The Fallacies Of The 'Russia-Truthers'

Authored by James Carden via,

The anti-Russia hysteria – now rivaling past Red Scares with Russians hiding under every bed – has led to factual errors in press accounts and has erased standards of political fairness.

One of the more extraordinary developments since the U.S. presidential election is that the paranoia and the grotesque disregard for facts, evidence and logic that characterized the Trump-inspired “birther movement” can now be reasonably said to characterize the Left’s stance toward Donald J. Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

There seems to be nothing that Trump opponents will not say and no charge, however low, they will not stoop to making as long as it furthers the goal of removing Trump from office. But, alas, the liberal case against Trump rests upon little more than widely shared fictions and unsubstantiated claims about Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

For instance, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, former FBI Director James Comey cast doubt on a Feb. 14 New York Times report titled “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence.

The article, which relied on “four current and former government officials,” said that “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election” and that “the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.”

Comey was asked about the report during an exchange with Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho.

RISCH:  I remember, you — you talked with us shortly after February 14th, when the New York Times wrote an article that suggested that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. This is not factual. Do you recall that?




RISCH: OK. So — so, again, so the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?


COMEY: In — in the main, it was not true.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, asked Comey: “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?” To which Comey replied: “Yes.”

Spreading Hysteria

However, the anti-Russian hysteria has spread well beyond the pages of The New York Times and even beyond the circumstances of the 2016 presidential campaign. Allegations about Russian meddling have included U.S. government attacks on Russia’s RT network for allegedly undermining Americans’ faith in their democracy by broadcasting debates among third-party presidential candidates and covering the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

Even American journalists have come in for a taste of the lash for not joining in the Russia-bashing. Last Thanksgiving Day, The Washington Post ran a front-page story based on an anonymous Web site called PropOrNot that accused 200 Web sites – including, Counterpunch, Truthout, Truthdig and other leading independent news sources in America – of peddling “Russian propaganda,” presumably in part, because they questioned the State Department’s narratives about the Ukraine crisis or the Syrian conflict.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, recently issued a report warning that Russian President Putin is building a European “5th column” to advance a goal of undermining Western democracy. Anybody who does not join in the ritual denunciations of Putin and Russia is under suspicion.

Yet in light of Comey’s testimony, perhaps it is worth recalling a number of other instances in which Russia was accused of seeking to disrupt and discredit Western democracies and see how well they’ve held up.

In April of last year, Dutch voters rejected a referendum on whether to approve an Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. Russia was quickly accused of meddling in the referendum.

One New York Times headline screamed: “Fake News, Fake Ukrainians: How a Group of Russians Tilted A Dutch Vote.” The Times reported that two Russians had worked against the referendum for the Dutch Socialist Party.

But, as the Dutch journalist and author Chris Kaspar de Ploeg points out, the Times story credits “these mere two (!) individuals” with having “tilted the Dutch vote.” In the end, De Ploeg notes, the Times was forced to admit that “no one has yet come up with concrete evidence that the Russian state, rather than individual Russians, is working to skew the election and many wonder why Moscow would even bother trying to do so in a small country.”

Brexit Accusations

Similar accusations of meddling were leveled against Russia in the run-up to the June 2016 Brexit vote. Joerg Forbrig of the German Marshall Fund told the Daily Beast, “I do think that the Kremlin has been trying to reach out to the leave campaign. There may well be support but it will be very hard to find out about this because they will be extremely discrete.”

Russians taking part in an Immortal Regiment march, honoring family members who died during World War II, on May 9, 2017.

“We do know,” said Forbrig, “that the Kremlin is also materially supporting other actors that have potential to undermine European unity, and the European Union.”

After the “Leave” campaign emerged victorious, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told the House of Commons “I don’t think we have even begun to wake up to what Russia is doing when it comes to cyber warfare.”

And yet, despite all the handwringing, U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was recently forced to admit: “We have no evidence the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment. We don’t actually have that evidence. But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that.”

A December 2016 New York Times editorial also expressed concern that Putin had set his sights on Europe, citing “ominous signs that Russia is spreading propaganda and engaging in cyberattacks in Europe in advance of several national elections next year.”

And yet, according to Politico Europe, a year-long investigation by German intelligence issued in February 2017 “failed to uncover evidence of Kremlin-backed meddling” and “found no concrete proof of disinformation campaigns targeting the government.”

In the run-up to May’s presidential election in France, Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the New York Times: “I think it’s safe by everybody’s judgment that the Russians are actively involved in the French elections.”

Speculation about Russian interference went into overdrive just hours before the vote when emails from the campaign of pro-E.U. candidate Emmanuel Macron were leaked. The culprit? You guessed it! According to a May 6 report in The Independent, “Vitali Kremez, director of research with US-based cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint, said his analysis indicated that APT 28, a group tied to Russia’s GRU military intelligence directorate, was behind the leak.”

