Embattled Fox News host Laura Ingraham has found some unlikely allies: Russian bots.
Russian-linked Twitter accounts have rallied around the conservative talk-show host, who has come under fire for attacking the young survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. According to the website Hamilton 68, which tracks the spread of Russian propaganda on Twitter, the hashtag #IstandwithLaura jumped 2,800 percent in 48 hours this weekend. On Saturday night, it was the top trending hashtag among Russian campaigners.
The website botcheck.me, which tracks 1,500 “political propaganda bots,” found that @ingrahamangle, @davidhogg111 and @foxnews were among the top six Twitter handles tweeted by Russia-linked accounts this weekend. “David Hogg” and “Laura Ingraham” were the top two-word phrases being shared.
Wading into controversy is a key strategy for Russian propaganda bots, which seize on divisive issues online to sow discord in the United States. Since the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting, which claimed 17 lives, Russian bots have flooded Twitter with false information about the massacre.
She mocked one of the protesters, David Hogg, for not getting into the the colleges that he applied to, and reaped the proverbial whirlwind.
In response, Hogg took to Twitter to call on the companies that advertise on Ingraham’s Fox News program to pull their ads. Within days, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Hulu, Jos. A. Bank, Jenny Craig, Ruby Tuesday, Miracle-Ear and several other companies pulled their commercials from the show.
Ingraham later apologized, but Hogg isn’t having it. He called Ingraham’s apology an insincere “effort just to save your advertisers.”
And this weekend, Hogg called Ingraham a “bully” on CNN. “It’s disturbing to know that somebody can bully so many people and just get away with it, especially to the level that she did,” he said. “No matter who somebody is, no matter how big or powerful they may seem, a bully is a bully, and it’s important that you stand up to them.”
Ingraham is not on the air this week. She told viewers that she was taking an Easter break, a message confirmed by Fox News to my colleagues at The Washington Post.
It’s an Unscheduled vacation.
She just got her proverbial butt kicked, and now she is slinking off until the furor dies down.
On the bright side, it appears that she has paidtrolls on her side, which, I guess, is a professional courtesy.
It appears that some “Media Critics” are wringing their hands over “censorship” of “journalism”, but Laura Ingraham doesn’t do journalism, and, to quote Atrios, “Most of us don’t have the right to be highly paid to speak, we just, you know, have the right speak. ……… If actual journalists think Laura Ingraham’s right to continued lucrative employment is important for real journalism then…we have a problem.”