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Mocking the latest 'Russia did it' stories over U.S. Democratic Party email leak

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Following the lead of its counterparts in the United States, media mainstream in Canada has joined the latest anti-Russia propaganda assault, this time over the hacking of emails of officials of the U.S. Democratic Party. We are bombarded with the message that Russian government agencies "maybe" or "surely" sparked the scandal by hacking the computer records of the Democratic National Committee and that this constitutes a grave intervention by one major country into the political affairs of another.

Some 20,000 emails were made public by WikiLeaks on July 22. Among other uncomfortable revelations, they show that the Democratic Party apparatus conspired to undermine the candidacy of Bernie Sanders for the party's presidential nomination.

Several mainstream news agencies reported that agencies of the Russian government were "surely" responsible for the hacking and email leaks. Upon reading, we learn that the sources for these accusations consist of anonymous hackers and speculative commentators.

The story behind this non-story is exposed well in many alternative news outlets. For example, Nathan Robinson, the editor of Current Affairs, published a commentary on July 27 titled Democrats are redbaiting like it’s 1956RT.com's current affairs program Crosstalk devoted its episode of August 1 to discussing the topic, and here is a background article on RT to the "Russia did it" side of the story.

Nathan Robinson wrote, "The issue here is not really whether the Russian government was behind the DNC hack. It’s that liberals are using the hack, plus a lot of wild, speculative theories about Trump, to avoid substantive criticisms from both their left and right…

"By seeing any and all opposition as the work of secret Kremlin plots, they have returned to one of the most desperate and ugly forms of character assassination in American political history."

Julian Assange has spoken out about the controversy. He is interviewed at length on the August 6 broadcast of RT.com's "Going Underground." He says that evidence of Russian government hacking of the U.S. Democratic Party is "circumstantial," that's all. The interview is devoted to discussing the significance of what the leaked emails reveal.

Corporate news outlets in Canada have jumped on board the "Russia did it" story. The Toronto Star, for example, published a July 29 article lifted from the Washington Post containing this bold revelation: "Russian government hackers have breached the computers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to individuals familiar with the matter (emphasis added)." The "individuals" are never named.

The story got similar a similar presentation on primetime, national radio news on CBC's The World At Six on July 30, in a report filed by seasoned journalist Stephen Puddicombe.

The Globe and Mail joined the chorus in an article in its Saturday, July 30 edition. The article is written by the Globe's longtime Washington correspondent, Patrick Martin.

Martin's story was headlined, "Why Putin would be behind the DNC computer hacking." He wrote, "U.S. security experts have concluded with near certainty that it was two groups of hackers known in the cyberworld as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear that penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee... These operations would not have been conducted without the knowledge of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the one-time head of the FSB." An English language teacher might hold up Martin's report as an example of "Conditional tense run wild."

Readers of the Globe are reacting harshly to the Patrick Martin story. This is where the whole media episode gets more revealing because the views of many Globe readers are evidently shifting from criticism and condemnation to downright scorn and ridiculing. Here is one typical comment accompanying the Patrick Martin article:

The Globe's never-ending litany of lies and unfounded accusations leveled against Russia and Putin are reminiscent of the hysterical and largely unfounded anti-Communist rants of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. Eventually, most Americans saw through McCarthy's fabrications and dismissed his lunacy. For the sake of world peace, we should hope that the general public will see the anti-Russian rants of Clinton, the DNC, Obama and their mainstream media mouthpieces for what they are -- part of a manufactured crisis to deflect public attention from real issues such as the economy and the threat of Islamist terrorism. We do not need a war with Russia, cold or otherwise. Those who still believe that Russia is our enemy need to grow up. Perhaps they can't do that, however, because they are still clinging to their imaginary childhood friends and now need imaginary enemies as adults in order to cope with life.

This is not the first time that Globe readers have criticized or condemned the newspaper editors' anti-Russia biases. The New Cold War.org website has drawn attention during the past two years to the perceptive views of many Globe readers on the conflict in Ukraine differing sharply with the anti-Russia views of Globe editors. Two examples are here and here. It seems that the patience of readers is increasingly wearing thin as evidenced by the tone of recent comments.

Below is a selection of reader comments to the Patrick Martin article. There are 188 posted comments on the Globe website.

Soon after the story of the Democratic Party hacking broke, Edward Snowden explained to the world that U.S. government intelligence agencies would know who, exactly, is responsible for it.

Related readings:

New York Times coverage of Russian hacking deserves another Pulitzer -- for fiction!, by David J. Climenhaga, July 29, 2016

* The release on July 22 by WikiLeaks of some 20,000 emails detailing how Democratic Party operatives work, including how they conspired to weaken the Democratic presidential nomination bid of Bernie Sanders, have been all the news. That's because virtually every Western corporate news outlet has written that agencies of the Russian government were behind the hacking of computers of the Democratic National Committee which, in turn, gave WikiLeaks access to the information.

Ha, ha. Meanwhile, the real story of the influence over the U.S. presidential election -- big money -- is told in a four-part series written by Lee Fang and Jon Schwarz with additional reporting by Elaine Yu and Sheelagh McNeill. The series is published in The Intercept on August 3, 2016. The authors detail the efforts of "Citizens United" lobby group. The Intercept was founded in 2014 by journalist Glenn Greenwald and his colleagues. Here is the series, in four parts:

Part 1: How a top GOP lawyer guided a Chinese-owned company into U.S. presidential politics

With advice from Republican power lawyer Charlie Spies, APIC, a company owned by Chinese nationals, donated $1.3 million to Jeb Bush’s Super PAC.

Part 2: Meet the Chinese husband-and-wife team whose company spent $1.3 million trying to make Jeb Bush president

Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen have cultivated ties to American politicians through campaign contributions and other investments.

Part 3: Three paths Citizens United created for foreign money to pour into U.S. elections

Citizens United turns the legal wall against foreign money in U.S. elections into something more like a sieve. (Note: 'Citizens United' is a conservative political action committee in Washington, D.C. and a 2010 Supreme Court case about election spending in which the aforementioned PAC was the plaintiff.)

Part four: Gary Locke, while Obama’s ambassador to China, got a Chinese tycoon to buy his house

The revelation of a substantial financial transaction between an American diplomat and a prominent citizen of the host country in which he was serving raises ethical flags.

Photo: flickr/gageskidmore

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