the Curious Case of “Alice Donovan”

Alice Donovan’s Twitter profile image.

Like most back alleys of RussiaGate, the tracks of this story are murky. Murky in a Kafkaesque kind of way. Nothing is entirely clear. Nothing seems quite definitive. Conjecture builds on conjecture and still doesn’t add up to something entirely whole.

A young writer sends off some of her first stories to a variety of online news sites. She tries a few times and then gets a bite. Her byline appears on several outlets. But one of her very first submissions is somehow snagged by an intelligence agency, perhaps the NSA, and kicked over to the FBI. Someone is monitoring her email traffic. She is suspected of posing behind a false identity, operating as a troll for Russia, at a time when Russia is politically toxic. She isn’t informed of this surveillance or the suspicions about her. Neither are any of the writers or editors that she may be communicating with. None of her stories focus specifically on Russia. When they do mention Russia, it’s largely in the context of the Syrian war. Some are critical of Hillary Clinton. Others are critical of Donald Trump. Mostly the stories are about policy, not politics. None are especially earth-shaking. They are read, but not widely disseminated.

Let’s say the writer had a “pro-Russian” bias. Does this matter? Every writer carries some kind of bias. Some big-time columnists and policy wonks have written with a bias toward torture and preemptive nuclear strikes. This writer’s pieces…

Read more