Russian Cyber Trolls Watched ‘House Of Cards’ To Understand U.S. Politics

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

File this next story under headlines you never expected to read. Russian cyber trolls were ordered to watch “House Of Cards.” That’s right, the Netflix TV series starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. “House Of Cards” was apparently a required watching as Russia tried to craft its message during the influence campaign that U.S. intelligence says Russia carried out during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Now, all this is according to an interview with a former member of a St. Petersburg troll factory’s elite English language department. And we learned of this story courtesy of Michael Isikoff, who’s got the scoop as chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News. Michael Isikoff, welcome.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Good to be with you.

KELLY: Were you able to verify the story? I mean, how credible do we think that this former troll giving an interview on Russian TV is?

ISIKOFF: Well, what we do know is that what he had to say is very consistent with the way U.S. intelligence officials have described the Russian influence campaign. He was also, according to Rain, the independent TV station…

KELLY: …where the interview was broadcast. Uh-huh.

ISIKOFF: Right. He was able to produce a document that showed he indeed worked at the Internet research agency for about a year up until the end of 2015.

KELLY: Remind us what we know about this operation. I mean, what – when we say troll factory in St. Petersburg, what’s happening?

ISIKOFF: This is an office in St. Petersburg, a company that hired hundreds of wannabe journalists, out-of-work folks and directed them to place messages on social media disguising where they were coming from to portray themselves as ordinary folks posting messages on Facebook, on Twitter, in…

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