Update: Anyone Who Questions The Russia Narrative Is A Conspiracy Theorist

In the eyes of much of the media and political establishment, questioning any of the premises undergirding the Russia Mega-Narrative is now tantamount to either treason or unhinged, unreconstructed conspiracism. None would dare contest the sacred findings of the Intelligence Community, they reckon, even though what limited findings have actually been produced to the public are conspicuously flimsy, the motives of the Community Officials responsible for widespread leaking and narrative-juicing are highly suspect, and the terminology used to describe what is being alleged (interference, meddling, etc.) is kept purposely vague. No matter. The foundational assumptions of the “Russia Narrative” are so ingrained that every single day, politicians spout them without challenge, and the compliant media dutifully follow suit.

On Wednesday, one media outlet went against the grain, and judging by the furious reaction they might as well have murdered a toddler in broad daylight. The Nation published a synopsis of a report which questions the prevailing theory about the DNC “hack” of 2016. The author, Patrick Lawrence, correctly notes that “a great edifice has been erected” using the DNC hack as an origin story — and yet, details around the supposed hack remain very much unsettled, notwithstanding the surety with which it is discussed by Russia-obsessed Congresspeople and media stars.

The article is worth reading for oneself. But most intriguing may be the Editor’s Note that was subsequently appended:

Nobody is saying that the article or the analysts it cites present incontrovertible proof that the DNC “hack” wasn’t a hack at all, but an internal leak. Rather, the article presents evidence and argumentation for why at least entertaining the plausibility of that theory is warranted. What’s most irritating about the reaction to this article, and the reaction to anyone who questions aspects of the Russian Interference mega-narrative, is the reflexive smug dismissals of dissenting views by self-assured media elites. It’d be one thing if the evidence for the various claims around “Russian interference” was just so overwhelming that no sane person could ever question it. But that’s simply not the case. At least with regard to the DNC and Podesta ‘hacks,’ hard evidence substantiating the Intelligence Community’s claims about their provenance still hasn’t been produced; we still, even now, have only the uncorroborated word of Intelligence Officials to go on.

The DNC, in its petulant little statement, demands that all responsible citizens meekly concur with what “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded,” even in the absence of tangible evidence. To the contrary, responsible citizens ought to do exactly the opposite. And the fact that it’s left to Trump and his most ardent supporters to raise concerns about the Intelligence Community’s fidelity to truth is a very sad commentary on how far evidentiary standards have sunk, how short the establishment’s memories are, and how easy it is to swindle Sober and Serious elites into joining a collective frenzy — no matter how destructive the potential consequences.

The real reason why the DNC would be so up-in-arms about this story is that it appearing in The Nation means it can’t be immediately dismissed as right-wing agitprop, which is the most convenient way nowadays to discount facts you don’t like. Portray any line of inquiry as “pro-Trump” and it can be summarily discredited without further contemplation by everyone in right-thinking society. The Nation, to its great credit, publishing stories skeptical of the predominant Russia alarmist narrative complicates the ability of partisan DNC apparatchiks to denigrate any countervailing opinion on this topic as somehow inherently Trumpist — and the DNC unsurprisingly takes umbrage.

The DNC also engages in the classic, time-honored tactic of baselessly accusing anyone who presents inconvenient arguments or evidence of being a “conspiracy theorist,” as a means of not addressing their points on the merits.

I don’t know if the analysis detailed in The Nation article is true. But after more than a year of wild claims, speculation — and yes, conspiracy theories — there’s still been no dispositive evidence presented as to the provenance of the 2016 DNC email data exfiltration incident(s). As such, a responsible, scrupulous media ought to be seeking alternate explanations for this and related events, which now are now so central to the contemporary conception of American politics. Instead, for the most part the instinct among the Savvy media types is to dismiss and deride as “conspiratorial” anyone who’s not satisfied with the current level of evidence, or who has continuing doubts about the veracity of the mega-narrative which has so corroded discourse in this country — and who resents being told they are “pro-Trump” for voicing such apprehension.

There’s plenty of bona fide paranoid nonsense percolating on the outer edges of Russia Narrative Skepticism, and much of it has come to be tied in with right-wing, Trump loyalist talking points. But a responsible, diligent media would be able to sort out the junk and actually cover this intelligently — in a way that doesn’t simply regurgitate what James Clapper, the Atlantic Council and Bill Kristol are screeching. But there’s little-to-no desire to go down this road in mainstream precincts, which reinforces the notion that the pathologies which have so crippled the credibility of US media after a period of prolonged, sustained failure still very much endure.