Russophobia Digest Part 11: NYT’s ‘alleged’ journalism and embassies accused of diplomacy
Anyway, here's a look at the last seven days or so of Russophobia.
NYT’s alleged journalism
If you’ve ever wondered whether Russophobia really does sell newspapers, then look no further than the New York Times, which published a massive expose titled ‘A Plot to Subvert an Election: Unravelling the Russia Story So Far’.
The only thing that unravels in this 10,000 word extravaganza is the story itself. Buried deep in the text, so far down that most people will have given up reading the article to play Candy Crush on their phone instead, is the immortal admission of 'no evidence' which can be found in all the best examples of Russophobia posing as journalism: “Mr Trump’s frustration with the Russian investigation is not surprising. He is right no public evidence has emerged that his campaign conspired with Russia.”
The whole piece is a fine example of how to present allegations as fact. The entire text uses the words ‘alleged’ and ‘allegation’ just twice – which is pretty amazing when you realize Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russia being the root of all evil still hasn’t reported back.
NYT can take or leave internet freedom
The New York Times has had a big week in Russophobia. It also emerged the paper is suing the Federal Communications Commission in the US, alleging the government department won’t admit that Russian hackers targeted a public commenting system on a proposed change to Net Neutrality laws.
Around 23 million comments were submitted in the public discussion on the law change which essentially would end freedom of the internet, and give power to huge corporations to control it. One analytical report suggested that half a million of the submissions, the vast majority calling for the internet to remain free, came from Russia. The report also admitted there’s no evidence it was Russians, and that just as many came from Germany.
Still, when the New York Times hears allegations of Russian interference, nothing else matters, not even the potential loss of free access to the internet is a bigger story, but then, that’s what Russophobia does to you.
All Russians are spies
Norway arrested a Russian Senate employee who was taking part in a parliamentary event in Oslo, accusing him of “gathering some data.” It would be interesting to know what they expected him to be doing at a conference, apart from hitting the buffet and claiming some freebies.
Russia lodged a “strong protest,” calling the arrest part of the West’s “spy mania.” In the time of Russophobia, all Russians are spies.
The Daily Beast announced this week that “Moscow is switching from covert to overt means to influence Americans,” in an article describing how Russian embassies around the world use tweets and social media, sometimes with a snarky, humorous, trolling tone.
The Russophobic undertones here are so subtle that perhaps even the journalist who wrote the article doesn’t herself realize they’re there. Embassies overtly trying to influence people in other countries is exactly what they’re supposed to do, but when Russians do it, it must be wrong.
Professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson of Pennsylvania University has a book to sell and was speaking to the New Yorker about it.
It’s called ‘Cyberwar: How Russian hackers and trolls helped elect a President – what we don’t, can’t and do know’. Catchy.
She is quoted as saying “the verdict is rendered not with the certainty that e=mc2 but rather based on the preponderance of evidence… we do make most of life’s decisions based on less-than-rock-solid, incontrovertible evidence.” So what she doesn’t know is whether Russian hackers actually did swing an election, but on the balance of Russophobia, she’s decided that they did.
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