Recommended Reading: Giant Russia Theory Edition

Editor’s Note: as previously promised, today marks the return of our Recommended Reading feature after a ten month hiatus. Truthfully, most of the early Recommended Reading posts were glorified link dumps designed to keep me writing while I was still struggling to figure out exactly what I was doing with this website; as such, they were never all that interesting or popular for the most part and eventually I just stopped posting them altogether.

I say “for the most part” because there was actually one post that readers found useful enough to reference and share; a collection of thirteen links all about Election Fraud designed to help absolute neophytes learn about the subject for themselves from a variety of sources. In light of this experience, I’ve decided to once again create a “mega” Recommended Reading post focused on a single issue that appears to be confusing a lot of people who only watch mainstream news – the objectively mind-numbing “Trump-Russia” conspiracy theory in all of it’s jingoistic glory.

Below you’ll find links to and descriptions of 33 fantastic articles or videos debunking important aspects of what has become known as “Russiagate.” These pieces have been carefully selected for clarity, informative value and to avoid rabid, partisan defense of the notably horrible Trump administration; you’ll find no love for Louise Mensch mad walls or ass-kissing blowhards like Sean Hannity here my friends. The links are roughly grouped together by topic and can be accessed by clicking on either the title of the piece or the image posted alongside each entry.

Note: many of these links have been referenced in previous articles here on this website:

 

Overviews & Media Mistakes

Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion  – this March 2017 piece by Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept is a pretty good overview of why the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory is rapidly unraveling as experts who’ve seen all of the evidence keep confirming there’s no conclusive proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. This piece covers public statements by former acting CIA director Michael Morell and President Obama’s head of the DNI James Clapper in particular that strongly indicate this whole story is going precisely nowhere. Greenwald also examines the shifting media narrative around the scandal and identifies clear signs that large outlets may finally be realizing that the conspiracy has run its course. Although this article is a little bit on the longer side, its focus on recent developments make it ideal for sharing with people looking to quickly determine if there is any validity to Russiagate and get on with their lives.

Inside The Investigation To Get To The Bottom Of Russia’s Role In The Election – in the span of just under three months, Buzzfeed has gone from being one of the media outlets most aggressively pushing the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory (they published the infamous Steele dossier) to gently trying to talk Democrats down off the ledge; and the research that went into this piece is undoubtedly a big part of why. This article is full of fluff designed to minimize the political impact of publicly accusing a sitting president of working for a foreign power without much evidence but the key takeaway here is that even Democrats are starting to realize that this has gone too far – as evidenced by anonymous Dems on the House Intelligence Committee admitting “they don’t expect to find evidence of active, informed collusion between the Trump campaign and known Russian intelligence operatives.”

Something About This Russia Story Stinks – the late 2016 piece by Matt Taibbi asks why the American media is eager to rely on the secret assessments of intelligence agencies so soon after the heartbreaking failures of journalism that lead up to the disastrous Iraq War. The two most important things to note here is that while Taibbi supported an investigation into potential Russian interference with the 2016 US election, he also noted that much of the media’s shocking insistence that US intelligence agencies have definitively proven Russia messed with the election don’t make sense in light of the available evidence. Taibbi was also one of the first mainstream reporters to point out that America’s tepid response to these allegations casts doubt on their veracity and it’s hard to disagree with his assessment even months later – if US Intelligence really could prove Russia had “hacked” the US government/election, it’s difficult to believe their response wouldn’t be more significant than expelling a few dozen diplomats and complaining to the press.

Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media – in March 2017, Matt Taibbi returned to the question of the Trump-Russia scandal and notes that even months later there is still “no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the government of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.” The rest of the essay then focuses on warning both the Democratic party and leading journalists about the dangers of pushing “an extraordinarily complex tale that derives much of its power from suppositions and assumptions” while “betting their professional and political capital on the promise of future disclosures that may not come.” Taibbi concludes by asking the question that undoubtedly keeps even the most ardent Russiagate supporter awake at night; “what if there’s nothing else to find?” Please note that at one point in this piece, Matt flatly states that “the case that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee now appears fairly solid;” apparently because “even Donald Trump thinks so.” As you’ll see in the links under Problems with Russian Hacking Evidence below, I do not agree with this assessment in the slightest – but the rest of Matt’s article is pretty spot on in my opinion.

