‘Russiagate’ Is Revealing Alarming Truths About America’s Political-Media Elites

tinfoilhatareaRussiagate’ Is Revealing Alarming Truths About America’s Political-Media Elites

Its allegations and practices suggest disdain for American institutions, principles, best interests, and indeed for the American people.

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War.

The nearly two-year-long series of allegations and investigations now known as “Russiagate” were instigated by top American political, media, and (probably) intelligence elites (mostly Democratic or pro-Democratic, but not only). What they have wrought suggests profoundly disturbing characteristics of people who play a very large role in governing this country. Cohen specifies six such barely concealed truths, which he and Batchelor then discuss.

1. Russiagate promoters evidently have little regard for the current or future institution of the American presidency. At the center of their many allegations is the claim that the current president, Donald Trump, achieved the office in 2016 because of a conspiracy (“collusion”) with the Kremlin; or as a result of some dark secret the Kremlin uses to control him; or due to “Russian interference” in the election; or to all three. Which means, they say outright or imply daily, that he is some kind of Kremlin agent or “puppet” and thus “treasonous.”

Such allegations are unprecedented in American history. They have already deformed Trump’s presidency, but no consideration is given to how they may affect the institution in the future. Unless actual proof is provided in the specific case of Trump—thus far, there is none—they are likely to leave a stain of suspicion (or similar allegations) on future presidents. If the Kremlin is believed to have made Trump president and corrupted him, even if this is not proven, why not future presidents as well?

That is, Russiagate zealots seek to delegitimize Trump’s presidency, but risk leaving a long-term cloud over the institution itself. And not only the presidency. They now clamor that the Kremlin is targeting the 2018 congressional elections, thereby projecting the same dark cloud over Congress, as some embittered losers are likely to blame Putin’s Kremlin.

2. These same Russiagate promoters clearly also have no regard for America’s national security. This is revealed in three ways…

Having found no factual evidence of such a plot, promoters of Russiagate have shifted their focus from the Kremlin’s alleged hacking of e-mails at the Democratic National Committee to Russia’s social-media “attack on our democracy.” In so doing, they reveal something bordering on contempt for American voters, for the American people.

A foundational principle of theories of democratic representative government is that voters make rational and legitimate decisions. But Russiagate advocates strongly imply—even state outright—that American voters are easily duped by “Russian disinformation,” zombie-like awaiting a signal as how to act and vote. The allegation is reminiscent of, for people old enough to remember, the classic Cold War film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” But, Cohen proposes, let the following representatives of America’s elite media speak for themselves:

According to Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, Russia social-media intrusions “manipulated American thought.… The minds of social media users are likely becoming more, not less, malleable.” And this, she goes on, is especially true of “older, nonwhite, less-educated people.” New York Times columnist Charles Blow adds that this was true of “black folks.” Times reporter Scott Shane is entirely straightforward, writing about “Americans duped by the Russian trolls.” And Evan Osnos of The New Yorker spells it out without nuance: “At the heart of the Russian fraud is an essential, embarrassing insight into American life: large numbers of Americans are ill-equipped to assess the credibility of the things they read.”

Russiagate was initiated by political actors, but the elite establishment media gave it traction, inflated it, and promoted it to what it is today. These most “respectable” media include The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and, of course, CNN and MSNBC, among others. These media outlets constantly proclaim themselves to be factual, unbiased, balanced, and thus another essential component of American democracy—a “fourth branch of government.”

But that has been far from the case in their reporting and commentary on Russiagate. Their combined loathing for Trump and “Putin’s Russia” has produced one of the worst episodes of media malpractice in the history of American journalism. This requires a special detailed study, though no media critics or journalism schools seem interested. But a somewhat close reader of these mainstream newspapers, and television “news” viewer, will note their selective, disproportionate coverage of some stories to the exclusion of others; the prejudicial language and prosecutorial slant often employed; the systematic violation of journalistic due process and presumption of innocence; the equal exclusion of contrary “sources” and “expert” opinions in their pages and on their televised panels; and other disregard for long-established journalistic standards.