News Release

“Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact”

AARON MATÉ, aaronmate at gmail.com, @aaronjmate
Maté is a host/producer for The Real News. He just wrote the piece “Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact” for The Nation, which states: “Since Election Day, the controversy over alleged Russian meddling and Trump campaign collusion has consumed Washington and the national media. Yet nearly one year later there is still no concrete evidence of its central allegations. …

“In Russiagate, unverified claims are reported with little to no skepticism. Comporting developments are cherry-picked and overhyped, while countervailing ones are minimized or ignored. Front-page headlines advertise explosive and incriminating developments, only to often be undermined by the article’s content, or retracted entirely. Qualified language — likely, suspected, apparent — appears next to ‘Russians’ to account for the absence of concrete links. As a result, Russiagate has enlarged into a storm of innuendo that engulfs issues far beyond its original scope. …

“Then there is Facebook’s disclosure that fake accounts ‘likely operated out of Russia’ paid $100,000 for 3,000 ads starting in June 2015. The New York Times editorial board described it as ‘further evidence of what amounted to unprecedented foreign invasion of American democracy.’ A $100,000 Facebook ad buy seems unlikely to have had much impact in a $6.8 billion election. According to Facebook, ‘the vast majority of ads…didn’t specifically reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or a particular candidate’ but rather focused ‘on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.’ Facebook also says the majority of ads, 56 percent, were seen ‘after the election.’ The ads have not been released publicly. But by all indications, if they were used to try to elect Trump, their sponsors took a very curious route. …

“For privileged Americans to challenge Trump mainly over Russia is to do so in a way that avoids confronting their own relationship to the economic and political system that many of his voters rebelled against. ‘If the presidency is effectively a Russian op, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign,’ to borrow a scenario posed by Rachel Maddow, then there is nothing else to confront. …

“Amid widespread talk of Putin pulling the strings, Trump has quietly appointed anti-Russia hawks to key posts and admitted a new NATO member over Russian objections. Trump’s top military commander, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is backing an effort by the Pentagon and Congress to arm Ukraine with new weapons. President Obama had rejected a similar proposal out of fear it would inflame the country’s deadly conflict. Just before Russia’s recent war games with allied Belarus, the United States and NATO allies carried out their ‘biggest military exercise in eastern Europe since the Cold War’ right next door.”