The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation – while I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Michael Tracey’s social media management techniques and it’s important to note that including one of his articles here is not to be construed as a public endorsement in any way, this article remains the most damning indictment of the media/political hack spin cycle that fuels the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory scandal. In thirteen brief bullet points, Tracey maps out the step by step process political operatives and mainstream media flacks have used to repackage and broadcast essentially minor revelations as breaking, ironclad evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government time and time again. If you’ve found yourself thinking that the Trump is a Manchurian Candidate theory simply has to be true because so many media outlets are talking about it, you absolutely must read this article before going any further.

It is Time For the Democrats to Drop the Trump-Russia Connection – this March 2017 long form essay by Brandon Sutton over at Progressive Army discusses why the Trump-Russia scandal hasn’t been the “silver bullet” Democratic party operatives have hoped for and explores why this story has so enraptured the click-hungry, mainstream media. Sutton’s larger point that liberals (and by extension the Dem party) would be wise to abandon the conspiracy theories and focus on horrifying problems the Trump administration is helping to exacerbate underpins this scathing indictment of the mainstream opposition to Trump and it’s refusal to focus on issues that actually resonate with voters. This piece is a good choice for readers who want to understand the whole Trump-Russia scandal but only have time to read one article.

Trump’s Critics Are Letting The Bigger Russia Story Slide – as I mentioned previously, Buzzfeed has recently found itself backpedaling on Trump-Russia scandal allegations faster than a Kurt Eichenwald retraction notice and this March 2017 piece by Miriam Elder is a great example of that phenomenon. While I don’t think the evidence supports this author’s conclusion that Russia “hacked the US, in its drive to sow chaos in a country it sees as its rival” it’s awful hard to disagree with her statement that “when meeting an ambassador is a problem, we’re in trouble.” Elder’s admission that there probably won’t be direct evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russian government forthcoming is ultimately more important than her unsupported declaration that the evidence already available is enough to justify accusing Russia of interfering in the election here.

Beware The False Temptations Of The Russia Story – the third and final article in our Buzzfeed “back down” trifecta is a charmless little hunk of trash composed of roughly ninety percent spin, written in March 2017 by Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith. While it certainly takes some effort to chew through Smith’s attempts to lean on the now thoroughly discredited “Steel dossier” and I can’t agree with his unsupported opinion that there is already enough evidence to justify accusing the Russian government of interfering in the 2016 US election (as you’ll see in the section below) – his decision to call some liberal conspiracy theorists in the media “the left’s new version of Glenn Beck” is both accurate and quite telling in light of Buzzfeed’s dramatic about-face on this issue.

Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S. – it is important to remember that while the Trump-Russia conspiracy scandal undoubtedly kicked into high gear in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s stunning election loss, the seeds of this madness were an active part of the Democratic party’s campaign strategy in 2016 and indeed, the history of American politics since the start of the cold war. This brilliant long form essay by the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald represents the definitive historical account of the Democrat party’s new habit of smearing anyone who gets in their way as a Kremlin puppet during the 2016 election and previous, historical attempts by reactionary Republicans to push the same narrative. After reading this months-old article, I honestly believe it is utterly impossible to see the ongoing Trump-Russia conspiracy theory as anything besides a logical extension of the Clinton campaign’s election strategy this past fall.

Is Russiagate a Conspiracy Theory? – this lengthy, March 2017 transcript of a Politico interview with noted Putin critic Masha Gessen touches on a number of subjects surrounding US-Russian relations, how Trump and Vladimir Putin are similar as leaders in strikingly bad ways and why it’s important to take Trump’s most frightening promises at face value. More importantly however, Gessen spends the middle of the interview pointing out that the Trump-Russia conspiracy represents a huge crutch for an American establishment looking to blame the rise of Trump on anyone but themselves and the objectively corrosive effect doing so has had on actually resisting the damage his government is doing to the American political sphere. Although the interview is quite long, a sound file was included for your listening pleasure at the time I posted this article.

Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps – while it takes roughly half the article to actually come up, this March 2017 Op-Ed by Paul Street touches on additional comments made by Masha Gessen to explain the political consequences of Russiagate. The interesting twist here is that Street examines the conspiracy not as a mistake so much as a purposeful strategy to drive populist/leftist issues to the margins on behalf of corporate, mainstream elements in the Democratic party.

If Russia Hacked Podesta, Then Russia Knew Hillary Used A Private Server to Email Obama – Over at Huffington Post, author HA Goodman asks how Russia could have resisted hacking Hillary Clinton’s (at times) non-encrypted, private email server if they already had access to John Podesta’s emails/system; unless of course Russia had hacked neither and the entire Trump-Russia scandal was an excuse to cover-up the Democratic party’s failure to beat a reality TV star fascist in the 2016 US Presidential election. This article is also one of the first posts to mention that the DNC refused to comply with the FBI’s request to examine their servers as part of it’s investigation; an important detail that is all too rarely mentioned in articles supporting the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory.

A Disaster In The Making: The Long-Term Consequences Of Russia Hysteria – recent TYT Network addition Michael Tracy looks at the stunning array of very real negative consequences relentlessly pushing Trump-Russia hysteria has already had for the media, the Democratic Party and the ability to conduct actual politics in America. This exceptionally well-sourced essay absolutely demolishes the idea that the Trump-Russia conspiracy has value even if it’s not true simply because anything that weakens the Trump administration in the short term is justifiable; while also drawing attention to the very real possibility such behavior could push a whackjob like Trump to placate critics by getting tough on Russia – with potentially disastrous results for the entire world.

Everything Is Definitely Russia, Or So It Seems – this March 2017 long form piece by Beth Lynch on Progressive Army explores the obvious McCarthyite aspects of the Trump-Russia scandal and discusses how the conspiracy is being used by mainstream Democrats as a cudgel to silence criticism from the left. The author also touches on the sobering reality that the Democratic party has adopted traditional neoconservative tactics in the wake of it’s 2016 election loss. By looking at both the technical evidence used to support the Trump-Russia theory and examining the ways in which the whole story has been politicized, Lynch presents a comprehensive and notably compelling argument that the real goal here is to “completely delegitimize anyone who challenges the narrative they (Democrats) started after losing the election.”

If Russia Today is Moscow’s propaganda arm, it’s not very good at its job – as the evidence for the “Trump is Putin’s Manchurian Candidate” conspiracy theory has begun to unravel, there has been an obvious, concerted effort by the Democratic party and their media surrogates to shift public focus on the scandal towards little-watched, Russian state-sponsored news network Russia Today. This is of course ridiculous because thousands of news networks the world over report on US politics without enduring similar accusations but more importantly, RT’s infinitesimal viewing audience would make influencing the US election virtually impossible – as detailed in this January WaPo article by Amanda Erickson.

Abby Martin Responds to Exploitation by NY Times – as part of these attempts to cast blame for the 2016 US election results on Russia Today, mainstream American news outlets like the NY Times have consistently labored to portray RT as an utterly dominated Kremlin mouthpiece in a “cartoonish, totalitarian fashion.” Not so fast says former Breaking the Set host Abby Martin who refutes false claims by the Times about her previous employment at RT and accuses the paper of “working to push a false perspective being promoted by US government officials and agencies.”

 

Problems with Russian Hacking Evidence

From Russia, with Panic – this excellent long form essay by Yasha Levine takes a look at not only the “Russians hacked America” narrative but also it’s similarities to and possible origins from the 2008 Georgia-Russian war over South Ossetia; the familiar cast of characters involved and pattern of relying on private cybersecurity firms alone makes for fascinating reading. Of particular importance however is the second half of the essay in which Levine absolutely demolishes CrowdStrike’s technical evidence and makes a pretty good argument that the company was hired with the intent to blame the attacks on Russia as quickly as possible. Finally, Levine also closes out the article with some harsh words for public cybersecurity experts who so readily backed up CrowdStrike’s story based on thin, even laughable “evidence.”

