Washington Post: Russians Are ‘Hacking Our Minds’

WaPo keeps hammering this narrative about powerful Russian mind-hackers as though Russia is the only nation with an existing propaganda campaign on the world stage, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

The Washington Post building. (Wikimedia Commons/ Daniel X. O’Neil)

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Washington Post has published another article warning its readers that the Russians are “hacking our minds”, this one authored by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

Russia hasn’t just hacked our computer systems. It’s hacked our minds.” blares the ridiculous, propagandistic headline for an article about “the Russian model” of propaganda which “rests on the principle that people get convinced when they hear the same message many times from a variety of sources, no matter how biased.”

Which is funny, since this is not the first time WaPo itself has repeated this cartoonish narrative about Russian mind-hackers.

Just two months ago The Washington Post editorial board published an article titled “The U.S. may be safe from foreign interference in this election. But what about perception hacking?“, which opens with the line “Russia and other adversaries may not need to hack the election if they can hack something else: our minds.” 

The paranoid screed un-ironically argued that Russia is using its super powerful propaganda engine to make people paranoid and doubtful of U.S. electoral systems, which could actually have an adverse effect on the U.S. election. As though telling people their mental and perceptual faculties are being hacked by a hostile foreign enemy with the goal of influencing the election would not make them paranoid and doubtful of U.S. electoral systems.

Zakaria’s piece builds on this already established theme by parroting the still completely evidence-free claim that Russia was responsible for the far-reaching cyber intrusion into the IT company SolarWinds, whose cybersecurity we recently learned was left so unprotected that its update server’s password was literally “solarwinds123”. 

“But what about the perhaps more insidious Russian efforts at disinformation, which have helped to reshape the information environment worldwide?” Zakaria asks. He then does a few mental gymnastics to tie Russia’s propaganda campaign to Donald Trump, because of course he does, and leaves the reader with the closing line, “The problem is not just that Russia has hacked America’s computer systems. It seems to have hacked our minds.”

WaPo keeps hammering this narrative about powerful Russian mind-hackers as though Russia is the only nation with an existing propaganda campaign on the world stage and not one of the weaker ones doing so. The U.S. government itself openly uses propaganda on foreigners with programs like Radio Free EuropeRadio Free Asia and Voice of America, which actually serve the more important function of presenting the illusion that those are the only form of U.S. government propaganda.

In reality the plutocratic class which owns the mass media works closely with the U.S. government and sets up its institutions to only elevate voices which advance narratives that are favorable to the status quo those plutocrats have built their kingdoms upon. WaPo itself is owned by the richest man in the world who is also a CIA contractor and sits on a Pentagon advisory board. The unofficial propaganda operations of the oligarchic empire give it a massive edge in international narrative control that dwarfs both official U.S. propaganda programs and anything the Russian government could ever come up with.

Among some very stiff competition, one of the dumbest recurring themes in western imperialist media is the idea that world affairs, entire electoral and governmental systems, and even our very minds, are being controlled by a nation with the same GDP as South Korea. Russia does not have an especially strong sway over the world stage, it just happens to be one of the few remaining power structures which have resisted absorption into the U.S.-centralized empire and is being targeted with a propaganda campaign aimed at changing that.

Russia is not hacking your mind. If anyone is hacking your mind, it’s the vast globe-spanning power structure loosely centralized around the United States which has been aggressively propagandizing you into supporting the continuation of status quo politics since you were born.

