Rus­sian hack­ing and all the fake news fit to print

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY CHARLES HURT

All the fake news that’s fit to print! Long af­ter the rest of Amer­ica gave up on the main­stream me­dia, the Old Gray Lady has fi­nally dis­cov­ered the fake news we have com­plained about for decades. And as with most things, The New York Times takes it to a level and so­phis­ti­ca­tion that is the envy of the es­tab­lish­ment me­dia fir­ma­ment.

In yet another breath­less ef­fort to dis­credit Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency be­fore it even begins, The Times con­cocted a story over the week­end pur­port­ing to prove that the Rus­sians rigged the Amer­i­can elec­tion to en­sure that Vladimir Putin’s pre­ferred can­di­date won.

Never mind that it was The New York Times just last month that was lead­ing the witch hunt against Mr. Trump for rais­ing ques­tions about how the elec­tion could be rigged. Rigged, Mr. Trump ar­gued, by the es­tab­lish­ment po­lit­i­cal par­ties, main­stream me­dia, Wall Street and other elites.

The pri­mary dif­fer­ence be­tween the two claims was that Mr. Trump had ac­tual con­crete ev­i­dence prov­ing that these klep­to­cratic po­lit­i­cal hacks were more than ca­pa­ble of suc­cess­fully rig­ging an elec­tion. Re­mem­ber Bernie San­ders? He was a grass-roots jug­ger­naut and came within a whisker of beat­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton, and most cer­tainly would have if the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee hadn’t pulled out all the stops to ruin him and drag Mrs. Clin­ton over the fin­ish line.

All the ev­i­dence needed to prove Mr. Trump’s claim lay in the tens of thou­sands of shock­ing in­ter­nal DNC emails hacked by, we are told, the Rus­sians.

The New York Times story, ti­tled “Rus­sian Hack­ers Acted to Aid Trump in Elec­tion, U.S. Says,” is based en­tirely on — what else? — un­named sources, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees of cur­rent Pres­i­dent Obama.

“Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have con­cluded with ‘high con­fi­dence’ that Rus­sia acted covertly in the lat­ter stages of the pres­i­den­tial campaign to harm Hil­lary Clin­ton’s chances and pro­mote Don­ald J. Trump, ac­cord­ing to se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials,” the re­porters claim.

What is in­ter­est­ing about this lead sen­tence is that, in­deed, the story does go on to make an ar­gu­ment — al­beit a ter­ri­bly flimsy one — that the Krem­lin acted covertly to hurt Mrs. Clin­ton. But nowhere in the story do the re­porters even try to stand up the stun­ning claim that Moscow tried to “pro­mote” Mr. Trump.

Did the Rus­sians run sunny ads about Mr. Trump some­place? Did they re­lease in­for­ma­tion that cast Mr. Trump in some heroic light? No. The re­porters just claimed it in the lead and never men­tion it again.

Key to their claim that Rus­sia worked to throw the elec­tion for Mr. Trump — rather than sim­ply try­ing to stir up trou­ble and dis­credit the whole Amer­ica elec­tion process — is the claim made by un­named sources that Rus­sia hacked the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee in ad­di­tion to the DNC, “but did not re­lease what­ever in­for­ma­tion they gleaned from the Repub­li­can net­works.”

The Times sneak­ily re­ports: “Repub­li­cans have a dif­fer­ent ex­pla­na­tion for why no doc­u­ments from their net­works were ever re­leased.”

That “ex­pla­na­tion” is the em­phatic and on-the-record in­sis­tence by the RNC that the com­mit­tee’s email sys­tem, in fact, was never hacked. Both Chair­man Reince Priebus and spokesman Sean Spicer have been in­sist­ing this for weeks, but they are not quoted in The New York Times story. Per­haps they should have in­sisted on re­main­ing anony­mous, and maybe they would have been quoted.

Then, ac­cord­ing to the story, another un­named source briefed by the FBI says Rus­sia tried to hack RNC emails but failed to pen­e­trate the sys­tem’s se­cu­rity.

But for­get that. Let’s get back to an un­named Obama po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive quoted ex­ten­sively through­out the story.

“We now have high con­fi­dence that they hacked the DNC and the RNC, and con­spic­u­ously re­leased no doc­u­ments” from Repub­li­cans, ac­cord­ing to this leaky po­lit­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial. Lit­er­ally, you can­not make this stuff up. Fi­nally, at the very end of the story, The Times ap­pears to shed some light on all the dis­crep­ancy over whether the RNC was hacked or not.

For months RNC of­fi­cials have in­sisted (on the record) that the com­mit­tee was never suc­cess­fully hacked, but that the per­sonal email ac­counts of nu­mer­ous Repub­li­can Party op­er­a­tives had, in­deed, been hacked.

Those Repub­li­can emails, in­clud­ing some hacked from the per­sonal ac­count of for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Colin Pow­ell, were pub­lished on the DCLeaks.com, a web­site U.S. in­tel­li­gence be­lieves was cre­ated by one of the Rus­sian cy­berunits that hacked into the DNC.

So, ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, the Rus­sians did not re­lease any emails hacked from Repub­li­cans — ex­cept for all the ones that they did re­lease. Boy, this is con­fus­ing.

Well, thank good­ness The New York Times and all their un­named sources are on the case. Oh, and don’t for­get the po­lit­i­cal hacks in­side the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion also work­ing so faith­fully to get some hon­est an­swers.

They are now work­ing on a “lessons learned” re­port, ac­cord­ing to The Times.

“That re­port is in­tended, in part, to cre­ate a com­pre­hen­sive his­tory of the Rus­sian ef­fort to in­flu­ence the elec­tion, and to so­lid­ify the in­tel­li­gence find­ings be­fore Mr. Trump is sworn in.”

As Ir­win “Fletch” Fletcher says in the epic 1985 cinema mas­ter­piece “Fletch,” “Thank God, the — po­lice.”

Jan. 20 can­not come soon enough. Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@ live.com; fol­low him on Twit­ter via @ charleshurt.

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