But The New York Times story that Russian President Putin has “suggested” that Russian hackers might have played a role, is pure fake news.
The opening paragraph of the fake news story reads: “Shifting from his previous blanket denials, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia suggested on Thursday that “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved in cyberattacks last year that meddled in the United States presidential election.”
Putin made no such “suggestion”. As the full text of his comments reveals, he made no reference to the US Presidential election at all, and categorically denied that the Russian state ever engages in hacking.
“Some people in the US are saying that Russian intelligence agencies ‘farm out’ operations of this sort in order to preserve ‘plausible deniability’. I don’t for a moment believe that. Would intelligence agencies carrying out secret work really be willing to ‘farm out’ a ‘dirty tricks’ operation in that way?” Putin said.
“The risks of involving outsiders in an operation of that sort where the stakes are so high seem to me so enormous that I can’t imagine them doing it. Besides they would surely know that Hillary Clinton and the NSA would be unlikely to be fooled by it,” he concluded.
More revealing however is that last month, the New York Times announced that it had hired Bret Stephens, the former Wall Street Journal columnist.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Stephens, whose position at the Journal was deputy editor supervising international relations, emerged as one of the most prominent critics of Donald Trump within the Republican Party.
Stephens had declared his support for Hillary Clinton in many opinion pieces in marked contrast to the generally favorable reporting Trump had received from the Wall Street Journal in general.
While there is no evidence that Stephens himself was forced to quit the WSJ, the Atlantic news magazine published a report in February, based on anonymous sources, that the he was quietly “phased out” for his critical columns on Trump.
It is well-known in Washington that the New York Times functions as a journalistic mouthpiece for the US military/intelligence apparatus. In recent months, it has been covering the bitter factional struggle from within the Republican Party against Trump.
The opposition to Trump within the editorial pages of the Times, particularly demands a more confrontational stance towards Russia and for direct military intervention in the Syrian civil war, where US-backed Islamist militias have suffered serious strategic reversals.
Stephens was an ardent supporter of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has called for an escalation of the US-backed civil war in Syria through direct US intervention. A Journal editorial from September 2016, “The Only Syrian Solution,” called the US-led bombing of the Balkans in the 1990s a “model” for Syria.
In 2014, Stephens authored a book, America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder, which denounced the supposed reluctance of the Obama administration to use military force even though Obama was the first American president to spend two full terms at war, and called for the continuation and expansion of America’s role as “world policeman”.
The Times op-ed writers, who specialize in providing “democratic” and “human rights” justifications for America’s inteventions, have supported every war launched by the United States since the end of the Cold War, and are among the most vocal supporters of confrontation with Russia.
In recent months, Times editorialists have launched appeals to the American military and the cabal of ex-generals and corporate executives in Trump’s cabinet to intervene against Trump and, if necessary, remove him from power.
In March, Thomas Friedman wrote an open letter to the three generals in Trump’s cabinet, the CIA director and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that proposed a palace coup, and in April the New York Times, published a complete fabrication with the title: “Russian Hackers Who Targeted Clinton Appear to Attack France’s Macron”.
The unleashed Clinton claimed this week too that “the Russians” were the ones who caused her to lose the election. She still fails to see her own contribution to her losing effort. She spoke at a tech conference in Silicon Valley launching her astonishing conspiracy claim that Trump won the election because he “colluded” with a thousand Russian agents.
Clinton suggested that Russia were somehow deliberately inflating Trump’s Twitter followers through the use of bots. “Who is behind driving up Trump’s Twitter followers by the millions?” she said.
“We know they’re bots. Is it to make him look more popular than he is? Is it to influence others? What is the message behind this?”
The Clinton claim of “driving up Trump’s twitter followers by the millions” is fake news based on a hoax. Twitter Audit, where Clinton got the bot numbers from, says that of the current 15 million plus followers of @HillaryClinton only 48 percent are real.
For the @realDonaldTrump account Twitter Audit finds that 51 percent of its 30 million plus followers are real. So Trump has more real followers than Hillary. Nevertheless Clinton detailed her conspiracy theory that her campaign had been hit by the Russian hacking and that it used its agents to spread “fake news”.
She added: “The Russians in my opinion – and based on intelligence and counterintelligence people I have spoken to – could not have known best how to weaponize that information unless they had been guided by a specific group of people. By Americans.”
She continued: “You’re sitting in Moscow, in Macedonia, the White House, wherever you are and saying “that trip may not have worked out so well, pushing the guy, failing to express our support for NATO. How do we recover from that? You can’t let Trump and his allies be a diversion. They are a threat.”
The question remains however: A threat to whom?