Paul Krugman Reveals the Real 'Useful Idiots' Who Enabled Our Election to Be Hacked

The country is just seeming to wake up to the fact that the presidential election was hacked in order to go Donald Trump's way. Paul Krugman wonders what took everyone so long in Friday's column. His answer essentially is that the mainstream media failed epically and disastrously in covering this election, though there was blame to go around. 


Let’s be honest: Mr. Trump is by no means the only useful idiot in this story. As recent reporting by The Times makes clear, bad guys couldn’t have hacked the U.S. election without a lot of help, both from U.S. politicians and from the news media.

Let me explain what I mean by saying that bad guys hacked the election. I’m not talking about some kind of wild conspiracy theory. I’m talking about the obvious effect of two factors on voting: the steady drumbeat of Russia-contrived leaks about Democrats, and only Democrats, and the dramatic, totally unjustified last-minute intervention by the FBI, which appears to have become a highly partisan institution, with distinct alt-right sympathies.

Does anyone really doubt that these factors moved swing-state ballots by at least 1 percent? If they did, they made the difference in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—and therefore handed Mr. Trump the election, even though he received almost three million fewer total votes. Yes, the election was hacked.

Krugman makes it clear that he is fed up with the commentary that the Clinton campaign lost the election because it made mistakes. Every campaign makes mistakes, he argues. But how do mistakes "excuse subversion of an election by a foreign power and a rogue domestic law enforcement agency?"

There is also the false narrative that the CIA's announcement that Russia interfered in the election to help Trump is a new revelation. The only thing that is new is that Putin was personally involved in the effort. "The pro-Putin tilt of Mr. Trump and his advisers was obvious months before the election—I wrote about it in July," Krugman says. "By midsummer the close relationship between WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence was also obvious, as was the site’s growing alignment with white nationalists."

And no, no allegedly flag-waving Republicans spoke out about this foreign intervention, but the fact that the Republican Party has become a "radical institution that is ready to violate democratic norms in the pursuit of power," is, as Krugman points out, not new. 

The bigger surprise was the behavior of the news media, and I don’t mean fake news; I mean big, prestigious organizations. Leaked emails, which everyone knew were probably the product of Russian hacking, were breathlessly reported as shocking revelations, even when they mostly revealed nothing more than the fact that Democrats are people.

Not to mention the endless ratcheting up of the Clinton server story, which has yet to indicate any actual wrongdoing. Details, details. This was all amped up to a fevered pitch by the Comey letter, which dominated coverage, when, it seems clear now, the media had every reason to know it was being used as a political weapon.

Is Krugman mad? Very, as we all should be. The only worse outcome would be if somehow Election 2016 turned out to be the new normal. That would make all of us useful idiots.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close