Home Don Beyer Audio: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08) on Combatting Russian Disinformation; on How Tucker...

Audio: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08) on Combatting Russian Disinformation; on How Tucker Carlson, Tulsi Gabbard, etc. Are “the perfect pawns for Russian television”

Beyer also comments about how he lost the 1997 VA governor's race partly due to his stances on "guns and tobacco"

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See below for audio, courtesy of Pod Virginia, of Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08) talking about his “Education Against Misinformation and Disinformation Act.” According to Rep. Beyer:

  • “This is…my next best effort to try to combat all the misinformation and disinformation that we seem to have in our society. It’s topical right now since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, because we know that there’s a lot of misinformation in Russia about the war, and that the Russians have been doing their best to spread this disinformation around the world...But for me it even goes deeper than this...We look at the divisions in our American society or our American culture, which at least feel deeper than at any time in most of our lives. And I think that at least part of it is that we seem to have different narratives about what’s happening in America and in the world. And some of these narratives have been fed by misinformation, disinformation – not just from local sources, but from sources all over the world.”
  • The Russians “set up fake Facebook accounts, Twitter  accounts, Instagram accounts that appear to be coming from you know, a middle-aged American woman living in Alabama or a professor living in Colorado, and so it looks like an American that’s doing it. And then they’ll create 200 or a thousand bots, these automatic Twitter accounts or Instagram accounts that can retweet these things, so it looks like they have thousands or hundreds of followers, and therefore are credible, and these bots will follow all kinds of people and send these things out and then they’ll feed you crazy stuff. But…fascinating statistic, I talked to one of the leaders at NIH recently who said that 70% of the misinformation and disinformation about vaccines in America on social media came from exactly 10 people. And our inability to manage those 10 people or to push back in meaningful ways meant 30 percent of Americans are vaccine hesitant or vaccine resistant. That means these are the 30 percent who who are most likely to die, most likely to get long COVID, most likely to be hospitalized on a ventilator. So it has very real world consequences having this out there.”
  • “I want to put aside any notion that people are paid Russian agents, that’s not an accusation that I can make. But you certainly look at Tucker Carlson and think that even as Fox has said that they don’t want him – at least for legal purposes  -taken seriously as a journalist and he’s an entertainer, he’s after ratings, he’s after the biggest possible salary, so he will just say the most outrageous things, the most untrue things, in order to get viewership. These things don’t have to be consistent from one night to the next, as long as people are saying that he’s getting their blood pressure up and making them mad and making them sad and he’s stimulating people with his entertainment. So Tucker obviously wants to do anything he can to tear down President Biden, so he’s been sticking up for Russia. And it seems to be extraordinarily unpatriotic, but it does get him viewers. And same with a Tulsi Gabbard, for example. And they become the perfect pawns for Russian television. And then when they put Tucker Carlson on Russian television, boy, the Russian people can then think, this is what Americans actually think, rather than this is one nutty guy who makes a lot a lot of money, has no lived experience that has anything to do with war, and yet is flouting the goodwill and the intention almost the entire democratic world.”
  • I hope that there are appropriate indictments and convictions coming for any major American institution, like the National Rifle Association, that may have been funded for nefarious purposes by a foreign government. But it certainly fits into the overall Russian pattern of let’s divide the American people, and what better place to divide them on guns…We’ve known for years that the NRA leadership is far more extreme, far more hostile to any sensible efforts than the NRA members themselves. So if their money’s coming from Russia, they don’t have to care about the members themselves; if their money’s coming from the gun manufacturers, membership dues are not that big a factor.”
  • Finally, interesting comments at the end from former Lt. Governor Beyer about his run for governor in 1997 (which Beyer unfortunately lost to Republican Jim Gilmore 55.8%-42.6%, after the race appeared to have been a dead heat just a few weeks before election day): “Tobacco companies did invest two million dollars there at the very end in my opponent…it was interesting, it was for me one of the first instances of American politics really being about culture. I love southwest Virginia and visited there a hundred times when I was lieutenant governor, tried to do lots of initiatives on high school dropout prevention and recovery and economic development. I still got 20% of the vote. And a lot of that 20% percent – the 80% that voted no – was about guns and tobacco, that I had weighed in with the then head of the FDA on regulating tobacco advertising to children, which was a sin in the eyes of the tobacco companies. And I’d been for background checks on guns and that also was a sin in the eyes of the NRA.”

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