May 5, 2017 Last Updated 8:23 am

Media makes much of fact that House bill passed that few read; ‘Fake News’ looks to have failed its next test in French election

Morning Brief: Europe’s many languages, smaller markets, may be the reason efforts to spread fake news, such as was seen in the US election, has not succeeded in producing the same results desired by the far-right

Today is Cinco de Mayo, and it is Friday. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? So, happy Cinco de Mayo and happy Friday, and don’t forget the designated driver, OK?

Meanwhile, if you are one of those who have depended on the Affordable Care Act to purchase your health insurance, Friday is the first day you have had to begin to worry that it might just get taken away after the House voted to replace key parts of the bill with their own vision of what health care should look like.

Actually, let’s be honest, most representatives didn’t vote for anything at all, except to hand the president and the House speaker a victory, as it is becoming apparent that few actually read the bill before voting (and the Congressional Budget Office had not release a score on the bill yet). Sadly, this is pretty much true of all legislation, and though the media is playing gotcha with some representatives on this matter, it is true that most rely on their staff for guidance regarding new legislation.

Meanwhile, the administration rushed to take a victory lap, as it appears that the Senate wants very little to do with the House bill.

“Today, thanks to the perseverance, the determination, and the leadership of President Donald Trump and all the support of those gathered here, we’ve taken a historic first step to repeal and replace Obamacare and finally give the American people the kind of health care they deserve,” Vice President Mike Pence said.

The kind of health care they deserve? That sounds ominous.

The Buffalo News, Jerry Zremski:

Chris Collins admits he didn’t read health care bill

Blitzer then pressed Collins, noting that the bill affects a fifth of the U.S. economy and millions of Americans.

“Don’t you think it was actually important to sit down and read the language of this bill?” Blitzer asked.

To which Collins replied: “You know, I have to rely on my staff, and I could probably tell you that I read every word, and I wouldn’t be telling you the truth, nor would any other member. We rely on our staff, and we rely on our committees, and I’m comfortable that I understand this bill in its entirety, Wolf, without poring through every word.”

But then Collins went further.

Told by a Buffalo News reporter that the state’s largest loss of federal funds under the bill would be $3 billion annually that goes to the state’s Essential Health Plan, Collins said: “Explain that to me.”

Slate, Elliot Hannon:

These Two GOP Congressmen Love the New Health Care Bill, but Say They Didn’t Actually Read It

Fresh off their congratulatory Rose Garden press conference, House Republicans were eager to nose their way in front of TV cameras Thursday evening to take an extended victory lap for passing a health care bill that will likely never become law. Two such Republican members, New York Rep. Chris Collins and Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett went on CNN and MSNBC respectively to gush about their win and extol the virtues of the latest GOP plan, when they both got caught in a record scratch of a moment. Asked if they had, you know, actually read the whole bill, both admitted, they had not…

…Rep. Garrett: Oh, gosh, Let’s put it this way: People in my office have read all the parts of the bill. I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill. That’s why we have staff.

No wonder they love it. They haven’t read it.



On Sunday the French go to the polls to elect a new president, and all signs point to a victory by Emmanuel Macron, rather than the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The French election has been seen as a test regarding the issue of fake news, trolls, bots and the like. Would they have the same level of influence on the electorate as they did in the American election which resulted in Donald Trump becoming president? Most think the answer is no, but why?

One reason may be that American elections are unique in that they are incredibly long. Trump announced his candidacy for president on June 16, 2015, 17 months before the actual November 2016 election. Also, there is language — influencing European elections means mastering many languages.

BuzzFeed reported earlier this year about clumsy attempts by Trump supporters to troll for Le Pen, an effort hampered by their poor French and the tendency to use symbols of the far-right that do not translate well, like Pepe the Frog.

BuzzFeed: “The shared agenda is to get far right, pro-Russian politicians elected worldwide. It’s not so much a conspiracy as it is a collaboration,” the anonymous user said. “The alt-right sees the US as compromised and Russia as the good guys who will ‘remove kebab’ (kill Muslims).”

Despite their efforts, however, it appears that Le Pen will fall short. We’ll know for sure on Sunday.


Photo: Melenchon supporter defacing Macron poster by radiowood used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The New York Times, Mark Scott:

In Europe’s Election Season, Tech Vies to Fight Fake News

In the battle against fake news, Andreas Vlachos — a Greek computer scientist living in a northern English town — is on the front lines.

Armed with a decade of machine learning expertise, he is part of a British start-up that will soon release an automated fact-checking tool ahead of the country’s election in early June. He also is advising a global competition that pits computer wizards from the United States to China against each other to use artificial intelligence to combat fake news…

…Researchers have tried to learn from the United States’ run-in with fake news, but the problem in Europe has mutated, experts say, making it impossible to merely replicate American responses to the issue.

European countries have different languages, and their media markets are smaller than those in the United States. That means groups that set up fake news sites in the United States, seeking to profit from online advertising when false claims were shared on social media, are less prevalent in Europe.

ProPublica, Ken Schwencke:

How One Major Internet Company Helps Serve Up Hate on the Web

Since its launch in 2013, the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer has quickly become the go-to spot for racists on the internet. Women are whores, blacks are inferior and a shadowy Jewish cabal is organizing a genocide against white people…

…Traffic is up lately, too, at white supremacist sites like The Right Stuff, Iron March, American Renaissance and Stormfront, one of the oldest white nationalist sites on the internet.

The operations of such extreme sites are made possible, in part, by an otherwise very mainstream internet company — Cloudflare. Based in San Francisco, Cloudflare operates more than 100 data centers spread across the world, serving as a sort of middleman for websites — speeding up delivery of a site’s content and protecting it from several kinds of attacks. Cloudflare says that some 10 percent of web requests flow through its network, and the company’s mainstream clients range from the FBI to the dating site OKCupid.

Comments are closed.