Trump, Mercer, online data, mass manipulation

This is a long investigative article but it sheds some light on what has been happening with the use of data based mass manipulation in relation to the Brexit vote and in the US. The names of Robert Mercer, Stephen Bannon, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump are intertwined.

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network

Just over a week ago, Donald Trump gathered members of the world’s press before him and told them they were liars. “The press, honestly, is out of control,” he said. “The public doesn’t believe you any more.” CNN was described as “very fake news… story after story is bad”. The BBC was “another beauty”.

That night I did two things. First, I typed “Trump” in the search box of Twitter. My feed was reporting that he was crazy, a lunatic, a raving madman. But that wasn’t how it was playing out elsewhere. The results produced a stream of “Go Donald!!!!”, and “You show ’em!!!” There were star-spangled banner emojis and thumbs-up emojis and clips of Trump laying into the “FAKE news MSM liars!”

Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media – we, us, I – dying?

I did the same search and get the same result:


That is effective international manipulation of Google search rankings.

I click Google’s first suggested link. It leads to a website called and an article: “The Mainstream media are dead.” They’re dead, I learn, because they – we, I – “cannot be trusted”.

My first two hits are James O’Keefe (part of the same right wing media network) related, the third is CNS News.

How had it, an obscure site I’d never heard of, dominated Google’s search algorithm on the topic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center, which a click later I learn is “America’s media watchdog”, an organisation that claims an “unwavering commitment to neutralising leftwing bias in the news, media and popular culture”.

Another couple of clicks and I discover that it receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. If you follow US politics you may recognise the name. Robert Mercer is the money behind Donald Trump. But then, I will come to learn, Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Mercer started backing Ted Cruz, but when he fell out of the presidential race he threw his money – $13.5m of it – behind the Trump campaign.

The article goes on to detail how Mercer has been involved in funding and assisting right wing interests to gather and use online data, and how they are manipulating Google and Facebook to promote their interests.

Nigel Farage was assisted free of charge in the Brexit campaign.

And they swung from initially supporting Ted Cruz’s campaign to get in behind Donald Trump.And the rest of that campaign is history.

But since then it’s easy to recognise what Trump says on Twitter and in media conferences as carefully littered with key words to provoke emotional responses.

A large number of Americans have been attracted to this, and more than a few Kiwis as well.

Even if you support Trump, and want to continue to support him, you should understand how this is being done – because someone else who you disagree with, perhaps strongly, may place the same game.

It’s good to see that his sort of investigative journalism is not dead, despite how some are trying to brainwash the world.

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  1. David

     /  27th February 2017

    I’m far more concerned with the witches who are using witchcraft against Trump. Fucking witchcraft man. It’s on the BBC, so it can’t be fake news, it be real news!

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  27th February 2017

    I see the MSM and Hollywood Lovies screwed up the Oscars splendidly. Of course if that was a Trump organisation balls up it would be hauled out in every commentary for months. Guess they were too busy slagging off Trump to notice they awarded the best picture to the wrong recipient. And was it a PC black award anyway?

    • Missy

       /  28th February 2017

      Al, that has been the top news on all news outlets here today, this morning you would have been hard pressed to find out what else was happening in the world!

      It was funny though.

      I am not sure it was a PC award, I haven’t seen the movies, but I have heard Moonlight was excellent, and it was just the PR hype around La La Land that had most thinking it would win even though Moonlight is apparently a much better movie.

      • La La Land was an enjoyable movie. I’d like to see Moonlight to see what it’s like.

        • Missy

           /  28th February 2017

          I have heard good things about both, so would like to see them both, I just never seem to get around to it before they are out of theatres. :/

  3. Surely nobody engaged in politics is under any illusion that politics is a dirty, dirty game. Nobdody deludes themselves that their side doesn’t do it – or do they? (Reflects on the sanctimony of the left over Nicky Hager’s Dirty Polirics, reflects on Hager’s own piousness and rush to sue over breaches of his own privacy)

    I don’t have a side. I would have been a Democrat voter, I am social liberal, fiscal conservative, however to me it’s as plain as the nose on ones face that:

    *Trump won the election
    *The larger part of the USA MSM did not support either his run or his win. In the main they also do not accept his presidency. Their news is syndicated around the world and therefore we open The Herald, Stuff or the SMH and see daily regurgitated versions of the circulating reasons to fear and hate Trump.
    *The left and anti-Trump activists are not short of support in the media or when it comes to being bank-rolled or manipulation. Occupy Wall Street was Soros backed and he’s every bit as powerful as Mercer. The Arca Foundation, Open Society Institute and the clearing house Alliance for Global Justice are at it for the left and m at, many more.
    That old chestnut moral subjectivity…..It’s only becomes a matter of who’s the biggest crook, who’s raising more dough to spend on manipulation, when one’s own side loses.

