FBI investigating if right-wing news sites, including Breitbart and Infowars, had role in campaign cyber attacks
The FBI is investigating if several right-wing news websites — including Breitbart and InfoWars — played any part in the Russian cyber attacks of the 2016 presidential election, according to a report.
Investigators are looking into bots from hackers that spammed social media links with pro-Trump and anti-Clinton stories — some of them totally phony — at times when Donald Trump’s campaign seemed to be in trouble, McClatchy Washington Bureau reported.
Sources familiar with the probe said the bots spewed millions of Twitter and Facebook links to conservative sites like Breitbart and InfoWars, as well as Russia’s RT News and Sputnik News, during the most contentious times of the campaign.
Many of the stories were false, or contained false facts. They included exaggerated reports of Clinton’s health problems, links to hacked John Podesta emails on WikiLeaks and stories about the fact-free “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory of a Democratic child sex ring.
The FBI will look into whether any of the news sites knew about the bots or did anything to assist the hackers behind them, according to McClatchy. The right-wing review is part of the FBI’s broader probe into whether Russia interfered with the election, and if anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.
The FBI has not commented on the report, and the role of the bots was not directly mentioned during FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony Monday about the campaign hack.
Alex Jones, the firebrand Infowars host, devoted part of a recent show to denying any links to the Kremlin.
“I’m not gonna sit here and say, ‘I’m not a Russian stooge,’ because it’s a f—ing lie,” Jones said, calling any such suggestions a “whole ridiculous narrative of the bitching left.”
He also admitted to appearing on RT News “probably 100 times or more.”
Breitbart did not return a request for comment.
Bots aside, Breitbart and Infowars have blatantly championed Trump’s political career, and both reported unprecedented traffic boosts during the businessman’s rise to the White House.
Stephen Bannon, the White House’s chief strategist, served as Breitbart’s CEO until he joined the Trump campaign in August 2016.
Trump also appeared on the conspiracy-laden Infowars as a candidate and, according to the New York Times, thanked Jones for his support after winning.