Did a Russian Troll Farm’s Inflammatory Posts Really Sway the 2016 Election for Trump?

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show looking at the Justice Department’s recent indictment of 13 Russians and three companies in connection with efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The indicted are accused of orchestrating an online propaganda effort to undermine the US election system. The indictment claims the Russians spread negative information online about Hillary Clinton and supportive information about Donald Trump, as well as Bernie Sanders.

After the indictments on Friday, some analysts compared the Russian interference to Japan’s 1941 attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. But others have warned not to overstate what Russia accomplished.

On Thursday, I sat down with the prize-winning Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Her recent book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, it won the National Book Award in 2017. Gessen recently wrote a piece for The New Yorker magazine headlined “The Fundamental Uncertainty of Mueller’s Russia Indictments.” I began there, asking her about these indictments.

MASHA GESSEN: So, you know, for somebody who actually has read the indictment in its entirety, and, actually, the Russian reporting that is almost entirely repeated in the indictment, it’s really hard to square that with the way that it’s been portrayed as, you know, a sophisticated, bold effort. I think H.R. McMaster is correct in saying, yes, there’s “incontrovertible” evidence of Russian meddling, but to call it bold, to call it sophisticated and to imply that we now know that it actually had an influence on the outcome of the election is absurd. It was not bold. It was not sophisticated. And it — we don’t know, and probably never will know, whether it had any impact.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to the deputy attorney general, which surprised many, that he was the person who spoke on Friday, Rod Rosenstein, the man very much under attack by President Trump, who said…

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