The idea that Russia was responsible for the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is no longer credible — if it ever was.
Yet it is still fervently believed by many Democrats, who still refuse to accept any other explanation for Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton (despite her own history of appeasing Russia).
And the bizarre Russian conspiracy theory is still nurtured by the mainstream media, who continue to find reds under every bed.
The latest example is a story by Tim Mak of National Public Radio that attempts to link Russia to the National Rifle Association (NRA), thus uniting the left’s two favorite narratives: Russian collusion and gun control
Mak writes about Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a “prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician,” who likes the NRA so much that he became a “lifetime member” and attended “every NRA convention between 2012 and 2016,” meeting Trump at the 2015 event.
Torshin’s NRA links were first reported by McClatchy last month. His interest in the NRA might, quite innocently, be driven by an enthusiasm for firearms: he started a gun rights group in Moscow.
McClatchy suggested Torshin might be under investigation for funneling money to the NRA — ostensibly, to help Trump in 2016 — but it could not say how much money, and the NRA denies it in any case.
Mak adds new “scoops” that Torshin himself had already published on his very active Twitter account, albeit in his native Russian tongue (whose use Mak describes as a nefarious plot to hide the truth behind a foreign language and “sheer volume of tweets”). It all adds up to nothing, but the context is what matters.
“Torshin’s use of NRA connections to open doors, and his 2015 claim to know Trump through the organization, raise new questions about the group’s connections with Russian officials — at a time when the organization is being roundly criticized by its opponents, and at times the president himself, for being a factor in American gun violence,” Mak says.
And thus the real purpose of the story is to link the Russians to the shooting in Parkland, Florida, via the NRA, which the left literally blames for the carnage.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has made similar arguments, suggesting Russian-sponsored Facebook posts touting the Second Amendment were motivated by a desire to see Americans kill each other — as if the Second Amendment has no domestic support, as if patriots who love their guns are just Russian tools.
This attempt to turn the NRA into another cog in the Russian conspiracy is laughable, but the mainstream media apparently still find it deeply compelling. (Mak tweeted his own article some ten times on Thursday.)
Note that the media largely ignore China’s efforts to influence the United States, not just through hacking and espionage, but also through investment and infiltration.
The reason: Trump confronts China openly, but is more circumspect about Russia, with which the U.S. must cooperate in fighting Islamic terror. The media twist that strategic choice into a presumption of guilt — though they once lauded Barack Obama’s brazen efforts to appease Russia.
Democrats and the media once believed McCarthyism — the search for Soviet Russian influence in every corner of our government and society — was a bad thing. Now they have revived it, “internationalizing” our domestic debates — and, ironically, helping Russia divide us more.
In that sense, the real tools of Russian influence are not Americans who have loved guns for centuries, but the politicians and journalists casting Second Amendment supporters as foreign enemies.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.