I would like to think I learned something during my time in college. And as I majored in English, I would say what I learned is how to create an intelligent argument as well as how to critically evaluate the arguments of others. I wrote countless papers not only for my English classes but also for history, philosophy, religion and others, all of my teachers grading me on how well I put forth my argument. And as I went to a small Catholic liberal arts college, many of my professors were nuns who took their jobs quite seriously.
I worked too, for a time, as a reporter for a newspaper, though I would never dare call what I did journalism. Still, I did know a few people I considered journalists and had a basic understanding of journalistic procedure. So as I take issue with the official narrative of Russian hacking, please note that I have some small platform upon which I base my argument.
First let me say that if you have proof you have no need for an argument and if you have no proof you need a compelling argument. The Russian hacking story has neither. Let me show you what proof of interference in the election of another country looks like.
(By the way, this is what people are referring to when they speak of a deep state: unelected officials who remain in power whether we vote in a Democratic or Republican administration, making decisions that the average citizen is not even aware of. Victoria Nuland worked for the Obama administration. Her husband, Robert Kagan, was one of the principle authors of the Project For A New American Century, the guiding vision behind George W. Bush’s presidency.)
The above clip requires no argument. Here you can hear two U.S. officials discussing who they are going to choose to be the next leader of Ukraine. This isn’t a smoking gun, it is you being there as the gun is fired. This is proof that has no need for unnamed sources.
The mainstream media try to act as though “Russian hacking” is incontrovertible, an established fact to which only fools and tools would object. But there is in fact no proof nor is there even an explanation for what the term means. If there is no proof, then there must be a compelling argument, and an argument needs to be tested before it should be accepted. Have you ever heard the proponents for the “Russian hacking” narrative call for a rational debate to get to the truth of the matter or do you hear them shouting down opposing narratives? I could only imagine what my English Professor Sr. Renita would have to say about such an argument.
I try to think what she would say if I were to turn in a paper on “Russian hacking” similar to the one the mainstream media has given to us. She would say that the paper has no concise thesis. She would say that the phrase Russian hacking was so broad and vague that it could encompass everything or nothing. She would demand I state clearly what it was I was trying to argue. It’s called a thesis statement.
Next she would tell me to cite my sources. If one of my papers was even a tiny bit unclear on who the quote was attributed to, you can believe I heard about it. Oh boy, I could only imagine what she would say if I included quotes from “unnamed sources”.
She would also insist that I cite many different sources in order to make a more compelling argument. I would tell her that I cited many different sources, CNN, The New York Times, The Daily Kos, etc. Then I would get real quiet and hope she didn’t bother to actually check into the sources I’ve cited. Because in 95% of the articles I’ve read on Russian hacking, they invariably refer back to The Washington Post quoting unnamed U.S. Officials. Check them out here, here, here, here, and elsewhere. But of course, Sister Renita took her job seriously and would have looked into my sources and called me out on it.
Now I know that journalism is different than writing a research paper for your teacher. Unnamed sources are often necessary to help a journalist get his story. But to rely exclusively on unnamed sources and to be so utterly and immediately convinced of what they are telling you smells of something and it ain’t journalism.
Especially when the owner of your paper has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Surely we must harbor some skepticism about the relationship between “unnamed U.S. officials” and a newspaper owned by someone who profits greatly from a secretive government organization with a very long and established history in overthrowing foreign governments and manufacturing justifications for war.
“But,” you say, “where there’s smoke, there’s surely fire.” I will grant you the fire, though the smoke smells suspiciously like wacky tobacky. In fact, for the sake of argument, I will grant you every theory that has been posited by those searching for fire. I freely admit that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are homosexual lovers who colluded to hack the U.S. election, the French election, the Vermont power grid, and make love to each other while Russian prostitutes pee on them. I will agree with you on all of this and whatever other suspicions may arise, whether there be fire or smoke or a whisp of vapor you thought you might have spied out of the corner of your eye.
I have granted not only that you have the rights to your beliefs but accept them as the Gospel truth, and all I ask in return is that you consider for a moment a few questions regarding—not Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin—the media.
Do you believe the media’s behavior during this episode has been exemplary, or even normal? Do you ever remember a news story so filled with references to unnamed sources? Please keep in mind I have already ceded the argument on the guilt of Trump and Putin, my concerns rest solely with the behavior and worth of the mainstream media.
Do you think their primary concern is to dig for the truth in the matter or has profit become not only their primary but in fact their only motivator? Does the mainstream media exist to educate us so that we can better perform our roles as citizens or does it exist merely to titillate and distract us while making millions for it owners? Should journalism consist of investigative journalists doing the hard work of sifting through the vast amounts of information that is out there in order to get to the truth amidst the spin, or is it enough to have a few camera-friendly people sit around tables and ask questions of paid representatives of organizations that were founded to promote the agendas of powerful entities?
Do you think the media has your best interests at heart, or do they care most about pleasing those who pay them money to advertise, businesses like pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, oil companies, and weapons manufacturers? Is even National Public Radio capable of being impartial when they are being funded by the Koch brothers and the Waltons?
Do you feel the media has done a sufficient job providing you context of Russia’s place in the world and the legitimate concerns of the Russian people and their government? Have they explained to you why Russia is in Syria, or why the U.S. military is involved there to oppose both ISIS AND the Syrian government that is fighting for its life against ISIS?
Here is the most relevant question I have for you: Is the mainstream media enabling you to understand the world you live in so that you feel you have a way of helping to shape it, or does the mainstream media cause you to become confused, frightened and angry? Does the mainstream media help make sense of current events, does it empower you to fashion a government that works for you and all citizens of this nation of ours, or does it frustrate and disgust you to the point you turn off the television?
If the media is not providing us with the information and context we need to make the decisions that will affect our lives, is this not an even greater concern than Russia hacking our elections and dictating the behavior of our president? After all, a president can be impeached, future elections can be safeguarded. But a media that does more to propagandize and distract us than it does to enlighten us, how do we begin to fix that?
Again, let me remind you for the sake of this argument that I agree completely with the very worst accusations that have been made against both Donald Trump and Putin’s Russia. Even so, do those accusations merit the attention that the media has spent on it? The media thinks so.