It’s been several years since I last covered the insufferable defiance of the “left libertarian” wing of the progressive movement — specifically, and for lack of a better term, the Glenn “Greenwald left,” mostly orbiting the misadventures of Edward Snowden as he remains a welcomed guest of Vladimir Putin in Moscow. I thought they had sufficiently self-marginalized to the haughty fringes of discourse, while the grownups, today, in 2017, are tenaciously handling the serious work of pushing back against the emerging kleptocracy/autocracy of President Trump.
Unfortunately, the Greenwald left is back.
The reason I qualified “they’re back” with “I think” is because it’s possible the commenting leftists I’m about to list are either bots or sock puppets with origins in Ukraine and western Russia. Either way, I know I shouldn’t read the comments, but it was impossible to overlook what’s being said by this faction all across the political internet, including the space under my latest for Salon about Russiagate. Briefly, I discussed how Putin manipulated susceptible Americans into becoming his foot-soldiers — spreading his disinformation through social media and effectively helping Trump win the 2016 election, while also helping Putin win the first major battle in this cyber war against America and other western democracies.
There appears to be three primary arguments here emerging among Greenwaldian liberals:
1) The “conspiracy theory” theory.
Despite the volumes of persistent and thorough reporting from The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, McClatchy, NBC News (Engel, Maddow, O’Donnell, Hayes), CNN and open source outlets like Pro Publica, not to mention concurrent investigations by the FBI, CIA, NSA, and the pro-Trump Congress, there are quite a few liberals claiming Russiagate is merely an unproved conspiracy theory. Here’s a sampling of the harrowing leftist denialism:
Leonardus Caron: What a pathetic display of failed propaganda, Salon. Even Sith Lord Clapper came out and said there’s NO EVIDENCE. Piss off and go fight your WW3 alone you warmongers!
Jonathan Alexis Netherton: Wow – salon’s articles used to be well reasoned and evenly spoken; this is outlandish agitprop in and of itself.
Kevin Price: It is funny to see fact free innuendo and conspiracy mongering used to criticise fact free innuendo and conspiracy mongering.
Jay Cryer: i can’t believe so many “liberals” are falling for this absurd conspiracy theory for which no evidence exists. you’re being played.
Dustin Rickman: Mr. Bob Cesca: You, sir, are farking insane. Seriously…this piece indicates beyond a doubt that you are out of touch with fundamental reality and that you are seriously delusional. Not a trace of reason and critical thought involved in this rant. It’s 110% emotion driven hysteria and hyperbole. A few years ago this kind of ueber-paranoid ranting would have been confned to Onion type satire and parody purveyors. The Democrat “left” has joined the GOP “right” in trafficking fantasies and paranoid delusions and passing them off as facts.
Alex Zhukov: Evidence please! Where’s the evidence? Please produce any evidence whatsoever of this so called “Russian hacking!”
Victoria Battaglini: Salon, it looks like your readers aren’t taking this ClA Russian bullcrap. We know Goldman owners rigged the primary. Quit pumping billions into this fearmongering.
Eric Marsh: This is largely bs. The real threat to democracy is not the Russians, it’s big money in this country.
Jason Miller: Another mentally ill conspiracy loon looking to avoid being locked up by trying to hide his mental illness behind “journalism”.
Thomas Bergmann: Conspiracies everywhere!
Maya Oppenheimer: No one believes the “Russia did it” and Salon is really losing whatever credibility it has left right now
“No one” believes Russia did it — except for a plurality of Americans, not to mention 63 percent of Americans who support an independent commission to investigate the charges, according to PPP. But the polls shouldn’t matter. Halfway through the first year of reporting on Watergate, in 1973-ish, most Americans hadn’t even heard of Watergate. What matters here and now is the reporting. Even if reporters are only getting half of the story correct, it’s still mind-blowing. Hell, even if we delete all claims of Russia interference in our elections, the reporting about the links between Trump and Russian oligarchs is more than impeachment worthy material given the existence of the emoluments claus.
2) The “we’re mean, too, and we totally deserve it” theory.
This is a very typical Greenwaldian attitude: America meddles in other elections, so we had it coming. Okay, would these same people excuse or even forgive a foreign invasion and the installation of a hostile regime in Washington just because we’ve engaged in regime change and nation-building? I would hope not, but probably. Indeed, Putin appears to be working on that one. No amount of harm inflicted upon the United States is unacceptable to this crowd, as long as they can point to something similar in our national history. It’s nearsighted deflection at its worst.
Manfred Humphries: Don’t pull that innocent bullshit- America is complicit in virtually every geopolitical disaster on the planet since the end of WW II. You play with the bull, you get the horn…. And he is one smart bull.
Lars Skorpen: Bob Cesca, as a journalist, why don’t you apply journalism to your writing? Russia may or may not have manipulated the election, but there doesn’t seem to be any real evidence so far. Also, the US have been manipulated other countries’ elections for at least five decades, and proudly so.
Svjetlana Duric: Haha.The US is in the cyber war against the whole world
3) The “we never had a democracy in the first place” theory.
This is perhaps the most uniquely liberal reaction so far. Lacking anything of substance to say by way of either disproving or counterpointing the Russiagate reporting, these people would rather just go for the trite, overplayed, crowd-pleasing zinger. Is our election system in danger from gerrymandering, voter ID and voter purges? Hell yes. Are democratic elections a thing of the past? No way — unless Putin and Trump did what many reputable experts believe they did. If these liberals were so concerned about democracy, they’d be completely on board with sussing out this story and its myriad repercussions. Instead, they’re merely blowing it off with quick and mostly meaningless nods to their personal cynicism.
George Newman: What democracy? America is a democracy in lore of old. Our elected officials are stooges of the plutocrats and corporatist. We are hardly democracy today. Time to call it what it is. You can’t fix a problem until you honestly admit you have one!
Stan van Houcke bob, this isn’t a good show. this is propaganda. which democracy are you talking about? the one in the u.s., whereby more than 40 percent of the people entitled to vote doesn’t vote anymore since half a century?
Al Loomis: you can’t lose what you never had, and if you don’t know that, then you don’t know what democracy is. and that is clearly the case.
Khaled Bizri: What integrity? What democracy? Deluded or continuing your attempts to delude! Pathetic and stupid!
Brian Englar: Oh you think we have a Democracy. Aww, how cute.
Bahram Mobasheri: What democracy you are talking about? Perhaps a rigged democratic primaries is a sign of democracy for you dummies and corporate junkies in Salon!
Diana Ivanova: I think we’ve lost our democracy already … a long time ago …
So, if democracy is allegedly on its way out, are we supposed to just give up and let Russia (or fill-in-the-blank) take over? Apparently.
Meanwhile, Greenwald himself, from his platform on Twitter and at The Intercept, is fighting Russiagate writers like Louise Mensch and John Schindler, while his minion are attacking Maddow and other Pulitzer-worthy reporters for their part in the investigation. It sounds eerily like a repeat of the 2013 Twitter wars that erupted during the drip-drip leaking of the Snowden NSA documents.
Bottom line: it’s absolutely this level of defiant ignorance that allowed Putin to so-easily infiltrate our social media and news cycles in the first place, with his pervasive disinformation campaign and hacked documents. Every single one of these commenters proved the point of my article by illustrating how Putin was able to turn unwitting Americans into his personal invading army: each one sharing, “liking” and retweeting his message, willingly, enthusiastically, while stubbornly refusing to accept they were suckered by the largest scale foreign invasion on U.S. soil since the war of 1812.