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A Senator Actually Referenced The "This Is Fine" Meme In His Closing Statements About Russian Interference

"Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room, calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves, 'This is fine.' ... That's not fine."

Last updated on August 1, 2018, at 3:23 p.m. ET

Posted on August 1, 2018, at 2:37 p.m. ET

During a public hearing Wednesday on how foreign adversaries use social media to spread misinformation, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr spoke firmly about where he stands regarding Russia's (continued) interference in US democracy.

Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee — which is leading congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — gave a closing statement at the hearing. "The Russians conducted a structured influence campaign using US-based social media platforms and others to target the American people using divisive issues such as race, immigration, and sexual orientation," said Burr, a Republican. "That campaign is still active today."Experts and intelligence officials have warned that the US — including technology companies — is not doing enough to fight the threat of social media manipulation.
ABC News

Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee — which is leading congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — gave a closing statement at the hearing.

"The Russians conducted a structured influence campaign using US-based social media platforms and others to target the American people using divisive issues such as race, immigration, and sexual orientation," said Burr, a Republican.

"That campaign is still active today."

Experts and intelligence officials have warned that the US — including technology companies — is not doing enough to fight the threat of social media manipulation.

To drive his statements about social media home, Burr referenced the "This Is Fine" meme – which has become synonymously associated with and used to talk about current world affairs and US politics on social media.

Referencing internet meme, Sen. Richard Burr says of Russian interference efforts: "Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room, calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves 'this is fine.' That's not fine." https://t.co/Yr9SwxBwyk https://t.co/w4VUPRMWWi

"Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room, calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves, 'This is fine,'" Burr said about Russia's interfering efforts. "That's not fine."

People on social media not only immediately understood the reference. They realized, at that moment, that a third wall had officially been broken.

Senator Richard Burr on Russia's information warfare/ongoing political interference: "Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room, calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves 'this is fine.' That's not fine." https://t.co/GSUdaWgajx

And, as social media does, Burr's reference of a meme then became a meme in and of itself.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News later in the day, Burr credited his staff for showing him the meme and getting his approval to include it in his closing statements.

"I was cool with it," Burr said. "It summed up extremely well what we were trying to say, which is that though this may have been acceptable either some period ago or it may have been acceptable for something else that somebody's done against the United States, this is not fine."

"I think to educate America we need visuals and we need visuals for every generation, and that one's a generational visual," Burr said. He also said that the meme "was funny."

Wednesday's hearing was the first of two public hearings the Senate Intelligence Committee is holding on social media as part of the Russia investigation. The next one will take place in early September and include executives from Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

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