The Grammar of Russiagate | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


The Grammar of Russiagate

Consider what I call the insidious article, the. In the public prints and official pronouncements, it’s not enough to say Russians tried to muck around in the American election. It’s almost always the Russians. This is a subtle way to convey the idea that Vladimir Putin and his intel agencies were responsible. If a second-tier Russian oligarch who wishes to help Putin hires, on his own initiative, “a bunch of subliterate-in-English trolls,” in Masha Gessen’s words, and pays them the minimum wage to (again Gessen) “post[] mostly static and sort of absurd advertising,” that is treated as the equivalent of Putin’s executing a plan to destroy the American political system.

There’s a big difference between Russians and the Russians, even if the grammar seems inconsequential.

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