The trolling of the American mind

There are two Russian scandals connected to the 2016 campaign. One deserves the attention that it’s getting. The other is closer to — what’s the term I’m looking for? — fake news.

The real scandal involves the Russian hacking operation against the Democratic National Committee. This was a genuine crime, a meaningful theft, which led to a series of leaks that were touted by the Republican nominee for president often enough that we can assume that Donald Trump, at least, thought they contributed something to his victory. The fact that members of his family and inner circle were willing and eager to meet with Russians promising hacked emails, the pattern of lies and obfuscation from the president and his team thereafter, and the general miasma of Russian corruption hanging around Trump campaign staff — all of this more than justifies Robert Mueller’s investigation, and depending on what his team ultimately reports it might even justify impeachment.

But alongside and around this real scandal you have the other Russian efforts to influence the election and its aftermath, the outlines of which have been apparent for some time, but which have earned a new wave of agitated attention thanks to Mueller’s battery of indictments against a Russian troll farm and the various goblins, kobolds and boggarts it employed.