"Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling" by Andrew Higgins is an assessment of the U.S. media's Russophobia from the perspective of pro-Western Russian intellectuals:
Ultimately, they say, Americans are using Russia as a scapegoat to explain the deep political discord in the United States. That has left many westward-leaning Russians, who have long looked to America for their ideals, in bitter disappointment that the United States seems to be mimicking some of their own country’s least appealing traits.
The hunt for a hidden Russian hand behind President Trump’s election victory has caused particular disquiet among liberal-minded Russian journalists.
“The image of Putin’s Russia constructed by Western and, above all, American media outlets over the past 18 months shocks even the most anti-Putin reader in Russia,” Oleg V. Kashin, a journalist critical of the Kremlin, wrote last week in Republic, a Russian news site. He complained that the American media has consistently misconstrued the way Russia works, presenting marginal opportunists and self-interested businessmen with no real link to the Kremlin as state-controlled agents working on orders from Mr. Putin.
For Ivan I. Kurilla, a professor of history and an America specialist at the European University at St. Petersburg, a bastion of liberal thinking, Russia’s prominent and almost entirely negative role on America’s political stage since the November election reprises a phenomenon first seen in the late 1800s.
“Americans use Russia each time they feel their own identity in crisis,” said Mr. Kurilla, the author of a new book on the history of Russian-American relations, “Frenemies.”But don't expect from "the newspaper of record" a reduction in the number of stories devoted to Russian troll farms and Russian hackers disseminating fake news "weaponized" to destroy Western democracy. On the same day Higgins' story ran, The Times published Jason Horowitz's "Italy, Bracing for Electoral Season of Fake News, Demands Facebook’s Help":
In a global atmosphere already thick with suspicion of Russian meddling in elections in the United States, France and Germany, as well as in the British referendum to leave the European Union and the Catalan independence movement in Spain, many analysts consider Italy to be the weak link in an increasingly vulnerable European Union.
No one in Italy is more worried than the governing Democratic Party. In recent days, its members have made an orchestrated attempt to focus the attention of the country — and of powerful social media platforms like Facebook — on a misinformation campaign that they believe is devised to damage one of the last major center-left governments standing in Europe.
Mr. Renzi, a wily political operator who partly blames online misinformation campaigns and fake news for the failure of a referendum that forced his resignation in December, is not only seeking to protect himself, but also to go on the offensive.(Before being dispatched to Rome, Horowitz held the "Get Bernie!" portfolio during the 2016 presidential election campaign.)
The template is a simple one. Any organized electoral challenge to the neoliberal center is tarred as a Russian psyops crafted personally by the evil Putin. The template is provided by U.S. intelligence agencies and dutifully applied by the corporate media. Brexit, Trump, Geert Wilders, Le Pen, AfD, Catalan independence, Italy's Five Star Movement -- every bogeyman tracks back to Moscow.
It's infantile and superficial. But it is also a strong indication how dead-ended the "Washington Consensus" has become. When you're desperate and trying to make it day to day, week to week, month to month, the tendency apparently is to revert to old patterns.
That's why I was surprised that in the run up to Germany's September elections there was no effort to inflate the online Russian bogeyman. This was obviously a failure of Western intelligence. No one predicted the precipitous drop off in support for the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats. There were predictions that Alternative for Germany might reach the Bundestag, but not that Merkel would have to rely on a minority government. We'll see if Martin Schultz eats his words and ends up resuscitating the grand coalition. In any event, rest assured that if new elections are called, this time around, there will be plenty of Russophobia.
An interesting development in the disintegration of the neoliberal center is the recent hysteria over sexual harassment. Male animality is exposed. Celebrity scalps are piling up. Where and when it will end is hard to gauge. It could go on for a long time. I welcome it. Because it promises to burn, baby, burn.