Here’s the Public Evidence Russia Hacked the DNC — It’s Not Enough – this December 2016 report at The Intercept sees Sam Biddle take an exhaustive look at all of the available technical evidence that the Russian government was behind the “hack” of the DNC and determines that it’s simply not enough “to indict Russia’s head of state for sabotaging our democracy.” By carefully dissecting each piece of evidence in reasonably plain terms, Biddle exposes holes in the Trump-Russia theory that you could drive a truck through and although some may be inclined to dispute this article as outdated, it’s important to remember that virtually no additional technical evidence has emerged to support the claims made in both the CrowdStrike & ODNI reports since. This is far and away the best online layman’s summary of why there isn’t enough evidence to definitively say the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee. While the author concedes that it is indeed possible that the government has additional evidence to back up these accusations, Biddle rightfully notes “the U.S. intelligence community must make its evidence against Russia public if they want us to believe their claims” – based both on the dismal track record of US intelligence reports and the overwhelming severity of the theoretical charges involved.

Why I Still Don’t Buy the Russian Hacking Story – this short essay by Leonid Bershidsky over at Bloomberg View was published in late December 2016 and represents one of the first looks at the extremely sketchy evidence connecting whoever hacked the DNC and reported hacking of a Ukraine artillery app; the evidence on which CrowdStrike (and US Intel) largely based their assessment that the Russian government had hacked the DNC. In addition to questioning the sheer number of losses reported, Bershidsky asks how the existence of a compromised app on a Russian language, Ukrainian military forum is sufficient evidence that Russia “hacked” Ukraine’s artillery and questions how likely it is that Ukrainian officers are getting their targeting app on a random internet forum. Although he could not have known it at the time, Bershidsky’s article looks startlingly prophetic in light of news that both the Ukrainian military and International Institute for Strategic Studies are now disputing CrowdStrike’s Ukraine report and findings (see below.)

The GRU-Ukraine Artillery Hack That May Never Have Happened – this short but scathing January 2017 article by cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr also examines problems with CrowdStrike’s Ukrainian artillery app claims but includes some interesting technical details that fundamentally expose the report (and thus the ODNI report based on it) as objectively false. As Carr notes in his conclusion, it is simply not reasonable to assume “the GRU developed a variant of X-Agent to infect an Android mobile app in order to geolocate and destroy Ukraine’s D-30 howitzers” if “to do this, they chose an artillery app which had no way to send or receive data, and wrote malware for it that didn’t ask for GPS position information.” If Carr can so easily demonstrate that the CrowdStrike report is obviously wrong about the Ukraine artillery app; what exactly has the media being doing with this story the past two plus months? The answer is of course, absolutely nothing. Finally, don’t miss Carr’s followup article “Crowdstrike Needs To Address The Harm It Caused Ukraine.”

Think Tank: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data – this March 2017 VOA News report by Pete Cobus and Oleksiy Kuzmenko updates the Russian “hacking” story by revealing even more problems with the CrowdStrike report at the center of US Intel claims that Russian actors hacked the Democratic National Committee. Both the Ukraine’s military and the International Institute for Strategic Studies are disputing the data Crowdstrike used to connect the DNC “hack” to the reported hacking of a Ukrainian artillery app; a central component in CrowdStrike’s claims that the suspected DNC intrusion could only be the work of the Russian government. Officials in Ukraine deny the app was ever compromised and the IISS says CrowdStrike used its figures from a routine assessment to “prove” Ukraine military losses erroneously. Although they’re hardly being reported, these damning allegations deal another serious blow to the only known shred of technical evidence in the ODNI report (that accuses Russia of hacking the DNC) assembled by US intelligence agencies in January 2017.

