How Putin Got His Pet Game Show Host Elected President

Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik via AP

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Over lunch I read today’s big New York Times story about the Russian cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the US election. It was mesmerizing even though I already knew a lot of it, and it was also depressing as hell. By the time I finished, I was pretty close to thinking that the right response would be a couple dozen cruise missiles aimed straight at Putin’s lone remaining aircraft carrier. I guess we’re all lucky I’m not the president.

There are a dozen depressing things I could highlight, but somehow I found this the most depressing of all:

By last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day—procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The TimesEvery major publication, including The Times, published multiple stories citing the D.N.C. and Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks, becoming a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.

I know: News is news. Somehow, though, that doesn’t seem sufficient. I’m still not entirely sure what the right response is to leaks like this, but simply publishing everything no matter where it came from or what its motivation no longer seems tenable. There has to be something more to editorial judgment than that.

Anyway, Putin won this round. He didn’t do it all by himself—he had plenty of help from the FBI and the media—but in the end, he got his pet game show host elected president of the United States. I hope we all live through it.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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