Shane and Mazzetti are not significant.