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Intelligence Community Backtracks After Fueling Russia Hysteria

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with attendees at the Clark County Democratic Party's 2020 Kick Off to Caucus Gala at the Tropicana Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere. Date: 15 February 2020, 21:31 Source: Bernie Sanders Author: Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America

The media hysteria over Russian interference in the 2016 election has directly led to the current moment where the topic is often weaponized for purely political purposes, and it leads to more misinformation and confusion than any Russian campaign could ever hope to achieve.

CNN first reported that three national security officials confirmed earlier reports of Russian interference in the American elections to elect Donald Trump have been overstated.

This comes after the New York Times published that intelligence officials briefed members of the House of Representatives on February 13 that Russia is attempting to meddle in the American election. Election security official Shelby Pierson told legislators Russia is intervening in the 2020 election to help reelect Donald Trump.

The conflicting reports are consistent with the overarching confusion around Russian interference since the 2016 election.

CNN’s sources told the outlet flatly, “the intelligence doesn’t say that,” regarding Russian interference on behalf of Donald Trump.

Trump and Sanders?

To pair with the allegations of Russian interference in favor of President Trump, the Washington Post published a story citing ‘sources familiar with the matter’ that said the Bernie Sanders campaign was informed the Russian government is interfering in the primary process on behalf of the Sanders campaign.

No evidence has been provided to confirm any of these rumors, but the presidential hopeful came out forcefully and said “the intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign, right now, in 2020. And what I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections.”

The Washington Post article was published just two days before the Nevada caucuses were set to take place, sounding alarms that the timing of the publication was politically motivated.

Sanders said to reporters, “one day before the Nevada caucus. Why do you think it came out now? The Washington Post? Good friends.”

The Sanders campaign handily won the Nevada caucus, winning nearly 50% of the country delegates.

Various talking heads and intelligence commentators have argued the Russian government is backing Sanders because Trump could beat him in a general election. Not only is this not based on any actual evidence, but the most recent polls also have Sanders beating Trump in the popular vote and key swing states.

Media Hysteria

A sustained hysteria over Russian interference in American elections has pervaded the media landscape since Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

With huge confusion resulting from conflicting reports and often a lack of concrete evidence, intelligence officials with questionable political motives have weaponized Russia hysteria against the Democratic frontrunner, Bernie Sanders.

President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien appeared on “Face the Nation” and said, “what I’ve heard is that Russia would like Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination, they’d probably like him to be president, understandably because he wants to spend money on social programs and probably would have to take it out of the military.”

The statement made by O’Brien is wholesale speculation, and it is clearly politically motivated. O’Brien also mimicked a Trump line that it is not a surprise that Russia wants to have Sanders elected because “he honeymooned in Moscow.”

While the reported intelligence briefings on Russian interference in the Democratic primary have been scant on publicly released details, there has been no suggestion that the Russian government is actively working to elect Sanders.

The Sanders campaign has also been attacked by Democratic pundits on this issue. On “Meet the Press”, former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer said, “when we say Russia is helping Bernie Sanders, they are not trying to help Bernie Sanders be president. They are trying to give Trump the opponent that Trump wants.”

Similar to O’Brien’s comments, Pfeiffer and other Democratic pundits are masking an argument against Sanders’ candidacy masquerading as an evidence-based national security threat.

The media hysteria over Russian interference in the 2016 election has directly led to the current moment where the topic has been weaponized often for purely political purposes, and it leads to more misinformation and confusion than any Russian campaign could ever hope to achieve.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.


  1. Larry Stout February 24, 2020

    To get a glimpse of the truth about government policy, actions, and inactions, you have to begin from the perspective of cynicism.

    “Never believe anything until the government officially denies it.” — Soviet proverb

    “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.” — Mark Twain

  2. John Paluska February 25, 2020

    I like you. You’re smart and evidence-based in your reporting.

    But I do believe “Russia” is right about Trump beating Sanders.

    Remember the polls were overwhelmingly wrong in 2016. And now in 2020 they didn’t get Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire correct for Democrats. Polls have become a propaganda tool, as evidence by how wrong they have been lately.

    Bernie Sanders is a socialist Trump. If you put their personalities side-by-side they are very similar in talking style and confrontational techniques, but Trump is a lot quicker on his feet and has made his life out of selling things and building a brand.

    I’m not saying Trump is dishonest (far from it. He’s kept all his campaign promises to the best of his ability and would have kept more if Congress worked with him), but if they were to both hash it out, Trump would win, he’s the better campaigner than Sanders.


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