Economist writer mocked for peddling old, debunked ‘Russian hack’ story in bizarre tweet to Macron
Cliffe, who runs The Economist’s Berlin Bureau, tweeted about French President Macron when he was celebrating his country’s victory at the FIFA World Cup on Sunday. The French leader had simply tweeted “thank you” to the French football squad right after its players claimed a spectacular win over Croatia in the final to become world champions.
The journalist, who also does punditry on channels such as BBC, CNN and NBC, used it as a pretext to write a long tweet to Macron about watching his team play in Russia in light of the Russian-hacking stories circulating during Macron’s election campaign last year.
“Putin loathed Macron's liberal pro-Europeanism so much he hacked his presidential campaign to help [his then-main opponent] Marine Le Pen. But Macron laid traps, exposed the hack, became French president and is now celebrating his country's World Cup win in Russia. So let's really enjoy this moment,” Cliffe wrote.
The tweet garnered more than 10,700 ‘likes’, and was shared more than 2,500 times. Many observers, however, quickly denounced Cliffe’s assertion as false, and accused the journalist of spreading “fake news.”
The story itself was officially debunked a full year ago, and not by the Kremlin or by the third-party fact-checkers, but by the French secret service themselves. In fact, several commentators were kind enough to provide Cliffe with a link to the 2017 interview the head of the National Cybersecurity Agency of France (ANSSI) gave The Associated Press.
In the piece, Guillaume Poupard confirmed that no traces of the Russians were found, and the hack in question “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.” He further confirmed that the agency’s experts couldn’t establish any links with the notorious ‘APT28’ hacker group, also known as ‘Fancy Bear’. The US Intelligence Community believes ‘Fancy Bear’ to be responsible for meddling in the US election, while taking direct orders from the Kremlin.
While many who posted or read the AP report, were calling Cliffe a liar, others opted to take a more lighthearted approach, making jokes and suggesting the journalist should just enjoy the football or, at least, let Macron enjoy it.
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