Media inflation – a small example
A report on the CIA assessment of possible Russian involvement in the DNC and Podesta (a Clinton aide) email hacks pointed the finger at the Russian state with a “high degree of confidence”. This is a reasonably accurate article about the CIA report in the New York Times. The evidence is circumstantial. It is based on seeing a pattern of hacking attacks over time by the same actor, an actor who targets assets likely to be of interest to the Russian state.  In addition Russia has a history of using non-state actors in a hands-off way in order to carry out state orders while maintaining a position of public deniability. (The assassination of the spy Litvinenko in London can probably be understood on this basis. There is no doubt that the assassin came from Russia. The method used was polonium poisoning; which suggests a state actor. Finally; it is arguably unlikely that Russian intelligence agents would have carried out a mission which could have destabilised Russia’s relations with the UK without state approval for their actions). So; the fact is that there is indeed circumstantial evidence pointing to Russian state involvement in the DNC and Podesta hacks.
However; quite quickly that circumstantial evidence becomes definite. It is now taken as established fact. These are a couple of quotes from the Guardian article linked above:
Russian hackers were able to access thousands of emails from the US Democratic National Committee after an aide typed the word “legitimate” instead of “illegitimate” by mistake, an investigation by the New York Times has found.
The blunder gave Kremlin hackers access to about 60,000 emails in Podesta’s private Gmail account.
This is typical of the Western narrative on Russia that we find in the press. Apart from anything other considerations, the actual facts – the reasons why the evidence is just circumstantial for example – are much more interesting from a journalistic point of view than these oversimplified ‘big building block’ narrative lines “The Russians done it”. Apart from the anti-Russia hysteria element it is just poor journalism.
It is also interesting to note the possible Freudian slip made by a State Department spokesman speaking to this matter, who blamed China for the attacks.