Russia's New ConWeb Comrades, Part 1
WorldNetDaily rushed to defend Donald Trump -- and, thus, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin -- over increasingly proven allegations that the Russians meddled in the U.S. presidential election.
By Terry Krepel
(Editor's Note: This is a two-part article. Part 2, covering CNSNews.com and Accuracy in Media, is here.)
Who knew that the right-wingers in the ConWeb had such an affinity for Russia and its authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin?
WorldNetDaily, for one, has taken a shine to Putin in recent years. In 2012, for example, WND columnist Kevin DeAnna defended Putin's prosecution of the punk band Pussy Riot and insisted that Putln is "simply a Russian nationalist, doing his best to strengthen his own country’s interests." And in 2014, WND editor Joseph Farah cheered Putin's aggressive military actions in Ukraine against Hillary Clinton's criticism of it: "And is it wrong for a leader of a modern state to seek to restore greatness to his own country? ... Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if Hillary’s party took such an attitude toward their own country?"
WND's fealty toward Russia is, it seems, rooted in no small part on reflexive liking of whatever Hillary and other Democrats have criticized. Which means it's not really a surprise that WND is taking Donald Trump's -- and Russia's -- side over allegations by the CIA and other intelligence experts that Russians meddled in the U.S. presidential election for the apparent purpose of helping Trump win.
WND kicked things off with a Dec. 3 column by Farah, in which he complained how the New York Times "buys into the unfounded, groundless conspiracy-mongering of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election." Farah didn't back up his claim that Russian involvement in the election is unfounded and groundless -- unsurprising, given that there was already plenty of evidence showing otherwise.
When the CIA issued a report detailing Russian influence on the election. WND went into defense mode, starting with a Dec. 10 article highlighting the Trump transition team "disputing the truthfulness" of the CIA report. Farah then threw the intelligence community under the bus -- despite the fact that he presumably relies on parts of that same intelligence community to feed him stuff for his G2 Bulletin (the front page of which at the time said nothing about the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election system, though you'd think that would be a key subject of an "independent, online intelligence resource" WND expects people to pay $99 a year for the privilege to read).
Farah's Dec. 12 column was a list of "11 reasons not to trust Obama's CIA," all of which are personal attacks on CIA director John Brennan and none of which have anything to do with what the CIA reported about Russia. One of those attacks is that "One of the FBI’s former top experts on Islam says Brennan converted to Islam years ago in Saudi Arabia." That ex-FBI guy is John Guandolo, who is a serial philanderer and adulterer who jeopardized a federal investigation by having sex with a witness and trying to get her to donate money to a right-wing "anti-terrorism" organization. Farah, of course, didn't mention that Guandolo has no credibility, and Snopes points out the claim has never been substantiated.
Nevertheless, Farah rants about Brennan: "He’s a partisan. He’s either a clueless nutcase or just a very dangerous person to have leading agencies like Homeland Security and the CIA. Best case scenario: He’s a partisan hack. Worst case scenario: He’s an anti-American kook who has spilled more security secrets than Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen combined maybe throw Julius and Ethel Rosenberg into the mix, too."
Farah followed up the next day with another list column, this one on "9 facts you should know about these 'Russian hacks'." This time Farah is mostly either making excuses for the Russians ("No one is alleging that the Russians hacked into election computers to change votes"; "America hacks other nations for its own purposes. ... All nations do") and actively praising them for their hacks ("this would be exposing the truth of something the Democrats were trying to hide"). He concludes by complaining, "Do you see why this whole imbroglio over Russian hacks is of less concern to me than what the hacks in the Democratic Party and establishment U.S. media are doing with it?"
In other words, Farah's OK with foreign interference in the U.S. election system because it benefited his candidate.
WND's radio guy, Greg Corombos, called on ostensible hawk Frank Gaffney to comment, and he suddenly stopped being a hawk because, as with Farah, the Russian hacks benefited his candidate: “It’s fragmentary at best. At worst it’s a lot of hearsay" that is "based on unnamed sources in the CIA, people talking about briefings they had from CIA or FBI or others.”
Unlike Farah, though, Gaffney did concede that the situation needed to be investigated and admitted that "Putin is a dangerous adversary, not a man we can safely do business with."
WND columnist Michael Brown cheered the idea that people seem top trust Trump more than the CIA, declaring that "it’s easy to think that the information linked from unnamed CIA sources is unreliable." He added, "We also should bear in mind that the source for the Russian hacking claims is the liberal, mainstream media, which has also taken a big credibility hit in recent months."
Meanwhile, WND's whitewashing of the incident continued apace:
Bob Unruh touted how "the FBI previously said it couldn’t back the CIA’s conclusion that the Russians hacked the accounts of the Democratic National Committee and party leaders," burying the fact that the FBI disputes only intent, not that Russian hacking occurred.
WND uncritically quoted right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham complaining about "selective moral outrage" regarding Russian hacking.
Another article by Unruh asserted that "claims that the Kremlin hacked the U.S. election to hand the Oval Office to Trump are falling apart," complaining that "It’s getting more complicated than a Robert Ludlum thriller novel."
