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Network PropagandaManipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics$

Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190923624

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190923624.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

The Propaganda Pipeline: Hacking the Core from the Periphery

The Propaganda Pipeline: Hacking the Core from the Periphery

(p.225) 7 The Propaganda Pipeline: Hacking the Core from the Periphery
Network Propaganda

Yochai Benkler

Robert Faris

Hal Roberts

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the claim that alt-right activists hacked the media ecosystem byinserting various destructive memes into the mainstream media that helped DonaldTrump win the 2016 presidential election. In particular, this chapter considers thepropaganda pipeline—the path from the periphery to the core through a series ofwell-known amplifi cation sites, most prominently Infowars and Drudge. Th e “spiritcooking” stories as seen on Infowars, Washington Times, and Sean Hannity perfectlyencapsulate the propaganda pipeline from the periphery to the core, drawingin the various suspects in producing information disorder. Th e chapter also showshow statements by marginal actors on Reddit and 4chan were collated and preparedfor propagation by more visible sites, and how this technique was exploited by bothalt-right and Russia-related actors successfully to get a story from the periphery toHannity.

Keywords:   alt-right activists, media ecosystem, memes, propaganda pipeline, Infowars, spirit cooking, Sean Hannity, information disorder, Russia, Reddit

“If there’s a story that can hurt Hillary, I want it in the news cycle,” Cernovich said. “When I first started, that meant figuring out how news cycles work.” One way to propel a story into the mainstream is to get it linked by the Drudge Report. “If it’s on Drudge, then it’s on ‘Hannity,’ ” Cernovich said. “If it’s on ‘Hannity,’ then Brian Stelter’s talking about it on CNN.” The Drudge Report favors big newspapers and established right-wing blogs; Danger and Play is not on the list. “If I have a really hot story, I might leak it to someone at Breitbart, or to someone else who can get the Drudge link.” That journalist usually returns the favor by embedding a Cernovich tweet in the story.1

THUS FAR WE have documented our claim that the media ecosystem in both the right and the rest is largely dominated by top-performing media sites, their publication decisions, and their interactions with each other. In this, our work deviates from the standard narrative that followed the election of 2017, which emphasized Facebook advertising, alt-right trolls, and Russian propaganda efforts. We do need to qualify our findings in one important respect. The internet is wide open. It is populated with a diverse set of political actors, all of whom want to influence the public debate. And some of these actors are quite sophisticated in how they take advantage of the media ecosystem architecture to insert their narratives, memes, and frames into the network directly and through the major propagation outlets. We call this process the “propaganda pipeline,” exemplified perfectly by the quote from Mike Cernovich, whom Andrew Marantz from The New Yorker dubbed “the meme mastermind of the alt-right” in the piece from which we quote (p.226) the opening of this chapter. In our work on the early stages of the various conspiracy theories we repeatedly interacted with such efforts, some of which in fact succeeded in reaching a broader audience through the pipeline.

Our observations lead us to believe that these efforts, while real and observable, were not determinative in the election or the first year of the Trump presidency. The major frames of this period were immigration and Islamophobia, Hillary Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation, and the assault on the rule of law and journalism implied by the “deep state” frame. The top media outlets and political elites, not Redditors or meme propagators from the alt-right, were primarily responsible for distributing these frames widely. As we described in Chapter 3, this is even the case with the Clinton pedophilia narratives, where some of the peripheral actors had their greatest success. The Fox News versions of the Clinton pedophilia stories were overwhelmingly more visible than the version that started on Reddit and was accelerated by Cernovich and then-Sputnik reporter Cassandra Fairbanks, which we describe here. These efforts exist. Media outlets and observers should be aware of them. Sometimes they even succeed. In the case we describe here, they made it to Hannity and the Washington Times, and from there across the right-wing media ecosystem. But it is important not to overstate their importance in the overall dynamic of network propaganda. And because these dynamics seem to suggest a symbiotic relationship between the alt-right and Russian information operations, our story here is also a down payment on Chapter 8, where we dig deeper into Russian intervention.

