Kurt Eichenwald from Newsweek has been reporting extensively about Donald Trump’s foreign business ties and has written a scathing open letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that went viral. Now, Eichenwald finds himself in the center of a story about Russian propaganda, Sidney Blumenthal, and the Republican nominee.
I am Sidney Blumenthal. At least, that is what Vladimir Putin—and, somehow, Donald Trump—seem to believe. And that should raise concerns about not only Moscow’s attempts to manipulate this election but also how Trump came to push Russian disinformation to American voters.
Eichenwald says he was reading a story from the Russian government-controlled publication Sputnik. It was an “A-ha! We got her!” article that reported on a Sidney Blumenthal email in the latest Wikileaks email dump. The Russians seemed to believe Blumenthal was telling John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, that there needed to be an investigation on Benghazi because there was more that could have been done by Hillary Clinton to prevent the tragedy. A-ha! We got her! But Eichenwald felt that the words in the article sounded really, eerily familiar.
But Eichenwald felt that the words in the article sounded really, eerily familiar.
Because they were. Blumenthal didn’t write those words in the email, Eichenwald did. And the Newsweek writer says the email Sputnik was pulling their information from very clearly cited that Blumenthal was copying and pasting the a Newsweek article “Benghazi Biopsy: A Comprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages” — with clear attribution to Eichenwald — in an email to John Podesta. Then Sputnik attributed Eichenwald’s words to Blumenthal.
Sputnik erroneously attributed Eichenwald’s words to Blumenthal.
Then came the money quote: ‘Clinton was in charge of the State Department, and it failed to protect U.S. personnel at an American consulate in Libya. If the GOP wants to raise that as a talking point against her, it is legitimate,’ said Blumenthal, putting to rest the Democratic Party talking point that the investigation into Clinton’s management of the State Department at the time of the attack was nothing more than a partisan witch hunt.”
When Sputnik realized the error, they took the story down, but it didn’t end there.
Within hours of the Sputnik article, Donald Trump was onstage telling a huge crowd at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Penn.:
This just came out a little while ago. I have to tell you this.
And then he read the words from the Eichenwald article, attributing them to Blumenthal exactly as Sputnik had done.
He’s now admitting they could have done something about Benghazi. This just came out a little while ago.
Trump theatrically dropped the document on the floor.
The crowd chanted “Lock her up!”
This is not funny. It is terrifying. The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth. How did this happen? Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin?
Why is the Russian government working so hard to tarnish Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump? It’s beyond obvious the email leaks which have been attributed to Russian hackers are there to hurt Clinton’s bid for the presidency, and it’s noteworthy that Trump still refuses to admit the hacks are state sanctioned Russian hacks. U.S. Intelligence officials revealed they told Trump in a briefing weeks ago that Russia was trying to influence our election, yet onstage at the debates Trump has twice denounced the information as false.
Now he’s repeating Russian disinformation as gospel truth to thousands of his supporters. Eichenwald is right, this is terrifying.
Featured image via YouTube (Screen Capture)