It is an argument we have heard from the start: There simply isn't any evidence of Russian interference in the U.S. election. Tonight, I wonder if we could trace that argument to its origin, if we might not be surprised.
A week or so ago, I thought myself rather perceptive. When the Intel Community had come out with their initial report on Russian involvement -- back while Obama was still in office -- they suggested a lot of the Russian involvement amounted to no more than disinformation and propaganda. A week or so ago, I wondered how Russia would go about it, if they were to plant propaganda in our media.
And, about a week ago, I figured I had figured it out. The large news outlets these days have comment threads for their stories. You simply plug in under a screen name, and offer your opinion. More than just that, talk shows often read from letters their listeners send.
So, if you are a Russian, a practitioner of the art of propaganda and disinformation, and you are seeking a way to influence, what ways are available to you? What ways are out there, that you might spread your influence without being spotted?
If there are other ways, I'm not thinking of them. And, regardless if there are other ways, this is a convenient and easy way.
So, certainly, it seems they would use it.
Yesterday, I was reading a story about an interview with Vladimir Putin that took place a week ago on NBC's Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly. I was a little shocked to read Putin saying, "I haven't seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election in the United States." Although this is the first I've heard him say this, the news article suggested he has used the argument repeatedly in the past.
I was shocked because the comment is so similar to the argument I've been hearing all along, right from the start. And, I was taken back because I realized it might be a reflection that what I theorized about how the Russians go about spreading propaganda might well be accurate.
It is a strange the way Putin presents his argument. "I haven't seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference." He speaks as if he were an observer, not a participant, and as if he were weighing, himself, whether "the Russians" did it.
He speaks from the same perspective he would speak from if he were one of his plants, offering an online comment.
He probably has operatives doing the work, and doesn't do it, himself. And, if he does, he surely wouldn't be so careless. But one wonders what would happen if the FBI did trace the online comments back to their sources, and found some coming from no less than Putin's own computer.