If you listen to the mainstream media, you would think that there is as much evidence to prove Russia’s involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee as there is to prove the color of the sky. In their coverage of this controversial issue, the press has made Donald Trump out to be an idiot, a Russian puppet, or both. To them, there is not the slightest doubt in the world that Vladimir Putin’s cyberthugs changed the course of American history.
But saying a thing doesn’t make it so. And “Obama says” is not what we typically call evidence.
Last week, President Obama issued tough sanctions against many Russian agencies and kicked 35 of Putin’s diplomats out of the United States in retaliation for the supposed hacks. In reporting this announcement, many in the press lied to their readers and said the sanctions were accompanied by a release of new evidence connecting Moscow to the crimes. This didn’t happen.
It’s true that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint report on the hacks, but that report was not exactly filled with convincing evidence. Much of it, indeed, was taken up by assertions, innuendo, and assumptions. The rest of it was centered around recommendations to network administrators, telling them how they can protect their servers from cyber-theft.
In making claims against Russia, many in the media have relied on reports from the private security firm, CrowdStrike. The idea is that we can trust CrowdStrike’s findings since the company has no political motivation to fudge the truth. Well, that may be true, but they certainly have a financial motivation. They are only involved in this investigation because the DNC paid them. Are we certain enough about their purity to stake international relations on their claims?
Furthermore, the media is pointedly ignoring the many former U.S. intelligence experts who have said it is very unlikely that Russian actors could have been behind the attacks. In an op-ed piece, several former intelligence leaders said that the National Security Agency would not have missed this intrusion.
“The bottom line is that the NSA would know where and how any ‘hacked’ emails from the DNC, HRC or any other servers were routed through the network,” the experts wrote in December. “The various ways in which usually anonymous spokespeople for U.S. intelligence agencies are equivocating – saying things like ‘our best guess’ or ‘our opinion’ or ‘our estimate’ etc. – shows that the emails alleged to have been ‘hacked’ cannot be traced across the network. Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked.
Perhaps those experts are wrong. Perhaps the Obama administration is right. Maybe Russia did hack the DNC and John Podesta in an attempt to get Trump elected.
But we’ve seen how faulty intelligence can lead to disastrous outcomes. The media needs to do its job. Blindly carrying water for the Obama administration isn’t it.