We must end this Russophobic insanity...
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
That saying - often misattributed to Euripides - comes to mind most mornings when I pick up The New York Times and read the latest “Russiagate” headlines, which are frequently featured across two or three columns on the front page above the fold. This is an almost daily reminder of the hysteria that dominates our Congress and much of our media.
A glaring example, just one of many from recent months, arrived at my door on February 17. My outrage spiked when I opened to the Times’ lead editorial: “Stop Letting the Russians Get Away With It, Mr. Trump.” I had to ask myself:
“Did the Times’ editors perform even the rudiments of due diligence before they climbed on their high horse in this long editorial, which excoriated ‘Russia’ (not individual Russians) for ‘interference’ in the election and demanded increased sanctions against Russia ‘to protect American democracy’?”
It had never occurred to me that our admittedly dysfunctional political system is so weak, undeveloped, or diseased that inept internet trolls could damage it. If that is the case, we better look at a lot of other countries as well, not just Russia!
The New York Times, of course, is not the only offender. Their editorial attitude has been duplicated or exaggerated by most other media outlets in the United States, electronic and print. Unless there is a mass shooting in progress, it can be hard to find a discussion of anything else on CNN. Increasingly, both in Congress and in our media, it has been accepted as a fact that “Russia” interfered in the 2016 election.
So what are the facts?
It is a fact that some Russians paid people to act as online trolls and bought advertisements on Facebook during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Most of these were taken from elsewhere, and they comprised a tiny fraction of all the advertisements purchased on Facebook during this period. This continued after the election and included organizing a demonstration against President-elect Trump.
It is a fact that e-mails in the memory of the Democratic National Committee’s computer were furnished to Wikileaks. The US intelligence agencies that issued the January 2017 report were confident that Russians hacked the e-mails and supplied them to Wikileaks, but offered no evidence to substantiate their claim. Even if one accepts that Russians were the perpetrators, however, the e-mails were genuine, as the US intelligence report certified. I have always thought that the truth was supposed to make us free, not degrade our democracy.
It is a fact that the Russian government established a sophisticated television service (RT) that purveyed entertainment, news, and—yes—propaganda to foreign audiences, including those in the United...