NEW YORK– For nearly a year, the news media in the United States has been completely and utterly dominated by one story above all the rest – Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, also known as “Russiagate.” The firestorm first began when Hillary Clinton – darling of the U.S. intelligence community, the mainstream press, and Wall Street – failed to win the electoral contests that the media had been convinced was her for the taking.
The story has mushroomed in the weeks since, melding with anti-Russian propaganda and accusations against President Donald Trump regarding his campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government. However, the first accusations began to emerge when Clinton’s campaign became derailed by the leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and subsequently her campaign chair John Podesta. The Russian government was blamed for the leaks, even though substantial evidence pointed to a DNC insider as the real source of the leaks.
Once the Russian hacker narrative became established, the media began working overtime to connect Trump and his campaign to Russia – creating the illusion of a “bromance” between Trump and Putin despite the fact that the two had never met. Much of the evidence for the so-called “bromance” centered around Trump stating during the campaign that he wanted to improve U.S.-Russia ties, which drastically deteriorated under the Obama administration, and wanted to work with the Russians to defeat Daesh (ISIS).
The bromance and the campaign collusion narrative have been continuously and intensely pushed by several high-ranking politicians of the Democratic Party. In fact, the push has been so intense that it has now backfired for Democrats.
As a result, it has since become a “crime” in the eyes of the mainstream media for any U.S. politician to interact or to have previously interacted with any Russian official. It has also meant that defending Russia’s government or its actions could quickly turn you into the laughingstock of the mainstream press.
But some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country have been forced to retract a major claim that has stood at the center of the Russia hacking media frenzy: namely that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump.” Last week, both the New York Times and The Associated Press were forced to retract the claim from several of their articles, as the oft-repeated statement has been proven to be false.
The New York Times was first, adding a correction to a June 25th article which stated:
“A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”
The Associated Press followed a few days later in a “clarification” stating:
“In stories published April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29, The Associated Press reported that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies — the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency — and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 2, 2017
New York Times Admits They Published Fake News About Russian Meddling – https://t.co/bQH4QDFq5P
— Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) June 30, 2017
The allegation originated from a statement given by former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper who asserted that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election based on information from “hand-picked” analysts working for just three U.S. intelligence agencies – the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The DNI nominally represents all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, and his statement was incorrectly assumed to represent the consensus among the entire U.S. intelligence community.
There are plenty of reasons to doubt Clapper, as well as the three agencies involved in proving Russian interference. For instance, Clapper committed perjury in 2013 when he lied under oath to Congress regarding the bulk collection of civilian data by the NSA. In addition, Clapper more recently made his personal bias against Russia known when he stated during an interview on “Meet the Press” that Russians are “typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever.” Yet, given the Russophobic media climate in the U.S., Clapper’s assertion that an entire ethnicity can’t be trusted on the basis of genetics was largely ignored.
In addition, the three agencies that provided Clapper information for the claim regarding Russia’s role in the 2016 election are arguably the least trustworthy in the entire U.S. intelligence community. The CIA, for instance, has interfered in numerous elections throughout the world since its founding and, more recently, created tools to disguise hacks they commit as having been carried out by “foreign actors.” In other words, the CIA created a tool to frame other nations for hacks they themselves committed. Aside from the CIA, the FBI is known for manufacturing the very terror plots it so frequently busts, while the NSA is well known for illegally gathering the electronic data of every American and lying about it.
While much of this information was available at the time the false claim was initially made, publications like the New York Times and The Associated Press seemed more eager to propagate the politically-motivated narrative then they were to provide objective facts in their reporting.
It is worth noting that both the Times and The Associated Press colluded with the Clinton campaign on several occasions prior to the 2016 election, suggesting their editors’ eagerness to embrace Clinton’s chosen excuse for her loss in the November election. In addition, the New York Times has been known to collude with U.S. intelligence agencies in the past, particularly the CIA.
However, they are now feeling the consequences of their missteps – an ironic twist of fate for publications so intimately involved in exposing so-called “fake news” on the Internet and on social media.