Spirit Cooking

LEAKED EMAIL appears to link Clinton Campaign Chairman to bizarre occult ritual,” tweeted Sean Hannity at 11:50 a.m. on November 4, 2016, linking to a radio and online segment on the topic. Hannity (who later removed the page from his archives) linked to a story from LifeZette—the website founded by Laura Ingraham—headlined: “WikiLeaks: Clinton Campaign Chair Participated in Occult Magic: Emails reveal Podesta attended ‘Spirit Cooking’ event that has been described as Satanic.” That same morning, the Washington Times published a story entitled “Wikileaks: Podesta invited to ‘Spirit’ dinner: host’s known ‘recipes’ demand breast milk, sperm,” crediting the Drudge Report as having broken the story. At 8:19 a.m. on November 4, Drudge, under the typically understated headline “WIKI WICCAN: PODESTA PRACTICES OCCULT MAGIC,” had posted a link to a segment by Alex Jones’s Infowars (more than half of Infowars referrals (p.227) from other sites come from Drudge). And Infowars was clearly the source of Hannity’s insight, as Hannity’s headline doesn’t even bother to vary the adjectives from the Infowars headline: “ ‘Spirit Cooking’: Clinton Campaign Chairman Practices Bizarre Occult Ritual” (Figure 7.1).2 The Infowars story was built primarily around a post that Cernovich had published on his blog, Danger and Play, several hours earlier, as well as two posts by Cassandra Fairbanks, then a Sputnik news reporter, who published posts that themselves wove together Reddit and 4chan posts with tweets and interview quotes from Cernovich and other alt-right personae.

The Propaganda Pipeline: Hacking the Core from the Periphery

Figure 7.1 “Spirit cooking” stories as seen on Infowars, Washington Times, and Hannity.

The story began with an email from the set of John Podesta emails that had been hacked by Russian agents and released on WikiLeaks in October 2016. The “spirit cooking” email was from Tony Podesta to his brother John, forwarding an invitation from performance artist Marina Abramovic “to the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place.” The occult sex ritual framing and the striking image of Abramovic holding a bloody, skinned goat’s head are both borrowed directly, with credit, from the story Cernovich posted the night before.3 Cernovich, who also propagated the Pizzagate story, came to broader public attention when Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that he would have been awarded a Pulitzer “in a long gone time of unbiased journalism.”4

Most of the Infowars story was, however, indebted to two Fairbanks stories. Fairbanks had apparently started her activism and writing career on the left, protesting the failure to prosecute the 2012 rape in Steubenville, Ohio, and covering Black Lives Matters events. As she told the BBC,5 during the primaries she had supported Bernie Sanders and was thinking of supporting Jill Stein, but decided in June 2016 that Trump was her candidate and set out to persuade her Twitter followers. In her WeAreChange signature line, Fairbanks described herself as “a DC-based writer and political commentator who has been published in a range of outlets including Sputnik News, International Business Times, Teen Vogue, and TeleSUR.” In exchanges with Guccifer 2.0, as we will see in Chapter 8, she described Sputnik as her “day job.” She continued writing for Sputnik throughout 2017, but moved to the Gateway Pundit in 2018.

Fairbanks’s late-night November 3 spirit cooking story mostly described Abramovic’s performances without much commentary and embedded a video and images of the performance. Fairbanks’s story was not written in an outraged tone, allowing the artist’s intentional effort to disturb her audience to speak for itself. At 1:00 a.m., WikiLeaks tweeted that story.6 WikiLeaks was also the first public-facing Facebook page to share the spirit cooking story.

The Infowars story amped up the volume by explaining that spirit cooking was “ ‘a sacrament in the religion of Thelema which was founded by Aleister (p.228) (p.229) Crowley’ and involves an occult performance during which menstrual blood, breast milk, urine and sperm are used to create a ‘painting’.” To deepen the conspiracy, the Infowars story picked up the pizza storyline that would become the foundation of Pizzagate soon after the election: “Some are even linking the spirit cooking revelation to claims that the Podesta emails contain ‘code for child sex trafficking’ that is hidden behind mentions of types of food.” The source cited for this proposition was another story by Fairbanks, also posted November 3. Fairbanks’s story, “Internet Is On Fire With Speculation that Podesta Emails Contain Code For Child Sex,”7 reported what others were saying, rather than making her own claim, and ended with a modifier of “Whether this is a case of confirmation bias, or something more sinister—one thing is certain: People really do not trust Hillary Clinton—to the point where thousands of people are actually having serious discussions about whether or not she is involved in a child sex ring.” Whatever the modifier, the article combined a Reddit post with a string of tweets to incorporate three more strands in the narrative.