There Is Still No Hard Evidence For “Russian Hacking” – this Op-Ed by Michael Tracey was published on January 6th 2017 in the immediate aftermath of the surprisingly fact-light ODNI report and has primarily been included here to help prove that there has been almost no new evidence to support the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory in quite some time. Tracey also questions why the US government would spend so much time talking about obscure media outlet RT News and theorizes that it may be a diversion from the fact that solid evidence to prove either that Russian hacked the DNC, or that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government, simply may not exist

Evidence of Russian Election Hacking Is Inconclusive – this short, but excellent essay focuses on technical reasons why CrowdStrike & the US Government are going too far when they say the “hack” of the DNC can be attributed to the Russian government. Key topics include pointing out that the supposedly “signature” malware used is available for sale on the open market, how IP addresses can be spoofed/why anonymous Tor nodes don’t prove anything and a robust discussion of the differences between a “hack” and a “leak.” Finally, author Trent Lapinski talks about why it’s a very bad idea to trust the American deep state and what the government’s motivation for releasing all of this disinformation might really be.

 

Videos & Audio Discussions about the Trump-Russia Conspiracy

Lefties Have Come Unhinged Over Russia | Jordan Chariton Interview – the simple truth is that I could have picked any one of the dozens of excellent video discussions Jimmy Dore from The Young Turks has produced about the ongoing Trump-Russia scandal/hysteria; I honestly believe that anyone looking to understand why this conspiracy theory is all political theater could just put Dore’s videos on autoplay for half a day and end up with a much more accurate picture of the “Trump works for Putin” story than anyone watching MSNBC would have. Unfortunately, due to space concerns in this already long article I was forced to restrict myself to four – first up is Jimmy’s fascinating, eleven minute discussion with fellow TYT alum Jordan Chariton about why liberals in America have lost their goddamn mind over Russian conspiracy theories.

CNN CAUGHT Reporting Fake News On Russian Hack – one of the best things about Jimmy Dore’s show is his regular focus on catching media liars in the act and the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory has provided ample opportunity for Dore to show off his talents. In this just over five minute video, Dore takes mainstream news network CNN and the Democratic Party to the damn woodshed for printing US Intel claims as fact and burying the disclaimer at the bottom of the column. Jimmy also refuses to let political hacks off the hook by pointing out that the Democratic party is only doing this to avoid addressing the very real reasons why they lost the 2016 election.

Journalist DEBUNKS CIA Anti-Trump B.S. & Rachel Maddow Ignores it – as those of you who follow mainstream news coverage are no doubt aware, MSNBC is the official network/center of the Trump-Russia conspiracy machine and megabucks host Rachel Maddow is one of the leading figures in the corporate media’s attempts to promote this hysteria. During this ten minute January 2017 video, Dore and co-host Stef Zamorano dissect Maddow’s interview with journalist Richard Engel about the now completely discredited Christopher Steele dossier. Of particular importance here is the way mainstream media “lies by omission” in how it chooses to present information that largely fails to support the Russiagate conspiracy theory – namely, they ignore it.

Wikileaks Forces Democrats Party Leaders To Lie – as previously mentioned, people often forget about one of the biggest tells that the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory is a huge pile of nonsense, is the fact that the Democratic Party has been running variations on it to deflect any type criticism away from Hillary Clinton or the Democratic party for almost a year. In this fourteen minute, pre-election video Jimmy Dore, Ron Placone and Stef Zamorano review multiple instances of Clinton surrogates using “Russian hacking” as a shield to defend against and indeed refuse to answer questions about embarrassing scandals. Take special note of key Clinton supporters stating that the FBI has confirmed that the emails were stolen by the Russians; which as you know (if you’ve clicked on the other stories in this article) is simply not true.

