When President Obama announced Thursday he was taking retaliatory measures against Russia for its role in cyber-attacks against Democratic Party institutions, the mainstream media pounced.
They listened to the Obama administration describe Russia’s “aggressive harassment,” “malicious cyber activity” and “data disclosure activities,” and quickly seized upon an ominous phrase: “election hacking.” Election hacking took off so fast that the narrative needed an attendant and drink cart accompanying it.
To be perfectly clear, there is zero evidence of actual election hacking, such as the hacking of voting machines, paper ballots or voter fraud on the part of Russia in an effort to install Donald Trump into the White House. There’s no evidence Russia employed a massive cloaking device from a secret submarine in Lake Erie, over the state of Wisconsin, where Hillary Clinton did not campaign once during the general election.
There’s no evidence Russia influenced Clinton campaign operatives to steer SEIU members on the ground away from Michigan. As of yet, there is no proof it was Russia who directed Lena Dunham to campaign in North Carolina, or the aged cast of the West Wing to stump in Ohio. There is no evidence that rural voters in Pennsylvania, whom Mrs. Clinton ignored in the final weeks of the campaign, are actually Russian spies. It is still not known whether Katy Perry is in fact a Russian agent.
If any actual electoral fraud was engineered by Putin and Russia, giving Hillary Clinton almost 3,000,000 more votes than Donald Trump is an amazing cover.
But again, none of this occurred on the day Americans went to the polls. The word “hacked,” or variations thereof, does not appear in the White House statement and only once, prefaced by “allegedly” in the DHS statement. There is no evidence of any illicit activities occurring on Election Day.
John Podesta was hacked. The election was not. Podesta’s emails were stolen, not via some sophisticated cyber operation, but through a common email phishing scam, the same ones your grandparents fall for when you catch them writing a big check to that wonderfully nice and thankful Nigerian prince.
There was no forced breach of information, or Russian agents hanging from ceilings at Langley, or stealing files from offices late at night . No one broke into the DNC and stole discs in a daring midnight raid. The information was given willfully and ignorantly by Podesta and his staff. They are the ones responsible.
If the illegal attainment of leaked information is considered “hacking the election,” then file the 2012 election under being hacked as well.
So the question becomes why is our national media intent on spreading misinformation about a “hacked election”? It certainly looks purposeful, if not downright dishonest.
On Yahoo News, a recent purveyor of fake news, the headline initially read: “US Sanctions Russia over vote hacking.” It has since been changed to the more accurate: “US hits Russia for election meddling.” Hopefully this becomes a trend, because plenty of outlets have been repeating the “hacked election” formulation.
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) December 29, 2016
CNN blasted out a tweet saying “Obama issues an executive order against 6 Russian individuals and 5 Russian entities over election hacking.”
Politico’s breaking news tweet read: “White House sanctions Russia over election hacks,” as did NPR’s, stating “President Obama orders sanctions against Russian intelligence services officials in response to election hacking.” The New York Times’ headline stated: “U.S. Punishes Russia for Election Hacking, Ejecting Operatives.”
Tom Winter of NBC News tweeted out the name of an alleged suspect wanted by the FBI for his role in the “election hacking.”
NBC News: Documents & officials say Evgeniy Bogachev who is alleged to be part of election hacking has been wanted by the FBI in other cases pic.twitter.com/PPonxHfzdc
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) December 29, 2016
Matthew Dowd of ABC News, in a not-so-subtle jab at Donald Trump, tweeted: “What is more problematic for US national security: few thousand Mexicans coming across the border for work, or Russia hacking our election?
What is more problematic for US national security: few thousand Mexicans coming across the border for work, or Russia hacking our election?
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) December 29, 2016
It’s worth nothing, ABC News is now assisting Facebook in fact-checking newsfeeds for fake news, as is the Associated Press, which also reported on Obama’s “retaliation for election hacking.”
News organizations obsessed with a sudden new found mission of loyal fact checking and accuracy when it comes to a Donald Trump presidency apparently are letting these rules slide when it pertains to the election that put him in the White House. Whether intentional or not, the media’s misreporting appears to be influencing the public’s perception of events.
According to a study published in the Washington Post, almost one half of Hillary Clinton voters now believe that Russia hacked the election itself, specifically vote totals, despite the Obama Administration stating no such hack occurred. It’s not hard to guess why so many might have gotten that impression — they’ve been reading about a “hacked election” for weeks.
Is this a purposeful effort on behalf of mainstream outlets and the people charged with relaying information to undermine a Donald Trump presidency? Who knows? It might just be that they are using “election hacking” as shorthand for “Hey man, maybe don’t click suspicious viagra links in your gmail.”
If media outlets want to continue to sound the alarm about “fake news,” they should be more concerned with accuracy in their reporting. This looks sloppy, biased and, worst of all, malicious. On the plus side, the Obama administration should be applauded for finally coming around to the threat Russia poses even if it only took his party losing an election to do so.
Note: Stephen Miller is not a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump. That’s a different Stephen Miller. Sorry.
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