“I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said.
Donald Trump’s latest comments sparked a national media furor. Fueled by Democratic talking points, various outlets reported widely that Trump’s comments were “disloyal.” Some politicians accused him of treason. The New York Times’ article on the subject begins by disingenuously describing what Donald Trump said without actually quoting him: “Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he hoped Russian intelligence services had successfully hacked Hillary Clinton’s email…”
The problem here is that Donald Trump didn’t actually say what they are saying he said. His comments were made after it was revealed that Russia was almost certainly responsible for the leak of Democratic National Committee emails. The emails showed that the DNC was intentionally attempting to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ campaign for President.
Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has let the world know that more DNC emails are coming, but has not confirmed or denied that Russians are behind the hackings. That being said, U.S. officials are pretty convinced that Russian hackers did it. The hypothesis is widely accepted in the media as well.
Regardless of your political bent, it’s easy to connect the dots here and see that Trump’s comments did not actually call for a foreign nation to conduct subterfuge on the United States. The resulting media firestorm, and the coordinated attack by Clinton supporters, is a classic example of redirection. Hillary’s campaign was hurting from the damaging DNC emails, so they jumped on a Trump talking point to take attention away from her. Leon Panetta, former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency and Democrat ally, jumped to her defense, as did senior members of the White House staff and Democratic congressman.
It is a manufactured controversy. If Trump had said “I hope that Russia will hack into Hillary’s email servers and steal the emails she deleted and have yet to be released,” then the controversy might have some merit. However, he only suggested that if Russia has the emails, they should release them and be rewarded by the press.
It was sarcasm and, as some have suggested, a clever way of putting Hillary Clinton’s email scandal back in the headlines.
The coordinated attack on Trump is interesting and frightening in its cohesiveness. The New York Times, CNN, NPR, the Guardian, Vox, Salon and more all rolled out the same talking points: disloyalty. Treason. Questionable motives.
In the grand scheme of things, Russia is an important player in world politics but its capabilities are often overestimated by those in government. It is the scary Siberian instigator, the boogyman country on which we blame our failures and against whom war might, someday, be feasible.
But inside the government of Russia, behind the power plays in Crimea and Syria, there is a country whose defense infrastructure is weak and who is afraid of America. It has many soldiers, but most are conscripts. It is in the process of upgrading its military, but its conventional weapons and forces are not modern and only 70 percent are slated to be by 2020.
In perhaps one of the funniest cases of reactionary posturing, Russia Today, a Kremlin-supported news source, published an article about Russia’s “drone swarms,” 6th generation fighter craft that would be faster and more lethal than the F-35. The problem is, America is already working on these, and coverage of the technology was wide in American papers. Russia’s air force has no chance of having these drone swarms by the 2025 date they set in the article. They know that their air force is weak, and want the world to think they will have the same capabilities as American planes. But they likely won’t.
Russia likely wants to damage Clinton because they are weaker than the media makes them out to be and the country feels that Trump would treat them better. That does not mean, however, that Trump is collaborating with Russians to hack DNC servers. It simply means that Donald Trump is trolling the entire world, as he has done for the entirety of his campaign.