Facebook and Washington aren’t accurately saying eye to eye right now.
On Capitol Hill, Facebook’s sale of domestic ads related to a Russian goblin plantation is seen as justification of a company’s unconsidered complicity in unfamiliar choosing meddling. Lawmakers are abuzz with speak of regulation. The Senate and House comprehension committees are job for open hearings.
The domestic press, too, has expel Facebook as a bad actor. It’s not pure adequate with users. It won’t, or doesn’t know how, to take shortcoming for a influence. Like Frankenstein, the New York Times’ Kevin Roose declares, it has unleashed a “rogue” savage on a world.
Menlo Park doesn’t see it that way.
Like many tech companies, Facebook is focused initial and inaugural on a product. That product, that already reached some-more than 2 billion monthly users, is flourishing in both assembly and revenue. In a grand intrigue of things, Facebook sources tell CNN, a ad liaison is a teenager glitch. It only requires some tweaking.
The genuine conflict Facebook is fighting isn’t over regulation, though open perception.
Facebook sources expect that whatever regulations Congress imposes will be distant narrower than a stream tongue suggests. Politicians and pundits on both a right and a left contend Facebook should be regulated like a open utility, and nonetheless doing that would need some-more complicated lifting — including a origination of new laws and maybe even a new regulatory physique — than Congress appears to be meddlesome in.
The tangible law is expected to be some-more singular in scope, these Facebook sources believe. On Thursday, Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner called for laws that would levy a same disclaimer mandate on digital promotion that cover ads on radio and radio. Facebook sources described it as comparatively harmless.
But how Facebook fares in a justice of open opinion is a opposite matter. A postulated fusillade of congressional exploration and media inspection could do repairs to a brand, during slightest here in a United States.
Facebook sources pronounced they trust a association has been foul demonized by lawmakers who wish to viewpoint opposite a amicable media hulk for domestic functions and by a media fervent to chuck stones during a tech Goliath.
That opinion inside Facebook partly explains a company’s initial hostility to palm over to congressional investigators copies of a 3,000 ads it sole to Russia-linked accounts (a preference it topsy-turvy on Thursday).
Facebook sources pronounced a association is most some-more calm to work with Special Counsel Robert Mueller than it is Congress since his review has a tangible concentration and is holding place outward of a open eye. Lawmakers are most some-more expected to use a information to grandstand opposite Facebook if they trust it will assistance them politically, people inside Facebook believe.
Lawmakers contend they’re doing their jobs, that is safeguarding a interests of American citizens. If Facebook isn’t happy about it — well, they should have suspicion of that before they combined such a exposed ad platform.
So far, Congress appears to be winning a open family battle. On Thursday, a association topsy-turvy march and pronounced it would give a ads to association — in part, sources said, since open vigour had done holding out untenable. Facebook needs to be seen as operative with Congress if it is to lessen inspection and regulation.
This, too, is because Zuckerberg hold a Facebook Live eventuality on Thursday.
He wanted to highlight Facebook’s joining to “the approved routine and safeguarding a integrity,” though also to try and remind a open about what Facebook believes is a bigger picture.
“It’s critical not to remove steer of a some-more candid and incomparable ways Facebook plays a purpose in elections,” Zuckerberg implored a public, “and these effects work during most incomparable beam of 100 times or 1000 times bigger than what we’re deliberating here.”
Imagine for a impulse that it’s Sep 2018. The midterm elections are heating up, and you’ve motionless we wish to do positively anything we can to make certain your member of Congress is not re-elected. Well, good news: If we have a credit label and a Facebook account, there’s a approach we can spend total amounts of income to do usually that — and there’s no law, no regulation, no resource of any kind to stop you.
Offline, there are laws and manners about debate spending and donations that are enforced. You can’t give a claimant some-more than $2,700 in a cycle. If we wish to run a TV ad, we need to be clever about what we indeed contend in a ad, and divulge that it is an ad and who is obliged for it.
