by Mish

I did not touch the story because I thought it was BS. And it was.

Glen Greenwald at the Intercept has the details in Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid.

The Washington Post on Friday reported a genuinely alarming event: Russian hackers have penetrated the U.S. power system through an electrical grid in Vermont. The Post headline conveyed the seriousness of the threat.

The Post article contained grave statements from Vermont officials of the type politicians love to issue after a terrorist attack to show they are tough and in control.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy issued a statement warning: “This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides – this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter. That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly.”

The media reactions, as Alex Pfeiffer documents, were exactly what one would expect: hysterical, alarmist proclamations of Putin’s menacing evil.

The Post’s story also predictably and very rapidly infected other large media outlets. Reuters thus told its readers around the world: “A malware code associated with Russian hackers has reportedly been detected within the system of a Vermont electric utility.”

What’s the problem here? It did not happen.

There was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid.” The truth was undramatic and banal. Burlington Electric, after receiving a Homeland Security notice sent to all U.S. utility companies about the malware code found in the DNC system, searched all their computers and found the code in a single laptop that was not connected to the electric grid.

Apparently, the Post did not even bother to contact the company before running its wildly sensationalistic claims, so they had to issue their own statement to the Burlington Free Press which debunked the Post’s central claim.

So the key scary claim of the Post story – that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid – was false. All the alarmist tough-guy statements issued by political officials who believed the Post’s claim were based on fiction.

Even worse, there is zero evidence that Russian hackers were responsible even for the implanting of this malware on this single laptop. The fact that malware is “Russian-made” does not mean that only Russians can use it; indeed, like a lot of malware, it can purchased (as Jeffrey Carr has pointed out in the DNC hacking context, assuming that Russian-made malware must have been used by Russians is as irrational as finding a Russian-made Kalishnikov AKM rifle at a crime scene and assuming the killer must be Russian).

Stunning Stupidity

Glen Greenwald has a series of links and tweets proving the stunning stupidity of the Washington Post. Here are a couple of them.

This matters not only because one of the nation’s major newspaper once again published a wildly misleading, fear-mongering story about Russia. It matters even more because it reflects the deeply irrational and ever-spiraling fever that is being cultivated in U.S. political discourse and culture about the threat posed by Moscow.

The Post has many excellent reporters and smart editors. They have produced many great stories this year. But this kind of blatantly irresponsible and sensationalist tabloid behavior – which tracks what they did when promoting that grotesque PropOrNot blacklist of U.S. news outlets accused of being Kremlin tools – is a by-product of the Anything Goes mentality that now shapes mainstream discussion of Russia.

The level of group-think, fear-mongering, coercive peer-pressure, and über-nationalism has not been seen since the halcyon days of 2002 and 2003. Indeed, the very same people who back then smeared anyone questioningofficial claims as Saddam sympathizers or stooges and left-wing un-American loons are back for their sequel, accusing anyone who expresses any skepticism toward claims about Russia of being Putin sympathizers and Kremlin operatives and stooges.

Those interested in a sober and rational discussion of the Russia hacking issue should read the following:

1.Three posts by cyber-security expert Jeffery Carr: first, on thedifficulty of proving attribution for any hacks; second,on the irrational claimson which the “Russia-hacked-the-DNC” case is predicated; and third, on thewoefully inadequate, evidence-free reportissued by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI this week to justify sanctions against Russia.
2.Yesterday’sRolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi, who lived and worked for more than a decade in Russia, entitled: “Something About this Russia Story Stinks.”
3.AnAtlantic article by David A. Grahamon the politics and strategies of the sanctions imposed this week on Russia by Obama; I disagree with several of his claims but the article is a rarity: a calm, sober, rational assessment of this debate.

Fake News Irony

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Washington Post Admits “Russian Government Hackers do not Appear to have Targeted Vermont Utility”

Earlier today, the Russophobes fools at the Washington Post were forced to admit Russian Government Hackers do not Appear to have Targeted Vermont Utility.

Naked Capitalism Threatens Lawsuit Against Washington Post Over “Fake News” Story

Earlier today, president Obama started a witch hunt based on Russia hacking claims.

Super Irony: Washington Post Editorial Moans “Trump Refuses to Face Reality About Russia”

The Washington Post lunatics are back again with yet another story on Russia: Trump Refuses to Face Reality About Russia. This bit of irony comes from the Washington Post editorial Board.

Shhhh! It’s TOP Secret: Fake News For Your Eyes Only

The absurd hysteria over Russia continues today from yours and my favorite Russia-hysteria promotion site: the Washington Post.

Hello Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, USA Today, CNN, Washington Post, Slate: Another Major Russia Story Falls

The biggest purveyors of “fake news” and irresponsible journalism are the news media outlets complaining most about it. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is at the forefront of the latest fake news on Russia.

Washington Post Thoroughly Discredits Itself With McCarthy-Style Smear Campaign Against ZeroHedge

The Washington Post stepped well over the line of questionable reporting today, venturing deep into a McCarthy-style smear campaign against hundreds of allegedly “fake news” sites accused of being under control of, or influenced by Russia.

Fake News Police Arrive in Germany

On behalf of Merkel-sponsored Russophobia, including threats of fines, Facebook rolls out fake-news filtering service to Germany.

Newsweek Fake News: “The Russian Plot, How Putin and Trump Colluded”

Disguised as an opinion piece, Newsweek writes The Russian Plot: How Putin and Trump Colluded.

Pure Fake News (PFN) from Investopedia “IMF Urges Banks to Invest In Cryptocurrencies”

An article from Investopedia recently caught my attention: “IMF Urges Banks to Invest In Cryptocurrencies”