Russian Ads Hype as US Corporations Buy
11, 2017 "Information
- Google is the latest US internet company to
claim it found “Russia-linked” advertisements on
its network – allegedly posted to influence the
US presidential election last year.
and Facebook have already made similar claims
and all three are now facing more scrutiny
in the coming weeks before Congressional
truly astounding about this hysteria
over alleged Russian interference in US
democracy is that American citizens are being
distracted from what is, by far, the much more
alarming issue of how their government and
Congress is bought by US Big Business.
week that: “Google identifies Russian election
interference network”. It said the internet
giant found political ads worth $4,700 which it
believes are “tied to the Russian government”.
These ads, it is claimed, carried political
articles which were meant to influence which way
American citizens would vote in the presidential
contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and
Republican Donald Trump last November.
that another $53,000 worth of ads are "under
review" for suspicion of being "linked" to the
Russian government. This follows claims made by Facebook
that it had earlier identified $100,000 spent
on ads by Russian sources, while Twitter said it
had located $274,000 worth of such ads.
Russian government has repeatedly rejected
accusations that it tried to meddle in the US
election. Moscow rightly highlights the dearth
of any evidence and total lack of due legal
process. The American allegations have also
whipped up a toxic climate to curb the
legitimate media activities of Russian news
understood that Russia’s state-owned news
channel RT promoted some of its content
through social media like Facebook and Twitter.
But as RT editor Margarita Simonyan pointed
out such promotion is entirely normal for all
news media companies. She estimated that
US-based outlets probably spent much more than RT
promoting their content through the Russian
section of Twitter.
issues about this “Russian meddling” trope are
patently dodgy, yet are bizarrely overlooked.
is that, as with other claims of Russian
interference in the US election, no evidence is
ever presented. Facebook, Twitter and Google are
making vague claims of “accounts believed to be
tied to the Russian government”. And the US news
media simply repeat these nebulous claims
without further question.
second anomaly is that Congressional committees
that have been investigating allegations
of Russian interference have also not presented
any evidence – after nearly nine months
of intensive probing.
Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, who are
heading up a select intelligence committee, made
a "big presentation" last week in Washington
on their findings. The "findings" turned out to
be an embarrassing anti-climax. The Congressmen
admitted they found no evidence of "Russia
collusion" in the election and baldly asserted
that Moscow’s “influence campaign continues”
which they will continue to investigate – no
doubt at a huge cost to American taxpayers.
Russia is being accused of interfering in the
presidential elections on the basis of the
allegation alone, and yet American politicians
are also contradicting themselves by saying that
the alleged interference did not alter the vote
here is the biggest absurdity. The sums of money
claimed to have been used by Russia
to destabilize US democracy are ridiculously
argument sake, let’s go along with the claims
that somehow "Russian agents" took out ads
on social media to influence the US election.
Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google the
expenditure amounts to about $300,000.
figure is a pittance compared with the avalanche
of money that US corporations doled out to
bankroll the election campaigns of the two
According to Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton’s
was leveraged with $1.2 billion
from "Super-PACs" (Political Action Campaigns).
Trump received less corporate money, raising a
total of $647 million – or about half of what
Clinton’s coffers received.
those figures into perspective. The alleged
Russian influence ads costing around $300,000
represent some 0.01 percent of what US
corporations actually spent ($1.8 billion total)
in promoting either Clinton or Trump for the
White House. In other words, the much speculated
– and highly dubious – financial outlay that
Russian sources allocated to allegedly upset the
American democratic process is negligible
compared with the actual money spent by major
American companies to determine the 2016
American media and politicians are endeavoring
to get citizens all worked up about “Kremlin
meddling” the glaring fact is that their
democratic process is subject to enormous US
corporate influence. And not just the 2016
election. Every presidential cycle.
Note too that this is only taking
into consideration the corporate lobbying in the
presidential contest. Every year, it is
US companies spend about $3 billion lobbying
federal government and Congress.
every year, year after year, Big Business
in America spends 10,000-fold on influencing
lawmakers and government policy compared
with the alleged ad campaign that Russia
supposedly engaged in.
Another source of major influence on American
politicians are the lobby groups funded
separately by the Israeli and Saudi government
interests. Each year, these foreign states spend
million on lobbying members of the US Congress
and the federal government. This is real money
with real impact on US democracy as opposed
to alleged Russian interference.
Getting back to “lobbying” by US companies –
some might call it bribery – among the biggest
donors are the military manufacturing firms.
According to American publication, The Hill,
included in the
top 50 corporate lobbies
plying Congress with campaign funds are Boeing,
Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman.
major lobby – although not in the top 50 – is
the National Rifle Association (NRA) which
promotes gun ownership for private citizens
by donating to Congress members.
recent events show how corporate money
effectively buys American government policy.
President Trump is pushing for an overhaul
of tax policy which will result in the biggest
ever tax benefit to corporate America.
Secondly, with regard to the US military budget,
the Congress is due to pass a record increase
$700 billion annually.
This largesse to Pentagon-connected
manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing is
no doubt fueled by Trump using reckless
bellicose rhetoric towards North Korea,
threatening war instead of a diplomatic
Thirdly, in the
aftermath of the latest mass shooting in Las
Vegas – the worst ever in modern US history –
in which 58 people were mowed down by a
64-year-old male shooter armed with an arsenal
of assault rifles in his hotel room, both the
White House and Congress are adamant that “now
is not the time to talk about gun control laws”.
Congressional Republicans, in particular, are
big recipients of NRA funding. Trump’s election
campaign also reportedly received
$30 million from the NRA.
gargantuan scale of corporate funding and
influence on US democracy, it is patently absurd
for US media and politicians to chase
after Russia for alleged meddling.
again, maybe not so absurd, if such a travesty
serves to distract American citizens from the
much more pressing issue of how their democracy
is bought and sold by elite American interests.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on
international affairs, with articles published
in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate
in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a
scientific editor for the Royal Society of
Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a
career in newspaper journalism. He is also a
musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he
worked as an editor and writer in major news
media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish
Times and Independent.