Lewandowski and Bossie posit that that many within the RNC were surprised that Donald Trump turned out to be their candidate.  Even after he became Republican nominee, some establishment Republicans were putting pressure on the rest of their party to disavow him.  Many hoped in private that he would fail.

Part of the reason for the animus was because of a common misconception.  When Steve Bannon came aboard [hired by Robert and Rebekah Mercer], fresh out of the dissident world of Breitbart, some in the party believed that the purpose of the Trump campaign was to blow up the RNC and reestablish it into a Tea Party-like conservative right.  When the campaign hired Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data mining company partly owned by the Mercers and on whose board Steve Bannon sat, that mistrust only deepened.  But Dave helped smooth the divide.  He served as the national committeeman from Maryland, one of the 168 members of the RNC, and interfaced with the RNC daily.  And by late August and early September 2016, Reince [Priebus] and the RNC wanted to elect Trump as president of the United States.


Joshua Green in Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, And The Storming Of The Presidency (2017) writes about what I call the spider on the WEB: Robert Mercer and help in financing Trump's "storm" of the White House.  Green's posits that it was no accident that Trump's formal declaration of his candidacy, on June 16, 2015, took the form of a bitter paean to American nationalism that quickly veered into an attack on Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists."  Nor was it coincidence that one of his first trips as a bonafide presidential candidate was circus-like visit to the U.S.-Mexican border crossing in Laredo, Texas bureau in 2013 to focus on immigration, had worked for weeks with sympathetic border agents to help arrange the trip.  And while Trump's remarks were pilloried by the press and by many of his fellow Republicans ("extraordinarily ugly," Jeb Bush called them; House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was "sickened" by them), that wasn't what registered most with the candidate himself.  By the time he left Texas, Trump had rocketed to first place in polls of Republican primary voters.


Trump's team had access to three different sources of polling--its own, run by [Kellyanne] Conway [also hired by the Mercers], and a trio of Republican pollsters; large-scale surveys conducted by the GOP firm TargetPoint that fed into the Republican National Committee's micro-targeting model; and another set of surveys by Cambridge Analytica, a London data science outfit contracted by the campaign to build a sophisticated model of its own.  None of them pointed toward victory, [yet].

Outwardly, Trump's team kept up appearances by mercilessly flaying Clinton and insisting that their man could win.  But behind the scenes, some advisers had already begun positioning themselves for the knife fight that would immediately follow a loss.

Election night, the Trump team gathered on the "fictitious" unfinished fifth floor of Trump Tower that Bossie dubbed "the crack den," because of its sheet-rock walls.  There had been a sudden scare.  Just after five p.m., the first exit polls splashed across the Drudge Report, showing that voters were deeply dissatisfied and longing for "change"--but they also showed that Trump was tied with or trailing Clinton in nearly every critical swing state.  Bannon pulled [Jared] Kushner out of the crack den so no one would register their panic.

"What do you think?" Kushner asked.

"Well the numbers tell two different stories," Bannon replied.

"If you believe one set, we're killing it, it's a change election, and everything lines up exactly like we thought.  But, man, if you believe the other one, we're getting crushed."

It was a moment of truth--and a dilemma.  The Cambridge Analytica model had picked up a late shift in the electorate toward Trump.  But it was only a model.  These exit polls were based on thousands of interviews with actual voters and they were telling a much different story.

Not knowing what else to do, Bannon called Matt Drudge to ask what he thought.

"Fuck the corporate media," Drudge told him.  "They’ve been wrong on everything.  They’ll be wrong on this."

On TV, the cable networks had for several days focused obsessively on the surge of early votes in Latino-heavy counties, all but promising a Clinton victory.  And Wolf Blitzer made great drama on CNN about the large Democratic counties in Florida that were still outstanding, that were still outstanding, Trump's brain trust had already determined that he'd won the state based on the extraordinary turnout in the panhandle.  Furthermore, they knew that if Florida fell into their column, the Cambridge model grandly dubbed the "Battleground Optimizer Path to Victory"--put Trump's odds of winning at around 80 percent.

Drudge was right.  The corporate media blew it.


Green declares that the Mercer family was not Trump's largest donor [Sheldon Adelson was], but they were without a doubt the most important in helping Trump to win the presidency.  Although the Mercers later switched their allegiance to Trump after Cruz dropped out, and gave millions more in support of his candidacy, their greatest impact on his behalf was indirect and aimed at helping Cruz.  Through Bannon and his interlocking groups, the Mercers bankrolled the effort to discredit Trump's eventual opponent, Hillary Clinton, who everyone in politics had long assumed would wind up the Democratic presidential nominee.  (The Mercers had simply expected that Cruz would be her opponent.)

