Russian trolls, and even some officials, have targeted Morgan Freeman after the famed actor added his vocal talents to a new commercial calling for increased investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.
The #StopMorganLie hashtag began to circulate on Twitter earlier this week after the Committee to Investigate Russia released a new commercial featuring the 80-year-old actor. The ad, which boldly states "we have been attacked" and that "we are at war" with Russia, has led to Freeman being criticized as a mouthpiece for the U.S. government. Some have even claimed he was suffering from delusions of grandeur.
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"It does look very highly coordinated, because you're seeing something on multiple platforms at the same time communicating the same message," Rolf Friedheim, an analyst at NATO's Strategic Communication Center of Excellence, told The Washington Post. "It's more than just a teenager in the basement. But it could also be something more sophisticated than that … the St. Petersburg troll factories, for instance. It could be an example of some kind of Russian troll-farm output."
Russian officials also weighed in. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed Freeman had been "roped in" to the ad and compared it to when former Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also joined in on the criticism, noting that Freeman "can hardly be taken seriously," and claiming he was "a victim of emotionally charged, self-exalted status," according to Radio Free Europe.
Russian media took it a step further.
Rossiya 24, a Russian television station, brought on a panel of psychiatrists to analyze Freeman's participation in the video. They claimed Freeman pointed to "a Messianic complex resulting from playing God or the the president in several films, not to mention 'drug abuse,'" according to the BBC.
Many of the critics seemed to question U.S. democracy, which lends to Friedheim's point that the efforts may be artificially coordinated.
The Committee to Investigate Russia is a "non-profit, non-partisan resource" whose stated mission is to "help Americans recognize and understand" Russia's attacks on our democracy. Director Rob Reiner directs the organization, while former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and conservative commentator Charles Sykes sit on the board.