Good thing I checked. Reading the New York Times this morning I almost coughed out my breakfast cereal on the sight of the following full page ad on page 7:
What was the ‘therussiansarehere.org’, I wondered. The front for a bunch of well-financed maniacs determined to further exacerbate East-West tensions? As it happens, no. It turns out to be an advertisement for the TV show ‘The Americans’, about a pair of Soviet agents working undercover in 1980s America. My initial fears that The New York Times had finally gone from merely paranoid to full-blown crazy proved exaggerated.
But, only slightly.
The newspaper’s front page contained the headline ‘Trump’s standoff with Comey overshadows Russian threat’, a choice of words seemingly designed to create the impression that the ‘Russian threat’ is an incontestable fact. The article continues on page 26, with a half-page spread complaining that the fuss about James Comey is diverting attention from the real danger coming from Russia. It cites retired diplomat Daniel Fried as saying, ‘we’re facing an adversary who wishes for his own reasons to do us harm. … Comey was spot-on right that the Russia is coming after us, but not just the US, but the free world in general.’ The Russian plan is super-clever, the article concludes. If the Russian successfully undermine the American political process, they win. But if they fail, and are caught in the act, they ‘undercut confidence in the American electoral system’. They’re so cunning, those Russians!
That is not enough for the New York Times, however. For, on page 25 it carries yet another Russia-themed article, titled ‘How seven Trump associates have been linked to Russia’.
Evidence of collusion, perhaps? Not really. It’s pretty thin fare. The sins of three of them are speaking with the Russian ambassador, something even Comey says is perfectly normal. The connections of two of them are actually with Ukraine, not Russia, and include the dastardly crime of ‘proposed a peace plan between the country [Ukraine] and Russia’. And in another case (Carter Page) it is said that ‘Russian spies tried to recruit him in 2013’, which may be true, but if so misses out the obvious point that ‘tried to’ means ‘failed’. My favourite, though, is the blurb for the last of them, Roger Stone, which contains the incriminating information: ‘Had contact on Twitter with a Russia-linked online figure’.
You gotta laugh! This is what the Times’ collusion story has been reduced to? ‘Had contact on Twitter’?
You might imagine that the New York Times might be a little cautious about peddling all this stuff after Comey accused it of publishing ‘nonsense’, but apparently not.