Facebook and a aspirant amicable networks, though, are partial of a mostly unregulated Wild West of domestic spending, a existence to that legislators and regulators are usually now starting to awaken, after a avowal that a Russian goblin plantation purchased $100,000 value of ads on Facebook during a 2016 election.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pronounced on Thursday that he wants to make domestic ads on a height “more transparent” — in other words, for a many part, creation them some-more like debate ads on TV, where they come with a disclaimer identifying who is obliged for them.
However, distinct TV, many of a domestic ads purchased on Facebook don’t fit a normal clarification of a “political ad.” And even after Zuckerberg’s announcement, Facebook hasn’t pronounced what accurately they’ll tenure a domestic ad that contingency come with a disclaimer and be finished public. At slightest some of a $100,000 value of politically-themed ads related to a Russian goblin plantation purchased during a 2016 choosing that Facebook has disclosed, that according to what Facebook has pronounced were not normal debate ads, competence not have been theme to any of a new policies Zuckerberg described.
Unless Facebook is formulation a distant some-more radical change to a business than it has suggested so far, if we wanted to, we could go on a site tomorrow and spend total sums creation certain that people see a story damaging to a chances of a claimant we conflict and it would expected go unchecked. A vital donor with a few hundred million dollars blazing a hole in their slot could do a same.
Facebook and a supervision have reduction than a year to go before a midterms. If they wish to take truly suggestive action, time is regulating out. But some debate professionals are doubtful that a Federal Election Commission could effectively answer all a questions concerned in controlling digital advertisements — starting with elemental issues of identifying what, exactly, depends as a domestic ad in a universe where people and organizations can compensate to foster news stories, op-eds, memes, videos and other messages.
“Facebook privately has finished a terrible pursuit with an unfit task. This is a unequivocally tough thing to do, and they siphon during it,” pronounced a comparison Republican digital ad customer who — like others interviewed for this story — did not wish to be named due to a attraction of a issue.
People on a other side of a aisle agree.
“With no requirement on a partial of a internet companies to make domestic ad spending public, a doorway is left far-reaching open for bad actors to come in and buy advertising,” pronounced Oren Shur, a executive of paid media for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“That’s what we saw occur with a Russians on Facebook, and it wouldn’t be startling if it’s function in other places too,” Shur said. “The gaps in a stream law fundamentally entice it.”
On TV, in a pages of a newspaper, or on a yard sign, there’s no doubt about what an ad is. But on Facebook, things are different.
The widespread form of promotion on Facebook is a Sponsored Posts, that are posts that any owners of a Facebook Page can compensate to foster so that people who do not follow a Page will see them. These posts can be unchanging ads, yet they don’t have to be. Media organizations, for instance, will mostly compensate to foster their articles or videos — so if we see, say, an essay from a New York Times, a Wall Street Journal, CNN, or any series of other media outlets display adult in your feed even yet we don’t follow that opening and nothing of your friends common a article, that’s what happened.
Any Facebook user can set adult a Facebook Page, and any page owners can run ads. And a page doesn’t have to possess a calm it promotes.
This creates clarity in a context of a Page compelling a product — it allows, for example, a dish pack use to foster a certain examination of their wares.
In a context of an election, that same complement means that anyone can set adult a page and start removing a summary out about a given race, and they don’t even have to go to a worry of producing anything. They can foster a certain essay about a claimant of their choice, or a disastrous one about that candidate’s opponent. They can concentration usually on compelling accurate articles from a many creditable sources, or they can foster objectively feign news stories, presumption they can get around a steps Facebook has taken to understanding with a problem of feign news.
And when they do that, they have entrance to a absolute apparatus in Facebook’s user-targeting software. If they’ve review in their internal journal that their claimant is struggling among males in their twenties in a sold county, or that their candidate’s competition needs to reason on to women with college degrees, it’s probable to aim groups like that specifically.
The temperament of a people regulating a page is usually famous by Facebook. And even then, it’s not too formidable to set adult a Facebook page regulating a feign name.
U.S. choosing law creates it bootleg for non-U.S. adults outward a nation or those here who don’t have during slightest a Green Card to spend income to change an election, yet there’s tiny to indeed stop them from doing so on Facebook.
On tip of this, there is reduction clarity about ads online than there is elsewhere.
Broadcasters are compulsory to keep annals of a domestic ads they run on their atmosphere and who pays for them. No such register exists in a digital space.
And while a radio ad will expected be seen by a extended organisation of people — including domestic opponents, who can respond, and members of a media, who can fact-check — that’s not always a box on Facebook.
Facebook allows pages a options of what it calls “unpublished page posts,” that observers infrequently impute to as “dark posts.” This form of post never indeed appears on a page; it can be seen usually by a users during whom it is targeted. A narrowly targeted dim post, reaching usually a tiny subset of voters, competence never be seen by anyone who could fact-check it, or who would have an seductiveness in doing so, permitting a dubious or fake summary to spread.
Zuckerberg pronounced Thursday that Facebook would no longer concede this for domestic ads, yet Facebook has not pronounced either this process change would also constraint ads dictated to impact a choosing that do not indeed demeanour like standard debate ads.
Some people in Washington are starting to sound a alarm about all a ways that Facebook could be used in an election.
On Wednesday, a organisation of congressional Democrats sent a minute to a FEC seeking a elect to demeanour into new manners to forestall foreigners from regulating amicable media to meddle in elections. And dual Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner, are scheming to deliver legislation that would among other things need disclaimers observant who paid for advertisements on amicable media.
FEC Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democrat, wrote in a minute to her associate commissioners final week that a group needs to “revise and modernize” a internet disclaimer regulations. Those regulations are dictated to need disclaimers on domestic ads online, however they have not kept gait with a nuances of digital advertising, quite on amicable media. In 2010 Google was given an exception, and when Facebook sought an exception, a FEC was unresolved and so no advisory was issued. Currently, Facebook does not uncover disclaimers on a ads.
But if they do confirm they wish to take some action, legislators and regulators will initial have to confirm what even depends as a domestic ad, and either simply compelling an essay fits a definition.
Then, there’s a doubt of identifying who is spending income on domestic ads. Campaigns and celebration committees are easy — yet bad actors could also flue domestic advertisements by other Facebook Pages. And even if a owners of those Pages disclosed profitable for a ad, a Republican ad customer said, “nobody knows either we did that since we indeed trust it or someone put $50K in your Swiss bank account.”
Hovering over all of this, a source said, is a clarity that a FEC — that still allows Senate possibilities to record debate financial reports on paper, rather than electronically — is no compare for a fast changing promotion universe in that politicians and advocacy organizations are increasingly means to confirm to that individuals’ screens their summary is delivered.
On Tuesday, CNN put a following to Facebook: “A miss of regulatory slip and a capabilities offering by Facebook’s promotion height means that a amicable media network could simply be weaponized during subsequent year’s midterm elections — by actors both inside and outward a US.”
In response, a association said, “We are looking into some-more ways to residence ad clarity on the platform.”
On Thursday, Zuckerberg summarized partial of that vision.
But for Facebook, for regulators, and for American voters, time is regulating out.
HOUSTON (Bloomberg) — The developer of a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Oregon that has already twice been denied permits by U.S. regulators is giving it another shot.
Veresen Inc. said late Thursday that it filed another application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the $10 billion Jordan Cove LNG terminal that would ship gas to Asia. The agency said the project wasn’t needed in March 2016, and rejected Veresen’s appeal in December. In its latest request, the Calgary-based company proposed route changes for a pipeline to feed the terminal and eliminated plans for a power plant.
Veresen is making a third attempt just as the Trump administration promotes LNG exports as a means of establishing America’s dominance in global energy markets and creating jobs. Gary Cohn, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, referenced an unidentified Northwest terminal during a talk in April, saying the government would step up approvals for such projects. It’s among dozens proposed along the coasts of the U.S. to send shale gas overseas.
