When it comes to Russia's role in America's presidential election this year, I am in a somewhat unusual position. Like Scott Shackford and scores of millions of Americans, I have no particular dog in the hunt for which major-party candidate wins the presidency (my/our preferences can be found here, because Reason is a transparent journalistic institution, unlike 99 percent of our competitors). But unlike most libertarians, my loathing of Putin and of the Russian values he feeds on, as well as my bias-forging experience of living in post-Warsaw Pact states from 1990-97, leads to qualified support for things like NATO expansion (yay Baltics, nay Georgia), and to a lifetime of perhaps-irrational antipathy toward, say, Mikhail Gorbachev.
This background, plus the advent of a Russophiliac president-elect I opposed when I first laid eyes on him, should make me the ideal customer for the Russians-hacked-our-elections theory currently taking the left-half of the mediasphere by storm. Yet my brain cannot quite go where the heart so fervently wants to lead, for reasons summed up by Nick Gillespie this morning when looking at articles by the Washington Post and New York Times based on nameless leaks from the CIA: "neither story actually presents even anonymously sourced information that shows Russian (or even Wikileaks) activity tipped the election."
This is not a small point. You can hate Vladimir Putin's guts (though likely not more than I do), but until there is evidence of him or anyone else changing the results between the moment Americans voted and the moment those votes were tabulated, just what in hell are we talking about here? Unless you see Americans as hapless vessels swayed against their own voting inclinations by leaks of true information (along with whatever fake news was percolating from teenage Macedonians), it's awfully hard to conclude that Russia's one-sided interventions, real and imagined, were anything remotely close to the deciding factor here. Propaganda, from every angle, has always existed; the key is to safeguard the integrity of the voting process. Without evidence of that latter point being degraded, any conclusion involving the recalibrating of this election strikes me as desperate, wishful, and not particularly helpful thinking.
Anyhoo, I talk about this on tonight's Kennedy (Fox Business Network 8 p.m. ET, with a repeat at midnight), along with co-Party Panelists Harris Faulkner and Anthony Cumia. The program will also include interviews with John Bolton and Judge Andrew Napolitano, so do watch the whole damn thing!