Each day we get more “Russian influence” and “Russian hacking” claptrap. Like this from the once honorable Wired which headlines:
Here’s the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit
Russian interference in Brexit through targeted social media propaganda can be revealed for the first time. A cache of posts from 2016, seen by WIRED, shows how a coordinated network of Russian-based Twitter accounts spread racial hatred in an attempt to disrupt politics in the UK and Europe.
Interesting, enthralling, complicate and sensational … … until you get down to paragraph 14(!):
Surprisingly, all the posts around Brexit in this small snapshot were posted after the June vote.
“Russian-based Twitter accounts” influenced the Brexit vote in the UK by tweeting affirmative AFTER the vote happened.
“Russian agents” influenced the U.S. election by buying irrelevant Facebook ads – 25% of which were never seen by anyone and 56% of which were posted AFTER the election.
During a flight of his recent Asia tour U.S. President Donald Trump held a press gaggle on board of the plane. Part of it were questions and answers about the alleged “Russian hacking” of the U.S. election.
There is no public transcript available yet but the Washington Post’s Mark Berman provided a screenshot of some relevant parts:
Mark Berman @markberman – 6:20 AM – 11 Nov 2017Full comment from @realDonaldTrump again questioning the US intel community conclusion that Russia meddled last year
Note that the three (not four, not seventeen) U.S. intel agencies Berman talks of did not come to “conclusions” as he claimed. They delivered an “assessment” (pdf) – their word – an estimate or judgement based on observation of behavior and other vague data. Its Annex B points out:
Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.
In the gaggle transcript attached to Berman’s tweet Trump talks about his short encounter with the Russian President Putin in Hanoi:
Q: When did you bring up the issue of election meddling? Did you ask him a question?A: Every time he sees me he says he didn’t do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, I didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, …
He says that very strongly and he really seems to be insulted by it he says he didn’t do it.
Q: Even if he didn’t bring it up one-on-one, do you believe him?
A: I think that he is very, very strong on the fact that didn’t do it. And then you look and you look what’s going on with Podesta, and you look at what’s going on with the server from the DNC and why didn’t the FBI take it? Why did they leave it? Why did a third party look at the server and not the FBI? You look at all of this stuff, and you say, what’s going on here? And you hear it’s 17 agencies. Well its three. And one is Brennan. And one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They’re political hacks. So you look at it, and then you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey’s proven now to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker. So you look at that. And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently say he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.
Trump gets it. He knows the weak points of the propaganda claims of “Russian hacking”: Podesta and the fake Steele dossier, the DNC server, the lack of any FBI investigation of the alleged hack, the NYT’s long false insistence on the ’17 agencies’ assessment, the “political hacks” who fitted their claims to the Obama/Clinton narrative.
But neither the Washington Post nor the NY Times or others mention the crucial points Trump spelled out in their write-ups of the gaggle. There is no word on the DNC email server in them, nor of Podesta. Instead they create a claim of “Putin says and Trump just believes him”. They do not name the facts and questions Trump listed in support of his position. Taking up the valid questions Trump asked would of course require the news outlets to finally delve into them. We can’t have that.
Trump is not the brightest bulb and he is not well informed. I dislike nearly all of his policies. But he understands that the “Russian hacking” narrative is false and is carried forward by lunatic political hacks and hostile media who want to push the U.S. back into a cold, or maybe even hot war with Russia, China, Iran and probably everyone else.
Featured image is from The Hacker News.