Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals has made the fact that Russia worked to subvert the 2016 election in support of Donald Trump’s campaign all the more concrete. But while Russia’s actions are damaging to American democracy and important to discuss, pundits on MSNBC on Tuesday decided to use that as an excuse to defend the honor of all of the horrible things the U.S. has done around the world.
As Glenn Greenwald highlighted, Tuesday’s episode of the politics program Deadline: White House featured this incredible exchange between host Nicolle Wallace—who happens to be the former communications director for George W. Bush—and New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg:
Jim Rutenberg: There is some truth to the fact that the United States has engaged in election meddling in its history, the CIA has. But what Ambassador McFaul was on to was that it’s not always the same thing, right? Here you can help a democratic movement deal with a despot.
Nicolle Wallace: Well right, sometimes it’s standing for Iranian dissidents who are being hung from cranes for being gay. America’s role in supporting democracies is stated U.S. policy.
That’s right: in an attempt to point out right-wing hypocrisy, Rutenberg and Wallace ended up defending American election meddling as a shining beacon of democratic values.
This is nothing less than propaganda. The United States has had a very long and ongoing history of (often violently) thwarting democratic elections to install favored regimes in other countries. Just to name a few infamous examples: the toppling of Salvador Allende in Chile; the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the coup against Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran.
None of this excuses Russian interference in 2016. But we also need to stop covering up what our country has done around the world.