Why is it that more U.S. citizens do not appear to be exhibiting higher levels of anger and resentment, etc., regarding the allegations that the Russian firm based in St. Petersburg, ala the Internet Research Agency, endeavored to manipulate the 2016 political campaign? U.S. polling on the matter suggest high percentages of Americans believe Russian entities did precisely what has been alleged for the past 15+ months, and, as of last week, produced criminal indictments against 13+ Russians citizens by the U.S. Special Prosecutor.
Meddling with a U.S. election to favor a particular candidate and/or party, is presumably a sacrosanct feature of U.S. democracy and sustaining our republic. Respectfully, I sense many citizens may not understand ‘the how’ part with respect to ‘the meddling’. I suspect, a factor contributing to the relatively lethargic public response, in addition to the various levels of ‘thought fatigue’ produced by hourly-daily and largely self-induced issues emitted from and by the current administration, is that a percentage of U.S. citizens understandably find it challenging to translate the allegations of election manipulation to tangible acts and adverse outcomes.
Perhaps a good place to start this discussion…lies in describing my profession as an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist. Intangible assets (IA’s) are variously comprised of intellectual, relationship, and structural capital. But, IA’s also include perceptions that people may acquire – develop about certain tangibles, i.e., acts, circumstances, motives, etc., which we are exposed, largely through our media platforms of choice.
For example, a restaurant that we have been encouraged to dine, may result in perceptions that the service was poor, the wait staff were inexperienced, the wait time between ordering – receiving our meal (in the conventional sequence) was too long, and the food quality-taste fell below our expectations, etc. All, or anyone of which in turn affect how and what we perceive about the restaurant. Our perceptions in this instance may, in part, be tangible.
Another example is, since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the legal and other professions…greater latitude – beyond their respective (conventional) canons to commence media advertising of their services. For the most part, these changes stemmed from Bates v. State Bar of Arizona.
Insofar as how media advertising favorably manifested to the legal profession presumably, there were many citizens who did not recognize (understand, appreciate) the various mishaps, injuries, and/or circumstances they incurred could be grounds for bringing civil law suits and/or criminal actions against an offending – negligent party in which the ‘winner’ may receive substantial remuneration.
Similar perceptions hold true as other professions, i.e., physicians and pharmaceutical companies commenced their brand of public advertising…respectfully their respective messages generally consisted of two parts. One, designed – intended to alert citizens to variously self-diagnose personal circumstances and/or health challenges which perhaps they were previously unaware and/or unfamiliar. Second, encourage same to make a personal inquiry, i.e., ‘callers are now available to take your call and answer your questions’, etc., to potentially obtain (purchase) the advertised relief.
Another avenue for characterizing the alleged ‘election meddling’ is...I have devoted 15+ years professionally engaged in the study, investigation, tracking, monitoring, assessing, and writing about matters related to economic espionage. Very simply, economic espionage occurs when foreign economic – competitive advantage, and/or national security adversaries engage in spurious operations and activities designed to target and acquire business-economic intelligence developed – owned by U.S. companies and apply it as their own, thereby foregoing the extraordinary (underlying) and time-consuming costs associated with conducting research and development (R&D).
To be sure, numerous government (intelligence community) agencies and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) were engaged in countering and investigating economic espionage, the perpetrators of which included nation state agencies, small companies known euphemistically as ‘information brokers’, as well as a multitude of ‘legacy free players’ globally. Each was variously effective. Their objectives were often both tactical (near term) and strategic (long term), that is, not merely to acquire a single trade secret (intellectual property) and ‘fold up their tent’ and retreat, instead, awaiting other opportunities or assignments from their clients!
Based on my varied and first-hand experiences in the economic espionage arena…which was primarily focused on university-based research being the target, I found the ‘starting points’ for acts of economic espionage to materialize were far less dependent on conventional perspectives of ‘cloak and dagger’ stealth. Instead, the perpetrators variously preyed upon and exploited individual’s gullibility, naiveté, and arrogance, not in frequently exhibited – offered willingly by their human targets, i.e., to collect their intellectual and structural capital developed-held by knowledgeable researchers, scientists, and/or c-suites.
Robert Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor…to investigate, presumably, whether election meddling and/or collusion existed between U.S. administration officials (pre-post 2016 national election) and Russian counterparts who allegedly sought to manipulate U.S. voter perceptions and thereby – sway the election.
Throughout these election meddling (allegation) process, I have heard – conversed with countless individuals, some who vociferously exhibit their inclination to characterize the allegations as if Russian operatives (boogey men) actually-appeared on U.S. soil on or before election day, at polling places and elsewhere to influence U.S. citizens…
- dissuade them from casting their vote for one political party, and/or
- persuade citizens to cast their vote for the operatives preferred political party and candidate.
The fact of the matter is, U.S. citizens can, and often are swayed by advertising…irrespective of the vagaries of its content and/or the message it endeavors to convey. There is ample evidence that the intended and targeted audience of particular-advertising will deliver the desired – intended outcomes, otherwise, why do U.S. companies spend billions on such matters? Its because there is a predictable return-on-investment (ROI). In other words, many citizens will be inclined to believe what they see, hear, or read, irrespective of the (perceived) source or its truthfulness, and will act accordingly, i.e., intellectually, emotionally, and/or financially.
So, when citizens hear, read, or see certain information (advertisements) which have been carefully crafted to dramatize and/or favorably bend the issues’ context at the fringes of misleading and/or misrepresenting reality…there will, to be sure, a percentage of ‘buy ins’. True, some citizens are predisposed to believe, for various reasons, and therefore are receptive to information and perspectives they purposefully seek or merely comes before them. That’s not a statement of disrespect or contempt, rather a reality of social, psychological, and political opinionation.
Should we not assume the indicted (Russian) employees of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg knew precisely what they were doing and how to achieve their objectives, i.e., creating disruption, divisiveness, and questions regarding the U.S. 2016 national election?
One way for citizens to translate this, is to objectively dissect…each of the network evening news broadcasts and…
- note what companies and/or products are being advertised during commercial breaks.
- be cognizant of the carefully scripted language and visuals applied, and
- how each is intended to encourage viewers to apply the commercial’s message to their circumstance, inquire about, and preferably buy the product and/or service being advertised.
While these commercials may seem innocuous and harmless…because, after all, viewers may or may not elect to pursue the product or service, right? But, when one is exposed to these persuasive visuals – language repeatedly, as representing truth and reality, they may materialize as one’s ‘truth and reality’, and there lie the distinctions.
Michael D. Moberly February 26, 2018 St. Louis firstname.lastname@example.org ‘A business intangible asset blog where attention span really matters’!