Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts...Wow, just wow. See some reactions at 21stCenturyWire, ZeroHedge, Truth Feed, The Intercept, Fortune, RT video, RT text, and others, more.
Hillary's people nurtured the irrational anti-Russian hysteria during the campaign, hoping that it could help Hillary. Well, it didn't work too well. We can't be sure which individual events have positively or negatively contributed to Trump's victory but I would bet that the anti-Russian hysteria was just another mistake of Hillary's that has lowered her chances to become the first female president.
Too many Americans have understood that this superficial Russophobia isn't justified by anything and that many Russians or friends of Russia have opinions that are closer to these Americans' opinions than Hillary's opinions.
Even the very general idea that Russia "particularly mattered" in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections is just plain stupid. Russia has existed for a thousand of years and that period includes the whole history of the United States of America. Most of the time, Russia was pretty much irrelevant for the U.S. And it's not too relevant today, either.
Americans were mostly voting for Trump because of reasons that had nothing to do with Russia and they were learning the relevant information from sources that had nothing to do with Russia, either. The Washington Post is telling one-half of the American public that they're the puppets who are basically controlled by several puppet masters connected to the Kremlin. Have you completely lost your mind?
Virtually all voters of Trump know very well that this is just an absurd pile of rubbish. Most of them haven't ever been to Russia. Most of them actually haven't met a Russian person in their whole life. Most of them don't give a damn about Russia. Some of them do and the opinions are mixed. In particular, many Trump voters dislike Putin while many others admire him. The split is no different from the Americans' diverse opinions about Angela Merkel or pretty much anyone else. Putin obviously doesn't have any "qualitatively bigger" importance for the U.S. voters than other important foreign politicians. Even most of Hillary's voters must know that this idea that the Kremlin was deciding about the U.S. elections is simply junk. You must be particularly unhinged to take reports like that seriously. It's actually plausible that this single Czech fireman's video capturing a collapsed Hillary has made a bigger difference in the election than all of RT's journalists combined.
In the very title (and many times in the article), The Washington Post writer refers to "experts" or "independent researchers" – the root "research" appears more than 20 times in the article – as the source of the "discovery" that Russia can be blamed for all lies in the world and all undesirable election results. Who are these "researchers"? They're some anonymous people behind the PropOrNot.com website that has published a remarkable McCarthyist list of websites reliably controlled from Russia. I will discuss the list momentarily. The blog contains lots of more focused attacks, e.g. about Zero Hedge. On that page, they "prove" that Zero Hedge is controlled by Russia by pointing out that Zero Hedge thinks that the Clinton Foundation is corrupt. What a "proof". Do they really believe that only Russians are capable of seeing the corruption in the Clinton Foundation? What gives the Russians this "new additional pair of eyes"? Why don't e.g. Italians have the same ability?
If you look at Alexa.com, you will find out that these groundbreaking "researchers" who have allegedly "discovered" the actual reasons behind Trump's victory are getting just hundreds of visitors a day – it's an order-of-magnitude less influential blog than e.g. mine. And in the sidebar, they link to their fellow "researchers" – at "Russia Lies", "Boycott Russia Today", and so on. Quite "neutral" names for "researchers". Also, over 140 people have already downloaded the next Facebook, a Chrome extension that marks links to websites (about 1/2 of news websites) that the "experts" believe to be controlled by the Kremlin. For example, the extension will label Bloomberg as a Putin puppet. Handy. :-)
All these people are self-evidently unhinged crackpots (or average obnoxious trolls, check e.g. their tweets) that would be banned on my website within days and indeed, I am banning this kind of aggressive filth whose idiocy is just too hopeless every other week or so. But this filth is clearly good enough to be considered "experts" and "researchers" by The Washington Post! The decline of the standards at these would-be mainstream sources has accelerated dramatically. PropOrNot actively works on projects to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT payment system and calls on the FBI and DOJ to actively prosecute all the websites on their list.
But it's a lot of fun to look at the black list of the websites constructed by these "researchers" in some detail. It contains all influential enough websites associated with Russia or run by Russians – RT, Sputnik News, Pravda, The Saker etc. – but also a huge amount of websites you must have heard of and that are completely Western but don't belong to the Hillary-style group think. It seems that every website that a Hillary supporter could have ever disagreed with or found inconvenient is or could be listed there. (BTW even the incorporation of the Russian communist Pravda Report to a list that fought for Trump is strange given the two top read articles, "Can Russia Trust Trump?" and "Is Trump's Ship [thanks, Bill, LOL] Already Sinking?" and a few others.)
You will find e.g. Canadian far left GlobalResearch.CA "think tank" on that list and some Clinton-critical left-wing sites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, but most of the entries are right-wing U.S. sources. Stunning examples include the Drudge Report, the Ron Paul Institute, Zero Hedge, WikiLeaks, and Alex Jones' Infowars.com. All these websites (and their owners?) and hundreds of others are simply claimed to be Russian agents of a sort.
The Washington Post article writes about "fake news". It was Russian "fake news" that have beaten Hillary. But the very conspiracy theory in this WaPo article is the best textbook example of "fake news" you can find. The idea that basically all mostly anti-Hillary websites that helped Trump to win are connected to a Kremlin-controlled network of "fake news distributors" is the ultimate conspiracy theory and the ultimate example of fake news.
Indeed, if all the websites on the "black list" could be counted as Russian-controlled, it would mean that Russia has already become the world's #1 superpower in the Internet news industry. But has it? The idea is clearly ludicrous.
Just like the extreme left-wing media have tried to paint Trump and his collaborators as Nazis by saying that they are alt-right and alt-right are Nazis (while overlooking that the meaning of "alt-right" is completely different in the two sentences), they are fighting sensible information sources by conflating them with "fake news". But given any sensible definition, "fake news" are basically satirical or apolitical profit-making sites that have absolutely nothing to do with RT, The Drudge Report, or any of the websites whose ambition is clearly to produce important, reliable, breaking news, not "fake news". Only complete idiots may be fooled by these trivial propaganda tricks and I think that Trump's victory shows that the likes of Craig Timberg heavily overestimate the number of complete idiots in the U.S.
Insane leftists such as Craig Timberg – and the numerous comparable imbeciles in The Washington Post who allowed this offensively stupid rant to be published in the daily – are going through the levels of grief and denial. They still want to deny that America is different than the Soviet-style dictatorship they would prefer.
You know, Craig Timberg, the people and opinions that you consider "hallmarks of Russia" are actually something different. They're the new "mainstream in America". If you can't live with this simple fact, then, well, you will probably have to commit suicide. Good luck.
By the way, I forgot to mention one quote in Timberg's rant. He quotes some "experts" who say that the goal of the Russian masterminds is to divide America. And because they can't find any example of false news that the "pro-Russian" information sources have spread, they describe the "Russian strategy" at least as follows:
“It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s kind of an appeal to cynicism.”Einstein has made almost everything seem relative, too. What is this complaint supposed to say? What is the opposite of the "bad, relative"? Is it "good, absolute"? Or "black-and-white"? Most things in the world are relative and one should be careful not to buy oversimplified, "black-and-white" stories about everyone and everything. If you call it "cynicism" and if you associate this kind of relativism with Russian, well, I must say that it's largely good to be "cynical" in this sense and Russia is doing a great service to the West if it makes us more "cynical" in this sense.
Needless to say, the attribution of all these things to Russia is silly. Most people in the West are also capable of seeing that many things are relative and very far from the naive black-and-white stories that some lame media would love their readers to believe.