What does it take to get an invitation to a White House press briefing? Years of honest, diligent coverage of the news? A wide, diverse reach? A decent video camera?
Apparently all you need is a Twitter account, a tri-pod, and some notoriety for participating in a cyber campaign to undermine an election – preferably a U.S. election, but any democracy will do in a pinch.
That’s the message the White House sent today when Jack Posobiec of Alt-Right Canadian news outlet The Rebel Media, showed-up to Tuesday’s press briefing with his mom’s camcorder wearing what appeared to be a clip-on Trumpian red tie.
The Rebel Media has been embarrassing Canadians for years with their anti-semitic, quasi-nationalist “news,” but Jack Posobiec achieved infamy south of the border over the weekend for his role in the 11th hour hack of the French election.
On Friday, May 5, two days before polls opened in France, 9 gigabytes of hacked files from the campaign of incoming French President Emmanuel Macron, including emails and accounting information, were uploaded to the file sharing website Pastebin.com. A few minutes later, a link to the files on Pastebin appeared on the anonymous message board site 4chan. A short time after that, Posobiec tweeted the 4chan link to his 100,000+ followers with the hashtag #MacronLeaks. About 40 minutes later, Wikileaks tweeted the 4chan link as well – along with Posobiec’s hashtag.
Soon after, the #MacronLeaks hashtag had gone viral on right wing social media – with, many suspect, the help of ‘bots’ like those used by Russian hackers to spread fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Canadian news site National Observer recently dissected Posobiec’s role in the operation and found that:
The appearance of bot activity, observed independently by both the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab and Belgian academic Nicolas Vanderbiest, from the first minutes after Posobiec’s tweet, strongly suggests a planned and coordinated campaign. Others online also spotted anomalous activity patterns in two Macron hashtags used by Posobiec.
Just this morning, the National Security Agency confirmed that the Macron hack was, in fact, a Russian operation through and through. Was Posobiec’s role all just a coincidence? He has denied any connections to Russian government officials, although he’s quite active on Russian social media, and his fiancee is Russian, but we’re sure all of that is coincidental as well.
And yet, there he was, in the White House press room, participating in the purest expression of the first amendment, days after participating in the Russian-coordinated campaign to undermine the French election.
We wish we could say we are shocked, but with the former head of the Alt-Right Breitbart News now the President’s Chief Strategist, Jack’s West Wing cameo is just another day at the White House in the Trump era.
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.