U.S. political actors will keep weaponizing the impact of widespread foreign disinformation campaigns on American elections, making these operations that much more effective and attractive to Russia, China, Iran or other countries backing them.
Why it matters: Hostile powers’ disinformation campaigns aim to destabilize the U.S., and each time a domestic politician embraces them, it demonstrates that they work.
Where it stands: There are several ways this dynamic will play out this fall and, if unchecked, in future elections.
1. U.S. politicians will amplify these false messages for their own electoral ends.
- The First Amendment bars regulating or censoring the speech of domestic political actors and press outlets, even when it amounts to disinformation and propaganda.
- Norms are the only thing stopping officials and candidates from becoming loudspeakers for a foreign active measures campaign. And norm-smashing politicians including the president have already shown themselves eager to — intentionally or not — boost disinformation from hostile states.