Russiagate is certainly complex and divisive. It seems to me to exemplify the ever widening gap between “mainstream” and “alternative” media and thought. Like many another controversy, they are almost diametrically opposed. I’ve fairly given up on trying to establish or preach objective truth as it’s become much too difficult to separate propaganda from “news.” Russiagate is especially vexing as it’s ongoing, and as that indefatigable, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat Bill Moyers wrote recently, “the news is coming fast and furious.” Strictly speaking, I believe it’s allegations and speculation that are coming fast and furious, and what people choose to believe depends on what they consider a credible information source and their political affiliation. A number of ideas, like Russian meddling, or hacking, and internet trolls appear to come from a few sources that are endlessly repeated and elaborated on with the unfortunate result that what starts as “alleged” becomes meddled. Moyers is a good example. In a recent piece headlined The Trump Russia Story Is Coming Together Here’s How To Make Sense Of It, Bill has found a retired litigator who has put together a comprehensive timeline of “what we actually know” about the Trump Russia connection. I didn’t count, but just glancing at the timeline the number of “alleged” and “says” or “said” is enough to render any conclusion suspect; which doesn’t stop Bill from arriving at one. Irony abounds here, as well. I find no small irony in a British government funded article being used to try to persuade me that Russian government funded propagandists have been trying to persuade me. At least it shows that government propaganda is pervasive and insidious but that makes it even more difficult to parse the real from the fake news. That Democrats in their zeal to oust Trump have allied themselves with neo-conservative war mongers and are clamoring for, or at least gladly acceding to, the very censorship of dissident views they claimed Trump would surely pursue is irony I could do without.
Assuming the most ludicrous allegation is true and Russian oligarchs lead by the evil genius Vladimir Putin have placed their favored candidate in the White House, what would government look like ? A national security state in which surveillance is ubiquitous and law enforcement brutally suppresses dissent with impunity, especially in minority communities where the potential for resistance and political sophistication are highest; deregulation of finance and industry; privatization of government functions; siphoning of wealth from the poorest to the richest; government subsidies to an elite few that relieves them from having to accumulate capital and immunizes them from risk; government granted monopolies in the form of copyrights and patents and intensified enforcement of them; a massive prison system; foreign policy seemingly designed to create opportunities for arms sales and directed by a small group of oligarchs (are you familiar with Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act ?); blatant government propaganda — the U.S. government for the last 16 years under the Bush-Obama administration. So if Putin does “whatever he’s going to do to us,” as Moyers assumes he will be allowed to do, or ““If the presidency is effectively a Russian op, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign,” to borrow a scenario posed by Rachel Maddow, how will I know ?
A number of Democrats and self styled liberals and progressives were so worried about the existential threat Trump poses to democracy that they felt they had to vote for Hillary Clinton even though they didn’t want to. Many said their consciences wouldn’t allow them to vote third party for fear that that would help Trump win. Headlines from Newsweek, Salon and The Hill give one reason for the fear, though I’m well aware there are others. “Donald Trump’s Threat to Press Freedom: Why It Matters,” “Freedom of the press: Is Trump the next Erdoğan?” are indicative of the mood during the campaign. Specifically, “Now that he’s won, there’s definitely reason for concern,” Nossel says. “If the campaign and his past history are any indication, this will be a president who is dismissive of the role of the press. Accusatory. Punitive in his treatment of journalists. Arbitrary.” from Newsweek and “One thing strongmen and demagogues have in common … they hate the Fourth Estate because they can’t control them. All politicians try to manage their messages, but barring journalists from legitimate news events isn’t about staying on message; it’s about keeping voters from knowing all the facts about a candidate, especially the nuanced ones that most of us only have access to through reporters whose jobs are to cover candidates at events that aren’t programming opportunities like political conventions or phone in interviews with friendly news outlets.” from The Hill decrying Trump’s banning some news outlets from his rallies, indicate that freedom of the press and especially a nuanced diversity of views was considered critical. Now Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, the Russian government sponsored news outlets, have been forced to register as foreign agents, punished arbitrarily because they were accused by the Director of National Intelligence of seeking to influence politics and fuel discontent in the U.S., and conducting strategic messaging for the Russian government.