The dawn of political insight comes when you realize that propaganda is not just something that is done by other nations to other people. It is done by your own rulers, in your own nation, and it is being done to you.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


Please Contribute to Consortium News’ Winter Fund Drive

Donate securely with Paypal



Or securely by credit card or check by clicking the red button:

4 comments for “Washington Post: Russians Are ‘Hacking Our Minds’

  1. Daniel
    December 20, 2020 at 20:06

    It is shocking the amount of propaganda we are awash in now. And the Russia schtick is laughably (horrifyingly) repetitive: Same writers. Same insane headlines. Same certainty of a deadly blow (to our very minds!) Same certainty of Russia’s guilt. Then the same burying of the follow up to the story – which completely disproves/dispels the initial story – three weeks later on page 18, which no one reads and gets no mention on TV. And finally, the same debunking of the story by independent media who refuse to accept this BS, but whose work often dies in the graveyard dug for it by the MICIMATT, as Ray McGovern calls it. At least the last of these has actual value.

    A post I read on another article here said it well (paraphrasing) – that the mundane as performed by ALL intelligence agencies is, in the case of Russia (and Iran, North Korea and China) being elevated to something extraordinarily dangerous, simply for the propaganda value. I do believe it really is that simple. And the latest strain of this manufacturing consent has been plain to see since she-who-shall-not-be-named lost the 2016 election. No Russian mind-hacking needed for me to come to that conclusion. Got the gist of it from our very own, home grown corporate media.

    The writer nails it again.

  2. robert e williamson jr
    December 20, 2020 at 16:28

    From the end of Fareed’s column, we have this. Six lines of balderdash. Key words, (1) may have accelerated , (2) seem even more susceptible , (3) most startling fact, (this fact was obvious from the outset)

    (1) “The pandemic may have accelerated these trends toward disinformation. (2) Socially isolated cut off from most communities, Americans seem even more susceptible to theories that confirm their partisan beliefs. (3) The most startling fact about 2020 is not that Trump tried to overturn the results of the election. (4) Many of us predicted he would try. (5) What was stunning is that, according to poles, 60 million Americans believe his assertions and the series of lies that sustain them. (6) The problem is not that Russia has hacked America’s computer systems. (7) It seems to have hacked our minds.”

    First sentence. I see little in the nature of facts that support his first sentence here. Trumpers have been unhinged since before the 2015 election. The last nine months reflects more of the same from them and the MSM gloriously revels in reporting the fear they espouse.

    Second sentence. Again this statement seems nonsensical. Does Fareed possess some mystical power that enables his penetration of such social isolation?

    Third and fourth sentences. We now are given some obvious facts by Farred. Sorry but anyone with half a brain could see this train wreck coming. Remember the U.S. population was estimated at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2020 to be 330,052,960.

    Fifth sentence. After the last four years of this circus if Fareed was stunned by what has happen I fear he may believe too much of his own propaganda. This sentence seems to be used as a genesis to expound on this drivel.
    So approximately 1/6 of the U.S. population has some mental clarity difficulties.

    Sixth sentence. This statement may sound good as a closer to his comments but nothing in the sentence is significant but it seems a bit misleading when taken in context with the next (7) sentence. Especially in light of the fact that no proof exists of this alleged last round of Russian hacking.

    Seventh sentence. If only Fareed had claimed here that apparently the MSM in conjunction with clearly disputable pollster claims have somehow positively identified about one sixth of the U.S. population has been duped.

    Pretty much garbage in and garbage out. A continuance of the misinformation the MICIMATT spews forth.

    Great example here of what Ms. Johnstone relentlessly reports on.

    Our minds may suffer but not from being hacked, more likely those brains suffer from constantly being subjected to the extraneous bullshit the MSM and their counter parts deluge us with trying to justify the unjustifiable actions taken by many in our government.

    We have met the enemy and they are lying to us.

    Thanks Caitlin and CN

  3. Arlene hickory
    December 19, 2020 at 14:45

    In the past this meme worked fairly well: “ Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me”
    Now we can have: “ Sticks and Stones can break my bones, but WORDS can never hurt me.”

    Think we can make that work?

  4. Jeff Harrison
    December 19, 2020 at 11:36

    It’s not just you, Caitlin. Wolfgang Scheivelbusch who wrote “The Culture of Defeat” suggests that the next war will be fought entirely by propaganda and the US has the best.

Comments are closed.