Editor’s Note: well here we are again my friends; another day, another batshit insane liberal establishment conspiracy theory about how Russian hacker troll-bots rigged the 2016 US election against living Democratic Party saint-being Hillary Clinton. I have quite literally spent the past four nights agonizing under the weight of existential dread at the very thought of having to write even one more post debunking the absurd Russia-Trump conspiracy theory – it was only just yesterday that I managed to fight through the resulting writer’s block to tackle today’s Deep Dive longform essay about the latest gobsmacking mutation of what has now become the mainstream American liberal’s version of Benghazi.
The corporate liberal media just wrapped up a busy weekend of moving goalposts and shifting narratives once again as the focus of this week’s disingenuous speculation is the mythical “Bernie Bros” and how they foolishly ruined everything for the Queen of Scheme; this time by sharing Facebook posts created by Russian bot networks that discredited Hillary Clinton. I apologize in advance if some of this is material we’ve already covered but because the seeds of each new variation on the Giant Russia Theory are always found in the ashes of the last absurd theory, it’s pretty much unavoidable:
Note: if you’re having trouble reading the above info-graphic, just right click on it and select “view this image” to pop out a bigger version; I’ve been trying to use larger text on the memes themselves but it’s definitely a work in progress at the moment. Additionally, please feel free to share this image anywhere you like because it’s pretty clear at this point that your friends and family aren’t getting an honest picture of what Russiagate really is from the evening news. Finally, don’t forget to check out my additional thoughts below the Sources section of this article; it’s a long one this time.
Setting aside the fact that there’s really no such damn thing as “Bernie Bros” because Caitlin Johnstone already covered the point perfectly in her passionate essay; has anyone under the age of sixty who doesn’t need three underpaid interns to manage their own Twitter account actually thought this absurd bullshit through or is it more than just a coincidence this newest theory is only believable to someone who has never spent any time actually fucking using the internet? Let’s break this latest neoliberal lie down into it’s three main components and examine why it cannot possibly be true in terms even an absolute Luddite can understand:
Tiny State-Sponsored Media Outlets & Blatantly Fake News Sites Swung the Election Against Clinton
The most glaring problem with almost all later iterations of the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory is the idea that ridiculously small and inconsequential news outlets like Russia Today, teleSUR and “fake” news sites with misleading names have the power to change the course of an American election because people share their stories or videos on social media. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, even the largest of these news networks (Russia Today) has viewership numbers so infinitesimal that they don’t even show up on the Nielson ratings; if nobody clicks on a link shared on Facebook does it even fucking matter who posted it or what the source has to say about Hillary Clinton? Has literally anyone proven that RT, Sputnik, teleSUR or “fake” news sites got anywhere near the kind of American traffic necessary to swing a Presidential election last year? Of course not! Which specific stories from what Macedonian hoax websites in particular captured the hundreds of thousands of readers (at least) necessary to cost Hillary Clinton the election; remember, website traffic is absolutely a quantifiable metric so how is it that nobody can point to a specific site or a given story that fixed the election for Donald Trump? Are we seriously supposed to believe that none of the seventeen US Intelligence agencies who investigated this shit knows how to use Alexa?
Frankly I’m just getting started because the more you turn the absurd premise this whole iteration of Russiagate depends on over in your mind, the more glaringly obvious unanswerable questions float to the surface. How did social media posts about Clinton’s health and “Spirit Cooking” that measurably reached only a tiny fraction of the US electorate manage to completely counteract and indeed overpower the literally infinite hours spent debunking these conspiracy theories in mainstream, corporate media? Did anyone examining the data these conclusions were based on control for previous political affiliation or are liberals just assuming that Mike Cernovich fans who lurk on 4Chan and read Breitbart News daily were going to vote for Clinton until they saw a dodgy article from a clickbait website in Moldova? Actually, that brings up another good question in and of itself; how do you tell the difference between a malicious story planted to rig an election, a clickbait article full of nonsense posted entirely to drive traffic to the site and/or an honest mistake – after all, doesn’t the New York Times print multiple retractions every single day and didn’t most American news outlets “unknowingly” publish Bush administration lies about Iraq? Who exactly is deciding which articles are dangerous foreign propaganda designed to thwart democracy and by what metrics are they making that determination?
