Some on the U.S. left are becoming as crazed by anti-Russia stories as their rightwing counterparts were by anti-Hillary stories during the U.S. election — and that’s making them targets for false news, writes Ben Smith.
The strange tale published today by BuzzFeed News of anti-Trump activists duped by a dramatic forgery is the latest sign that the Russia story is veering out of control. …
But the demand on the US left right now isn’t so much for the damning big picture, or the details of what investigators are looking into. It’s for the proverbial smoking gun.
That demand is so clear and intense in the global information market that it was visible to an alleged Italian con man, who went about filling it with a detailed forgery. Progressive activists fell for a hoax that told them exactly what they wanted to hear, paid thousands of dollars for a forgery, and passed it on to journalists.
The demand is so strong that Twitter and cable news are full of the theories of what my colleague Charlie Warzel calls the Blue Detectives — the left’s new version of Glenn Beck, digital blackboards full of lines and arrows.
Meanwhile the actual frontline detectives — congressional investigators — aren’t so sure. “I don’t think the conclusions are going to meet people’s expectations,” onewarned BuzzFeed News’ Ali Watkins.
Some of the smartest veteran observers of the strange, dark American relationship with Russia — Miriam Elder, Masha Gessen, and Matt Taibbi — have written recently to suggest that Trump’s critics cool it. …
… Those of us covering the story and the stew of real information, fantasy, and — now — forgery around it need to continue to report and think clearly about what we know and what we don’t, and to resist the sugar high that comes with telling people exactly what they want to hear.