Somehow the lesson learned by the media and Democrats this election year was that Russian hacking and fake news changed less than 100,000 votes in three states and delivered the election to Donald Trump. Both stories are pernicious in the extreme.
Ironically, among the first documents released from the pilfered DNC emails was Donald Trump’s oppo file and the fact that none of the released emails were doctored indicates that embarrassment rather than electoral manipulation. Any damage done to Clinton and the Democrats was merely the result of their duplicity being revealed… something a non-supine press would have already done. This story is clearly being flogged with the singular intention of hurting Trump and it is being done at the direction of the White House. It, however, is background noise. It will go away.
What is more damaging is the myth of “fake news” swaying voters. Ever since we woke up on November 9 the legacy media has been baying for the role of curator of what news is real and what is fake on the internet. The pathetic leftwing novelty site, Snopes.com, has demanded a role. As has the loathsome PolitiFact run by the Tampa Bay Times and funded by a platoon of major progressive foundations… many of whom were also major donors to the Clinton Foundation, a factoid PolitiFact never discloses when fact checking Clinton Foundation stories.
Make no mistake about it. PolitiFact declared “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” to be true, making it the only entity or person in the nation that believed it. PolitiFact has fact checked Ted Cruz’s opinions and found his opinions to be false. Though I really hate to be put in the position of defending Donald Trump, Heaven knows Breitbart and GatewayPundit sit up nights doing that, this is particular instance serves as a useful metaphor as to why PolitiFact is congenitally and genetically incapable of telling truth from falsehood and lets you know why if you encounter anyone using a PolitiFact finding in an argument you are dealing with a moron.
Basically, PolitiFact is just as impartial as Media Matters and just as trustworthy.
This is the set up:
If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
This is PolitiFact’s analysis:
On Oct. 7 — a few months after WikiLeaks released a trove of DNC emails, but the same day WikiLeaks released emails of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta — President Barack Obama’s administration said it was confident Russia was behind the cyberattacks.
“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations,” read an Oct. 7 joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The U.S. Intelligence Community consists of 17 agencies and organizations within the executive branch, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence speaks on the group’s behalf.
Their statement said releases of alleged hacked emails on DCLeaks.com and Wikileaks and by the online persona Guccifer 2.0 were “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.”
“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process,” the statement said. “Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
Clinton used the statement as ammo when she referred to Trump as Putin’s preferred “puppet” in the Oct. 19 presidential debate. (“No puppet, you’re the puppet,” Trump replied.) When Clinton brought up the intelligence community’s statement, Trump said, “She has no idea whether it is Russia, China or anybody else.”
About a month before the Nov. 8 election, the Obama administration accused Russia of interfering in the U.S. elections, directing the release of emails “from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”
This didn’t happen under the radar. Trump was confronted with it at the final presidential debate.
For a ridiculously wrong statement, we rate it Pants on Fire!
See what they did there? They ignored what Trump said and fact checked something they wanted to fact check.
— neontaster (@neontaster) December 30, 2016
This is the timeline.
July 22, 2016. Emails from DNC are published on Wikileaks.
Summer 2016. Via The New York Times, 12/13/2016:
Even something seemingly straightforward — using the president’s executive powers, bolstered after the Sony incident, to place economic and travel sanctions on cyberattackers — seemed too risky.
“No one was all that eager to impose costs before Election Day,” said another participant in the classified meeting. “Any retaliatory measures were seen through the prism of what would happen on Election Day.”
Instead, when Mr. Obama’s national security team reconvened after summer vacation, the focus turned to a crash effort to secure the nation’s voting machines and voter-registration rolls from hacking. The scenario they discussed most frequently — one that turned out not to be an issue — was a narrow vote in favor of Mrs. Clinton, followed by a declaration by Mr. Trump that the vote was “rigged” and more leaks intended to undercut her legitimacy.
If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act?
August 30, 2016. Voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona are breached.
September 2016. Via The New York Times, 12/13/2016:
But Mr. Obama did decide that he would deliver a warning to Mr. Putin in person at a Group of 20 summit meeting in Hangzhou, China, the last time they would be in the same place while Mr. Obama was still in office. When the two men met for a tense pull-aside, Mr. Obama explicitly warned Mr. Putin of a strong American response if there was continued effort to influence the election or manipulate the vote, according to White House officials who were not present for the one-on-one meeting.
Later that day, Mr. Obama made a rare reference to America’s own offensive cybercapacity, which he has almost never talked about. “Frankly, both offensively and defensively, we have more capacity,” he told reporters.
But when it came time to make a public assertion of Russia’s role in early October, it was made in a written statement from the director of national intelligence and the secretary of homeland security. It was far less dramatic than the president’s appearance in the press room two years before to directly accuse the North Koreans of attacking Sony.
Is this an action? I suppose you can argue it both ways, what you can’t argue is that it was a) private and b) we don’t actually know it happened as the sources were not present.
October 7. Emails from John Podesta are published on Wikileaks.
October 7. Intelligence community releases statement fingering Russia for the DNC hack.
October 15. Via The New York Times, 10/16/2016.
Taping an interview for NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Biden was asked whether the United States was preparing to send a message to the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Days before, the American intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security declared that the Russian leadership was responsible for attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the leaking of stolen emails.
“We’re sending a message,” Mr. Biden told Chuck Todd, the show’s host. “We have the capacity to do it.”
“He’ll know it,” Mr. Biden added. “And it will be at the time of our choosing. And under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.”
Later, after Mr. Biden said he was not concerned that Russia could “fundamentally alter the election,” Mr. Todd asked whether the American public would know if the message to Mr. Putin had been sent.
“Hope not,” Mr. Biden responded.
December 29. Obama imposes sanctions.
One can argue that Obama took action by speaking to Putin at the G20 meeting but we really don’t know what that action was and, given the way events have unfolded since November 9, there is every reason to believe that we may not be getting the whole unvarnished truth. Was Biden’s statement an action? The New York Times seems to say, no:
Some of his former colleagues think that was the wrong answer. An American counterstrike, said Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the C.I.A. under Mr. Obama, has “got to be overt. It needs to be seen.”
A covert response would significantly limit the deterrence effect, he added. “If you can’t see it, it’s not going to deter the Chinese and North Koreans and Iranians and others.”
The Obama administration says it still has more than 30 days to do exactly that.
From the New York Times narrative it seems that no action was taken by the administration, at all, to confront the Russian hacking. This is very much in line with what Senator Tom Cotton is saying.
Indeed, the first actual action taken by the White House was the imposition of sanctions last week, an action the intelligence community recommended back in the fall.
On the whole, Trump is right. The White House took no action at all against Russia until last week and they showed scant interest in taking interest before the election because, as The New York Times points out, the White House thought Hillary was going to win and that the worst thing that would happen would be Trump complaining about being cheated. This, I firmly believe, was a feature, not a bug, from the White House point of view as it would discredit the GOP if they went along with the anticipated Trump narrative and it would cause a rift within the GOP if they didn’t go along.
The worst you can get out of Trump’s tweet is quibbling over the word “act.” Even at that, the only overt act in the chain is Obama’s alleged confrontation with Putin and this was secret. It is certainly not “pants on fire” country.
What PolitiFact did, and what they always do, is use their alleged impartiality as a cudgel to attack non-Democrats. If they are allowed to insinuate themselves into the news cycle as an arbiter, we have entered the era of state-run, one-party media.