To Bob Mercer, the plot to tear down [Hillary] Clinton may have held greater appeal than his support for Republican alternative because, according to former Renaissance employees, he had long been convinced of the Clintons' treachery.  Nick Patterson, a computational biologist who worked with Mercer in the 1990s, claims that at a Renaissance staff luncheon during Bill Clinton's presidency, Mercer declared that Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, had been involved in a CIA-backed drug-running scheme based out of the Mena, Arkansas, airport--a conspiracy theory that circulated in extreme right-wing circles at the time.  "Bob told me he believed that the Clintons were involved in murders connected to it," Patterson said.

Bannon's plan to stop Hillary Clinton was multifaceted and years in the making.  It was built primarily on four organizations, each of which the Mercers funded or had a stake in (they also compensated Bannon directly).  The first was Breitbart News; the second was the Government Accountability Institute, a nonprofit research group based in Tallahassee, Florida established in 2012; the third Mercer-backed group was a film production company called Glittering Steel; the fourth Mercer-funded outfit was a business after Robert Mercer's own heart, the U.S. offshoot of a British data analytics company, Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), that advised for foreign governments and militaries on influencing elections and public opinion using the tools of psychological warfare.  The American affiliate of SCL, of which Robert Mercer became principal owner, was christened Cambridge Analytica.  (Bannon, too, took an ownership stake and a seat on the company's board.)  The purpose of acquiring a major stake in a data company was to equip the Mercer network with the kind of state-of-the-art technology that had been glaringly absent from Mitt Romney's campaign.  It also allowed the Mercers to build out an infrastructure for sophisticated messaging and strategy that would be independent of institutional Republican Party (an impulse shared by their fellow billionaires, David and Charles Koch, who also spent tens of millions of dollars building an alternative party structure, so disillusioned were they by the ineptitude of the GOP).  Rebekah Mercer, who gained a fast reputation for aggressively involving herself in the campaigns of politicians she backed, made clear that as a condition of her financial support, she expected that campaigns would hire Cambridge Analytica to do their data work.  Whenever necessary, downplayed the role of heavy.

By the time Clinton launched her presidential campaign in April 2015, all four of these groups were up and running like the machine they were envisioned to be.  But the collective power of the Bannon-Mercer project wasn't obvious to many people at the time.  Trump was still considered a carnival sideshow, Breitbart News a site for trolls and crazies, and Bannon a fringe figure who wouldn't possibly factor into something as large and important as a presidential race.  These were all assumptions the Clinton brain trust would come to bitterly regret.  "One of the realities that I don't think was truly appreciated by our campaign," Brian Fallon, Clinton's communications director, admitted after the election, "was just how profound the Breitbart effect was in cultivating a standalone ecosystem in conservative media that very aggressively and successfully promoted certain stories and narratives we had a blind spot for during the campaign."

Trump's data analysts had predicted that the people who were going to show up on Election Day would be older, whiter, more rural, and more populist that almost anyone else believed--so they re-weighted their predictive models to reflect a different electorate.  As much as anything, this was a leap of faith.  It's what gnawed at Bannon and other Trump advisers in the closing days of the race.  But, in the end, what other choice did they have?

"If he was going to win this election, it was going to be because of a Brexit-style mentality and a different demographic trend than other people were seeing," said Matt Oczkowski, a senior official at Cambridge Analytica working in Trump's campaign.

Imaging a more Trump-friendly turnout changed the composition of the electoral map--and with it, and Trump's strategy for the closing weeks of the race reflected this.  Something else was happening, too.  On October 25, Trump's internal polls showed his support ticking up in nearly every battleground state, a trend that continued over the next three days.  Out on the trail, Trump was stepping up his angry screeds, traducing Clinton, whom he accused of plotting "the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors.'"

At first, this seemed like an expression of primal rage from a man of towering ego who understood, even if only subconsciously, that he was headed for a historic comeuppance.  But then Republican voters started to respond in a way that established politicians couldn't have imagined just two weeks earlier, when the Access Hollywood tape upended the race.  Against all odds, Trump's support steadily consolidated--and forced Republican lawmakers who had piously abandoned him to make a humiliating volte-face.


Lewandowski and Bossie posit that if Donald Trump was Twitter, then Hillary Clinton was LinkedIn.  Her online presence was filled with long descriptions of stances and policies.  Every time she had the chance, she explained who she was.   She was the television screen on the left.  But people never cared who she was.  Voters didn't want a scripted intellectual connection.  They wanted a visceral one.  That's what trump gave them.