First, Fairbanks described a Reddit post8 connecting the story to the case of Laura Silsby and her Baptist missionary organization: The New Life Children’s Refuge. Silsby and 9 of her colleagues tried to transport 33 children out of Haiti and to the Dominican Republic in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The 10 missionaries were charged with kidnapping and held for three weeks pending investigation and charging. Their lawyer had requested that Hillary Clinton, then-secretary of state, intervene, but the State Department limited its engagement to standard consular services for the situation.9 A week later, Bill Clinton, who was coordinating the U.N. relief efforts, made a public plea for the U.S. and Haitian governments to resolve the issue of the 10 American missionaries. Ultimately, 9 of the 10 were released, and Silsby was convicted of a lesser offense and sentenced to six months imprisonment. At the time, the Fox News coverage of the event was highly sympathetic to Silsby, describing her as a “40-year-old businesswoman” who thought the children she was trying to help were “orphans whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake.”10 By 2016, the story received a less anodyne treatment. In Fairbanks’s telling, “Silsby was found guilty in Haiti of child trafficking in 2010, after she attempted to cross the Haiti-Dominican Republic border with 33 Haitian children—all but one of the children had at least one living parent and were not orphans. Nine others who were arrested along with her were freed, thanks to the efforts of the Clintons.” Fairbanks followed this framing with a pullout of a Mike Cernovich tweet asking, “Were 33 children for Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘use’? Forget corruption, these emails expose connections to child sex trafficking,” relating the story back to the (p.230) Lolita Express storyline we encountered in Chapter 3. Fairbanks returned to the Lolita Express story in the conclusion of the piece, where she quoted from an interview she conducted with Cernovich: “Cernovich added that because of the facts that Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin’s husband is currently under investigation for sexting a minor, and Bill Clinton flew on convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet (which is called ‘The Lolita Express’), the whole inner circle deserves scrutiny.”

The Propaganda Pipeline: Hacking the Core from the Periphery

Figure 7.2 WeAreChange story introducing the “pizza pedophilia” frame.

The final strand in the story is pizza—or rather, the belief that the use of words that related to food items represent code for criminal sex trafficking. For this part, Fairbanks moved from Cernovich to another alt-right persona, the @JaredWyand Twitter handle. Wyand is an online persona associated with the alt-right who, after having been banned from Twitter, was warmly embraced by the Daily Stormer for postings such as “The Media is nothing more than the propaganda arm for our Zionist occupational government” and “This is all orchestrated by Jews to topple Western Civilization and reshape it in their vision.”11 The @JaredWyand Twitter handle had been central to several distinct campaigns tied to Russian interests—a Twitter campaign to negate allegations of Russian doping at the World Anti-Doping Agency, Twitter campaigns around the Vault7 leak of CIA cyber surveillance and warfare tools, and one of a cluster of accounts active on the French far right during the 2017 French presidential election, and was actively tweeting on six of the top 10 most widely reported stories linking to any of the Podesta emails.12 Fairbanks used the JaredWyand tweets as the basis to report that “[t]heories and screenshots began to swirl, claiming that bizarrely-worded emails about food were codes for child sex trafficking.” Fairbanks qualified her reporting with “It is important to note that this is originated on anonymous message boards, and the ‘keywords’ were not listed in any of the emails.” This disclaimer, however, was immediately followed by several tweets from JaredWyand and the interview with “lawyer and popular author/journalist” Mike Cernovich repeating versions of the idea that it was code. The start of the article includes, as an example of the “code for child sex” in the title, an image that Fairbanks described as “Asian girls eating pizza” (Figure 7.2).

The first appearance of the term “pizza” in combination with pedophilia or child sex in our data set is in a November 3 Reddit post, “Someone tell me I’m wrong!” That post listed all the various ways in which the word “pizza” appeared in the Podesta emails, and speculated that pizza is a code word for sex trafficking in children.13 The next appearance is another Reddit post, which collects a set of Reddit threads that bear on the theory.14 And the third appearance is Cassandra Fairbanks’ post from WeAreChange that (p.231) pulls these theories together.15 The “Comet Pizza” aspect of the story was added on November 7 and took on a life of its own.16 WikiLeaks picked up Fairbanks’ Abramovich story at 1:00 a.m. on November 4. Seven hours later, the Infowars segment curated both of Fairbanks’s November 3 stories and Cernovich’s into a collection of insinuations that the spirit cooking email was tied to occult satanic sex practices and that these were, in turn, linked to trafficking in children, to the “Lolita Express,” and to the use of pizza-related code words to stand for sex trafficking. Amplified within minutes by Drudge, the core insinuation made it to Hannity and the Washington Times three or four hours later. Over the course of the day, versions of the story were repeated on Gateway Pundit (which included Michelle Malkin’s tweet promoting attention to #SpiritCooking),17 Truthfeed, WND, Western Journalism, Ending the Fed, and Before It’s News.

