The narrative surrounding Russians hacking the Presidential election dominated the final weeks of 2016 – and so far – the early days of 2017.
Fueling this fire was a Washington Post story about Russian hackers penetrating America’s electric grid at a utility company in Vermont.
But there was just one problem with their story.
It was fake.
The Washington Post initially claimed the malware code associated with the supposed Russian hackers was found on a computer at the Burlington Electric Department.
The Post ran this story the day after Obama announced sanctions against Russia and expelled 35 diplomats from America in retaliation for allegedly hacking email accounts at the Democratic National Committee and of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Their article only heightened the fears that America and Russia were locked-in on inevitable collision course for a Cold War 2.0.
But the Post never bothered to fact-check their reporting.
A simple call to the Burlington Electric Department would have revealed their computer was not hooked up to the electric grid.
Statement from the Burlington utility, per that BFP story. pic.twitter.com/25cHENWh0a
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) December 31, 2016
Additional details later emerged that the alert was triggered by a company employee who, while checking his private Yahoo account, clicked on a link that took him to a suspicious IP address.
But the address in question is a common one across the United States.
The Post reported:
“An employee at Burlington Electric Department was checking his Yahoo email account Friday and triggered an alert indicating that his computer had connected to a suspicious IP address associated by authorities with the Russian hacking operation that infiltrated the Democratic Party. Officials told the company that traffic with this particular address is found elsewhere in the country and is not unique to Burlington Electric, suggesting the company wasn’t being targeted by the Russians. Indeed, officials say it is possible that the traffic is benign, since this particular IP address is not always connected to malicious activity.”
As much as the so-called “mainstream” media decried the glut of “fake” news during the presidential campaign, they’re clearly susceptible to spreading it as well.
Too often “journalists” will run with a story if it fits a preconceived narrative.
One example is the deluge of stories about supposed “hate” crimes committed by Trump supporters against minorities after the election.
After the initial headlines tainted the public discourse about the reactions to the election results, it came out that the most prominent examples of “hate” crimes were hoaxes made up by the alleged victims.
The same is true of the Russians “hacking” into the electric grid.
The media is playing along with the Obama administration’s attempts to box Trump in as having ties with Russia.
So instead of performing the basics of journalism 101 and contacting the subject of their story for comment, the Washington Post ran away with a fake news story about Russians penetrating the electric grid.