Go Hack Yourself

Dave Pell


Let’s have an honest discussion about what exactly was hacked during this election. (Actually, like most things on the internet, it’s going to be a monologue masquerading as a dicussion.)

Did the Russians hack the DNC? Let’s believe the CIA, the FBI, the White House, and the 322,762,017 people in America not named Donald Trump. Not good enough for you? Well, just stick with me because for the purposes of this article it doesn't matter.

The DNC’s emails were ripped off. Those emails were shared with Wikileaks and then distributed to a slobbering media that breathlessly shared them in front page stories because, as you know, no one ever privately emails something to another person that could be embarrassing if it came public.

The emails were irresistible because the story could be told and consumed without much knowledge of anything outside of the interpersonal catfights that have come to define American political coverage. As I’ve said before, the media is completely biased in favor of stories that they can easily understand and that you’ll be likely to follow. In other words, complex positions on solving the crisis in Aleppo are out. And salacious emails are in.

The Russians hacked the DNC. Wikileaks shared those hacks. And that is a really big deal. But neither of them really hacked the election.

That was the mainstream media. Yes, the mainstream media hacked our election when they over-covered stolen emails that had virtually no real news value.

They hacked our election when they obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s email server on one side of the split-screen while playing entire unedited Trump rallies on the other.

They really hacked our election when they wildly over-covered the Comey letter to Congress. That non-story became a potentially election-shaking event because it was covered as if it deserved that level of coverage. The letter didn’t jolt the election. The coverage given to the letter is what jolted it.

The mainstream media hacked our election when it created a false equivalency between silly accusations against “Crooked Hillary” and the nonstop lying, hate and idiocy of Donald Trump. If you’re a journalist, creating a false equivalency among people or events that are wildly different is not being unbiased. It’s sucking at your job.

You get it. We all know we cover our political match-ups more like sporting events than major, world-shaping events. And besides, the bully pulpit is already being used to slam the fact-based media, so I don’t want to pile on.

Let’s move on from the media and talk about you. Yes, I’m talking to you my fellow bloated, hilarious-meme-sharing, emoji-sending Americans. The mainstream media would have stopped covering politics like sports, and sharing all that private information, if you didn’t love it so damn much.

Can we interest you in some basic world facts, recent global history, or a few details about the inner workings of the healthcare debate? Uh, that sounds boring. How about another thinkpiece on Mike Pence’s trip to Hamilton. That oughta tide me over until Donald tweets again.

If the current thinking is that the Russians were able to hack our elections by sharing accessing some private emails from the DNC, then what the hell does that say about us?

Here’s what it says. You hacked yourself.

Let’s hack a little further into our own role in all this. Maybe our national pastime of knowing absolutely nothing about anything isn’t the best strategy for maintaining a republic?

And, I’m not claiming innocence in all this. All I did was write a thinkpiece about the media’s failures and your happy consumption of the resulting output. That makes me as much of hack as anyone.

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Dave Pell

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.