There is no evidence that RT is under direct orders from the Kremlin and it hasn’t been accused of lobbying for the Russian government so it doesn’t meet the requirements of a foreign agent in the Foreign Agent Registration Act, making its punishment arbitrary. The result of registering so far is that RT’s congressional press credentials have been revoked and they have been “de-ranked” on Google (good luck finding their articles) and they have been deprived of any potential ad revenue on Twitter. All government funded news outlets conduct strategic messaging for their governments, so do corporate funded outlets like CNN, MSNBC, the Mickey and Minnie Mouse network, and FOX. Registering as a foreign agent also means detailed reporting to the U.S. government regarding finance and communications, putting the employees in potential danger from crazed patriots and obviously scaring off sources. This results in the demagogues gaining control, managing the message and barring journalists from legitimate news events, thus keeping voters from knowing all the facts. Democrats have managed to produce, with their relentless pursuit of Russiagate, the very result they feared and most are probably not even aware of it. Evidence to back the accusations against RT in the DNI report include accurate reporting on anti-fracking, portraying the electoral process as undemocratic, running stories on election irregularities and voting machine vulnerabilities, contending that election results can’t be trusted and don’t represent the popular will, broadcasting, hosting and advertising third party candidate debates and airing reporting supportive of the agendas of the candidates in an effort to highlight the alleged lack of democracy in the U.S., and on and on with things that even mainstream U.S. media reported and which Democrats, liberals and progressives claim to agree with. RT has a number of shows with American hosts like Lee Camp, who hosts a political comedy show not unlike Colbert or Stewart called Redacted Tonight. “I’m an American in America covering American news for Americans,” Camp confessed on his show. “My father was in the US military for 20 years. I was born in Walter Reed Army Hospital. I’m descended from Walter Camp, the father – the inventor – of American football!” and now he’s known for being employed by a foreign agent which proponents of RT’s punishment say they hope will mean he won’t be able to find a job elsewhere. I didn’t see a word of condemnation about this from any one whose conscience wouldn’t allow her to vote third party and nothing from the liberal defenders of democracy like the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, the OSCE, Je suis Charlie, and the British Union of Journalists. That is until the Duma began debating legislation that would place similar requirements on any foreign government funded news outlet there. Then it became extremely dangerous to treat journalists as foreign agents.
Facebook testified to Congress that “the vast majority of the ads run by the 470 pages and accounts did not specifically reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or any particular candidate.” ““Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.” Which is not just fatuous nonsense but insultingly condescending. There might be other ways to interpret what Russia influenced the U.S. election by amplifying divisive social messages means but what I hear infuriates me. Not hypothetical but something I was told in high school, the message is that it’s a shame that someone with my modicum of intelligence and literacy is able to discover the paradox between what liberal democracy promises and what it delivers that my betters take for granted. What isn’t (wasn’t) stated explicitly is that if it wasn’t for the influence of commie agitators and screaming negroes (the more vulgar slur would likely be used) I could be made to understand that this is the best of all possible worlds, there really is no alternative and sometimes we have to accept things we don’t like as the price of the standard of living we enjoy. One of the tangible results of Russiagate may well be the elimination of all other possible worlds, at least from news media. I can only imagine how the idea that Russia was able to amplify social divisions like race issues sounds to people from minority communities, or how despicable it must seem that The Atlantic, “owned” by Steve Jobs widow and bastion of Democratic party social justice views, would publish The History of Russian Involvement in America’s Race Wars providing “progressives,” who pride themselves on their ability to recognize and refrain from using racial slurs, with euphemism to express racism in a politically correct fashion. Black people are too dim witted to be able to organize and protest racism without the support of those strategically brilliant Russians. As Aaron Mate points out in his anti-russiagate essay at The Nation, “To protest racism is not to sow “chaos” and “political discord,” but to protest racism.” The Russian revolution, being founded on socialist principles like solidarity with all workers naturally leads to supporting minorities, and it’s ironic that people who are so excited about Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialism would have any other perspective.
Regarding the Atlantic and Steve Jobs’ widow, she is often referred to as the owner. I understand that she owns 20% of voting stock which is the largest single block.