How Putin Got His Pet Game Show Host Elected President

Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik via AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Over lunch I read today’s big New York Times story about the Russian cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the US election. It was mesmerizing even though I already knew a lot of it, and it was also depressing as hell. By the time I finished, I was pretty close to thinking that the right response would be a couple dozen cruise missiles aimed straight at Putin’s lone remaining aircraft carrier. I guess we’re all lucky I’m not the president.

There are a dozen depressing things I could highlight, but somehow I found this the most depressing of all:

By last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day—procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The TimesEvery major publication, including The Times, published multiple stories citing the D.N.C. and Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks, becoming a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.

I know: News is news. Somehow, though, that doesn’t seem sufficient. I’m still not entirely sure what the right response is to leaks like this, but simply publishing everything no matter where it came from or what its motivation no longer seems tenable. There has to be something more to editorial judgment than that.

Anyway, Putin won this round. He didn’t do it all by himself—he had plenty of help from the FBI and the media—but in the end, he got his pet game show host elected president of the United States. I hope we all live through it.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend