Georgia 2018: Abrams staffer touted campaign on Russia-owned media

Georgia Governor candidate Stacey Abrams. Chad Rhym/Chad.Rhym@ajc.com

A high-level staffer for Democrat Stacey Abrams promoted the gubernatorial candidate on a Russian government-funded media outlet that the FBI is investigating as part of a potential Kremlin-backed operation to influence last year’s presidential election.

Marcus Ferrell, an Abrams deputy campaign manager, was interviewed on Sputnik News in August to discuss the candidate’s decision not to rebuke protests against her opponent at an Atlanta convention and her call to remove Confederate leaders from Stone Mountain.

Ferrell offered his resignation after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posed questions about his appearance on the program. He said in a statement he resigned for personal reasons.

The show, hosted by Eugene Puryear, frequently features high-profile progressive guests and Black Lives Matter leaders. Other prominent figures have appeared on Sputnik’s airwaves, including two-time Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and dozens of left-leaning activists and candidates.

The FBI is probing whether Sputnik and another outlet, the state-sponsored Russia Today, are puppets of the Kremlin trying to influence American policy.

Both outlets were implicated in a declassified U.S. intelligence report that emerged in January and accused Russia of trying to help Donald Trump in last year’s vote. The outlets call themselves legitimate news organizations.

In the Sputnik interview on the “By Any Means Necessary” program, Ferrell disclosed he worked for Abrams and his comments were non-controversial.

He talked about how Democrats can defeat Trump in 2020 and how Abrams’ Stone Mountain proposal would be a “wedge issue” that black voters would remember in the May primary.

“It’s not a popular issue. It’s not a pretty issue. It might not poll well right now. But it’s an issue that’s on the minds of African-Americans and defenders of freedom in America and our allies,” he said. “I do believe it will become an issue, and I wish it wasn’t. I wish they would just take it down.”

It was one of at least three appearances on Sputnik by Ferrell, who worked as an outreach director for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid before joining Abrams earlier this year.

He is listed as a regular contributor to the show, which also features guests including Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb and a co-founder of the anti-war group Code Pink. (You can find the whole list here.)

The other two instances came before he formally joined Abrams’ campaign and did not mention the candidate. He was not on the show during the presidential campaign.

Abrams, a former leader of the Georgia House Democratic caucus, faces former state Rep. Stacey Evans in next year’s Democratic primary and both have sharply competing strategies and visions for the future of the party.

Ferrell did not immediately comment. Abrams campaign spokeswoman Priyanka Mantha called it a “distraction from the real issues Georgians deal with every day.” A second statement said Evans’ campaign, which did not comment, “is attempting to distract from her record by flinging mud.”

The scrutiny into Sputnik comes amid a wider investigation of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Officials are probing social media ads purchased by firms with links to the Kremlin targeting Georgia and other competitive states that seized on divisive social issues such as race and immigration.

Reader Comments 3

13 comments
LyleV
LyleV

Not being funny but honestly don't understand why this is a story. Greg, or somebody, can you please 'splain?

joasaf
joasaf

 The other two instances came before he formally joined Abrams’ campaign and did not mention the candidate. He was not on the show during the presidential campaign. http://www.raisedaily.com/

Luqman Nation
Luqman Nation

Oh, and for the record, Marcus Ferrell was interviewed by Eugene Puryear on his podcast "By Any Means Necessary," which can be heard not only on Sputnik, but also on Apples' iTunes, Facebook, Spreaker, PlayerFM, and IHeartRadio.


Are they all colluding with Russia, too?

Luqman Nation
Luqman Nation

This is not about "Russian meddling." This is about silencing and discrediting Black activists. Again. 


As usual, people who believe that Black politicos talk about Black people, Black issues, Black politics, and injustice to Black people too much, have to shift the narrative to whatever else they can to distract from those issues. So instead of this "article" being about the issues discussed in the interview - "how to call for the removal of Confederate Statutes South, the chances of Stacey Abrams, winning the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018, and whether or not Bernie Sanders will run for President in 2020." [taken directly from the interview description] - the focus of this piece is about the medium the interview was conducted on - Sputnik. He does this because he knows few people are going to actually follow the link and LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW to hear what Mr. Ferrell actually says. He knows that all he needs to do is type RUSSIA, and allege collusion between Black people and said Russians, and people will dismiss the purported Russian meddlers. 


