Relations between the United States and Russia have already been badly wounded during recent years, largely as a result of baseless allegations such as Moscow interfering in American elections, colluding with President Donald Trump, or regarding other international developments, from the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, to purported war crimes in Syria, to the alleged poisoning of British double-agent Sergei Skripal in England.
But the latest U.S. media effort claiming Russian military intelligence involvement in sponsoring Taliban assassins or “bounty hunters” to target American troops in Afghanistan appears to be aimed at killing off any remaining possibility for restoring relations between Washington and Moscow.
Even the concept of “bounty hunters” sounds like an outlandish reliance on Wild West folklore which in itself betrays the origins of the story as a figment of imagination rooted in the authors’ American parochialism.
Quite appropriately, however, we can extend the analogy further by referring to the U.S. media reporting on the Russian “bounty hunter” claims as “cowboy journalism”.
America’s supposed finest media outlets jumped on this yarn like a posse in bandwagon fashion. The New York Times “broke” the story on June 26 and was followed by others of presumed journalistic stature: The Washington Post, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and others.
No evidence has been presented to back up the explosive claims made against Russia and against President Trump that he was briefed about the intelligence allegedly implicating Russia in Afghanistan but did nothing about it.
The whole media frenzy has relied on unnamed sources and vague claims about money being found or transferred from bank accounts.
In less than a week since the story “broke” there is a palpable sense that the initial media frenzy has fizzled out, leaving a bitter aftertaste of nothingness and embarrassment for the journalists who pushed the fable with gung-ho grit.
The story has been roundly dismissed as a hoax by the Trump White House, the Kremlin and the Taliban. More politely, the heads of U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon stated there was “no corroborating evidence” for the media claims.
So, what was it all about?
Evidently, it was another shot in the Last Chance Saloon by the anti-Russia Washington political establishment, or deep state, to further undermine bilateral relations. The obsequious way in which supposed bastions of U.S. journalism parroted the disinformation is illustrative of the low standard of American media. As several critical commentators have noted, what we saw from the New York Times et al was not journalism, but rather stenographic dissemination of deep state disinformation….