  4. Yes ,b>traveller above is correct ” Trump won the election.” The MSM is the paid up opposition and anyone with any ability in reality can see it. Pete is scrambling around like a soft liberal, looking for unhappiness. Never mind Pete, only a generation or so of hard Nationalism and Conservatism to come .

    • Dissing the messenger is a standard part of the strategy. If you want to remain blind to what is going on and be a drone for the propaganda army that’s your choice, but it won’t stop me looking for wider understanding of what has been happening.

      The US media have been seriously compromised, but the Mercer/Bannon have two major hurdles, in part due to politics being involved.

      Less than half of the US population seem to have been susceptible – enough to win a major election victory, albeit aided by the inept Democrats, It looks unlikely that approval level will increase much unless they manage to actually do some real good beneath all the smoke screening.

      And the reaction of media has not been to roll over and go away. There are signs they are trying to come back better and more effective, proving they can investigate and that they can report based on facts – which could be Trump’s Achilles heel.

      You can lie to all of the people some of the time but most of the people wise up eventually.

      So repeat the programmed critic bashing if you like, but don’t expect me or many others to crawl away and leave the mass hysteria to remain unchallenged.

      Another problem for this Mercer/Trump strategy – there are good arguments for some of what they are Trump are trying to do in shaking up a very flawed US democratic system, but that is also being hidden under their and their drones smoke screens.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  28th February 2017

        I think you missed Trav’s point PG. The point being that the other side have been, and are continuing to do exactly the same thing.
        The Mercer actions – even if they are exactly as described above – are not anything but a continuation of politics as it has been for well over a decade.
        George Soros’s interventions are probably the highest profile example on the american left.
        Promoting it as some kind of new brainwashing technique is disingenuous to say the least, as is implying Trump’s supporters have “fallen for it” rather than voting on the issues.

        Perhaps the bigger issue is that mainstream media organisations have given up the pretense of objectivity and are openly campaigning against an elected president.

        And it’s not like anyone does it AGAINST Trump is it?

        • Of course it’s not new. But it seem to have set a new precedent – to succeed in getting an outsider considered by many to be a joke elected to one of the most important positions in the world.

          And you can hardly claim the other lot did it too, their campaign was abysmal.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  28th February 2017

            by “their campaign” do you include the New York times, Washington Post, CNN et al?
            I actually think we are arguing at cross purposes for the same thing in some ways.
            You seem to believe Trump attacking the media is the problem.
            I would suggest that if the major mainstream media got their act together and started reporting in a more responsible way rather than rabid editorialising masquerading as serious news the issues would be resolved far more quickly and effectively.
            Trump has very fertile ground for his attacks on the media – all he has to do is point to what they are writing as evidence.

            • Trump attacking the media is just a symptom of the problem.

              The media also have fertile ground to criticise Trump et al. Both sides have major flaws. Both should be pressured to improve their transparency and honesty.

              US politics is a complex party/business/media/lobby mix, very messy and mucked up.

              It’s far more than Trump good, media bad or vice versa.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  28th February 2017

              Agreed. And I’m not saying Trump is all sunshine and roses. He’s thin skinned and barks at every passing car. And despite having all the best words, he never seems to use them. But he’s not being given the leeway previous presidents have had on taking office to settle in and set an agenda. The attacks have been relentless.

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  28th February 2017

              “Trump has very fertile ground for his attacks on the media”

              …and the media has very fertile ground for their continued criticisms of trump and his administration:

              – according to trump American was in deep trouble when he took the reins – he claims to have inherited a mess. But job production and employment were doing well under Obama. Civil rights have been extended to more minorities, and where there was mess it was by and large linked with police violence

              – according to trump the safety of the nation was endangered by 7 Muslim countries. Yet the statistical evidence shows an absence of violence in American from people of those countries

              – according to trump immigrants have taken work away from Americans. However reports show that immigrants don’t take jobs away from Americans. What they really do is contribute to the economy by providing labour and new business starts that create jobs

