Bismarck, ND – A former Bismarck reporter now finds her work at the center of the Russia investigation.
Last week, a U.S. House Committee released a report on how Russia was interfering with the U.S. Energy market, including the Dakota Access Pipeline. The report shows, Russian social media accounts even manipulated a local journalist’s work to try and antagonize Americans.
Thousands of people around here know Amy Sisk’s work for Prairie Public.
“I spent about 8 months covering the pipeline protests,” she said. She now works for Pittsburgh, PA’s NPR station.
In a U-S House Committee report released this month, investigators found a Russian Agency sent thousands of social media posts to manipulate the U.S. Energy sector.
As an energy reporter, Sisk was reading about the report.
“As I was scrolling through, I paused and did a double take because one of the photos in one of these social media posts looked just like a photo I had taken.”
That is because it was. Her original image had been used in a meme meant to attack DAPL protesters.
“At the time of Russia doing this meddling, oil prices had dropped off from 2014 and 2015 and were laying stagnent for a year, so they were desparate to see prices rise,” Heartland Investor Services President Eugene Graner said.
The report says Russia wanted to disrupt U.S. Markets so we asked Graner if it worked.
“There was no day to day activity from that event,” he said.
But the report says there were other goals as well. It said Russia did not just target DAPL, but several key energy projects and posted support on both sides.
“To me that implies they were trying to stir up debate on both sides and create hostility in general and the discourse in our country,” Sisk said.
The house report found between 2015 and 2017, there were almost 9,097 posts regarding U.S. energy. There were an estimated 4,334 russian accounts contributing to the meddling across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. More than 4% of the russian tweets were related to energy: a significant portion when compared to the 8% related to the 2016 election.