Unless you’ve simply begun skipping over any political stories that include any mention of “Russia” in them – a practice you would be within your reasonable rights to exercise – you may have seen some of the supposedly-blockbuster articles that came out last week. USA Today, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and others carried water for this bombshell, which threatened to change the entire 2016 election narrative in an instant. According to this story, not only did the Russians use social media trolls to influence the election, and not only did they hack into the DNC, they actually tried to hack the voting systems themselves.
Yes, the story went that Homeland Security officials discovered – all the way back in June – that at least 21 states had been targeted by Russian hackers. The hackers may or may not have been successful in getting through these defenses, but they definitely made an attempt. And really, some of the darker reports suggested, there was no way for us to know if vote totals had been altered. Even if we could prove conclusively that they hadn’t been, there was still great concern that, through manipulation of the voter rolls, Russia may have suppressed the vote in some of the most closely-contested swing states. States like Wisconsin, where the Democrats have already charged Republicans with using Voter ID laws to keep those pesky blacks away from the polls.
All in all, a hugely-consequential story. Essentially, we can no longer trust our election infrastructure. We can no longer trust the vote totals. Hillary Clinton may have actually won. Donald Trump is a fraud. We are now Russia’s client state in all but name.
And, as you may have guessed, completely fake.
From The Intercept:
So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false. The story began to fall apart yesterday when Associated Press reported that Wisconsin – one of the states included in the original report that, for obvious reasons, caused the most excitement – did not, in fact, have its election systems targeted by Russian hackers.
The spokesman for Homeland Security then tried to walk back that reversal, insisting that there was still evidence that some computer networks had been targeted, but could not say that they had anything to do with elections or voting. And, as AP noted: “Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator, Michael Haas, had repeatedly said that Homeland Security assured the state it had not been targeted.”
Then, the Secretary of State for California said that after they had conducted their own analysis, they’d determined that DHS was completely wrong in their assessment. They couldn’t speak for Wisconsin or the other states, but there had been no intrusion – Russian or otherwise – into their voting systems.
Homeland Security continues to obfuscate on this issue, but the fact remains that there is no proof – NONE – that any hackers from Russia or anywhere else tampered with our election infrastructure. In fact, as we should probably remember, there is no public proof that Russia hacked the DNC.
We don’t know how much of this story is a hoax, how much is being hidden from us, and how much of it is true, but we do know that when you compare the EVIDENCE to the NARRATIVE, there’s a huge gulf.
And it keeps getting wider.