Hey, Media Matters, I’m talking to you! Help me out, here, willya’?
Actually, I’ll talk to anyone, listen to anyone. You’ll find my email address at the bottom of this column, so hit me up. I’m asking — no, begging — you to write me and answer this one simple question: How did the Russians help Donald Trump become President Trump?!
I’ve heard some talk around the edges of an answer: One version says Russian President Vladimir Putin helped facilitate the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (but now we’re hearing a DNC employee gathered up thousands of emails). Yet the subsequent release, the story goes, of those hacked emails — highly embarrassing to the Hillary Clinton campaign — may have hurt her standing in the minds of American voters.
Hence, President Trump. But is that it? Is that the whole thing?!
Forget that Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, which released the damning emails, has repeatedly said that the Russians were not involved. Of course, he would know, but OK, maybe he’s lying. And forget that the emails really just showed how Team Hillary and the DNC colluded to take out upstart foe Sen. Bernie Sanders in nefarious (and pretty disgusting) ways, and to show how petty and vindictive Clinton staffers are.
Is the argument really that the Russians swung the entire election — in Appleton, Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Allentown, Pennslyvania — simply by releasing emails that made Hillary look as awful as she really is? Is the Democrats’ contention that the Russians somehow went past the mainstream media — which was all in for Hillary — and swayed the electorate?
Which brings up another theory that Democrats seem to argue from time to time. Sen. Mark R. Warner (who actually stated that the stolen emails were “weaponized,” whatever that means) says that Russia operated a troll farm that changed the outcome of the election.
Here’s what he said (and we swear we are not making this up): “The Russians employed thousands of paid internet trolls and botnets to push out disinformation and fake news at a high volume, focusing this material onto your Twitter and Facebook feeds and flooding our social media with misinformation.”
He added this, lest you roll your eyes in disbelief: “This fake news and disinformation was then hyped by the American media echo chamber and our own social media networks to reach and potentially influence millions of America. This is not innuendo or false allegations. This is not fake news. This is actually what happened to us. Russia continues these sorts of actions as we speak.”
So, Warner would have us believe that the Russians pushed out fake news and social media “echoed” that fake news and, boom, that led directly to President Trump.
Are these guys for real? The way the MSM plays the story, the Russians (any viewer would have to conclude from the breathless reporting about “collusion”) somehow worked hand in hand with Trump to hack into every voting machine across the country to nix out votes for Hillary and replace them with votes for Trump. Damn, that is stealing the election.
But from what I can see (and I’m really begging you to send me everything else you’re seeing), what the Democrats allege — internal party emails and trolls and botnets (oh my!) — that isn’t “collusion” or “stealing the election.” That’s just showing Americans what Team Hillary really was — in her closest aides’ own words! And that’s “collusion with the Russians”?!
Trump’s actions, of late, have certainly fed the fire. While he had every right to fire James Comey (he was a sanctimonious douchebag, after all), and while comparisons to President Nixon dismissing special prosecutor Archibald Cox are absurd (two different animals altogether), Trump can’t seem to walk away from the whole ridiculous matter.
Still, do you really think that if the Democrats had any evidence — real evidence, not allusions to trolls and botnets and weird references to stolen emails from a really awful candidate — that we would not know about it? In the middle of May? With the entire MSM against him?!
No, there’s simply no there there.
Still, as Watergate taught us, it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup. Nixon went to his grave without ever saying whether he was really behind the break-in. But everyone knows he was behind the cover-up: Tricky Dick.
Trump may yet go down for all of this. He is clearly over his head in the world of politics. Perhaps if he would just shut up and, you know, govern the nation, let the rest of this play out however it rolls, he’d be OK. Trump knows he’s not under investigation — but his friends are. Let the chips fall where they may — some may go down.
If he really wasn’t involved, then just get back to work.
My guess is that Trump will do anything but.
Can somebody explain just exactly how the Russians helped Trump win?
• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via @josephcurl.