Thanks to the media and conservative political bloggers, the Russian hack of the DCCC affected the outcome of key Congressional races, too, according to a new report by the New York Times.
But there was never anything quite like the 2016 election campaign, when a handful of Democratic House candidates became targets of a Russian influence operation that made thousands of pages of documents stolen by hackers from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington available to Florida reporters and bloggers.
“It was like I was standing out there naked,” said Annette Taddeo, a Democrat who lost her primary race after secret campaign documents were made public. “I just can’t describe it any other way. Our entire internal strategy plan was made public, and suddenly all this material was out there and could be used against me.”
It didn't actually break through all the noise to the surface, but the damage was done because of a cooperative news media and local bloggers, who teamed up with Russia to do harm to Democratic candidates. There were no similar efforts against Republican candidates for the House.
The intrusions in House races in states including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina can be traced to tens of thousands of pages of documents taken from the D.C.C.C., which shares a Capitol Hill office building with the Democratic National Committee.
The document dump’s effectiveness was due in part to a de facto alliance that formed between the Russian hackers and political bloggers and newspapers across the United States. The hackers, working under the made-up name of Guccifer 2.0, used social media tools to invite individual reporters to request specific caches of documents, handing them out the way political operatives distribute scoops. It was an arrangement that proved irresistible to many news outlets — and amplified the consequences of the cyberattack.
I really want to zero in on the observation that without a cooperative news media, these hacks would have had much less impact. We made an editorial decision here not to report Wikileaks stories about the Podesta emails, because we did not see the fruits of illegal activity as something to celebrate.
I can hear the arguments now, that Wikileaks was merely the messenger and little else, to which I call bullsh*t. Without the fruit of the poisoned tree, Wikileaks wasn't a player. Assange reveled in the attention, with little care as to what his partnership with Russian hackers might do to American politics.
And as we know now, it's done grave harm. Whether you view that harm as simply destabilizing our political process or electing a failed reality show host as President, it has done deep, lasting harm to our democracy and to our standing around the world.
Only one country benefits from that, and it isn't us.
Now. Either our ruling party -- aka Republicans -- are going to behave like Americans and admit that they enjoy the benefit of foreign interference in our elections, or they're not. If they don't, then they are intentionally aiding and abetting foreign aggression against American democracy.