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Interview With Aaron Maté: Russiagate, Democrats, And Total Lack Of Skepticism Among US Press

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Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola are joined by Aaron Maté to counter the media frenzy around Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation into alleged election interference by Russia.

Aaron Maté is a producer for The Real News and a contributor to The Nation. He recently wrote, “Hyping the Mueller Indictment,” which was a welcome sober analysis of Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals.

Maté addresses how politicians and commentators are comparing the information operation described in the indictment of 13 Russian nationals to Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 attacks. He recounts how Facebook investigated ads purchased by Russians during the 2016 Election but Democrats disapproved of the company’s conclusions.

Much of the alleged scandal started with claims that Russians hacked the election, but now, it has shifted to Russians meddled by abusing social media to sway voters. Maté talks about the narrative and how U.S. media advances this narrative around Russia and the 2016 Election with extremely thin evidence.

Later in the episode, Maté discusses how Democrats decided to pin their hopes of opposing Donald Trump to blaming Russia for Hillary Clinton’s loss. He highlights the last week of attacks on Bernie Sanders. And he contends one of the consequences is suppressing anyone who challenges the Democratic Party—including the foreign policy agenda which both Democrats and Republicans support.

“As the Russia hysteria has picked up, they’ve gone after RT and Sputnik, the Russia-funded outlets, forcing them to register as a foreign agent. They’ve way overblown RT and Sputnik’s influence. Some Congress members’ sent letters to the FCC asking for it to be investigated for helping to elect Trump during the election over the airwaves, even though Sputnik wasn’t even on the radio at the time of the election,” Maté recalls.

“The Senate intelligence committee is investigating Jill Stein for colluding with the Russians, allegedly, because she went to a gala sponsored by RT. That’s where there’s that infamous picture of her sitting with [Vladimir] Putin and Flynn because Putin stopped by their table.”

There is a campaign staffer for the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams in Georgia, who went on Sputnik, and was fired for his appearance.

With regard to pressure on Bernie Sanders to address how Russians helped his campaign, Maté says no one can quantify to what extent Russia-linked accounts promoted the Sanders campaign.

Maté paraphrases journalist Max Blumenthal, who contends Russiagate has advanced a neoconservative agenda with liberal consent.

“In many cases, it’s with liberals as the driving force. Liberals have been the driving force behind imposing more sanctions on Russia, even though Russia is already heavily sanctioned. And there’s so many things that Trump is doing in real life with Russia that are not only being ignored by Russiagate but fueled by Russiagate.”

Would Trump’s policies be different if he was not constantly accused of being a Kremlin plant or Manchurian candidate?

Trump decided to arm Ukrainians in their fight against Russian-backed separatists. President Barack Obama resisted doing so because he recognized Russia would never allow the separatists to lose so this would only escalate conflict. But that is never mentioned, as Maté notes.

A nuclear posture has been adopted to expand low-yield nuclear weapons with the aim of sending Russia that the U.S. government is prepared to use them. Plus, the new security strategy says fighting terrorism is no longer the top U.S. priority. Great power competition from Russia and China is more significant.

Trump even escalated the U.S. troop presence in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces stationed on Russia’s border.

To listen to the full interview click on the above player or go here.

Photo by Rosmarie Voegtli on Flickr
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."