It was the media’s poor handling of the leaked documents that had the most impact. In late June ‘16 @lorenzofb @pwnallthethings and I had proved Guccifer 2.0 was not “a Romanian hacker” but rather more than one Russian engaged in an information operation to aid the Trump campaign. Collected contemporary evidence here.
There was no great secret about what was happening. It was all public, in the open, and meticulously documented. But the “real” story was emails and risotto recipes, not a foreign intelligence service actively engage in offensive info ops targeting and affecting the election.
Even after they blew the handling of the main Russian operation, the media refused to acknowledge their complicity. The steady drumbeat of emails emails emails from every news channel was a far greater driver of national discourse than all the Twitter bots combined.
Instead of a soul searching examination on how to handle disinformation campaigns, news media embraced scapegoating social media. Facebook pages, trolls and bots were the culprit. Weak papers¹ “proved”² the impact of Twitter bots.
² they did not