A top official with the Department of Homeland Security issued a scathing statement this week excoriating NBC News for misrepresenting comments she had made to the network in an interview last week.
“Recent NBC reporting has misrepresented facts and confused the public with regard to Department of Homeland Security and state and local government efforts to combat election hacking,” began the statement by Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at DHS.
In its original report, which remained online and unedited as of Wednesday morning, NBC wrote, “The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.”
The subtle suggestion was that the Russians had actually affected the outcome of the election. In her statement Monday, Manfra disputed this insinuation and further noted that she had never implied otherwise during her interview with NBC.
“(W)e have no evidence — old or new — that any votes in the 2016 elections were manipulated by Russian hackers,” she said in the statement.
“As I said eight months ago, a number of states were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure. In the majority of cases, only preparatory activity like scanning was observed, while in a small number of cases, actors were able to access the system but we have no evidence votes were changed or otherwise impacted.”
Manfra concluded her statement by blasting NBC for its “irresponsible reporting” and asserting that such reporting — which some might classify as fake news — “undermines the ability of the Department of Homeland Security, our partners at the Election Assistance Commission, and state and local officials across the nation to do our incredibly important jobs.”
The reason NBC’s post remains online and unedited as of Wednesday morning is because the network apparently sees nothing wrong with its original report.
“It’s hard to believe DHS actually watched or read NBC’s report. Our story is accurate, and makes all of the very same points this statement accuses us of not making,” a network representative told The Hill.
The Hill’s own write-up noted that officials in some of the states that were allegedly targeted by Russian operatives “have disputed the conclusions, saying that the evidence did not point to targeting of actual election infrastructure.”
It seems clear now that, despite suggestions or outright claims from some mainstream publishers, attempts by Russian operatives to affect the election failed.
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Brent Baker, vice president of research at the Media Research Center, argued that NBC’s story “(l)ooks like a pretty clear case of NBC News letting its interest in furthering its anti-Trump agenda get ahead of the facts.”
“In a sure sign of how much credibility the story had, much of the rest of the media, which are just as interested in nailing Trump with a ‘gotcha’ Russian hacking story and all of which quickly picked up NBC’s report, quickly dropped it,” he added.
However, that doesn’t mean the mainstream media have given up on the “Russia, Russia, Russia” angle altogether.
“Trump still unconvinced Russia meddled in 2016 election,” reads the headline of a story CNN put up Wednesday morning.
Constant headlines like this almost make me wonder if perhaps the Russians hacked the minds of the mainstream media’s pundits, because their obsession with “Russia, Russia, Russia” isn’t normal, folks.
It’s just not.
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