The NY Times tried to pin Black voter suppression in North Carolina on Russia -- which makes the newspaper an accomplice in the actual crime.
“The Times reporters could not find anyone to add substance to the impression the story was designed to make: that the Russians had something to do with voting disruptions in North Carolina or anywhere else.”
If you believe the New York Times, the Russian state is the diabolical force behind Black voter suppression in North Carolina -- and, by imaginary extension, the main suspect for polling irregularities in Black precincts across the country during last year’s election. In a 2,000-plus word article published September 1, the Times ignored the North Carolina Republican Party’s multitudinous schemes to prevent Blacks from casting their ballots in the fiercely contested “swing” state, and instead speculated that “the Russians” caused problems for voters in heavily Black Durham County.
As with all things allegedly Russian, no proof is necessary. Indeed, as the reporters repeatedly admitted, beginning in the article’s third paragraph, “no clear-cut evidence of digital sabotage has emerged, much less a Russian role in it.” Moreover, the article reports that, “Despite the disruptions, a record number of votes were cast in Durham,” overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.
Nevertheless, the near-total lack of facts did not discourage the Times from spinning its speculative web of intrigue to conclude, “Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny.”
Nothing in the story backs up the headline. Even the article’s main protagonist, Susan Greenhaigh, described as “a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group,” cannot connect Durham’s ballot problems to Russians. “We still don’t know if Russian hackers did this,” she said. “But we still don’t know that they didn’t.”
“As the reporters repeatedly admitted, ‘no clear-cut evidence of digital sabotage has emerged, much less a Russian role in it.’”
The Kremlin is guilty until proven innocent. When it comes to Russians, journalistic standards do not exist in the U.S. corporate media, whose owners and editors are in active “collusion” -- to use their favorite word -- with U.S. security agencies and other sectors of the bipartisan War Party, with the aim of keeping tensions with Moscow at fever pitch. The Times article attempts to link polling disruptions in North Carolina to a National Security Agency Report “leaked” to The Intercept, claiming Russian military intelligence had gone “spear-phishing” emails at VR Systems, the Florida-based company that owns voting equipment in North Carolina and other states. According to the Intercept story, the NSA does not purport to know what VR Systems data, if any, was accessed.
And that’s the extent of the “evidence.” Russians attempted to get inside VR Systems, according to a “leaked” document from U.S. super-spooks, who don’t know if the alleged hackers got what they were looking for or not. VR Systems denies that anything seriously intrusive occurred.
But, bad things did happen in Durham County on the way to Election Day, all of it attributable to the racist Republican state government, which placed every possible barrier in the way of fair and orderly balloting in heavily Black and Democratic areas. The state reverted to paper ballots on Election Day, causing many voters to give up in disgust, including students at historically Black North Carolina Central University. Despite these state-imposed disruptions, Clinton beat Donald Trump in the County by substantially more votes than Barack Obama did over Mitt Romney.
“When it comes to Russians, journalistic standards do not exist in the U.S. corporate media.”
The Black elections director for Durham County, Derek Bowens, said: “We do not believe, and evidence does not suggest, that hacking occurred on Election Day.”
So, where’s the story? The Times claims that “current and former intelligence officials” (who insist on remaining anonymous) say “Russians” have hacked into at least two other voting machine companies. But even these ghosts don’t claim the alleged incursions altered or prevented anyone’s vote.
Michael Daniel, who served as the cyber security coordinator in the Obama White House, spoke to the Times on-the-record. “We don’t know if any of the problems were an accident, or the random problems you get with computer systems, or whether it was a local hacker, or actual malfeasance by a sovereign nation-state,” said Daniel. “If you really want to know what happened, you’d have to do a lot of forensics, a lot of research and investigation, and you may not find out even then.”
Thus, even a Democratic White House cyber sleuth refused to take the Russiagate bait. In fact, the Times reporters could not find anyone to add substance to the impression the story was designed to make: that the Russians had something to do with voting disruptions in North Carolina or anywhere else. One strongly suspects the phony story was foisted on the three bylined reporters by their editors, responding to constant pressures from Times owners, who are the prime source of fake news. They have already scraped all the garbage from the bottom of the barrel, and are now spinning anti-Russia tales out of thin air.
“The state reverted to paper ballots on Election Day, causing many voters to give up in disgust.”
In their crusade to maintain the momentum of the Obama wars by making the Kremlin the omni-villain, the corporate fake news manufacturers now attempt to absolve the white supremacist Republican Party in North Carolina of its crimes against Black voters. The Times honchos have no excuse, since they are quite familiar with the GOP’s voting practices in the state. On September 6, 2016, two months before the election, the paper’s editorial board wrote:
“North Carolina Republicans are at it again. Barely one month after a federal appeals court struck down the state’s anti-voter law for suppressing African-American voter turnout ‘with almost surgical precision,’ election officials in dozens of counties are taking up new ways to make it as hard as possible for blacks, and others who tend to support Democrats, to vote.”
The state’s Republican Party has “bragged” and “openly celebrated” its success in keeping Black voter numbers down. They are irredeemable and unrepentant white supremacists, who are not ashamed to commit their crimes in broad daylight. Yet, the Times attempts -- unsuccessfully -- to pin Black voter suppression on the Russians.
Rev. William Barber II, who led the Moral Mondays movement that has fought the GOP’s brazen ballot criminality since 2013, said: “Voter suppression hacked our democracy long before any Russian agents meddled in America’s elections.... We’re looking at Putin’s strongman tactics and not at our own race-based voter suppression tactics.”
By conjuring up a false Russian threat to Black people’s franchise, the New York Times is shielding the actual perpetrators -- which makes them accomplices to the ongoing crime, along with the other corporate media liars and whores for war.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].