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‘Putin Did It’ Is the World’s Most Dangerous Conspiracy Theory

The expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US was still to come when White House press secretary Josh Earnest was busy confirming to journalists that President Obama shared the view of the CIA and the FBI that Russia’s top intelligence agencies had hacked and leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee. But one question from reporters stood out: did the White House believe Russia had successfully rigged the US presidential election? ‘There are a variety of potential explanations [for Donald Trump’s win]’, responded Earnest.

Just think about the absurdity of that question for a second. American journalists were seriously asking the White House if it believed Russia had effectively rigged the US election. Forget the massive disillusionment of many working and middle-class Americans with a political establishment that has treated them with disdain. Forget the failure of successive administrations to address deep-seated economic and political problems.

Forget, in short, the perfectly understandable, rational reasons why many Americans decided to vote for Trump, aside from a bunch of emails that revealed what everybody already knew about Clinton. Journalists were actually suggesting that Putin – ‘and not much happens… without Vladimir Putin’, as Obama put it a few days later – might have fixed it for Trump to win.

The belief that it was Russia that won it for Trump is almost as absurd as the Washington Post’s contention that Trump is Putin’s very own Manchurian candidate. But, as can be heard in Earnest’s eagerly equivocal response, too many among today’s Western elites seem to want to believe it.

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