Commentary
Published: Jan 31, 2017
An 'Open, Democratic Process' Needs Help Sometimes
by Steve Cunningham


John Lewis recently said that "I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians, and others, that helped him get elected. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open, democratic process.” Putting aside questions of whether or not Russia hacked at all, and the claim of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that his "source is not a state party," there is nothing wrong with a foreign entity helping to disclose truth about public officials. 

Investigative reporting is one of the most important contributions that the press makes to democracy, according to Silvio Waisbord, author of Watchdog Journalism in South America: News, Accountability, and Democracy. "It provides a valuable mechanism for monitoring the performance of democratic institutions as they are most broadly defined to include governmental bodies, civic organizations and publicly held corporations," says Waisbord. But when media organizations fail to properly investigate these institutions, can the public get help from a foreign entity? 

In this instance, Wikileaks disclosed specific examples of corruption of the DNC by hacking the emails of the DNC. That corruption is firstly expressed in Hillary Clinton having a different position personally than the one she says publicly, or in her words, "you need both a public and a private position." Such private positions that she didn't disclose publicly, is her private support for fracking, and her private opposition to gay marriage despite her public reversal.

Other examples include those of institutional corruption, such as how the DNC, which should be neutral in a democracy, helped Hillary Clinton win the primary when DNC surrogate Donna Brazile on two occasions, leaked debate questions to Hillary Clinton, as well as leaking a private email on African-American Outreach from a Sanders press representative to the Clinton campaign. 

However, the deepest corruption exposed as a result of the paid speeches that the Clinton would make before, during and after Hillary Clinton was in office. One such example is how a corporate donor got access to Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State when he requested it. Another example of is Bill Clinton used Clinton Foundation staff to reach out to donors to the Clinton Foundation, in order for them to funnel their dollars to him through private speaking fees. This is the most clear example of corruption, of privately benefitting from public office. Of putting money in your pocket as a result of the position that you hold in the government.

Yet all of this information was found by Wikileaks, and not through the dogged investigations of the mainstream media. If it wasn't for Wikileaks, we would think Hillary Clinton's public position were here private position; that the DNC was perfectly neutral and that Hillary Clinton won her nomination fair and square; and that the sole purpose of the Clinton Foundation was AIDS research. If anything, Wikileaks saved the election from the lies and deception of the Clinton campaign. So what if a foreign entity intervened? 

There is a stark difference between foreign propaganda, and foreign intervention that leads to more truth being exposed. The difference is that the first one is founded on a lie, and the second one is founded on the truth. There can never be enough truth in a democracy, unless getting to that truth involves the violation of rights. Yet acts of civil disobedience in terms of hacking are necessary at times when so much truth has become obfuscated. We cannot say how much hacking is too much hacking, only when the rights of individuals have become so impugned that it outweighs the value of the hacking. Yet in this instance, so much truth was revealed, so as to outweigh the rights to privacy and other rights of the DNC members. If the foreign intervention did not rely on hacking, but on disseminating fake news like CNN does, then it would be foreign propaganda.

Foreign propaganda depends on a "subconsciousmanipulation of psychological symbols to accomplish secret objectives," according to Kenneth Osgoode. It has been described as "the use ofcommunication skillsof all kinds to achieve attitudinal or behavioural changes among one group by another," by historian Oliver Thomson. In other words, how to emotionally effect you so that you will hold a position that is not necessarily grounded in fact. An example of foreign propaganda would be if a foreign entity would say, "The Democrats are Weak, America is Corrupt, Your Democracy is losing," etc. These would be baseless claims, or be grounded in inadequate sources that would inaccurate.

In this example, the truth is exposed by hackers, and no additional emotional matter is added to the information, nor is the information taken out of context. This is because as the Wikileaks shows, Hillary Clinton is indeed corrupt. The reply of Americans if the Russian hacking allegations are true to help find the truth internationally as well, such as, for instance, researching the alleged examples of money laundering that Vladimir Putin was engaged in, as exposed by the Panama Papers, and any human rights violations, foreign and domestic. Democracy is not infallible, and needs to be preserved by those willing to find the truth, no matter who they are.   




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