But once again, no evidence was to be found. In an interview with the Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard, director general of France’s cyber-defense agency, said his agency “found no trace that the Russian hacking group known as APT28, blamed for other attacks including on the U.S. presidential campaign, was responsible” for the leak.

But that didn’t stop Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, from repeating the accusations. After all, why let facts get in the way of a good story? Raskin screeched to protesters at the so-called “March for Truth” that Russia “hacked and trashed Macron, in a bid to elect the right-wing, immigrant bashing Marine Le Pen.”

Viral Distortions

Needless to say there have been many reports of Russian cyber attacks in the U.S. that have gone viral but were quickly shown to be untrue.

A busy tourist scene in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Of these, perhaps the best known was a story in Slate by former New Republic editor Franklin Foer in which Foer claimed a computer server belonging to the Trump Organization was secretly communicating with what Hillary Clinton described as a “Putin-tied bank” in Russia.

And yet, as On the Media’s Bob Garfield sardonically noted, “it took cyber experts about 5 minutes to knock that story down.” As it turns out, the “secret server” wasn’t secret and the domain in question didn’t even belong to Trump; it belonged to a marketing company called Cendyn.

The link to the Russia’s Alfa bank? Executives from Alfa frequented Trump hotels and as a matter of course received marketing/promotional emails from Cendyn on behalf of the Trump Organization. Cyber expert Robert Graham described Foer’s story as “nonsense.”

Yet Foer, was if anything, in good company. The Washington Post, in a December 2016 story accused the Russian government of hacking into an electrical grid in Burlington, Vermont. The sensational headline read: “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say.”

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin was quick to denounce the Kremlin, declaring “Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety.”

But, alas, the story was quickly debunked by the electrical utility in question, which released a statement, which read, in part: “There is no indication that either our electric grid or customer information has been compromised. Media reports stating that Burlington Electric was hacked or that the electric grid was breached are false.” The Post had to append an embarrassing editor’s note explaining why their story didn’t hold up to the minutest scrutiny.

Given all this, our hardy band of “Russia Truthers” might do well to curb their hysteria until such time as Independent Counsel Robert Mueller concludes his investigation. Maybe then there might be at least some evidence attached to the various allegations. But the prospects for such self-control are not good. There is too much momentum – and political self-interest – behind the sordid campaign to paint the 2016 election result as the product of sinister Russian interference.


Mikeyyy Bigly Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:27 Permalink

"... the paranoia and the grotesque disregard for facts, evidence and logic that characterized the Trump-inspired “birther movement." LOL - what goes around comes around Donald, you sleazy bastard.  And all the rest of you who were (and still are birthers.)  Now fuck off and suffer the backlash.

In reply to by Bigly

E5 Art Van Delay (not verified) Mon, 06/19/2017 - 07:37 Permalink

as if the obama/clinton didn't create all of this.  I remember 10 years ago russia was here training with our troops and going to ball games in colorado.  This legacy is foolish to inherit.  It isn't incompetent leadership though.  It is a bunch of peter-principled administrators in the state who are retards.

In reply to by Art Van Delay (not verified)

el buitre KimAsa Sun, 06/18/2017 - 23:10 Permalink

The capstone of the satanic controlling pyramid does serious long term planning.  Their strategies are like playing a 3 dimensional scrabble game where they try to make as many points in as many different directions as possible.  I could give 7 major objectives for the 9/11 attack before I had to catch my breath.  Every attack against Trump involves Russia though there was no involvement of Trump with Russia and it is made up out of whole cloth.  Why don’t they pick something with a little more teeth in it to bring Trump down?   The primary purpose of gambling casinos is to launder CIA drug money.  Whether or not Trump did anything felonious in that department, it would be far more fertile ground to bring him down than this Russian crap.  Unfortunately the answer is very simple.  They decided a long time ago that they needed a third world war with Russia at this point in their final take down of the planet.  It’s baked into their pie. For reasons both karmic, occult,  and practical, our masters need us to participate in an intense, Orwellian two minutes of hate several times a day directed toward Russia and Putin.  Taking Trump down is only secondary with this Russia meme, otherwise they would have used money laundering or something related.

In reply to by KimAsa

LyLo Mikeyyy Sun, 06/18/2017 - 23:02 Permalink

As a former Democrat that was present and active in the party at the time: f* off.  Too many of us were there at the time, and no one is buying that line.Clinton started the birther movement.  Her campaign began the whole issue by publicizing little known photos and pushing the line with her friends in the press.  This is a matter of record.(This is to say nothing of the birther movement.  Those guys did a lot of legwork that otherwise never would have been done, and we know a lot we otherwise wouldn't about Obama's early life--regardless of your beliefs on the exact circumstances to his citizenship..)

