Pretty much all of last week was devoted to a John Bolton freakout, with the most ridiculous item being his connection to Cambridge Analytica. Rachel Maddow was talking as if this would derail his appointment. Cambridge did work for Bolton’s PAC and used Facebook data, which no one would have thought a scandal the day before yesterday. This was back in 2014 when, as Michael Brendan Dougherty points out, using Facebook data was still thought an act of genius because it was associated with Obama’s victory rather than Trump’s. The New York Times relates how all of Cambridge’s illicit data was used to produce an ad for Tom Tillis that any of us would have sketched out on the back of an envelope:
One advertisement, a video that was posted on YouTube, was aimed at people who scored high for conscientiousness, and were thought to respect hard work and experience. It emphasized Mr. Bolton’s time working for Ronald Reagan and how Mr. Tillis embodied the spirit and political ethos of the late president.
The thrill of this story was clearly getting Bolton’s name in a piece along with Cambridge — and special bonus, the Mercers! — the great bogeymen and scapegoats of 2016.