A political strategist who worked on multiple campaigns for both former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently penned an editorial with a surprising new take on the 2016 election.
In the op-ed, Mark Penn explained why he is not overly concerned about allegations that Russian operatives worked to tilt the 2016 presidential election in favor of then-GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Writing for The Wall Street Journal, he listed several reasons why he does not think foreign interests played a decisive role in the election.
“The fake news about fake news is practically endless,” he wrote, referencing recent revelations that Facebook ran about $100,000 in largely pro-Trump sponsored content paid for by individuals tied to Russia.
Though many Americans, including a number of Democrat lawmakers, have taken these reports seriously and are demanding investigations, Penn explained why he does not think any foreign plot was either funded or planned effectively to leave any real fingerprint on the election.
“Analyzing the pattern of expenditures, and doing some back-of-the-envelope math, it’s clear this was no devilishly effective plot,” he wrote.
Penn further noted that more than half of the ads ran after the election, and many ran in Democrat strongholds like New York and California — or Republican-leaning states like Texas — instead of swing states whose residents would cast the decisive votes.
After accounting for the fact that Russian-backed ads began in June 2015 — well before Trump was the nominee — and many did not offer direct candidate endorsements, Penn determined the calculable influence in the election was a far cry from $100,000.
“The actual electioneering then amounts to about $6,500,” he wrote.
Penn then contrasted that amount with the $40 million in ads Facebook displays daily, or the $1.4 billion that Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton had in her campaign budget.
“Even a full $100,000 of Russian ads would have erased just 0.025% of Hillary’s financial advantage,” he wrote.
He also cited a minor scandal from former Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid in making the case that $100,000 in foreign money — in that case from China — was not enough to influence that election either. Penn had been the chief strategist for Clinton during that campaign.
“There were congressional investigations, and several fundraisers were prosecuted, but Attorney General Janet Reno rejected calls for an independent counsel,” he wrote. “Campaigns tightened up their donor-validation procedures, and life moved on. The same is called for here.”
“Internet companies should improve their screening of electioneering ads, impose clearer standards on all ads, and do a better job weeding out phony accounts,” he said.
Image and Content: Western Journalism