Assuming that after Infowars and Drudge dissemination was primarily through direct exposure of these highly visible sites, with our colleague Justin Clark we examined 76,127 tweets from 19,696 accounts that mentioned spirit cooking, Abramovic, or otherwise met a broad search for tweets related to the conspiracy before publication of the Infowars story. Of these, nine tweets from eight accounts were from Twitter handles identified by the House Intelligence Committee as Russian-operated accounts. Two of these preceded the WikiLeaks tweet. As a robustness check, we compared these (p.232) tweets to the broader private list of Twitter handles central to other Russia-related campaigns, which we described in the Jared Wyand context, and found that accounts that had participated in at least three such campaigns accounted for about 4 percent of the accounts, and 8 percent of the tweets prior to the Infowars story. Similarly, they accounted for 7 percent of the tweets that mentioned @Wikileaks, and 6 percent of the tweets aimed at Alex Jones with this story. The time signature of these tweets and accounts is more or less flat as a proportion of tweets, accounting for between 5 percent and 15 percent of the tweets in any given minute between publication of the Fairbanks story and the Infowars story. That temporal signature is more consistent with a background presence and continuous engagement of active Twitter accounts that were also involved in Russian campaigns than with a coordinated campaign to influence WikiLeaks or Alex Jones to publicize this particular story, or to amplify it to a degree not otherwise consistent with background attention among right-wing and conspiracy-minded Twitter users looking for such stories to amplify.

The spirit cooking story perfectly encapsulates the propaganda pipeline from the periphery to the core, drawing in the various suspects in producing information disorder and the relationships among them. One suspect is the Russian information operation. Certainly, the email hack itself was Russian. Cassandra Fairbanks, a Sputnik reporter, wrote the report that curated and transmitted the Reddit, Twitter, and 4chan memes into a package that was then tweeted and shared on Facebook by WikiLeaks overnight and became the basis for an Infowars story by morning. The JaredWyand handle had appeared in other Russia-consistent campaigns quite prominently, most clearly the arguments against the World Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions against Russian athletes. The low-level background presence of known or arguably Russian Twitter handles in the propagation period is also observable. The Reddit and 4chan posts themselves, by contrast, are consistent with models in work that focuses on how alt-right trolls on these platforms experimented with memes that they tried to insert into mainstream media.18 These were early19 posts that got out a few hours ahead of the story,20 and some developed quite imaginative conspiracy theories around pizza party invitations.21 The involvement of Cernovich also connects the story to the alt-right, as does Jared Wyand, assuming he represents an authentic alt-right persona rather than a Russian plant. Ending the Fed is one of the most successful original “fake news” sites from the November 2016 BuzzFeed story. All the dramatis persona of information disorder are here. And yet, the amplification depended first on WikiLeaks’ Twitter and Facebook accounts, (p.233) then on Alex Jones and Drudge, and then on the rapid and enthusiastic embrace by all the major nodes in the right-wing propaganda network over the course of several hours. It would have been standard practice for a well-balanced media ecosystem to simply refuse to touch such a far-fetched story or actively to debunk it. But the cultural and commercial model of the outlets that picked up the story was not aimed at producing objective journalism. It was designed to produce cathartic outrage in its readers and viewers and to be rewarded by clicks and views. It was aimed to produce a sense of “us against them.” Its goal was to disseminate images, descriptions, and video clearly intended to evoke a visceral reaction of disgust, and through that disgust to mobilize viewers, readers, and listeners to political action. And as we saw in Chapter 3, the two parts of the American media ecosystem differ systematically in the incentives and institutional constraints media outlets face. On the right, in particular, the propaganda feedback loop had made the cost of publishing falsehood that is consistent with partisan bias low, and the opportunity to present the publication as being at the forefront of the truth-telling brigade valiantly uncovering corruption, perfidy, and perversion by the opposing party was highly valued. As we saw in both Chapters 3 and 6, in the rest of the media environment the opposite incentives operated, and the institutional structures and attention patterns of audiences made amplifying these kinds of falsehoods more costly.

