Brad Parscale admits Facebook was embedded in Trump campaign
Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign’s digital director, is almost certainly a pperson of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russiagate. The reason comes down to two simple questions asked by Vanity Fair’s Maya Kosoff.
How did Moscow know to micro-target swing states that would prove critical for Trump? And did they have help on the inside? …
A day after Facebook disclosed that ads purchased by Russia before and after the 2016 election may have reached as many as 10 million people in the United States, a clearer picture of the Kremlin’s micro-targeting operation has emerged. Sources tell CNN that Russia took aim at two swing states that ultimately proved critical for Trump’s victory in the 2016 election: Michigan and Wisconsin, states where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by just over 33,000 votes in total. The ads, which CNN reports were “highly sophisticated” in their targeting of key demographic groups, are the first indication of what parts of the country Russian operatives may have tried to sway during the election and raises new questions about whether they had any help.
This new evidence could be critical as Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators continue their probe into Russian interference in the election.
Mueller should have even more questions for Parscale (and perhaps even Sherry Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg) after the tech guru said maybe a little bit too much to 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl:
“Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won,” Parscale tells Stahl. Parscale says he used the majority of his digital ad budget on Facebook ads and explained how efficient they could be, particularly in reaching the rural vote. “So now Facebook lets you get to…15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for,” says Parscale. And people anywhere could be targeted with the messages they cared about. “Infrastructure…so I started making ads that showed the bridge crumbling…that’s micro targeting…I can find the 1,500 people in one town that care about infrastructure. Now, that might be a voter that normally votes Democrat,” he says. Parscale says the campaign would average 50-60,000 different ad versions every day, some days peaking at 100,000 separate iterations – changing design, colors, backgrounds and words – all in an effort to refine ads and engage users.
Parscale received help utilizing Facebook’s technology from Facebook employees provided by the company who showed up for work to his office multiple days a week. He says they had to be partisan and he questioned them to make sure. “I wanted people who supported Donald Trump.” Parscale calls these Facebook employees “embeds” who could teach him every aspect of the technology. “I want to know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some,” he says he told them.
Both campaigns used Facebook’s advertising technology extensively to reach voters, but Parscale says the Clinton campaign didn’t go as far as using “embeds.” “I had heard that they did not accept any of [Facebook’s] offers.”
CBSNews.com has also posted a teaser for Sunday’s broadcast of Lesley Stahl’s interview with Brad Parscale.