“There’s a good chance that the FERC will take a different stance under this administration,” Chris Cox, equity analyst at Raymond James Ltd. in Calgary, said by phone Friday.
Veresen said the project would create more than 200 permanent jobs and has said it would lower the U.S. current account deficit with Japan, which President Donald Trump has complained about. In February, the company said it was in “advanced” negotiations with a third LNG buyer in Japan and that preliminary agreements with Jera Co., a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Co., and Itochu Corp. were being finalized.
The application for Jordan Cove comes just weeks after Trump filled seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, restoring the quorum the agency needs to approve LNG projects and major gas pipelines.
Veresen wasn’t immediately available for a comment. Shares dropped 0.75% to C$18.14 at 9:50 a.m. in Toronto.
Multiple projects in Canada have been killed in recent months by plummeting LNG prices, most notably Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s $27 billion Pacific Northwest, a potential new source of investment for Veresen, Cox said.
“You’ll see some migration of those offtakers moving toward Jordan Cove,” Cox said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Petronas get involved in that project.”
KIEV, Ukraine — Burisma Group, an international energy group with assets in Ukraine, purchased a U.S. drilling rig SK 3000 with load capacity of 680 tonnes. The 3,000-hp drilling rig, produced by Service King Manufacturing, Inc., was brought into operation in May 2017 at the well No. 6 of the Vodyanovske field (Kharkiv region). Burisma Group is the first company to introduce such a powerful rig in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, able to drill 10,000-m deep wells. The SK 3000 was fully-equipped in the U.S. and adjusted to operate in Ukrainian conditions.
The purchase price of SK 3000 was around UAH 1 billion ($40 million) and the relevant customs duties transferred by Burisma Group to the state budget amounted to UAH 200 million ($7.64 millon) . According to Burisma’s corporate “Billion Strategy”, in 2017, the Group intends to invest more than UAH 3 billion ($110 million) with an aim to further develop and enhance the effectiveness of hydrocarbons production.
“For the current year, Burisma Group set an ambitious goal, to drill 20 new wells. This will allow Burisma to increase domestic gas output and strengthen Ukraine’s energy security. Burisma provides the country with new technology and innovative oil gas equipment. Such equipment is serviced by foreign specialists that share their valuable experience with Ukrainian gas producers”, noted CEO for Ukrainian operations at Burisma Group, Taras Burdeinyi.
ZUG, Switzerland — Transocean announced today its intent to retire the ultra-deepwater floaters GSF Jack Ryan, Sedco Energy, Sedco Express, Cajun Express, and Deepwater Pathfinder, and the deepwater floater Transocean Marianas.
The rigs will be classified as held for sale and will be recycled in an environmentally responsible manner. All six rigs were previously cold-stacked. The company will recognize an impairment charge of approximately $1.4 billion during the third quarter of 2017 associated with these actions.
LOTS TO TALK ABOUT
• Transitioning from the family-friendly drive time radio personality to a 420-friendly persona, without losing the audience; getting the children of your audience up to now to become your new listeners.
• Marijuana media cashing in on the cannabis craze.
• Trying to avoid the burnt-out pothead schtick.
