This presidential election cycle just got even more convoluted, if you can believe it. A SuperPAC supporting Hillary Clinton just announced that they are going to spend one million dollars paying people “to push back against [anti-Hillary] attackers on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram.” In other words, now you really can’t know, even more than before, whether that voice you are arguing with on the other end of the internet is a normal citizen or a paid troll.
The statement on the website of the SuperPAC, Correct the Record, says in part:
‘Anonymous online attacks, from both sides of the political spectrum, have sought to spread lies and misleading narratives about Secretary Hillary Clinton. In response to these attacks on supporters…, Correct The Record is launching the Barrier Breakers 2016 digital task force. While Hillary Clinton fights to break down barriers and bring America together, the Barrier Breakers 2016 digital task force will serve as a resource for supporters looking for positive content and push-back to share with their online progressive communities, as well as thanking prominent supporters…on social media.’
Some people have taken a strong disliking to this plan, with a huge crop of ammunition now given to online addicts who want to attack their foes. Now, you can just call them paid trolls. The author of this very piece got accused of such a short time ago.
This virulent back and forth is far from new. The Hill claimed that Democratic strategists worry that their primary has reached a “danger zone,” nearing the party-shredding divisiveness seen in the GOP Primary. Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, “I am worried about the increasingly harsh tone and tenor of this campaign [that could] turn off Sanders supporters in the general [election]. I’m afraid they’re going to stay home.”
But what on earth does any of this matter for? How did this war of words come about?
Well, Hillary, for her part, does have a serious public image problem to work through. She has absolutely rock bottom favorability ratings. Almost 20% more people have an unfavorable image of her than a favorable one, although that number isn’t quite as bad as Cruz’s or Trump’s ratings on the GOP side.
In addition, 1 in 3 supporters of US Senator Bernie Sanders said that they would not vote for Hillary in the general election should she be the nominee. Combining that number with her record low ratings, it becomes clear that Clinton really does have a public image problem. She has an uphill battle to fight in securing her election should she be pitted against Trump in November. This paid trolling, then, seems to fit in with her campaign needs.
But, is it really fitting? The news coverage of this fiasco may be hurting her image just as much as the issues she was trying to address, including the numerous run ins with the black community where both Clinton and her husband have not handled themselves well. Time will tell. What is certain is that the primary cycle is far from over, and any number of variables could still be introduced that could shake things up even further.