              – according to trump Iran is the greatest terror state in the world. But Iran has actually been America’s ally in the ‘war on terror’

              – according to trump he has put together a ‘well-oiled machine’ to deal with these issues. Yet all the evidence points to an amateurish and disorganised administration, plagued by back-stabbing and leaking

              – according to trump he is overwhelmingly popular. Yet he lost the popular vote and currently has the lowest approval ratings of any president since WW2 at this stage of his term of office

              – according to spicer the inauguration crowds were seriously under-reported by media. Yet the photographic evidence shows otherwise

              – according to conway alternative facts are just as good as real ones

              – according to trump there have been terror attacks in Atlanta, Georgia, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Sweden. Reality is different

              – according to trump the media do not report on violent terror attacks. Reality is different

              – according to trump America is experiencing a crime wave of historic proportions – “the highest it’s been in 47 years”. Actually the trend has been downwards for over 20 years

              It’s hardly surprising that the media have become sceptical of trump. Of course they’re not going to parrot his silly fraudulent claims, because the public will only put up with so much bullshit for so long.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  28th February 2017

              Did Trump inherit a mess?

              “The American economy is a mess, and our broken political system is largely to blame, according to a Harvard Business School U.S. Competitiveness Project report released today.

              Harvard’s Michael E. Porter, Jan W. Rivkin, and Mihir A. Desai say American economic performance peaked in the late 1990s and since then has experienced a lingering period of weakness, with slower than usual productivity growth, job growth, and investment growth.

              The report, Problems Unsolved and a Nation Divided: The State of US Competitiveness in 2016, which contains an in-depth analysis of the American economy and the results of surveys of global business leaders and the general public, says the U.S. is “failing the test of competitiveness.”

              Overall prosperity may be growing slowly—but only for a small slice of the population. Large companies and highly skilled, high-income workers are faring well, but many others, including working- and middle-class Americans, are struggling, as are many small businesses.”.



              More to the point, however, is that those who claim the economy was doing just fine when Trump arrived conveniently ignore all the evidence pointing in the other direction.

              The historically anemic growth rates over the past seven years benefited some, but left large swathes of the country as bad or worse off than they were 7-1/2 years ago.

              Yes, the official unemployment rate is currently 4.8%. But the broader measure of unemployment, which includes those who are underemployed or who’ve given up looking but want a job, is still a shockingly high 9.4%. By comparison, it was 8.8% just before the Great Recession started, and has been as low as 6.8% since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started this separate measure in 1994.

              Meanwhile, 14 million people have dropped out of the labor force since the economic recovery started in June 2009. That’s more than the number of jobs created over those same months. The labor-force participation rate is just 62.9%, down from 65.7% when the recovery started, and the average length of unemployment today is 25 weeks, which is three weeks longer than it was in June 2009.

              When it comes to incomes, there are also plenty of problems to address. The overall real median family income climbed less than 2% over the past seven years. But the poorest fifth of households saw their incomes decline, according to the latest Census data.

              There were more blacks and more Midwesterners living in poverty in 2015 than in 2009, Census data show. And 11 million more people are on food stamps.

              Which of these worrisome indicators are those “outside experts” willing to toss overboard to make the economy look better?

              Was the economy on the brink of disaster when Trump took office? No. But it is certainly reasonable to say that it was, in many ways, a mess.


              – The 7 country ban was a list compiled by the Obama administration – all Trump did was extend the restrictions already in place further.

              – I can’t comment on immigration.

              – Iran and American ally is an oxymoron.
              “In recent months, we’ve seen an uptick in confrontations by Iranian vessels in the Arabian Gulf,” Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, said at a Pentagon news conference. “In recent days, we have witnessed even more provocative activity,” he continued, adding that the behavior was “very concerning.”
              In a series of near-confrontations, the hardline Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps navy has conducted live rocket fire exercises near US ships, floated surveillance drones over American warships and, just last week, sent boats tearing toward US vessels at dangerously high speed.
              But the military provocations are just one of many antagonistic steps Iran has taken against the US in the past few months, a slew of hostile measures driven by several factors, including a desire to put the next US administration on notice that Iran is no pushover and a faction in the Iranian government struggling with the implications of the nuclear curbs it conceded to international powers.
              On top of military aggression, Tehran has arrested dual US-Iranian citizens, targeted Iranians associated with the US, excoriated Washington in official speeches and, this week, installed a Russian-made air missile defense system.