Farah ranted further in a Feb. 16 column that "The Big Media ... are whipping up hysteria about unproven, unsubstantiated, sourceless, 'fake news' stories about a fantasy conspiracy by Russia, and now specifically Vladimir Putin, to hack the Democratic National Committee and release embarrassing emails through WikiLeaks." Actually, there's more substantiated proof of Russian meddling into the election process than there ever was that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery, despite WND's efforts to claim otherwise.
Chuck Norris even got into the act in his Dec. 18 WND column, asserting that while Russian intervention may be a bad thing, it didn't help Trump: "Even if the hacks originated with Putin himself, they aided Trump’s election victory about as much the Grinch helped Whoville to love Christmas. Just because the Grinch finally got it right and cheered a little on one particular Christmas, neither he nor his actions forced or even influenced the Whos’ decision to celebrate the holiday. They did that on their own volition."
Jesse Lee Peterson used his Dec. 18 column to take a similar stance -- "there is zero evidence that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election was affected by Russia" -- but then melted down in yet another fit of Obama derangement, whining in italics that "Obama has a fragile ego, and that ego not the United States is under serious threat right now."
Pacepa finally weighs in
WND's favorite former Soviet Bloc spymaster, Ion Mihai Pacepa -- whom ConWebWatch demonstrated was trying to ignore Russian ties to Trump and his key supporters to justify his endorsement of Trump -- mysteriously popped out of the woodwork once again in a Dec. 20 article by Art Moore.
Moore wrote that "Pacepa said that while he has no specific knowledge of the Kremlin’s current intelligence operations against the U.S., he can confirm that during the Cold War, influencing foreign elections was one of the main tasks of the Soviet bloc intelligence community." But that's buried in touting Pacepa's claim that it was Trump, not Hillary Clinton, who was the victim of a disinformation campaign and, Moore writes, "insisted that while the left is complaining that Americans are being duped by the Russians, the most influential dis-informers are the U.S. establishment media and its allied Democratic Party."
Pacepa again remained silent about the Trump team's Russian ties, and he's a loyal Trump man:
“Fortunately, the United States is still run by ‘we the people,’ and it still has free elections,” Pacepa said. “On Nov. 8, 2016, we the people overwhelmingly endorsed capitalist freedom.”
Now who's spreading disinformation?
Garth Kant's Dec. 30 WND article on President Obama expelling several Russian officials from the U.S. over the hacking insists that Obama "has presented no evidence that it happened." He also tries to muddy the issue by claiming that "Not only has the administration produced no evidence Russia ever tampered with the actual vote, no one in the intelligence community ever even claimed that happened" -- ignoring the fact that nobody is claiming Russians tampered with "the actual vote."
Jerome Corsi went the change-the-subject route in his Dec. 30 article:
President Obama’s punishment of Russia for allegedly hacking the emails of Democratic Party operatives to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election ignores at least two important facts.
Corsi offered no reason why Assange should be trusted by anyone. He also didn't mention that back in 2010 friends of WND like G. Gordon Liddy wanted Assange dead.
Leo Hohmann tried to dismiss Russian meddling as somehow both 1) unknowable and 2) normal business between countries in a Dec. 31 article that also tried to change the subject :
Whether Russia truly did try to influence U.S. presidential elections in November, as President Obama, Hillary Clinton and several high-profile Republicans claim, may never be known.
The other "intervention" example Hohmann cites is an Obama speech in London opposing the Brexit campaign. No, really -- Hohmann thinks a speech is the same thing as Russian hacking of campaign emails.
Mychal Massie used his Jan. 2 WND column to change the subject even more:
In the speech announcing the sanctions, deportations, etc., Obama claimed that Russia had been hacking for 10 years. A logical question then would be: Did Russia help get Obama elected? I remind you of Obama being caught on an open microphone telling Russian President Medvedev that he would have more flexibility after he was re-elected. What was he promising Medvedev? Was it a quid pro quo for Russia’s help to get him re-elected? Why would we believe one thing today and not the same thing from that incident?
An anonymously written Jan. 15 WND article lashed out against Rep. John Lewis for citing the Russian meddling in questioning of Trump's legitimacy as president:
His reason Trump isn’t a legitimate president-elect, according to Lewis, is because the Russians helped elect him. To date, not a single shred of evidence to suggest Russian hacking had any impact on the outcome of the election. Indeed, as Democrats are fond of pointing out, Clinton won the popular election. She merely failed to win the prerequisite number of electoral votes of the states.
Funny, WND had no problem questioning the legitimacy of the nation’s electoral process and the integrity of the vote by promoting evidence-free fearmongering about vote fraud that couldn't be linked to Trump.
Farah was still ranting about this in his Jan. 25 column, insisting that there was "absolutely no credible, independent evidence to suggest Russia had any impact on the 2016 election" -- then shifting to the Trump administration line that ", there is overwhelming, conclusive, proof-positive evidence of widespread voting by people who are ineligible to vote." He huffed: "And, at the end of the day, what’s this Russia-phobia and voter-fraud blindness all about? It’s about the fact that the so-called progressives cannot accept the outcome of the presidential election. They can’t understand what happened."
This is coming from a guy who refused to accept the outcome of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections; he wrote in a 2014 column: "Obama has never been my president. I have steadfastly refused to acknowledge him as such. He is undeserving of the honorific. To this day, I am unconvinced he is even eligible for office."
Yep -- it's clear the Russkies have a good friend in Joseph Farah and his WND.