We could literally do this all day – how do you tell if a given voter refused to pick Clinton because of a fake news story created by “the Russians,” because they’ve always hated Hillary’s neoliberal policies or because of legitimate leaked documents produced by the DNC itself; especially since you can’t actually ask individual voters? If Kremlin propaganda from RT news is so powerful, why didn’t their non-stop promotion of Ron Paul’s candidacy affect the 2012 US election similarly? Tabloids, fake news sites and conservative media smears have been a part of political discourse in America for literal decades and yet somehow, many previous candidates who were not Hillary Clinton managed to win office; why is that? How do we know Vladimir Putin had anything to do with these stories? How can we sufficiently prove that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to effectively spread this misinformation? Can anyone, and I mean anyone prove that the 100% real, unaltered emails many of these stories were based on were given to Wikileaks by agents of the Russian government?
In short, the number of unanswered and indeed, even unanswerable questions in this linchpin aspect of the latest Russiagate line are simply too numerous for any reasonable person to definitively say that fake news articles and Russia Today videos “rigged” the election for Donald Trump – no matter what elite Democrats, neoliberal media or historically dishonest US intelligence agencies claim today.
Russian Trolls & Bot Networks Gave Trump the Edge on Election Day
This of course brings us to the second major aspect of this tall tale; the idea that nefarious Russian trolls employed mysterious-sounding bot networks to specifically target Sanders supporters in swing states and trick them into sharing these fake news stories. Unfortunately for Trump-Russia conspiracy enthusiasts however, this part of the lie presents many of the same problems the idea that RT News rigged the election did; starting with the fact that paid internet trolls and bot networks tweeting stories about politics aren’t a new thing and yet this is the first time anyone has ever suggested they unfairly swung an election.
I personally have observed trolls from Russia (if not Russian trolls) posting in the comments sections of foreign policy articles on websites like Vice News almost continuously since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began and while my evidence is certainly anecdotal, I don’t recall one solitary American mind being changed about Russia, Russian policy or Vladimir Putin in any way. Frankly, the vast majority of these “Russian agents” struggle mightily to master fucking conversational english and somehow, supposedly credible people in government and media want me to believe they rigged an election? Furthermore, if paid trolling is really so effective, how can anyone explain the utter failure of David Brock’s “Million Dollar Troll Brigade” at Correct the Record to actually get Hillary Clinton elected?
It’s the same damn story when you examine bot networks, automated posting and fake social media profiles; something every single member of every mainstream media outlet is no doubt aware of because the companies they write for actually use variations on this technology on a daily basis. Why is it that when the New York Times uses bots to share its stories it’s just good advertising but when admittedly odious conservative sites like Breitbart News or Infowars do the same, it’s part of some elaborate Kremlin conspiracy to rob Hillary Clinton of her rightful role as President of the United States? Why are Twitter bots that favor Donald Trump definitive proof that Russia fixed the election while Twitter bots that favored Hillary Clinton are just good politics? Are neoliberal conspiracy theorists somehow unaware that literally anyone can set up a rudimentary (hostile) bot network and as such, most users have long since learned to identify and ignore automated posting because it’s either an advertisement or an easy way to infect your computer with malware? Or, does Rachel Maddow actually believe there’s a human out there somewhere typing “learn how you can make $600 a week from the comfort of your own home” on literally every goddamn website with a comments section in existence? How many times have you personally clicked on a link from a sketchy-looking fake account for political news and if the answer is even once, how many viruses did your computer contract doing so? Why is this whole story starting to sound like something your octogenarian grandmother made up to explain how she bricked her laptop by clicking on an email about a Nigerian Prince with an offer she couldn’t refuse?
Everyone Would Have Voted Clinton if Gullible Sanders Supporters Hadn’t Shared Russian Lies
Which brings us to our final and perhaps most ridiculous assumption necessary to support the “Russian troll-bots/Bernie Bros” iteration of the Russiagate conspiracy theory; the idea that people who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the election were motivated by fake Russian news. Naturally, this is incredibly idiotic on so many levels that I’m honestly struggling to understand how anyone with a goddamn brain in their skull could believe it at all:
- this theory ignores the reality that most of Trump’s voters were dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton with a shotgun against their temple; as evidenced by the fact that Trump’s turnout was basically the same as Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2012 Presidential run plus population growth.
- it also ignores the agency of millions of voters who willingly picked the Green Party, the Libertarian Party or any other “3rd Party” candidate in the country over Hillary Clinton and their justifiable anger at the rigged, two-party political system in America.
- this idea further ignores the fact that sketchy conservative media outlets failed to stop President Obama (twice) by blasting rumors that he was a gay, Muslim, retired drug dealer who’d kidnapped his own children because he was married to a man; with a little help to get the ball rolling from longtime Clinton ally Sid Blumenthal during the 2008 Democratic primary season. The same could also be said of Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton, who also somehow survived the lies, smears and disinformation to win two terms as President.
