The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is looking into the role far-right news sites including Breitbart, InfoWars and the Kremlin-backed RT might have played in Russia’s influence campaign during the U.S. presidential election, McClatchy reported Monday.
Automated computer bots strategically deployed unabashedly pro-Trump articles, which often contained falsehoods, from those sites on social media at moments when Trump’s campaign was flagging, anonymous FBI sources told McClatchy. The probe reportedly is looking at whether those publications willingly coordinated with Russian operatives in promoting their stories.
The inquiry is part of the FBI’s comprehensive investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, which Director James Comey confirmed Monday is also looking into any potential ties between Trump’s campaign staffers and Russian officials.
The White House, Breitbart and the FBI declined McClatchy’s requests for comment.
There’ve been a number of investigations into how so-called “fake news” stories distorted the media narrative and fueled the spread of election-related conspiracy theories during the 2016 race, including in The Washington Post and BuzzFeed.