He made them dance.

In November of 2015, Jared Kushner told his father-in-law, "You know, I'm not sure you're utilizing your Facebook correctly," he said.

Jared had been noticing a few trends in the way that other campaigns were using Facebook, and saw some potential.  If he could learn those techniques, then use them on an online audience that was as dedicated as Trump's, the campaign would go into the primaries with a big advantage.

He offered a few more details, and Trump listened intently. 

After a few seconds, the boss nodded.

"All right," he said.  "Why don't you be in charge of the Facebook?  Dan Scavino, you're with Jared now."

Just like that, Jared was involved.  With what little experience he had in digital media and data analytics--he didn't even have his own Facebook account--he now had to work with Dan Scavino and find the best way to reach voters through their computer screens.

Soon Jared was on a conference call with Brad Parscale and Dan, delegating the tasks as best he could.  On Brad's recommendation, the new team of three leaned heavily on tweets and Facebook, the social media aspect of the campaign, and on online fund-raising.  The advantage there, as with all other aspects of the campaign, was the passion that Trump's supporters had.  They were excited, sure, but they also couldn't help sharing their excitement.  You couldn't hope for more from a Facebook audience.  Donations soon came rolling in at an unprecedented rate.

Brad began marketing the candidate with ads on Facebook.  And with the data he collected from Facebook's marketing tools, brad would target the ads, and we'd watch the traffic spike.  Ad targeting also allowed us to home our message to specific subsets of groups and accumulate data.  That information would in turn become our message and policy.  When Mr. Trump was out on the stump, he would know what issues the local people cared about.  And, along with Trump's established greatest hits--the wall, China, draining the swamp--the digital team would recommend a local issue that pertained directly to the people who were coming to hear him.

We'd make internet ads for five grand and get six million views.  We could get a whole state's voting population to watch a video for twenty-five grand.  During the debates, Jared's assistant, Avi Berkowitz, a Harvard Law grad rand what we called Trump Tower Live, a live-feed Facebook talk show that we posted pre-and post-debate.  The show was a hot.  In the days leading up to the election, we called it Facebook Live, which made Boris Epshteyn the campaign adviser, an internet star and made Kellyanne's media profile even more substantial than it already was.  The whole business cost us practically nothing.  Of course, we had the product that people wanted to see--the one who made them want to dance.

In the last months of the campaign, the data team in Texas had over a hundred people, including data scientists, Web designers, graphic artists, programmers, copywriters, network engineers, "gun-toting elderly call-center volunteers" (as a Bloomberg  article called them), and others working for us in the "never center" of his San Antonio office.  Brad also had help from big tech and social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter.  He figured that since the campaign was spending so much money with these firms--about $50 million each--the least they could do was send someone over to give the campaign a hand setting up and teaching them the platforms.  So they did.  Whenever the team needed help with Facebook, they would call--who else?--Facebook, and the company would give him all the help he needed.

The logic was simple, and the companies were happy to comply.  But it was an idea that Hillary's campaign hadn't thought of, or if they had thought of it, had decided not to implement to the extent our campaign would.

As the digital budget increased, not everybody was confident of the bang it provided for the buck--at least not right away.  But winning had a way of making the boss just fine with the way his money was being spent--$100 million by Election Day.  Facebook would become our biggest fund-raising tool, bringing in some $250 million in contributions.  The base and the supporter would vote with their credit card every day.  For each dollar we spent on ads, we were making around $1.70 back.  Most campaigns spend a dollar and make only 70 cents.

By mid-September, with the digital operation in full gear, the boss focused like a laser on Hillary, and, with the Trump road show in overdrive, the polls had us pulling even.  In a little over a month, we made up ten points.  We also knew from our data research that there were millions of voters who hadn't yet made up their minds, many of them living in battleground states.

In Some Places, Deleting Facebook Would Mean Erasing Opportunity


Facebook is heavily used in Pakistan among the middle class. WhatsApp and Twitter are popular too. But Facebook has played a key role in Pakistan in gathering people for political and cultural movements of all stripes.


Here's a hashtag you don't want trending on social media if you're a social media company - #DeleteFacebook. This follows a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. The data company reportedly gathered information from millions of Facebook users without their permission. But what does deleting Facebook mean in places where there's censorship over the media or where it's used to communicate because it's hard to move around? NPR's Diaa Hadid reports from Pakistan.


DIAA HADID, BYLINE: You're listening to drums beating at the first ever International Women's Day March in Pakistan. It happened on March 8.