- it also requires you to wipe your memory of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous term as US Secretary of State and pretends that every single potential voter has forgotten her hateful and dishonest Democratic primary tactics against then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008.
- this idea also ignores that regardless of whether it’s fair or Clinton is a victim of sexism – her poor service record in government, thirty years of scandals and Clinton’s own, documented dishonesty made her one of the least-liked Presidential candidates in US history long before allegations of Russian hacking and interference in the election emerged. Even if you somehow buy the argument that everything conservatives have ever said about Clinton before the election is a vicious smear; that represents a known quantity about Clinton the candidate going into the Democratic nomination process, it has nothing to do with Russian trolls and you can’t attempt to invalidate an election result in 2016 because of Karl Rove hit pieces in the 1990’s!
- it imagines a world where Hillary herself wasn’t always a mediocre candidate with little charisma who tracked notably to the right of many Democrats on key issues like health care, the environment and Wall Street; long before Russiagate was even a glimmer in Keith Olbermann’s eyes. Furthermore, it pretends that Clinton wasn’t struggling to draw crowds to her rallies the entire election (and primary season) as well as wishing away the reality that Hillary simply failed to inspire younger voters who cared about Sanders’ free state college proposal, the fight for a $15 minimum wage and dismantling the ICE deportation machine far more than anyone in her campaign ever realized; until it was too late.
- the theory also ignores the reality that Hillary Clinton is a horrifying warmonger who was running as the “third term” of another horrifying warmonger and that when presented with a choice between Clinton and the equally terrifying Trump, many voters felt compelled to choose neither.
- this idea pretends that Clinton didn’t run an objectively horrible campaign, while choosing to ignore widespread reports of numerous blunders the Clinton team made in key battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – states that Trump would ultimately win narrowly on election day.
- it glosses over the fact that millions upon millions of Americans who followed the FBI investigation know that Hillary Clinton did something morally wrong, if not entirely illegal when she used a private, unprotected email server in her basement to store classified documents and it actively pretends nobody who’s ever heard of the Clinton Foundation thinks both of the Clintons are fucking crooks.
- finally of course, this absurd conspiracy theory strips all agency away from Berniecrats and denies the very existence of voters who were only interested in the Democratic Party because of Sanders. It assumes that Sanders supporters are helpless, gullible rubes who simply never read a goddamn thing about Hillary Clinton until Russian trolls poisoned their minds. It pretends that justifiably enraged Bernie supporters didn’t still remember the mainstream liberal establishment and the DNC smearing their candidate, gaslighting them in public and rigging the nomination process for Hillary Clinton by the time election day rolled around.
I suppose that in the final analysis, the easiest way to tell the “Russian troll-bots/Bernie Bros” iteration of the Russiagate conspiracy is made of denial, bullshit and spin is to examine the underlying sense of arrogance, entitlement and self-absorption necessary to actually believe it. The entire premise is wrapped around the idea that somehow everyone owed Hillary Clinton their vote and that the only logical excuse for these ungrateful bitches withholding it from her, is that ignorant suckers were easily deceived by National Enquirer-level “fake news” – put out by infamous supervillain Vladimir Putin.
Only someone who started from the premise that Hillary Clinton is nearly perfect could eventually arrive at the conclusion that anyone who didn’t vote for their candidate is an unsophisticated mark who only started caring about US politics roughly seven minutes ago. Only someone who’s already given their soul completely over to neoliberal Clintonism could honestly assume that the only possible reasons to be mad at Hillary on voting day were rumors about her poor health and a whackjob story about satanic cults that abduct children; both of which really only seemed to gain long term traction in online communities already full of Trump supporters. Only someone with their head so far up the Democratic Party elite’s ass they can taste Chuck Schumer’s lunch would sincerely believe that the problem was entirely “those stupid voters” and not the party’s historically poor candidate.
This is a dangerously myopic political game of high stakes poker the ClintonWorld wing of the Democratic Party is playing to maintain control of a billion dollar donation machine here; if you take the “Russian troll-bots/Bernie Bros” version of the Trump-Russia conspiracy to it’s logical conclusion then it’s safe to assume that everyone who shared a negative story about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election (true or not) was an unwitting Kremlin pawn in the plot to deny her the Presidency and that anyone who failed to vote for her on November 8th, is a traitor.
Unfortunately for mainstream liberal conspiracy theorists however, Russiagate might not even be a pair and the neoliberal establishment has already committed to playing it like a flush; I predict even darker days ahead over the next few months for the Democratic Party when it finally comes time to show their cards and people realized the whole conspiracy theory is a castle built on a swamp, just waiting to burst into flames.
- Nina Illingworth (not affiliated in any way with the KGB or Vladimir Putin)
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