CNN uncovered a terrifying, Russian-produced weapon of influence last Thursday.
It’s a poorly-made internet video game called “Hilltendo.”
Released a few weeks before the 2016 election, the game allows players to take on the role of an animated Hillary Clinton as she deletes emails, takes money from Arab nations and “throw[s] the Constitution as far as possible.”
Silly stuff, but this obscure internet game is a disturbing example of how Russia influenced America’s presidential election, according to CNN.
It’s certainly bizarre that Russian operatives spent time and money creating ridiculous projects like “Hilltendo,” but the game, the memes, the Facebook ads and bot tweets don’t exactly paint the picture the media wants.
Namely, the idea that Russia somehow hijacked our election thanks to the lame games, bad memes, silly Facebook ads and bot tweets with poor grammar.
The Russian election narrative has evolved over time. Previously, serious journalists and Democrats would claim the Donald Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to take down Hillary Clinton.
Since evidence of that theory hasn’t been forthcoming, the narrative has changed, with the media and Democrats now insisting that the Kremlin decisively meddled in our election in favor of Trump. (RELATED: Still Lacking Evidence Of Collusion, Democrats Move The Goalposts)
A less damning accusation than collusion, but still enough to convince progressives that Vladimir Putin controls our government. In pursuit of the meddling narrative, we’ll get in-depth investigations of “Hilltendo,” but no explanation as to how this game that only a few people played helped sway the election.
It’s true that Russia was engaged in efforts to influence our election, but what is not clear is whether these tactics had any real effect on the outcome. Judging by what has been uncovered thus far, it looks likely that the Kremlin’s efforts were seriously ineffective.
Do you think this meme of Jesus arm-wrestling Satan convinced anyone to vote for Trump?
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 1, 2017
These efforts do deserve scrutiny, but not hysteria. In our current climate, celebrities and commentators now argue that Russia pushing memes and Facebook ads is the equivalent of declaring war on the U.S. Some take it even further and insist that America needs to respond with force.
The level of paranoia required to believe this is worse than what liberals project onto conservatives. A popular column idea in the Trump era is for liberal and NeverTrumper writers to dredge up Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” and claim it describes Trumpism to a T.
In January, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page argued Trump was promoting the paranoid style and conspiracy mongering in opposing the Russia investigation — while completely ignoring his own side’s conspiracy mongering in support of the Russia investigation.
Liberals are fond of seeing themselves as the defenders of truth and reason in the age of Trump. It’s conservatives and Trump fans who are the paranoid cranks.
You can’t claim you’re on the side of reason when your allies are busy trying to find the secret Putin code in all of Trump’s actions. Like how Trump increasing our military budget somehow plays into Putin’s dastardly scheme.
There is no conspiracy thinking worse than “Putin controls the White House.” It’s a theory implied by the establishment media, stoked by Democratic politicians and believed by the vast majority of Democratic voters.
Unlike Trump’s attacks on the “deep state,” hardly any critiques of this particular brand of paranoia are found in the establishment media.
We should investigate Russian meddling efforts and look at ways to combat it. But what has been shown so far does not amount to the “invasion” envisioned by most liberals. Russian influence measures pale in comparison to that of a state like China.
China wields significant influence over Hollywood, corporate America and even over our nation’s universities. Yet Chinese intrusion receives hardly any attention relative to Russian-created memes and online games.
Foreign involvement in domestic affairs is a fact of life now, and our government should work to contain this phenomenon — whatever its national origin. But wanting to go to war with Russia and whipping your base into a paranoid frenzy over it is not good for the country.