While the propaganda pipeline can, then, work to transmit narratives from the periphery to the core, our analysis suggests that the major frames and narratives of the campaign and the first year of the Trump presidency did not arise from this pattern. Even the Clinton pedophilia narrative was driven first and foremost by Malia Zimmerman’s and Bret Baier’s stories on Fox News in May 2016, which were then revived on Breitbart radio and online by Erik Prince, as we described in Chapter 3, not by the spirit cooking and Pizzagate stories that came from the periphery. Indeed, the Pizzagate story started exactly as the spirit cooking story started—on 4chan and Reddit, picked up and curated by Cernovich and Fairbanks, and then rolled up and propagated by Infowars—but never made it up further through the pipeline. The pipeline exists. The trolls, propagandists, and marginal figures know about it and want to leverage it. But it can only work with willing and active complicity of outlets higher up the chain—Drudge, Hannity, and the rest of the more visible members of the media ecosystem. And their complicity, in turn, depends on the architecture of the network within which they themselves sit, the incentives it gives them, and the institutional constraints it imposes or fails to impose on them. (p.234)


(1.) Andrew Marantz, “Trolls of Trump,” New Yorker, October 31, 2016, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/trolls-for-trump.

(2.) Hannity.com Staff, “LEAKED EMAIL Appears To Link Clinton Campaign Chairman To Bizarre Occult Ritual,” Sean Hannity Show, November 4, 2016, https://web.archive.org/web/20161107062645/http://www.hannity.com:80/articles/election-493995/leaked-email-appears-to-link-clinton-15270858/; Sean Hannity, “LEAKED EMAIL Appears to Link Clinton Campaign Chairman to Bizarre Occult Ritual Http://Bit.ly/2f2kyXP,” Twitter post, November 4, 2016, https://twitter.com/seanhannity/status/794612729852166144; Edmund Kozak, “WikiLeaks: Clinton Campaign Chair Participated in Occult Magic,” LifeZette, November 4, 2016, https://web.archive.org/web/20161109010216/http://www.lifezette.com:80/polizette/wikileaks-podesta-practices-occult-magic/?utm_content=buffer05465&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer; Paul Joseph Watson, “‘Spirit Cooking’: Clinton Campaign Chairman Practices Bizarre Occult Ritual,” Infowars (blog), November 4, 2016, http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/dsp/search.htm?searchFor=%22WIKI%20WICCAN%3A%20PODESTA%20PRACTICES%20OCCULT%20MAGIC%22; Douglas Ernst, “WikiLeaks: Podesta Invited to ‘Spirit’ Dinner; Host’s Known ‘recipes’ Demand Breast Milk, Sperm,” Washington Times, November 4, 2016, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/4/wikileaks-john-podesta-invited-to-spirit-dinner-ho/.

(3.) Mike Cernovich, “Podesta Emails Reveal Clinton’s Inner Circle as Sex Cult with Connections to Human Trafficking,” Danger & Play, November 3, 2016, https://web.archive.org/web/20161104093838/http://www.dangerandplay.com/2016/11/03/podesta-emails-reveal-clintons-inner-circle-as-sex-cult-with-connections-to-human-trafficking/.

(4.) Liam Stack, “Who Is Mike Cernovich? A Guide,” New York Times, April 5, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/us/politics/mike-cernovich-bio-who.html.

(5.) BBC Trending, “The Social Media Star Who Flipped to Trump,” BBC, October 5, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-37507542.

(6.) WikiLeaks, “The Podestas’ ‘Spirit Cooking’ dinner? It’s Not What You Think. It’s Blood, Sperm and Breastmilk. But Mostly Blood.,” Twitter post, November 4, 2016, https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/794450623404113920.

(7.) Cassandra Fairbanks, “Internet Is On Fire With Speculation That Podesta Emails Contain Code for Child Sex,” WeAreChange, November 3, 2016, https://wearechange.org/internet-fire-speculation-podesta-emails-contain-code-child-sex/.

