Ruminations on the meaning of "hacked!"


Three possibilities concerning Russkie involvement:
Yesterday morning, on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd and Reince Priebus spent eight minutes spreading gorilla dust about those alleged Russian hacks.

Tomorrow, we may try to catalog the confusion. In our view, two agents created this ball of confusion. One of them was the underprepared, under-specific Todd.

For today, we'll post a single question. What does Priebus mean when he says the RNC wasn't hacked?

Yesterday, Priebus and Todd went round and round on this and a hundred other points. Repeatedly, Priebus said the FBI has assured the RNC that the RNC "wasn't hacked."

For ourselves, we don't know if the FBI has actually said that. If the FBI has actually said that, we don't know if their judgment is right.

That said, we had a larger problem as we watched Todd and Priebus perform their circle dance. As they chased each other around, we wondered how many people were clear as to what Priebus' repeated claim actually means?

It's only a claim—but what does it mean? Does it mean that the Russians made no attempt to steal the RNC's information? Or does it mean that the Russians tried but didn't succeed?

What does Priebus' statement mean? We have no idea. Given the imprecise way the term "hacking" is used, neither does anyone else.

In our view, Priebus came out looking better than Todd in yesterday's circle dance. But what did Reince Priebus specifically mean?

Chuck Todd never asked.

What Strassel later said: Later, during the panel, the Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel addressed this verbal conundrum.

We don't know if her claims are right. But this is what Strassel said:
STRASSEL (12/11/16): Look, there's two parts to this story. And I can see that this is why Reince is unhappy. The first part of this story is, Was Russia involved in hacking institutions and generally sowing discord in the election? I think everyone can agree that that happened.

TODD: Not everyone is agreeing to that yet.

STRASSEL: OK, well, right. I understand. But what they are unhappy about, and legitimately so, is the piece of this story for which there is no evidence this was done to aid Donald Trump, OK?

I spoke to intelligence officials, and here is what I know. They got into the DNC site, and they actually took information and obviously distributed it. They got on the RNC system, but they weren't able to get information out.

So, the idea that this was done to help Donald Trump, that that's the evidence for this, that they didn't put RNC information out as well, so this is them in favor of Trump, that's just not the case.
We don't know if that is true, but Strassel at least articulated her claim. According to Strassel, the Russkies tried to steal the RNC's information. They tried to do that, but they failed.

Assuming the Russkies were involved, that's the most Trump-friendly account of what happened. Here are three basic possibilities:
Possibility 1: The Russians tried to steal material from both parties. They only succeeded with the Dems. (This is Strassel's account.)

Possibility 2: The Russians stole material from both parties. They only released the material they stole from the Dems.

Possibility 3: The Russians didn't even try to steal material from the RNC. They were only interested in stealing from the Dems.
Possibilities 2 and 3 make it seem that the Russkies really were favoring Trump. Possibility 1 tilts in the other direction. They were trying to steal Trump's shorts, but when they tried, they failed.

We don't know what actually happened. As far as we know, the Washington Post has never said that the Russkies stole, or even tried to steal, the RNC's information. As far as we know, the Post has never even reported that the intelligence world has reached those judgments. The Post has left these points up in the air.

The New York Times has said that the Russians did steal the RNC's dope, or at least that "American intelligence agencies" have so concluded, "with high confidence." The New York Times is always wrong, but in this case, who knows?

Priebus claims the Times is wrong. After all, Comey says!


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  2. Possibility 4: its all a crock of BS.

  3. Bob used to be much better at logic.

    He doesn't evcen address the most likely possibility -- that the Russians didn't try to hack either the DNC or the RNC.

    1. He addressed it. ''Tis in there.

  4. Possibility 5: Not a hack at all, but actually a leak by an insider as claimed by Assange. Backed up by a former UK ambassador.

  5. Why do all the pundits preface their remarks with "Look,". When did that take hold?

  6. Possibility 6 -- Only the Democratic material had embarassing content.

  7. Possibility 7 -- the RNC was hacked but the material uncovered is being used to extort/blackmail Trump and other Republicans, hence the many decisions and appointments favorable to the Russians over the past few weeks.

  8. The conservatives are trying to shift the conversation from "did Russia help elect Trump" to "did Trump collude with Russia to win the election."

    I think this is a something that needs to be resisted. If the outcome is wrong, it is wrong regardless of whether Trump helped make it that way or the Russians acted alone. Either way, Trump doesn't deserve to be President because the election was stolen.

    1. To say Russia "helped" needs to be clarified. If Russia finagled voting machines, so that Trump won states where Hillary really got more votes, then the election was stolen. (In fact, if any entity did this, then the election was stolen.)

      But, that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about Russia revealing embarassing things Democrats had done. That's not election theft. In fact, if the Dems had behaved themselves, they couldn't have been hurt by the release of their secrets.

    2. From Political Wire:

      "President Obama drew a direct line between President-elect Donald Trump’s team and Russia’s attempt to sway the presidential election, the Daily Beast reports.

      Said Obama: “This was not a secret running up to the election! The president-elect in some of his political events specifically said to the Russians, ‘Hack Hillary’s emails so that we can finally find out what’s going on, and confirm our conspiracy theories.’ You had what was very clear relationships between members of the president-elect’s campaign team and Russians, and a professed shared view on a bunch of issues.”

      Trump is a traitor.

    3. You're right, but I think you should expand on why we know it was a joke. The earlier conversation had been about reports that the Russians had already hacked the DNC computers. Therefore the presumption that they had already, in the past hacked Hillary's email server (note: there is no evidence or even plausible accusation that they did) and therefore already had the 30,000 emails Hillary supposedly deleted. So what Trump was saying was, "Hey, since you already have the emails, why don't you release the ones she's supposed to have deleted, too?" I have gotten so sick of everybody on the left lying their asses off about this. FYI I consider myself a Revolutionary Socialist but usually vote Democratic. This year their campaign was so awful that if Trump was even a little less bad I'd vote for him.

    4. Dave the Guitar PlayerDecember 14, 2016 at 12:38 PM

      It is annoying that every time the President-elect says something that cannot be defended, his supporters claim it was a "joke". He should be held accountable for what he said, not what you believe he meant. What did Trump say? “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” In the midst of a national election for President of the United States of America, that is not a joke.

    5. Roger, you are fraud and a fake. The left is not lying about anything. You misquote Trump. Trump said:

      "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press."

      then Trump said:

      "It gives me no pause, if Russia or China or any of those country gets those emails, I’ve got to be honest with you, I’d love to see them."

      This was no joke, he was dead serious.

  9. There's, literally, no evidence Russia is involved. If you read the Times article, it amounts to "Putin didn't like Hillary, and Russia has been involved in hacking in the past, therefore Russia is probably responsible."

    There's no actual evidence, it's literally just a working assumption.

    1. Dave the Guitar PlayerDecember 14, 2016 at 12:41 PM

      Given your confidence that there is no evidence, I assume you have been appropriately briefed by the CIA. Otherwise your statement makes no sense.

  10. I googled Stratfor to see what they thought about the Russian hacking. They had an open question. What do readers think about the Russian hacking?

  11. delusion No.1: You ought to reap a 'pump' while you workout so that it will build muscle.

  12. Your alternative Number 1 actually should be two. There is the possibility you presented as the only possible one, that they got into the RNC computers but then couldn't, i.e. were not able to get the information out. The other possibility is that they got in and left some fingerprints, but for some reason decided not to take any of the intormation that was there. The whole thing is a mess and has devolved into something on the level of did Exxon lying about climate change really have that much effect?

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