What the Russians did in the 2016 election and why

What the Russians did in the 2016 election and why

PE Bias Grade : A

By: Allen Nitschelm on August 19, 2020 | Media Criticism, Article Review

This is a review of the following Boston Globe Article:
Article Title N/A
Date 08/19/2020
Article Link N/A
Syndicated From New York Times
Journalist Mark Mazzetti
Nicholas Fandos
Article Summary

Senate Intelligence Committee issues final report on Russian interference in 2016 election.

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The Boston Globe published an article on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and highlighted the report’s conclusions. But the article, while accurate, lacks some context which I would like to give in this article.

The Senate Intelligence Committee operated in a bipartisan manner with agreement needed by the Chair (Republican) and Vice Chair (Democrat) to issue subpoenas and take most actions. This has helped make the work much more balanced than what we saw come out of the House during their Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings.

There were six reports issued over the course of the Senate investigation and the link to the reports directly is here: https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/publications/report-select-committee-intelligence-united-states-senate-russian-active-measures.

I skimmed all six reports to get a sense of the larger scope of this investigation and here are my takeaways:

  1. Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election, continued in the 2018 midterms, and continues doing so today for November’s. They setup a unit called the IRA to post to American social media and buy some (limited) ads in order to support the Trump campaign and sow discord among Americans, especially by race.
  2. Once the election was over, some posts continued to support President-elect Trump while others supported the Left. This supports the “sow discord” narrative.
  3. No votes were changed.
  4. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had extensive contacts with Russians with links to the government or its spy agencies. Manafort had worked for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government starting in 2004 until they were overthrown. He was likely a security risk because of these contacts and the sharing of some campaign information.
  5. While the Russians targeted the Trump campaign, the campaign never colluded with Russia to influence the election. Manafort was removed as Campaign Manager well before the election (and now sits in prison.)

Because the Russians were trying to help Trump, the media sees this as Trump colluding with Russia. But I believe Trump was targeted because he was the underdog and having a close election would continue the discord under a Hillary Clinton presidency. No one could predict that Trump might actually win.

Some of Trump’s policies might have benefited Russia, others might not. I don’t think their support was policy-driven although Trump was certainly no foe of Russia during the campaign and his dovish foreign policy plans might be seen as more favorable to Russia. But again, no one expected Trump to win.

But keep in mind that Trump’s actual presidency has been very tough on Russia. From the sale of the Stinger anti-tank missiles to Ukraine to the attacks on Syria and Iranian generals (both countries supported by Russia), to the sanctions on Russians, to his strong opposition to the Russian-German gas pipeline, to the withdrawal from certain treaties that Russia has been violating, all show a willingness to directly confront Russia. These acts, individually but certainly collectively, show that he is no Russian puppet or stooge.

Trump was not a professional politician. His campaign was mostly self-funded, and was staffed with many friends or relatives in charge. The Russians saw vulnerabilities and tried to take advantage of the naivete of the campaign but nothing ever came of it.

Today’s article which focused on the final report is good and not misleading, perhaps because the underlying report is so balanced. I am giving it a bias grade of “A.”


Allen Nitschelm is publisher of PublicEditorMA.com. He critiques the Boston Globe, mostly focusing on the bias in their news reporting. News articles are graded for bias, and the website has a listing of the average bias ratings for all reporters reviewed. See our website for more information and the four categories of articles we publish.

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