Russia Fool America Once ... Can't Get Fooled Again!
Let us tell you a story you might remember, because it happened pretty recently. Russian military intelligence hacked a bunch of emails from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign and started laundering them through their cutouts at WikiLeaks, because at that moment in history, WikiLeaks still had a shred of credibility as a RADICAL TRANSPARENCY organization. The weird thing about it was that the emails they released were of approximately zero consequence. They showed a little bit of infighting. They found some quotes from Hillary Clinton that, when read by absolute idiots, could be misinterpreted to advance their HILLARY IS TWO-FACED FAKE LADY GARGOYLE narrative. And they found some tips for getting one's risotto to come out just perfect.
Otherwise, the headline was mostly "Political campaign is political campaign, wants to get candidate elected." The fucking nerve of that Hillary Clinton! Also the Clinton Foundation, one of the most respected charities on the planet, gotta be something fishy about that, right? Because if Donald Trump's charitable foundation was basically his own personal slush fund, we better investigate the Clinton Foundation REALLY HARD and write headlines that suggest it's just the same or maybe even so much worse, right? RIGHT?
But it worked! The American media, confronted with a GOP candidate who committed fifty crimes before breakfast EVERY DAY, combined with its breathless and obsessive need to cover things from a "both sides do it" perspective, latched on to the narrative from Russia and WikiLeaks, which was that these emails were exposing something important, when they weren't doing that at all. To be clear, Russia didn't trick everybody. There were millions of people, including THE STAFF OF WONKETTE, who rolled their eyes and said, "this shit is stupid." Those people also said things like, "Isn't the real story here that Russia is stealing private campaign data and leaking it?" (Because to be clear, at that point, we knew it was Russia.) But a hell of a lot of people were fooled. A hell of a lot of people still are.
Guys, they're trying it again. And it's not working!
No, we're not talking about how Trump's intel chiefs just said Russia is probably going to try to screw with the 2020 election even worse than they did in 2016, but we're pretty sure millions of Americans are watching like fucking HAWKS for that as we begin the primary season.
We're talking about the story Wonkette wrote you this morning, and which Rachel Maddow reported on last night, of Russia's very cute and adorable attempt to fuck with the discovery process in Robert Mueller's lawsuit against Concord Management, which controlled the Internet Research Agency, the troll farm Russia used to sow discord among the American electorate and push people away from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump (or Jill Stein!), using memes and fake Twitter accounts and fake Facebook pages.
Russia's first mistake was to think they could simultaneously not actually show up to defend themselves in court -- we're sure Robert Mueller would be happy to see Yevgeniy Prigozhin, AKA "Putin's chef," AKA the head of Concord, any time he's free! -- and also get the benefits of full discovery, as if these were normal defendants, so that Vladimir Putin and his band of merry oligarchs could see all the evidence Mueller has against them. The American court system sees you, Russia. It is slightly amused.
Of course, the discovery documents they did receive ended up back in Russia, and then were leaked by fake Twitter accounts promising HAWT SCOOPS to American journalists, claiming the documents were the result of SUPER HAXXOR work targeting the Mueller investigation. The Americans the Russians hit up, journalists Casey Michel and Josh Russell, responded "LOL!"
Thing is, Mueller wasn't hacked at all. The documents seem to have come straight from the discovery process led by Concord's (American) lawyers, and then sent back to Russia, which rigged 'em up all nice-like and then tried to launder them back to America.
As Maddow noted, the way the Russians used the discovery they got from the Mueller investigation was to curate and mix it in with other stuff, and specifically to include only really boring stuff from Mueller's evidence, to start an influence campaign in America suggesting Robert Mueller doesn't have a case. HAW HAW, ROBERT MUELLER, U SUK! When Russia was leaking Hillary Clinton stuff, they were leaking boring stuff too, because it all was boring. But they'd shine a light on things that were supposedly of interest, and they'd let the American media run with it. The point of commonality is that Russia was trying to set the narrative, and hoping that Americans would just buy it, hook, line and sinker.
Hillary Clinton is corrupt! Robert Mueller ain't got nothin'!
Well, it didn't work this time. In fact, it didn't work so much that the journalists Russia shopped it to laughed their FUCKING asses off. We guess now that the only Russian front operation in town that had any credibility -- WikiLeaks -- has been exposed for what it is, it's not quite so easy to get the Americans' attention.
Here's some quotes of those journalists LOL-ing, as reported by NBC News:
"The DM I got was ridiculous, both in terms of its syntax as well as the types of phrases it used," Michel told NBC News. "It reminded me of the types of language we saw on some of the fake Russian Facebook pages, like when the Russian trolls claimed they were Texas secessionists who were 'in love with Texas shape!'" [...]
"It's some galaxy brain stuff they wanted us to believe," Russell said. "They had this grand plan and it all went to hell when me and Casey just lol'd."
WOMP WOMP. If you want to see some funny real-time stuff on how inept the Russian troll operation was, check Josh Russell's Twitter feed. Also fun fact: As Maddow reports, there are signs that these Russian idiots may have tried to target her show too, so that is very LOL.
This all leads us to the point of our post, which is the question of how American journalists will react when the Russian attacks on the 2020 election start in earnest. In other words, is it going to work this time?
The fact that Russia's little trick with the Mueller investigation is being reported in this way -- not as "NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION BASED ON LEAKS!" but rather as "LOL is Russia trying to out-stupid Jim Hoft?" -- suggests maybe it won't. Now, don't go thinking Wonkette just said, "The American people are all super smart now and none of Russia's tricks will work." They will totally work on Fox News, which serves as a propaganda arm of the Trump administration, and thus as a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. They will also work on many Trump supporters, who are the primary consumers of fake news in America, especially the older ones. And they'll probably work on some far-left opponents of whoever ends up being the eventual Democratic nominee. But we don't think the majority of Democrats or much of the real media will get caught up in it as much this time, because all smart patriotic Americans know now that the real story is what Russia is doing and would like to do to our democracy, and will interpret obvious dirty tricks like this through that lens.
At least we hope. Chuck Todd's kinda stupid, he might set sail on the HMS Failboat again.
And maybe the New York Times, they're total fuckups.
Christ, just keep watching Rachel Maddow, it'll be fine. And watch out for those damn Russians, which shouldn't be that hard because they're pretty dumb.
Follow Evan Hurst on Twitter RIGHT HERE, DO IT RIGHT HERE!
Wonkette is ad-free and funded ONLY by YOU, our dear readers. Click below to give us ALL YOUR MONEY, or at least what you can afford!
Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.
Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.