Russian bots were a non-factor in 2016

Michael Moore’s appearance at an anti-Trump rally organized by Russian meddlers illustrates how inconsequential Russian meddling, at least in the form discussed in the recent Mueller indictment, was. Sure, Moore would not have attended this particular rally absent Russian meddling because, absent such meddling, the rally apparently would not have occurred.

But did Russia influence Moore’s view of Trump? Of course not. Did Russia influence Moore’s willingness to express his view or the vehemence with which he expresses it? No, again.

As even the New York Times has acknowledged, “the false information and political advertisements that the Russians are accused of spreading could ring true only to those already predisposed to suspect the worst.” People predisposed to believe the worst about, say, Hillary Clinton weren’t going to vote for her. They were going to vote for someone else, be it Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, or Donald Trump.

A similar analysis applies to concerns that Russia was out to undermine our democracy by poisoning our discourse. Rich Lowry writes:

The Russians wanted to boost Trump, but as a Facebook executive noted, most of their spending on Facebook ads came after the election. The larger goal was to sow discord, yet we had already primed ourselves for plenty of that.

Does anyone believe, absent Russian trolls on Twitter and Facebook, that we were headed to a placid election season involving an incendiary, mediagenic former reality-TV star bent on blowing up the political establishment and a longtime pol who had stoked the enmity of Republicans for 30 years and was under FBI investigation?

I don’t. No reasonable person could.

In short, as the New York Times has said, “Russian interference was a drop in the ocean.”


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