Deterring Democracy – Donald Trump's secret strategy to deter Black voters

After years of work with the Channel 4 News Investigations Team, I obtained a copy of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign database – the blueprint for how Trump divided America to take the White House.

The database contained more than 5,000 SQL tables totalling 5 TB of data – making it one of the largest leaks in journalism history.

It was comprised of thousands of personal data points on more than 200 million US citizens. More than that, it showed how they were segmented and targeted by the campaign's data operation.

Over summer 2020 I worked with the Investigations Team to reconstruct the database, and reveal a series of findings.

In this first film we revealed how the campaign ran a strategy to deter millions of Black Americans from voting. In total, 3.5 million were classified for a 'Deterrence' operation, with disproportionate categorising of Black Americans seen all over the US.

Civil rights campaigners said the evidence amounted to a new form of voter 'suppression' and called on Facebook to disclose ads and targeting information that has never been made public.

This film was part of Channel 4 News' 'Deterring Democracy' series.

The series was nominated for a Bafta in 2021, highly commended at the IRE Awards 2020, and won an RTS Journalism Award.

You can watch the film below.


Channel 4 News, 2020



Full video on YouTube
Channel 4 News


Bafta 2021, News coverage (nominee)

IRE Award 2020, Broadcast Division I (highly commended)

RTS Journalism Awards 2021, News Technology (winner)

Venice TV Award 2021 (nominee)

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