(8.) PleadingtheYiff, “BREAKING: I Believe I Have Connected a Convicted Child Abductor Who Was Caught Stealing Children in Haiti with the Clintons,” Reddit, November 3, 2016, https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5aupnh/breaking_i_believe_i_have_connected_a_convicted/.

(9.) Charley Keyes, “State Department Rebuffs Call for Clinton Intervention in Haiti Case,” February 9, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/09/haiti.clinton.arrests/index.html; Jill Dougherty and Lonzo Cook, “U.S. Missionaries Sent to Separate Haitian Prisons; No Ruling on Bail,” CNN, February 5, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/02/05/haiti.arrests/index.html.

(10.) Evens Sanon, “Haiti Prosecutors Seek 6 Months in Prison for US Woman Who Tried to Remove Kids after Quake,” Associated Press, May 13, 2010, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/05/13/haiti-prosecutors-seek-months-prison-woman-tried-remove-kids-quake-1947670658.html.

(11.) Andrew Anglin, “Top Right-Wing Tweeter Jared Wyand Goes Full-1488, Condemns Jews,” Daily Stormer, November 21, 2016, https://dstormer6em3i4km.onion.link/top-right-wing-tweeter-jared-wyand-goes-full-1488-condemns-jews/.

(12.) Private communications with a firm that conducted forensic research into Twitter campaigns involving Russian campaigns.

(13.) BedriddenSam, “SOMEONE TELL ME IM WRONG.”

(14.) LiquidRitz, “Official Thread for Leaks and Evidence Regarding the Government Sex Ring: Keep All Posts in This Thread,” Reddit, November 4, 2016, https://www.reddit.com/r/WikiLeaks/comments/5b4xt9/official_thread_for_leaks_and_evidence_regarding/.

(15.) Fairbanks, “Internet Is On Fire.”

(16.) dcpizzagate, “DC PizzaGate: A Primer UPDATED 07/07/17,” Suspected Pedophile Ring Exposed, November 7, 2016, https://dcpizzagate.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/first-blog-post/. “ ‘Jimmy Comet’: The Weak Link in Podesta Pedo Ring,” Reddit, November 7, 2016, https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/5bp6ph/jimmy_comet_the_weak_link_in_podesta_pedo_ring/.

(17.) Jim Hoft, “Wikileaks: Podesta Involved in ‘Spirit Cooking’ Dinners and Cult Activity,” Gateway Pundit, November 4, 2016, http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/11/wikileaks-podesta-involved-spirit-cooking-dinners-cult-activity/.

(18.) Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis, “Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online,” New York: Data & Society Research Institute, 2017; Gabriel Emile Hine et al., “Kek, Cucks, and God Emperor Trump: A Measurement Study of 4chan’s Politically Incorrect Forum and Its Effects on the Web,” ArXiv Preprint ArXiv:1610.03452, 2016.

(19.) burninglegs, “Wikileaks Is Dropping a Huge Bombshell on 11/3/2016. This Is the Big One.,” Reddit, November 3, 2016, https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/ (p.416) comments/5axjjh/wikileaks_is_dropping_a_huge_bombshell_on_1132016/. The first Reddit post suggesting that WikiLeaks was about to release email and videos that would probe a pedophilia scandal seems to be have been published on November 3, 4:00 p.m. UTC, that is, late morning on the East Coast in the United States. It began with a screenshot from 4chan, purportedly by WikiLeaks.

(20.) followingthecolors, “[WARNING: GRAPHIC] I Don’t Think You Guys Appreciate the Trauma /Pol/ Is Going through Tracking down the Absolutely off-the-Deep-End Shit Podesta Is Into. Here’s a Small Taste.,” Reddit, November 3, 2016, https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5b08cy/warning_graphic_i_dont_think_you_guys_appreciate/; TigerClaws, “Wikileaks: Podesta Participates in ‘Spirit Cooking,’ ” Free Republic, November 3, 2016, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3488913/posts.

(21.) BedriddenSam, “SOMEONE TELL ME IM WRONG!!! This Invite to A ‘pizza Party’ includes the Name Maya Harris, Whose Sister Is Kamal Harris Deputy District Attorney Who SPECIALIZEs IN CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES!!!,” Reddit, November 3, 2016, https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5azc9k/someone_tell_me_im_wrong_this_invite_to_a_pizza/.