Before I get to the allegations, let me start with the possible ways in which Russia could have interfered with the election:
1. It could have handed money over to anti-Hillary groups to help power their opposition to her campaign. This is what Obama did, when he handed taxpayer money over to a variety of groups in Israel that worked hard to destroy Netanyahu’s candidacy. He also interfered with Britain’s election when he made trade threats regarding Brexit. Progressives are okay with interfering with another nation’s election, provided that Obama does it. [UPDATE: A friend reminded me that Obama probably took in massive amounts in foreign donations in 2008 and 2012 because he turned off credit card safeguards.]
2. It could have hacked into computer voting machines, although it would have had to deal with the fact that each state has its own system, ranging from paper votes, to scanning machines, to fully computerized voting machines.
3. It could have spread misinformation — that is, it could have spread absolute lies.
These lies might have included stories about the fact that Hillary’s husband frequently hung out with a convicted pedophile and flew on the pedophile’s private jet to the pedophile’s private island abounding with young, very young, women. Oh, wait. Never mind. That really happened.
Russia could have said that Hillary is so abusive that she’s completely loathed by those people whose job required them to lay down their lives for her. Ah! That’s not a lie either.
Wait! I got it. Russia could have spread a lie intended to humiliate Hillary by saying that she bravely landed under sniper fire in Bosnia, only to have the truth emerge that she was greeted at the tarmac by a little girl with flowers. Sorry, sorry! The story about the sniper fire in Bosnia is indeed a lie, but Hillary spread it about herself.
My point is why would the Russians lie when the Democrat party and its candidate already have that task under control?
4. It could have requested that DNC staffers send it their passwords and, armed with that information, hacked into the DNC email server and published the Democrats’ own emails, without any amendments, spoliation, fake inserts, or other manipulation of data. In other words, it could have humiliated Democrats by exposing them for the weird, hate-filled, incompetent, racist, people they are, people who unblinkingly destroyed the people’s favored candidate (Bernie) in order to elevate a woman they agreed was incompetent and not too bright, as well as not very likely to win on the merits.
With those four types of hacking in mind, the question for you, before we get into actual facts, is which type of “hacking” should get people’s hackles up? I would say that Types 1, 2, and 3 are problematic.
If the Russians paid secret funds to defeat Hillary, that be have been a problem. Except. . . . Except that it’s hard to see how any funds the Russians could have put into play would have affected the election’s outcome.
After all, Hillary spent an unprecedented $1.2 billion on her campaign, twice as much as Donald spent, and still lost. As it turned out, this campaign wasn’t about money. Instead, Trump bypassed ordinary media spending (no big election add buys, for example), and tweeted his way right into the people’s hearts. It helped that Hillary was a horrible candidate (as even the DNC admitted in its emails) and that the people were simply putting the final stamp on their anti-Democrat voting patterns in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
If the Russians messed with machines across 50 states, or even only those in which Trump won by margins of less than 1 or 2%, that would be a problem. That’s unlikely, because of the procedure difficulties I noted in item 2, above. Moreover, the recount in Michigan showed that, if anyone was messing with the machines, it was the Democrats. There seems to be no evidence that the Russians did anything that magically boosted the Democrat vote count.
If the Russians spread absolute lies . . . well, I’m kind of at a loss with this one. It’s certainly the story that Progressive machine has embraced with its hysteria about “false news.” For conservatives, inured to decades of “false news” from the American media, it’s hard to get excited about this claim. From the conservative viewpoint, “false news” began with Walter Duranty’s lies about the Soviet Union, continued with Walter Cronkite’s lies about America’s victories in Vietnam, appeared again with Dan Rather’s lies about George W. Bush’s Vietnam record, and since then has escalated. I won’t detail all the false news stories, but I’ll remind you of just a few of them in the last decade and more:
(1) Apocalyptic anthropogenic climate change, a lie that survives only if one ignores every failed prediction and the consistent manipulation of the climate record.
(2) The Obama economy is a success, another lie that only works if one manipulates government data and creates a pretend American economy.
(3) The Benghazi massacre resulted because some obscure filmmaker put up a short video on YouTube.