              The rest is trifling nonsense.

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  28th February 2017

              Surprises are increasing in the Arab region against the backdrop of the geopolitical transformation taking place in the Middle East, mainly in the direction of developing a U.S.-Iranian relationship that goes beyond mere appeasement. This is while the U.S.-Israeli relationship remains one of quintessential alliance regardless of the signs of disagreement, and while the U.S.-Arab relationship continues with various titles from the Gulf to Africa, through the Orient and its torn countries. The Americans want to say that the U.S. public opinion does not care about what is happening in the Arab region and that the talk about American roles in the terrible changes that have played out there for years is part of “conspiracy theories”. As for the Arabs, from various affiliations and orientations, they seem “certain” that it is U.S. policy that is manipulating the Arab region, and leading it to partition and fragmentation.

              What is clear is that there is a decline in the trust and increase in suspicions in the U.S.-Arab relationship, in parallel with the realignment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the direction of becoming a reliable partner for the United States.


            • Joe Bloggs

               /  28th February 2017

              U.S. homebuilding rebounded sharply in December as a firming economy boosts demand for rental housing, while an unexpected drop in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week pointed to a further tightening in the labor market.

              The economy’s brightening prospects were underscored by other data on Thursday showing factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region accelerating to a two-year high this month, amid jumps in new orders, employment and inventories.

              In addition, manufacturers reported paying more for raw materials and asking for higher prices for their goods, mirroring other recent factory surveys. This suggests that a broad increase in inflation could be on the way.

              The reports came as Republican Donald Trump prepared to be sworn in as president on Friday, taking over from President Barack Obama, whose administration’s policies have been credited with pulling the economy from the 2007-09 recession.

              “The economy is doing great, whichever way you look at it,” said Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Research in New York. “The labor market is close to full employment and the housing market continues to heal. Trump is inheriting a strong economy.”


            • Joe Bloggs

               /  28th February 2017

              Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face. They perceive violent extremism to be a much more severe threat nationally than the threat of violent extremism in their own jurisdictions.

              Click to access Kurzman_Schanzer_Law_Enforcement_Assessment_of_the_Violent_Extremist_Threat_final.pdf

              Analysts at the U.S. Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States.

              A draft document obtained by The Associated Press concludes that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to the United States and that few people from the countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S. since Syria’s civil war started in 2011


            • Joe Bloggs

               /  28th February 2017

              Iran (and to a less clear extent Syria) is already a de facto ally of the U.S. and Europe in this mission [fighting ISIS]. The efforts of Iran and the U.S. have been complementary, even if they weren’t coordinated. For instance, when Iraqi Shiite militiamen and Kurdish peshmerga fighters retook the northern Iraqi town of Amerli earlier this month, it was made possible by both Iranian military advisers and American airstrikes.

              Washington and Tehran are on the same team in Iraq—things are a bit more complicated in Syria—but neither government seems ready to admit it yet.


            • High Flying Duck

               /  28th February 2017

              Lies, damned lies and statistics I suppose.
              I think the piece I put up answers the employment issue.
              The housing data is a subset of the economy, but genuine issues exist for large numbers of people, who happen to be the same ones Trump campaigned for. As such Trump was right on the money.

  5. High Flying Duck

     /  28th February 2017

    And more – the majority owner of Google, Eric Schmidt, was a big Hillary supporter in the election.
    There were accusations that the Google algorithm was slanted to help Hillary (although this was mostly debunked). However, it was found that Google on the whole has a liberal bias:

  6. Joe Bloggs

     /  28th February 2017

    I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy, that we need an independent media to hold people like me to account. It’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power…. It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent, free press and we’re not willing to have one ourselves

    – George W. Bush

    And the irony that Bush’s administration was responsible for the claims about Iraqi WMDs doesn’t escape me.

  7. “More than half of Americans think U.S. news media have been too negative in their coverage of the Trump administration, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll. Who thinks that and why? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.” Source:
    Wall Street Journal 26 Feb 2017
    The Video at “” also says that 41% felt the coverage was fair and the remainder said not critical enough. Looking at the basis of those who criticised Trump, they said the reason for their position was that they felt afraid of the direction Trump was taking the US towards.
    I doubt very much whether the MSM will take this Poll to heart, but it tells me that many US persons are still making up their own minds and are sceptical of the MSM’s presentation of events.

  1. Trump, Mercer, online data, mass manipulation — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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