News Release

“End This Russophobic Insanity”

Jack F. Matlock Jr., ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, just wrote the piece “Amid ‘Russiagate’ Hysteria, What Are the Facts? We must end this Russophobic insanity” for The Nation.

He writes regarding Russiagate: “Unless there is a mass shooting in progress, it can be hard to find a discussion of anything else on CNN. Increasingly, both in Congress and in our media, it has been accepted as a fact that ‘Russia’ interfered in the 2016 election.

“So what are the facts?

“It is a fact that some Russians paid people to act as online trolls and bought advertisements on Facebook during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Most of these were taken from elsewhere, and they comprised a tiny fraction of all the advertisements purchased on Facebook during this period. This continued after the election and included organizing a demonstration against President-elect Trump.

“It is a fact that emails in the memory of the Democratic National Committee’s computer were furnished to WikiLeaks. The U.S. intelligence agencies that issued the January 2017 report were confident that Russians hacked the emails and supplied them to WikiLeaks, but offered no evidence to substantiate their claim. Even if one accepts that Russians were the perpetrators, however, the emails were genuine, as the U.S. intelligence report certified. I have always thought that the truth was supposed to make us free, not degrade our democracy. …

“The most important fact, obscured in Russiagate hysteria, is that Americans elected Trump under the terms set forth in the Constitution. Americans created the Electoral College, which allows a candidate with a minority of popular votes to become president. Americans were those who gerrymandered electoral districts to rig them in favor of a given political party. The Supreme Court issued the infamous Citizens United decision that allows corporate financing of candidates for political office. …

“I did not personally vote for Trump, but I consider the charges that Russian actions interfered in the election, or — for that matter — damaged the quality of our democracy ludicrous, pathetic, and shameful. ….

“’Shameful’ because it is an evasion of responsibility. It prevents the Democrats, and those Republicans who want responsible, fact-based government in Washington, from concentrating on practical ways to reduce the threat the Trump presidency poses to our political values and even to our future existence. After all, Trump would not be president if the Republican Party had not nominated him. …

“I should add ‘dangerous’ to those three adjectives. ‘Dangerous’ because making an enemy of Russia, the other nuclear superpower — yes, there are still two — comes as close to political insanity as anything I can think of.”

Currently available for interviews on these issues:

JACKSON LEARS, tjlears at history.rutgers.edu
Lears is the Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University. He recently wrote the piece “What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking” for the London Review of Books.