Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said he cannot confirm Russian trolls were a major force in the NFL national anthem protest debate, but he said he suspected Lankford is right.
Watts, who helped create a website that tracks Russian propaganda on social media, said it would be consistent with other documented propaganda campaigns that originated in Russia, such as the use of Facebook to push messages for and against the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The goal is heightened tensions,” Watts said. “They’ll use organic American content to amplify to American audiences. They would much rather use organic American content. It hits the audience better and it’s cheaper and more effective.”