Jordan’s Most EPIC Tirade Ever? – sticking with The Young Turks, Jordan Chariton’s courageous reporting on the NoDAPL protests and the ongoing Flint water crisis have helped him carve out a place for himself among the very best investigative reporters on the left today. He was also one of the few journalists who was on to the Democratic party’s Russia conspiracy scam early in the process; his infamous “awkward” interrogation of bullshit artist Donna Brazile is literally must-see journalism for example. In this thirty-five minute video however, Chariton has finally lost his patience with the Trump-Russia conspiracy and after touching on why it’s simply not true, he launches into an epic rant about all the infinitely more important problems Democrats are ignoring while chasing a “Trump works for Putin” silver bullet that doesn’t seem to exist.

Greenwald on “Dearth of Evidence” Linking Russia to WikiLeaks Release of DNC Emails – In this ten minute interview with Democracy Now given by The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, he talks about the curious double standard of evidence in the Trump-Russia hysteria/conspiracy theory and why so little skepticism is being applied to information from notoriously dishonest US intelligence agencies. Greenwald also goes out of his way to debunk the Assange/Russia/Trump collaborations rumors by pointing out that Trump’s sudden appreciate for Wikileaks is entirely a function of partisan self-interest – while also noting that the Democrats now hate and mistrust Wikileaks for the exact same reasons.

Wikileaks Just Confirmed Democrats Have No Evidence For Trump Russia Link – author HA Goodman is another content-producer who has created dozens of videos and articles discussing and debunking the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory from it’s very beginnings at the end of the Democratic nomination process. In this seven minute Vlog from March 2017, Goodman talks about why nobody in the US government has demanded that the DNC turn over it’s supposedly hacked servers and the stunning hypocrisy of Democratic party attempts to push a dangerous conspiracy theory after actively lying for Clinton during the campaign.

Real purpose of the intel report on Russian hacking w/ Abby Martin & Ben Norton – this thirteen minute On Contact interview with Ben Norton and Abby Martin explores the propaganda value of the ODNI report (and thus the Trump-Russia conspiracy) for the crumbling American establishment; regardless of which party is currently in power. The trio also discuss the ongoing establishment war on independent journalism and public access media in the context of American deep state attempts to target outlets outside of the mainstream US media culture, like RT, teleSUR and Democracy Now – including the Washington Post’s disastrous promotion of blatantly false claims by PropOrNot.

‘Insane to say critical reporting on Clinton led to Trump’s victory’ – this seven minute interview on RT News between a former Breaking the Set producer and independent journalist Abby Martin talks about how reminiscent of McCarthyism the insane accusation that a tiny alternative news network like RT could possibly have flipped the 2016 US election is. While it’s important to consider the source of the interview, Martin’s critique of the ODNI report’s focus on RT is spot on and every single thing she says in this segment is undeniably true; including the problems Hillary Clinton presented as a candidate, establishment attempts to shut down independent media and her remarks about the staggering inequity driving social upheaval in the United States.

Wikileaks Vault 7 & the Russian Conspiracy Industry – this hour and a half long podcast featuring Robbie Martin and Abby Martin is a very deep dive on a variety of issues intertwined with the Russiagate conspiracy; including swine emperor Trump’s wiretapping claims, the shocking revelations in the Wikileaks Vault 7 release and why the liberal establishment simply can’t afford to give up on the conspiracy theory. Although it may not be obvious to the casual observer, the ongoing attempts to tie Wikileaks to Russia and the shift of focus towards Trump wiretapping claims are all part of the security theater production built around Russiagate.

 

Well there you have it, thousands upon thousands of words debunking the Trump-Russia theory from a primarily left wing perspective; including critical analysis of evidence and official statements, discussions about the Democratic establishment’s motives for promoting the conspiracy theory and opinion pieces on how Russiagate will mutate and progress from here. While it’s almost certain that I’ve left a few gems off this already extensive list, I feel like there’s more than enough information in this post to allow readers to climb as far down the rabbit hole as necessary to see the truth about the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory. Finally, please remember that you can read all of my writing about Russiagate on our new “Giant Russia Theory” page.

In conclusion – to hell with Donald Trump but don’t believe the hype.

 

  • Nina Illingworth

 

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