TOP MARIJUANA NEWS
Sen. Orrin Hatch pushes to ease marijuana research barriers with MEDS Act: There’s a bipartisan effort underway in the Senate for easing the path to marijuana research. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced Wednesday that he and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, are introducing the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017, or MEDS Act. The legislation was previously introduced by Schatz in 2016. Signing on as co-sponsors are Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; and Thom Tillis, R-N.C. One aspect of the MEDS Act is to help research progress more expeditiously. “Regulatory acrobatics can take researchers over a year if not more to complete, and the longer researchers have to wait, the longer patients have to suffer,” Hatch said in a speech on the Senate floor, citing the current government restrictions on cannabis research. –Report by The Cannabist’s Aleta Labak
Dr. Oz surprises hosts of “Fox Friends” by talking about America’s marijuana “hypocrisy”: For the first six minutes of the segment, “Fox Friends” host Steve Doocy agreed enthusiastically with his guest Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz — even as Tuesday’s episode kept straying from the original topic of Ivanka Trump’s pregnancies. As they were wrapping up, Dr. Oz broke in: “Can I ask you one thing?” he said, suddenly talking very fast. “I talked about the opioid epidemic, but the real story is the hypocrisy around medical marijuana.” –Report by The Washington Post’s Avi Selk
Insurance company says paying for medical marijuana would be illegal: The Maine supreme court on Wednesday began considering whether a paper millworker left suicidal by narcotic painkillers should receive workers’ compensation for medical marijuana. It’s the first time the court has considered the question of insurance reimbursement for medical marijuana. Madawaska resident Gaetan Bourgoin won a ruling from the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board two years ago saying the paper mill’s insurer must reimburse him for medical marijuana. He contends marijuana is cheaper and safer than narcotics. –Report by The Associated Press
Los Angeles races to get ready to be biggest legal marijuana market in world: The pressure is on for Los Angeles, as some anticipate that the city will be among the hottest marijuana markets in the country, if not the world. –Report byThe Cannifornian’s Elizabeth Chou
Hundreds wait in three hour line to apply to be an Arkansas medical marijuana biz: Would-be growers and distributors of Arkansas’ initial medical marijuana crop flooded a state office building Monday, turning in thousands of pages of paperwork and handing over thousands of dollars in application fees. –Report by The Associated Press’ Kelly P. Kissel
Mississippi cop resigns after threat to black motorist recorded on body cam: A white Mississippi police officer is resigning after video from his body camera showed him berating a black motorist during a traffic stop and saying he could shoot into the car if the man failed to keep hands on the steering wheel. A citizens’ committee reviewed the video and unanimously recommended that Columbus officer Keith Dowd be fired, The Commercial Dispatch reported. Dowd submitted a letter late Thursday saying he will resign Monday, city spokesman Joe Dillon said. Dowd had been suspended with pay. –Report by The Associated Press
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Denver once again will play both host and marijuana authority to policy makers from around the globe seeking to learn the nuts and bolts — and the twists and turns — of cannabis legalization.
But this time around, the brain trust extends well beyond Colorado.
The city and county of Denver will conduct its Marijuana Management Symposium from Oct. 18 to 20. More than 350 public policy makers are expected to attend the conference that will include panelists from seven states and four countries that have legalized or are planning to legalize marijuana.
The third iteration of the conference will include two full days of educational panel discussions covering topics such as law enforcement, community health, youth prevention, permitting, fire safety, finance, licensing and technology. The symposium is preceded by a day of optional tours of marijuana businesses.
“There are lots of conferences these days on the subject of cannabis, but this is the only true regulator workshop,” Dan Rowland, a city of Denver spokesman, wrote in an email to The Cannabist. “By the public sector, for the public sector, focusing on how we can all responsibly tackle the challenges that come with implementing and regulating the newly legalized and commercialized cannabis industry.
In 2014, two years after Colorado voters approved a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana, Colorado became the first U.S. state to implement and regulate legal sales of cannabis for adult-use. In turn, Colorado became a de facto resource for other states and nations facing the legalization of all or some aspects of a substance that remains illegal under federal law.
Since Colorado’s adult-use sales began, the state has gained plenty more company.
Domestically, four other states have launched recreational cannabis sales while three others — most notably, California — have regimes in the works. Internationally, Canada and Uruguay are among a slew of countries that have adopted legal marijuana programs.
The sea-change is reflected in this year’s Denver regulatory symposium in which the panelists represent seven states and four countries, Rowland said.
The national and international round-table discussions will include representatives from Alaska, California, Nevada, Canada, The Netherlands and Uruguay, according to the conference agenda.
9/22/2017 5:38:29 AM
September 22, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
WASHINGTON – Federal lawmakers are concerned that a recent cyberattack on pharma giant Merck Co. (MRK) could lead to numerous problems including a drug shortage.
Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price raising raising concern over the June cyberattack. First reported by The Hill, the lawmakers said the malware strain known as NotPetya continues to negatively impact Merck’s operations. That adds to the “growing list of concerns about the potential consequences of cyber threats to the health sector,” the letter said.
In June, Merck, among other global companies, was targeted by the hack, which was believed to originate in the Ukraine. The virus, a type of ransomware, shut down computer systems and sought to extort funds from companies in order to release those compromised systems.
Since the attack, Merck has not fully returned to functionality, something the federal lawmakers noted in their letter to Price. Citing Merck’s second quarter report from the end of July, the lawmakers highlighted Merck’s comments that the company is continuing to restore its manufacturing operations. Merck has mostly restored its packaging operations and some of its formulation operations. The company said its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient operations is not yet producing bulk content. Merck did note that its external manufacturing was not impacted and was able to fill orders and ship its products.
Although Merck noted it is still able to ship treatments, the lawmakers told Price they are now concerned about potential supply chain breaks. As an example, the legislators said the Centers for Disease Control noted recently that Merck would not distribute certain formulations of its hepatitis B vaccine. Legislators said it’s unclear whether or not this was related to the ransomware attack, but “it does raise questions about how the nation is prepared to address a significant disruption to critical medical supplies.”
In July, Merck said its pediatric hepatitis B vaccine Recombivax HB would not be available until 2018. The company said the shortage was due to increased demand for the drug. The CDC said GlaxoSmithKline had adequate supplies of its hep B drug Engerix-B hepatitis B, AAP News reported in July. Related Jobs Research Associate, Clinical Services – Merck Senior Clinical Trial Manager – Ultragenyx Study Director – Jackson Laboratory Pathologist (NCI) – Leidos Biomedical Research Site Microbiologist – MedImmune Associate Director, Regulatory Affairs – Seattle Genetics View More Jobs
While GSK may have had supplies to cover the gap, lawmakers focused on how such a shortage, particularly from a U.S.-based company could negatively impact health care.
“While Merck was not the only company to suffer degraded capabilities due to the June 27 outbreak, Merck’s role as a supplier of life-saving drugs and other medical products sets it infection and subsequent manufacturing issues apart and raises the possibility of more serious consequences for the health care sector as a whole,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
Cyberattacks, particularly ransomware attacks, are expected to be on the rise in the next few years. Earlier this summer, Kaspersky Lab’s APT trends report for 2017 pointed to hackers targeting corporate interests, including energy companies, TechRepublic reported. The House Republican lawmakers are seeking information as to how HHS can address any potential drug shortages due to cyberattacks. Additionally, they have asked for Merck to provide them with a briefing by Oct. 4. A Merck spokesperson said the company has offered to brief the legislative committee whenever it asks.
“Patients are our top priority and, since the cyber-attack, we have prioritized medicines and vaccines that are considered life-saving or medically significant. We are confident in the continuous supply of our key products,” the spokesperson told Courthouse News.
Morgan Freeman’s honey-kissed baritone has sound-tracked dozens of documentaries and public announcements in the Oscar-winner’s long Hollywood career.
But the 80-year-old star’s tenure in the business probably failed to prep him for the Russian reaction that greeted a two-minute online video he recorded recently for a group hoping to keep alive concerns over Kremlin meddling in the 2016 Presidential election.
Freeman is being portrayed as a tool of the U.S. establishment trying to bring down Trump, and as a man suffering from a “Messianic complex” from movie roles playing God and the president of the United States.
A “#StopMorganLie” hashtag is circulating aimed at discrediting the actor.
— Dr Can Erimtan (@TheErimtanAngle) September 22, 2017
In the controversial video’s opening, Freeman dramatically declares: “We have been attacked. We are at war.”
