NBC Helped Russia ‘Spread Racial Tensions in America’ With Viral Videos

In a special NBC News investigation aired on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt and chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel explained how Russia aimed to “spread racial tensions in America. It comes from new research showing Russians are behind the push to spread some of the most shocking viral videos.” But the kicker? Some of those same viral videos (at least 4) were proliferated by NBC News themselves.

“Turns out these videos and dozens of others all inflaming racial tensions in America did not go viral by accident,” Engel continued while a collage of such viral videos appeared on the screen. “They were pushed and promoted by Russian operatives, according to new research by cyber experts at Clemson University.”

One of the viral videos shown (the one on the far right in the picture provided) was of a white woman who confronted a black man as they were entering the same apartment building. She followed him to his apartment while demanding to know if he lived there.

It turns out that NBC News and ABC News both pushed that story hard. The video provided even shows the Russia-backed viral videos NBC help to spread.

“Now to St. Louis and growing outrage over video of a white woman stopping a black man from entering his own apartment racking up millions of views,” Holt announced on October 15, 2018. “It’s the latest in a string of racially tinged incidents on camera.

NBC correspondent Miguel Almaguer was the reporter on the story at the time. According to him, “The encounter is the latest viral video capturing questionable behavior as police are called on African-Americans for seemingly no reason….From barbecuing to babysitting while black.”

That same day on ABC’s World News Tonight, correspondent Linsey Davis covered the story and said “the video reeks of a recurring phenomenon.”

While Almaguer was talking about it being “the latest viral video,” he played a montage of similar videos, including one of a white woman who called police on a nine-year-old black boy.

That one too was pushed by Russia. “The videos go viral fast. At least 18 million views for this one showing a white woman calling the police in Brooklyn claiming a 9-year-old African-American boy groped her,” Engel reported on Wednesday. Engel’s collage also included two other videos (for a total of 4) that were also in Almaguer’s montage.

Clemson University associate professor of communications Darren Linvill, one of the researches behind the report, told NBC News: “Some of these stories would have never gone viral without the influence of Russian disinformation.” Adding: “Their ultimate goal is to divide this country.”

Moments later, Oxford Internet Institute director Phil Howard explained that Russia’s goal was to get us “angry” and “into the streets” to fight each other:

HOWARD: The real goal is to get the conflict off Twitter, to get it into the streets.

ENGEL: So, they want to get people killed.

HOWARD: They want to get people out in the streets angry and fight.

It appears as though NBC was doing their part. Of course, they didn’t admit that. In January 2017, NBC’s cable channel MSNBC eagerly covered anti-Trump protests in New York City which, it turned out, was totally fake and instead created by Russia to, again, sow division.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

NBC Nightly News
August 8, 2019
7:06:40 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: To an NBC News investigation and a warning about Russian efforts to spread racial tensions in America. It comes from new research showing Russians are behind the push to spread some of the most shocking viral videos. Our Richard Engel has the details.

[Cuts to video]

RICHARD ENGEL: The videos go viral fast. At least 18 million views for this one showing a white woman calling the police in Brooklyn claiming a 9-year-old African-American boy groped her.

(…)

ENGEL: CCTV footage showed the boy just innocently brushed past the woman who was dubbed “Corner Store Caroline”. She later apologized. And more than 16 million views for this video from Texas showing a woman upset a taco truck was outside her house.

(…)

ENGEL: Turns out these videos and dozens of others all inflaming racial tensions in America did not go viral by accident. They were pushed and promoted by Russian operatives according to new research by cyber experts at Clemson University.

DARREN LINVILL (Associate Professor): Some of these stories would have never gone viral without the influence of Russian disinformation. Their ultimate goal is to divide this country.

ENGEL: It was a Russian account, researchers found, that came up with the nickname “Taco Truck Tammy” for the Texas woman. And more than just stirring the pot, in a practice known as doxing, the Russian trolls circulated the names, phone numbers, and addresses, and menacingly told users “You know what to do.”

PHIL HOWARD (Professor, Oxford): The real goal is to get the conflict off Twitter, to get it into the streets.

ENGEL: So, they want to get people killed.

HOWARD: They want to get people out in the streets angry and fight.

[Cuts back to live]

ENGEL: Twitter suspended the accounts flagged by the Clemson researchers. But experts say Russia is stepping up its activity in the run up to the 2020 elections. Lester.

HOLT: All right, Richard Engel, thank you.

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