Putin's America

Did Trump win because of Russia? The answer is scary.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

Some particularly troubling news came out this week that you might’ve missed during Thursday’s national food coma: Donald Trump got help in the election from a Russian propaganda effort according to researchers. The Washington Post first reported the story.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.

A foreign country had a big hand in our election and brainwashed voters with propaganda. Let that sink in.

The Post stops short of crediting Russia with Trump’s win. However, considering the role the foreign country played and the fact the election came down to close margins in a handful of states, Hillary Clinton would have likely won without Russian involvement.

There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump, but researchers portray it as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders. The tactics included penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.

Okay, so Russia helped Trump get elected. A foreign government interfered repeatedly in multiple ways in our election. What’s the solution? Americans still voted for Trump. He’s still our president-elect. Such interference in U.S. election demonstrates a serious and new threat to democracy in the digital age. Trump is president-elect, largely thanks to Russia. We don’t have a system or any protocol to deal with this. The U.S. has been duped, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much we can do about it now.

In addition to Russia’s role in amplifying fake news, there’s also some concern they hacked the actual vote. Experts say Clinton supporters shouldn’t hold their breath, but if the foreign power overreached that much, it’s within the realm of possibility we won’t wind up with a President Trump.