For four years, Vladimir Putin’s meddling in Our Democracy™ has been the all-consuming political obsession of the entire Washington/New York media behemoth. This obsession was based on a few core truths that were accepted as dogmas: That the Russian leader endlessly lies, that his plots are all-encompassing in their complexity, that he hides in the bushes before jumping out to scare young children.
At least, that was the dogma. Suddenly, eight days out from the presidential election, nobody cares about Vladimir Putin’s interference anymore.
On Monday, Russia’s chief potentate weighed in on the political drama surrounding Hunter Biden and his byzantine arrangements with Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs.
‘I don’t see anything criminal about this, at least we don’t know anything about this [being criminal],’ Putin said during a Sunday broadcast on Russian state TV, according to Reuters.
Now, wait a minute. Vladimir Putin just made a statement boosting a US presidential candidate, just days before the vote. There’s some kind of word for that. Rhymes with ‘erection shmeddling’.
When the news hit, Cockburn immediately braced himself for the headlines he has been trained to expect:
‘Putin Hacks American Democracy On Live TV’
‘Hunter Biden: First Son, Or Colluder In Chief?’
‘Moscow’s Meddling Makes Mess Of Biden’s Denials’
After, all, for four years the Washington orthodoxy has been clear. Because Vladimir Putin is a sinister villain who wants to undermine Our Democracy™, all his words must be interpreted as lies. Rep. Adam Schiff has explained it clearly: the intelligence agencies that fibbed America in the Iraq War are the gold standard for truth, while Vladimir Putin is the gold standard for lies:
“[Putin] said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. And I believe… I think he is very insulted by it.”
You know who else is insulted by it, Mr. President? The American people. You believe a foreign adversary over your own intelligence agencies. https://t.co/lZkQAch7CT
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) November 11, 2017
So, if Putin says that Hunter Biden is a skilled businessman who got all his money through fair dealing, the default assumption of Washington should be that Hunter Biden is a Russian agent. Rep. Schiff should call at least 18 additional months of hearings. Hunter Biden’s every phone call and every travel stop must be scrutinized to find out when he personally flew to Moscow to swear his allegiance and give Putin’s feet a tongue bath. At the very least, the same Washington that fretted endlessly about a made-up Trump sex tape should spend 10 minutes contemplating what blackmail material could exist for the man with a literal sex tape floating around online right now.
But none of that is happening. Instead, Putin’s statements were immediately accepted at face value, as proof the Hunter Biden story is a nothingburger.
‘In what may be seen by some analysts as an attempt to try to curry favor with the Biden camp, he took the time to knock down what he made clear he regarded as false allegations from Trump about the Bidens,’ said NBC. Just days before, NBC News promoted the theory that Hunter Biden’s laptop was a Russian smear job.
The Daily Beast was more smug. ‘Putin Leaves Trump Hanging and Says There’s Nothing Criminal About Hunter Biden and Ukraine,’ read their headline. Just three days earlier, the Beast was borderline hysterical in its Russia-baiting, blaring that ‘Russian State Media Is Desperately Trying to Keep the Hunter Biden Story Alive’. But suddenly, Putin was an honorary member of the Resistance.
The Beast and NBC at least found the story interesting enough to cover. Most outlets have said nothing. The boring answer is that, with Trump likely on his way out in a week, they aren’t worried about election meddling anymore. But the darker answer is likely closer to the truth: the press doesn’t actually oppose election meddling in the first place. They just dislike it when it’s not for their preferred candidate.