The Morgan Freeman video was put out this week by the Committee to Investigate Russia. Founded by Rob Reiner, the director of comedy classics such as “This is Spinal Tap” and “When Harry Met Sally,” the nonpartisan group is pushing for a more aggressive acknowledgment of the alleged Russian hack. Morgan’s video sets that tone, referring to President Vladimir Putin as an “a former KGB spy” who has “set his sights on his sworn enemy, the United States.”
Story continues below video
“We need our president to speak directly to us and to speak the truth,” Morgan urges. The clip currently has over 264,000 views.
But now the legendary American actor is a pariah in Russia, with Kremlin officials, Russian talking heads, and pro-Putin social media trolls ganging up to denounce Freeman. The all-hands-on-deck response suggests a concerted Russian effort to discredit the actor via social media.
Reiner’s group does boast significant names among its advisory board, including former National Intelligence director James Clapper and conservative never-Trump critic Charles Sykes. (But as ThinkProgress points out, the committee does not boast any actual Russian experts in its governing body).
The moviemaker told Variety this week the committee would be a “one-stop shop where people can come and be made aware” of “what the breaking news stories are today, the various investigations, what stages they are in, but also to the understand the history, and what the Soviet Union and now Russia has been trying to do for many, many years.”
Reiner added: “My concern is people don’t understand the gravity of what they were able to do.”
Russian government officials hit back immediately at the video this week, fixing their crosshairs specifically on Morgan.
Tass, the Russian news agency, published remarks from Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova arguing Freeman had been “roped in” to the Russia attack, and likening the video to when former Secretary of State Colin Powell unknowingly lied to the United Nations about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
“I believe this is another story about the end justifying the means. However, we will know who is behind this story sooner than we knew about the true contents of the infamous test tube,” Zakharova stated, an apparent reference to Powell’s 2003 United Nations presentation, in which he held up a vial of anthrax to support the claim that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled chemical weapons.
“Recently it became known that the Obama administration had been wiretapping Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort based on a secret court decision . . . The wiretapping activities continued after the election. Do you understand what Russia has to do with it? Right, the goal is to legitimize the post-election lawlessness.”
This week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also addressed the video, telling reporters Freeman’s comments “can hardly be taken seriously” and arguing the actor was “a victim of emotionally charged, self-exalted status,” according to Radio Free Europe. The official added that “many performing artists easily succumb to becoming victims of emotional strain with no real information about the real state of things.”
Russian media was more wild in its theorizing.
The BBC reported this week Freeman was a frequent topic on Russian television. One station – Rossiya 24 – quizzed a panel of psychiatrists about the actor’s motivations, and the medical professionals reportedly attributed “the performance to a Messianic complex resulting from playing God or the president in several films, not to mention ‘drug abuse.’”
Another TV personality said Freeman was sick from “overwork and marijuana use.” TV Centre claimed the clip was part of an “establishment campaign to oust Trump,” the BBC reported.
Pro-Russian Twitter trolls have also jumped in on the actor, wielding the somewhat awkward hashtag “#StopMorganLie.”
But as commentators have pointed out, the #StopMorganLie trolls seem to all be following the same script – trying to discredit the idea that the U.S. is a democratic nation.
“Freeman’s comments leveled at ‘Russia’s continuing attacks on our [US] democracy’ have created quite a stir on Twitter,” reported RT, the Russian funded news cable network. “People said that the ‘democracy’ statement is pure hypocrisy, as the US has been at war with and interfering in the affairs of many other states, such as Libya, Ukraine and Iraq.
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) September 21, 2017
It has left some experts like Rols Fredheim, an analyst at NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga, wondering whether the anti-Freeman blowback was less of an organic reaction than a Kremlin scheme.
“It does look very highly coordinated, because you’re seeing something on multiple platforms at the same time communicating the same message,” Fredheim told Radio Free Europe this week.
“It’s more than just a teenager in the basement. It could be many teenagers in many basements. But it could also be something more sophisticated than that . . . the St. Petersburg troll factories, for instance. It could be an example of some kind of Russian troll-farm output.”