In reply to by Mikeyyy

IntercoursetheEU Mikeyyy Sun, 06/18/2017 - 23:41 Permalink

Let these libtards continue spinning this silly yarn. They have wasted another year on this. Two years until Primary season comes into view, and no viable strategy or personality to offer up. Trump 2020 a slam dunk. Comtemporary Liberals will eventually live out their lives in nusing homes spouting demented nonsense to plastic houseplants off in a corner.

In reply to by Mikeyyy

Jubal Early (not verified) jackstraw001 Mon, 06/19/2017 - 02:39 Permalink

Did you see that Jerry's wolf guitar was sold for $2m for the benefit of (((SPLC))) by the (((Prizkers)))?  You certainly know that the Dead were big supporters of Obama and gave benefit concerts for him.  Why is it that you zing libtards and yet fly their favorite bands satanic symbol as your avatar?

In reply to by jackstraw001

buyingsterling Mikeyyy Mon, 06/19/2017 - 01:56 Permalink

 An analog to the evidence produced by the 'birther movement' would be if Trump published a series of books where he actually claimed to have colluded with the Russians against American interests. If you recall, President Pimp's autobiographical statement, which accompanied his publisher's profile on him, stated that he was born in Kenya. The pimp let that 'fiction' stand for 17 years. That's a mountain of evidence in favor of the birthers, compared to the jack squat that the lunatic left has produced in favor of their infantile Russian fantasies. 

In reply to by Mikeyyy

LetThemEatRand Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:10 Permalink

I will only believe that Trump is a Russian spy if there are Russian passports found at the base of Trump tower after Trump blows it up.Fuck this author and his "truther" language to equate MSM propaganda with people who have legitimate questions about MSM propaganda.

ebworthen Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:12 Permalink

Russian Federation looking better and better as a place to expatriate to.Especially if the U.S. Kabal succeeds in destroying the choice of real Americans.Why stay in a rotting cesspool of Godless Socialists who hate Western Civilization?

FoggyWorld Royotoyo Mon, 06/19/2017 - 08:42 Permalink

It's a huge country and with relatively few people.   Places like St. Petersburg and Moscow are absolutely international cities but there are those thousands and thousands of square miles where people live more of a peasant life style.   That is on Putin's agenda to change but to get there he knows war is one huge waste of money that could be better spent building up those distant communities.Our country is similar in a way because the coasts and a very few midwestern cities live one way while the majority in fly over America life a very different lifestyle which is fine and valid as it is in Russia. 

In reply to by Royotoyo

Royotoyo FoggyWorld Mon, 06/19/2017 - 09:46 Permalink

No doubt, there's some wretched poverty in the rural areas of Russia's enormous flyover country, just like in the US.  But, more and more, people are migrating to urban areas in the regions where the cities are quite nice and developed.  Occasionally this is portrayed negatively, that villages in Russia are dying out, but I don't know what the problem is.  A lot of these places are pretty uninhabitable and were populated by the Soviets for no good reason, or by peasants that have always been there.  The government plays lip service to redeveloping and servicing some of these rural locations, but Russia is a market economy at the end of the day and people go where the money is. As for war, I sure hope you're right.  Russia has always devoted a lot of its resources to defense, unfortunately there's no other way.  All you need is a world map and some world history 101 to understand why.

In reply to by FoggyWorld

Endgame Napoleon Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:19 Permalink

Why would Putin want Europe, with its increasing string of mass murders by terrorists? He has enough problems with terrorist attacks in his own country.

Some press people have big imaginations, all the better to make up Fake News with.

But, maybe, the problem is the dearth of technical knowledge. They never give a clear account of what the hacking is.

The most specific account I saw mentioned settings in Russian and some allegedly altered PDF document. That article was probably written by a more tech-savvy person.

holdbuysell Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:22 Permalink

Talked to corporate media followers lately. They said they don't even bother watching any longer as they know how bogus their news is.Winds of change... 

MuffDiver69 Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:31 Permalink

I say keep it up. This entire charade has discredited the media even more then this past election did... This entire charade has convinced even more people to seek out the truth via internet...

I say keep it up. Keep making it up. The jokes on them. These son of bitches just got five people shot. It's gonna be a hoot at next Trump rally and the MSM better bring Security....

Giant Meteor Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:36 Permalink

It is interesting that folks feel the need to lie, fabricate these wild off the wall stories, when simple truth would have simply sufficed. Of course that simple truth brings everyone down, exposes the entire dirty game, and exposes the self same swamp creature's, of the same polluted swamp, which they swim in together, holding hands, and circle jerking one another.To expose, reveal their real crimes, malfeasance, duplicity, the massive injustice and corruption, to fully expose their wanton, self same, self serving criminality, is to bring down, expose the entire government structure, which is at this point in time, is wholly, and entirely bankrupt of any and all "moral" if not legal standing, in any matter or regard now before it..

youshallnotkill Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:43 Permalink

The Tylers will apparently never acknowledge that the reports about the Russia interference started long before Trump was elected.If there was nothing to uncover why all the griping about the investigation? Trump should simply stand by and make all his staffers fully cooperate.