Nevermind that Black people are fighting against White supremacy and racism and police brutality and radicalized income inequality and the school-to-prison pipeline and housing discrimination and gentrification and employment discrimination and healthcare discrimination and environmental discrimination and a myriad of other actual issues. The only thing that is important to "journalists" like this person is that the discussion was held on a Russian-owned platform.


But this is the same "journalist" who wrote a hit piece about Netroots, making false assertions about the Black activists in attendance there, and attributing comments and actions to people that were untrue, without actually talking to any of the participants. Just like he didn't talk to Mr. Ferrell. What "could not be reached for comment" really means is "I am too biased in my opinions and don't care to talk to the people I am about to slander in this piece, so I'll just say they couldn't be reached for comment."


If there's any meddling in the Georgia election, it's with garbage like this, by hijacking the discussions about actual policies that Black politicians are trying to have with slanderous, baseless, and untrue accusations of "Russian meddling," simply because of the outlet one of those discussions was conducted on.


Funny that the only time "journalists" like this person pays any attention to Black politicians is when he can find an opportunity to smear them.


Funny that this smearing is being done right in the midst of the Georgia gubernatorial campaign. Funny that the smear is really against Stacey Abrams, trying to connect her negatively to Ferrell by making his interview on Sputnik some nefarious chicanery.


Funny that it seems like the meddling really being done here, is by this journalist and his sleazy attempt to make a connection to Russia with a Black woman running for governor in Georgia.

BDCoole
BDCoole

Who fired him? Who meddled? Who silenced him? The AJC?

LowSage
LowSage

Stacey needs to deny everything and blame republicans or hackers for all this!

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

Jim glad to see an article on Russian meddling in the AJC. We are all going to have to do some educating since many do not understand what is going on.


Urge all of you who are interested in watching Russian active measures in real time...to follow Hamilton 68


http://dashboard.securingdemocracy.org

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

to save some time.....the flow of fake news goes something like this..


Russian rumor mills....bots....twitter and Facebook...Russia Today...Breitbart...InfoWars....Fox News


the so called conservative media panders these rumors as the truth.


Major reason many are so confused.

typingperson
typingperson

@jezel-dog / Coach - me


You have no idea what you are talking about viz the flow of fake news. I'd be interested in seeing one of your "fake news" examples from RT--or these "Russian rumor mills." What's more, RT is a regular news outlet a la the BBC for Britain or the CBC for Canada--not a conduit to right-wing sites such as Breitbart and InfoWars and Fox. 


Astounding and troubling how many Americans have been so quick to buy this b.s. Russiaphobia stuff from CNN, NYT, WaPo, and, now, AJC. 

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

@typingperson @jezel-dog / Coach - me


“BREAKING: #VoterFraud by counting tens of thousands of ineligible mail in Hillary votes being reported in Broward County, Florida Please, RT,” the tweet read.

Trump Jr. also retweeted the account on Election Day.


One example.....and I do believe you are a Russian troll.


You write too well to be a white supremacist....You are too knowledgeable to not be keeping up with current events.....


Very few Americans buy into Russiaphobia....a misconception made by someone who does not live in this country

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

@typingperson Russia Today is not a regular news outlet. It is Russian state owned media.


Free press in Russia is restricted....edited....censored.....as is the press in most all authoritarian countries.



joeintucker
joeintucker

...more collusion from the Dimocraps and the Russians...

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  1. […] a campaign staffer for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. He resigned after the Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed that he had been a guest on the program By Any Means Necessary which is hosted by […]

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  2. […] a campaign staffer for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. He resigned after the Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed that he had been a guest on the program By Any Means Necessary which is hosted by Sputnik. […]

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  3. […] a campaign staffer for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. He resigned after the Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed that he had been a guest on the program By Any Means Necessary which is hosted by […]

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