Vladimir Lenin is alleged to have called clueless and easily manipulated pawns for the Soviet cause "useful idiots." Whether he used that term or not, it applies to some who've been used by the modern Kremlin to advance their sabotage of Western democracies, principally the United States. In the 2016 elections, we are just beginning to see the scope and depth of the Kremlin's manipulation of social media to deepen divisions and to create false narratives while boosting the chances of Russian asset and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump.
The Kremlin also had a useful idiot in Green Party candidate and far-left hack Jill Stein. As NBC reports, Stein's campaign benefited from Russian bots who used social media to target African-American voters and encourage them to vote for Stein, which would indirectly help Rump:
"Building support for Stein was one of a “roster of themes” the Moscow-sanctioned internet trolls “turned to repeatedly” in their effort to disrupt the election, according to a research team led by the New Knowledge cybersecurity firm. The researchers also found that the campaign to bolster Stein gained in intensity in the final days of the presidential campaign and largely targeted African-American voters."Stein infamously was one of two Americans that were seated with Russian autocratic thug Vladimir Putin at a gala in 2015, the other being convicted felon and Rump's (briefly) national security advisor Michael Flynn. She's also been parroting the Kremlin's line for years:
"There’s nothing in the reports to suggest that Stein was aware of the influence operation, but the Massachusetts physician has long been criticized for her support of international policies that mirror Russian foreign policy goals.Russia was not only directly involved in creating false stories and narratives undermining Hillary Clinton, they also sought to elevate Stein's little-noticed candidacy through their propaganda and social media attacks to siphon African-American and progressive voters away from Clinton. It worked in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to give Rump the electoral victory. One useful idiot gave us another.
As a frequent guest on the Russian state-owned English language broadcast and online outlets RT and Sputnik, Stein has also benefited from Moscow’s help during her presidential runs in 2012 and 2016.
An NBC News review of the archives of RT and Sputnik, which the CIA has described as part of 'Russia’s state-run propaganda machine,' from early 2015 to the 2016 election shows more than 100 stories, on-air and online, friendly to Stein and the Green Party." (our emphasis)