Republican Senator caught making up fake news about fake news doubles down

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford (@SenatorLankford; (405) 231-4941) sounded the alarm about Russian trolls spreading discord about NFL athletes kneeling for the national anthem, citing as evidence a Twitter account called "Boston Antifa" whose "location" field had been filled in "Vladivostok, Russia."

Lankford claimed that he'd been briefed on this by "the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center" and that it was super-duper real, and both Republicans and Democrats amplified his message. Republicans liked the idea that fighting for racial justice made you a dupe of Russian disinformation campaigns, and Democrats liked the story because it tied into their belief that Russians have taken over the US mediasphere and can be blamed for the ascendancy of Trumpism, which therefore is totally unrelated to Clintonian triangulation and kowtowing to the 1 percent.

But "Boston Antifa" is a well-known hoax account likely controlled by a pair of pranksters named Alexis Esteb and Brandon Krebs, who specialize in posting obnoxiously negative tweets about right-wing personalities that can be attributed to "Boston Antifa" in outraged responses.

"It did not require some heroic feat of investigative journalism for me to find this stuff out," said the Springfield, Massachusetts-based reporter. He noted that Buzzfeed and ThinkProgress also debunked the story pretty quickly.

When the Russia story broke this week, Glaun called Lankford's office. His write-up for Masslive is amusing:

"A source close to Lankford acknowledged in an email that the Boston Antifa account may not be linked to the Russian government, but maintained that there was a high likelihood it was connected to some Russian entities, based on information collected by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"Lankford's office declined to elaborate on what evidence ties Boston Antifa to Russian influence campaigns."

So even confronted with evidence, Lankford's office dug in. Apparently they have secret information gleaned from Senate Intelligence Committee hearings that proves these two yuksters – people you can see are clearly American amateurs on video in the McInnes interview – are actually still "connected to some Russian entities."

Latest Fake News Panic Appears to Be Fake News
[Matt Taibbi/Rolling Stone]