In March 2018, David Harsanyi wrote at NRO about the alleged scandal involving Facebook and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which was so scandalous that it merited its own Wikipedia entry.

Here’s what Harsanyi said at the time it was blowing up all over the media:

What the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal lacks in relevance it sure makes up for in melodramatic rhetoric. Take Bloomberg, for instance, which reported, “The revelations of the apparent skulduggery that helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election keep sending shock waves across the political landscape.” Well, it’s partially true. Everyone is talking about it. The story has consumed most of the mainstream media.

The theory goes something like this: Facebook obtained information on users who took a personality quiz with their online friends. Another outlet, the advertising firm Cambridge Analytica, harvested that information, brainwashed a bunch of rubes, and then yada, yada, yada . . . Russia! Former Cambridge Analytica contractor Christopher Wylie told CNN that while at the company, he helped build a “psychological warfare weapon” to “exploit mental vulnerabilities that our algorithms showed that [Facebook users] had.” So, in other words, he worked in the advertising business.

Those who have covered politics for more than a single Trump cycle should know better than to use this kind of unnerving rhetoric for what amounts to nothing more than average microtargeting, which has been used by hundreds, if not thousands, of firms. Yet now, when it serves to bolster convoluted theories about an election having been overthrown, terms like “psychographics” and “breach” are being thrown around to make it sound like someone hacked into voter rolls after boring into the deepest recesses of our collective soul.

The “scandal” played a huge role in the Russia collusion narrative, which, as you know, has been quite extensively debunked. But Harsanyi hasn’t forgotten how the media clung to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica story because they were so desperate to legitimize Russia collusion theories.

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica narrative took a pretty big hit recently:


At first glance [Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s Information Commissioner]’s findings, which were released on Tuesday, dispel many of the accusations put forward by whistleblowers and digital rights campaigners over the course of 2018.

The most serious of these was that the digital marketing specialist had colluded with Russia to steer the results of the Brexit referendum and broken US campaign rules during the 2016 presidential election. Campaigners had also previously argued the company failed to delete contentious data sourced from Facebook without users’ permission when asked.

Denham told a parliamentary select committee on Friday that “on examination, the methods that SCL were using, were in the main, well recognised processes using commonly available technology”.

In light of these developments, Harsanyi can’t resist the opportunity to take Real News outlets like CNN to task for hyping yet another narrative that came up short:

Three of many, many more.

CNN and the rest of the media have amassed quite the collection of rakes on which they’ve stepped over the Russia collusion narrative.

Heh. Well, Drew has to rest sometime.

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