This Trump Jr. story is interesting for several reasons. My take:
1. Strange though it may seem, I think this actually makes it seem less likely that the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russia to steal the election. My impression is that Trump Jr. was lured into the meeting without having much prior knowledge. This is based on the email exchange, which reads to me like an amateur who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
2. If Russia actually wanted to release anything incriminating they had on Clinton, they wouldn’t do it via the Trump campaign. That would be stupid, since it would automatically make the information seem suspect. Instead, they would distribute it through some friendly-but-seemingly-independent media outlet, and let the Trump campaign pick it up later. Indeed, this is actually what happened with a lot of the Russian-supported anti-Clinton/pro-Trump propaganda that was circulated online during the election. This also makes it seem unlikely they actually gave the Trump campaign any useful information.
3. A few weeks ago I wrote about the fact that the Russians would be unlikely to tell the Trump campaign about their election interference. Rather, they did the election interference independently, and then arranged the meetings with campaign personnel in order to undermine the people’s faith in the electoral process.
This meeting is totally consistent with that. They lured Trump Jr. into a meeting by claiming they had dirt on Clinton, and then didn’t give him anything, knowing how bad it would make him look when it came to light.
In summary, I don’t think Russian operatives would ever work with the Trump people to interfere with the election, simply because many of the Trump people are too incompetent to be trusted with anything like that. The Russian intelligence operatives could handle it by themselves.
My sense is that the Russian plan had two distinct components: one was to influence the election in favor of Trump. The other was to play on the amateurishness and arrogance of the Trump campaign staff to goad them into doing stupid stuff that could be used to undermine them later.
I want to try to think about this logically, using a series of statements and inferences.
- There is reason to suspect that Wikileaks gets the information that they leak from Russian spies and/or sympathizers.
- Let us suppose that this is true. If that is the case,what does the fact that Wikileaks released all this information suggest?
- It would be reasonable to infer that Russian spies/sympathizers now have more access to government documents than they previously did.
- How could that ever happen? What could possibly have changed recently to allow pro- Russian forces greater access to previously-secure areas of the government?
- Absolutely nothing suggests itself.
Sorry. This really went nowhere. I’m at a total dead end.
I love conspiracy theories. I wrote a novella centered on the conspiracy theories and political machinations. (Not to spoil it, but it involves a takeover of the United States government by an insane dictator. But that’s another story.) The point is, I’ve spent a lot of time reading popular conspiracy theories.
Lately, a lot of attention has been paid to so-called “fake news” on social media, and the role they played in the recent U.S. Election.
I’m not sure why they are calling these stories “fake news”–they appear to be similar to the old conspiracy theories that flourished, beginning in the late 1990s. It’s part and parcel of what Warren Spector, the creator of the great conspiracy-theory video game Deus Ex, called “millennial weirdness”.
People who listen to the radio frequently are familiar with these things. A lot of strange ideas have been floated over the air on shows like Coast to Coast AM for decades now. It’s not new.
I think what is new is the politicization of conspiracy theories. In the old days, conspiracies were about the Illuminati or Extraterrestrial life, and those are never on the ballot. But now, the conspiracy theories are deliberately meant to certain political factions.
It may have started with the 9/11 conspiracy theories, which were inevitably explicitly political in nature. Or it might have just been that political strategists realized they could take advantage of people’s love for conspiracies in order to advance their aims. (Good strategists are always looking for any edge they can get.)
But I’m curious about is why the term “fake news” (which evokes something more like satirical sites on the order of The Onion) seems to have supplanted the term “conspiracy theory”. What reasons could there be for this?