The Fallacies Of The 'Russia-Truthers'

Authored by James Carden via ConsortiumNews.com,

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?

 

COMEY: Yes.

 

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 Consortiumnews.com, 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 ...
3 Published By - Zero Hedge - 2017.06.19. 04:00
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