NATASHA JAPANWALA: One of the most beautiful things about it is it brought together women. And they all marched together side by side.

HADID: Natasha Japanwala is a writer. And, yes, her last name is unusual.

JAPANWALA: (Laughter) OK. So my last name, Japanwala, means from Japan.

HADID: Japanwala says the Women's March - the first ever - was mostly organized through Facebook. She says middle-class women here rely on Facebook a lot because it's hard to go places - literally. Women face sexual harassment on the street and on public transport.

JAPANWALA: You do sort of spend a lot of time constricted - and I think especially if you're a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Urdu).

HADID: There's also a lot of censorship in Pakistan. Think about this. In January, an aspiring model was shot dead by police. He belonged to Pakistan's ethnic minority of Pashtuns. And they protested, thousands of them, in front of the Press Club in the capital. But the media didn't cover the story. So the activists turned to Facebook. This is Mohsin Dawar. He's an activist.

MOHSIN DAWAR: If there was no Facebook, there wouldn't have been any opportunity for us to convey our message to the people.

HADID: And in the past few weeks, Dawar and other activists created a movement for Pashtun rights using Facebook. And in Pakistan, having Facebook is a privilege. Most people here are poor. They don't have Internet or computers or smartphones.

We meet Haq Mohammed in a bazaar. He sells guavas. Like a lot of people in Pakistan, he can't read.

HAQ MOHAMMED: (Foreign language spoken).

HADID: He shows us his battered, red mobile. It's not a smartphone. It's used for calling people.

MOHAMMED: (Foreign language spoken).

HADID: Mohammed says he's heard of Facebook. And he says it's the future. And he feels left behind. Diaa Hadid, NPR News, Rawalpindi.

Copyright © 2018 NPR.

Facebook is the electronic public square that WE THE PEOPLE have been excluded from since the 1980s.  Facebook is the most effective tool for organizing the people to protest the injustices of the Machine Bosses as is demonstrated in the March For Our Lives and Black Lives Matter because it is equal opportunity media par excellence.  America is at a crossroads: Do we go back to the barbarianism of Nazi Germany in the 1930s--we already have the concentration camps set up by ICE.  Or do we continue with the political perfection of our Constitution?

Views: 46

Comment by mary gravitt on March 30, 2018 at 11:37am

Notice how the Robert Mercer has been let off the hook.  Don't let this member of the Kochtopus get off.  Facebook is a business is Mercer is a traitor.  He let his hate for Hillary and Bill Clinton betray the United States.  Don't let the political noise that the Right is stirring-up blind you to the fact that Facebook is the greatest organizing tool for the people who will require a revolution to take back our democracy.

I keep insisting on the reading of William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for the very fact that it is America's future.  It is long, but accurate.

Comment by J.P. Hart on March 30, 2018 at 12:52pm

I spent the afternoon with the Gant family on their farm in Blanchardville, Wisconsin.

Jed Gant and his family raise dairy and beef cattle just like five generations of Gants before them did. The last time Jed took a trip away from the farm was in 1981 when he and his wife Rona got married. That's because he has to milk 30 cows every 12 hours -- at 5am and 5pm. He told me, "If I leave, I leave my livelihood in the hands of someone else. And I don't have enough help as it is."...
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MJS:circa 11 months ago. Just about a year ago, he thought. That love be as communicable as grief. Maybe the 2nd term intends to turn tables on_--- on the law of inadvertent conquistadors. Every time he could afford a McNally's World Atlas the countries changed; curious evermore why his Norwegian GDP got off the horse here. Must have had much to do with heavy water water good clean water.

immediately after Mr. Hart fell asleep, I opened his stack of letters out-of-doors, then tried to pickup where he REM'd off during my Summer Wind very best efforts....Mary, are you planning to see Steven Speilberg's new movie: READY PLAYER ONE? Predictably as much fun as EPCOT's lazer light show! Greatcolumn!!

Comment by mary gravitt on April 6, 2018 at 1:03pm

I have gotten to the point that fiction has to take a backseat to non-fiction.  But Speilberg's new movie seems very interesting.  Right now I am interested in how the Texas Bomber stole a story from John Sanford.  And how literature and life twin.

These Trumpster farmers out here in Iowa won't have to milking cows or stinking up the air with hog fuvia, but cause god Trump is picking a fight with the Chinese over tariffs.  He thinks that China is weak like Mexico, but he is mistaken.  The Chinese will go to the wall and run that piss-head-libertarian Terry Branstad back to the farm where he belongs.


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