(4) Obamacare saves Americans money while giving them better insurance with their preferred doctors and hospitals.
(5) Democrats freed the slaves.
(6) Hillary Clinton was an effective senator.
(7) Bill Clinton “did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
(8) Barack Obama is/was a racial healer.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
My take on the hacking story is that the Russians did not commit hacking types 1-3 and, even if they had, it wouldn’t matter. As for hacking type 4 (revealing DNC emails), it’s worth pointing out that the mainstream media assiduously ignored the content of the hacked DNC emails. Those who paid attention were in the alternative media and those who read the alternative media were already opposed to Hillary. In other words, the hack, if the Russians did it, simply confirmed the readers’ preexisting biases.
And now, with those predicates in place, let’s see what the mainstream media has been saying about this alleged hacking spree:
According to the WaPo, the anonymous people in the CIA (which must fear a coming State Department house cleaning) say, albeit without providing any evidence, that Russia was the one that hacked the DNC and handed those documents over to Wikileaks:
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
Apparently the CIA and the WaPo think it’s unfair that the Russians published only DNC data, not RNC data. Incidentally, the RNC, while admitting attacks, denies that any were successful.
Because I believe the RNC had a better grasp on security than the morons at the DNC (“You want my password? Sure”), the only response that comes to my mind after reading the WaPo take is that, yeah, I guess it is unfair that the DNC was staffed by people stupid enough to hand over their passwords for the asking, while the RNC actually had good security methods in place. Anyway, as I noted above, the Wikileaks emails did nothing more than confirm for conservatives that the Democrat party is obsessed by race, employs people who are pretty unpleasant, and understood that Hillary was a less-than-idea candidate.
According to the New York Times, the Russians hacked both the RNC and the DNC just to mess with people:
They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.
It is also far from clear that Russia’s original intent was to support Mr. Trump, and many intelligence officials — and former officials in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign — believe that the primary motive of the Russians was to simply disrupt the campaign and undercut confidence in the integrity of the vote.
As I noted above, I don’t believe the claim about the RNC — I trust the RNC to speak the truth before I trust either the Russians, a State Department-led CIA that’s worried about a new broom sweeping in, or the drive-by media to speak the truth.
According to NPR, the WaPo and NYTs have said that the CIA said…. Blah, blah, blah. See above.
There is still no such evidence for any of these claims. What we have instead are assertions, disseminated by anonymous people, completely unaccompanied by any evidence, let alone proof. As a result, none of the purported evidence — still — can be publicly seen, reviewed, or discussed. Anonymous claims leaked to newspapers about what the CIA believes do not constitute proof, and certainly do not constitute reliable evidence that substitutes for actual evidence that can be reviewed. Have we really not learned this lesson yet?
And that’s it for actual “facts” behind the alleged Russian interference in the American election. I think Thomas Lifson has it right, when he says the whole thing is a con:
The Russian hacking scenario is an excuse for the Democrats to explain away their loss without blaming themselves or their candidate, and it serves to delegitimize the next president – a bad thing for the country.
My own suspicion is that an insider at the DNC leaked the emails. There is as much evidence for the public to see supporting that assertion as there is for the claim that the Russians did it.
CONCLUSION: The alleged Russian hacking is a great big nothing burger. As Greenwald makes clear, there’s no evidence that it happened. Moreover, as I’ve argued, if something did happen, it was something minimal that did not affect the election’s outcome. Revealing the Democrats to be horrible people simply confirmed the #NeverHillary cadre’s preexisting biases.
Oh, and one more thing. This whole “scary Russia and Trump” position is a set-up. Until Trump appeared on the scene, the Democrat party was all over Putin and Russia. Hillary started it with her “reset.” Obama finished it when he laughed at Romney when the latter spoke of the threat from Russia; when he assured Putin his reelection would give him more flexibility; when he did nothing after Putin invaded Ukraine; and when he handed Syria over to Russia. We are being played in lots of ways.
Photo by SarahPAC-USA (I like this particular picture because the Progressives ridiculed Sarah Palin so viciously about her knowledge of Russia.