My morning routine is a cup of coffee and the News app on my iPad. The News app makes is easy to get a broad range of topics from a broad range of publications. I prefer business news since MarketWatch, Bloomberg, and the like tend to report with less spin than the Fake News Media: CNN, ABC, CNBC, etc.
Yet, I continue to allow Fake News to appear in my feed. Partly in hopes they return to sanity but mostly from the belief that diversity of ideas is good. Even if those ideas are idiotic.
The great Russia collusion story of 2017 is one such idiocy. I am not saying the Russians did not meddle in our election. Russia is always meddling in our elections. This is not news. The irrational desire to delegitimize President Trump is the reason we keep seeing headlines about Russia’s meddling.
Repeat after me: Russia is always meddling in our elections.
The Facebook Ads of Nothingness
The former poster-child story was the Russian’s use of Facebook and social media ads. A whopping $100,000 in Facebook ads. Only half of which was used before the election. The news mostly touts how many people the ads reached because that number is large. The reality is that the reach number is not relevant. Scrolling by an ad counts as having reached someone.
Those who use Facebook ads to acquire new customers or leads will know that $100,000 is a pittance at scale. The two campaigns spent tens of millions of dollars each. Some poor souls will be suckered by the Russian ads but they will certainly have been suckered by the Trump or Clinton ads too. You think people are seeing more Facebook ads from Russia than Trump or Clinton?
Let’s use our brains here.
The ‘Shocking’ US Intelligence Report
A much more respectable story came in the form of a report from US Intelligence agencies concluding that Russia interfered in our election to help Trump. Odds are you haven’t read the actual report.
The report makes this conclusion and provided levels of confidence from each agency. The FBI and CIA had a high confidence and the NSA had a moderate confidence. This is not quite as damning a report as the news made it out to be which is why Trump is still President and not in jail.
The report makes it clear that Russia did not like Clinton. But that shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Most of the country didn’t like her either. A great deal of people who voted for her didn’t like her. They just disliked Trump more.
The intelligence report notes:
Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
It is perfectly reasonable for Russia to have a preference in our Presidential election. The entire world cares who our President is. It affects them.
With that in mind, the report also cites reasons for Russia’s preference for Trump:
Moscow also saw the election of President-elect Trump as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Putin has had many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Putin, Russian officials, and other pro-Kremlin pundits stopped publicly criticizing the US election process as unfair almost immediately after the election because Moscow probably assessed it would be counterproductive to building positive relations.
None of that points to any collusion between Trump and Russia. Russia is clearly paying attention to our elections and believed they could work better with Trump. Why is this some kind of travesty? We are much better off being friendly with Russia than to have a repeat of the Cold War.
Again: let’s use our brains here.
The Smoking Water Pistol
I try not to read BuzzFeed because it’s garbage. They have professed a desire to do real journalism instead of just flooding the internet with lists of uselessnesses. Yet, we’ve seen no journalism from BuzzFeed. Their biggest story of 2017 was the Trump Dossier.
But they are at it again! BuzzFeed’s most recent exclusive:
Well that sure looks incriminating. Money payments to finance the 2016 election?! Who was getting the money? Trump? Clinton? Sanders? Stein?! Johnson!? Don’t tell me… it was McMullin!
The money was probably for Russia’s lower house of Parliament election on September 18th, 2016. Money was sent to various embassies so that Russians living abroad could vote. BuzzFeed mentions this themselves. It was just buried nearly half way into the article. Below a wall of eye-glaze so that no one would read far enough to see it.
I Raise You a Wikileaks
Another exaggerated story involves Donald Trump Jr and Wikileaks. We are bombarded with misleading headlines daily but the body of the article usually clears it up. Unless you are The Atlantic.
The story here is of the private communications between Donald Trump Jr and Wikileaks on Twitter. The Atlantic took the contents of the private messages and reported on snippets of it that fit their favored narrative of collusion between Trump and Russia.
The article quoted part of a message from Wikileaks and decided to cut out the parts that didn’t fit the narrative. They cut pieces and added their own punctuation instead the traditional practice of omission via ellipsis (…).
We may have never known about this misrepresentation had Donald Trump Jr not released his entire conversation with Wikileaks. I saw Trump Jr’s reveal in the morning and read through the conversation. Wikileaks had a clear distaste for Clinton but so do most people. Other than that, I didn’t see what the big deal was and that’s because there was nothing there.
Unless you read The Atlantic first. They have since updated their article to reflect reality but who reads updates?
After a year of Russia stories and a federal investigation, you’d think we would have found something if anything existed. How can Trump be too incompetent for the Presidency yet able to hide this collusion from active investigative reporters and a dedicated federal investigation team?
Let’s use our brains here.
Let me know in the comments if you are also sick of this Russia narrative or if you think I’m a Russian operative trying to distract from Trump’s crimes.