“If we — we individual Americans — can’t handle random snark from varied unknown sources, how can we live with the internet? Who cares if some foreigners are writing crap intended to deceive us into feeling more roiled up and divided than we’re able to do damned well on our own, often with the nudging of the New York Times?”
—Bloggress Ann Althouse, commenting on the strangely prominent front page New York Times story, “Russian Trolls Helped Fracture the Women’s March.”
The day after I complained about how often Althouse has been picking the same topics to write about as I am lately, she did it again. This time, I saw that front page story about 2017 and immediately thought, 1) “Who cares?” and 2) “Boy, I’m sure glad I stopped paying 90 bucks a month for the paper version of this full-time, declining, hyper-partisan propaganda rag.” And as I started to post about how the Times deems it front page worthy to go back five years and try to prove that Russian social media “disinformation” undermined an anti-Trump demonstration that was ridiculous to begin with, something made me check Ann’s blog.
Clearly, she was genuinely ticked off by the story. Althouse doesn’t really write that much in most of her posts, but she did this time, seeing this as entirely contrived and pretty obviously another stretch to swipe at Trump (and the legitimacy of his election): after all, Times readers (and reporters) all think that he was in cahoots with Putin regardless of what the evidence says. Two of Ann’s points,
- “I can see that the author Ellen Barry wants to characterize the Russian speech as adding a new or different element that catches on and changes the discourse, but she’s identified nothing they’ve added that’s different from the low-level bullshit we make on our own.”
- She quotes this from near the end of the long, long article:
After the 2016 presidential election, blaming unwelcome outcomes on Russia became “the emotional way out,” said Thomas Rid, author of “Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare.” “It’s playing a trick on you,” said Dr. Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “You become a useful idiot if you ignore effective info ops. But also if you talk it up by telling a story, if you make it more powerful than it is. It’s a trick.”…
and writes, “Yes! Exactly. The astute Dr. Rid is tucked away in the least likely to be read part of the article, but at least he’s quoted.”
Among the amusing comments (“That damn Putin, is there nothing he can’t do? Now he’s got women arguing with each other. ..”) was this:
“The entire purpose of that article was to get that headline posted. It’s confirming or reassuring, in case the NYT readership might be starting to waver in their belief about the true cause of Hillary’s defeat.”
I suppose it should be gratifying to see Ann, who prides herself on being “fiercely neutral,” finally, after a lot of waffling and flirting, coming to the conclusion that Trump was railroaded, that the mainstream media, especially the Times, has abandoned principled journalism for Leftist agenda-peddling, and that the Democratic Party is in the throes of total ethics rot. She could have reached this conclusion a lot earlier, perhaps, if she deigned to read Ethics Alarms as often as I read her blog, because I figured it out a long, long time ago. It wasn’t hard.