It increasingly seems that whoever or whatever institution is a perceived enemy of Donald Trump - i.e., anyone or any publication that doesn't only report glowing stories about the Donald - is becoming a target of Russian cyber hackers. First it was the DNC, then Hillary Clinton's campaign, and now it is the New York Times which has been producing much needed exposure of Trump's seamy underbelly and unflattering coverage of Trump's perhaps house of cards real estate empire. Indeed, Trump has invited Russian hackers to go after his political enemies. The Washington Post looks at this unsettling cyber attack. One can only wonder what's the next target or targets. Here are story highlights:
Donald Trump insists he has "nothing to do with Russia" — but Russia's recent moves sure make it look as if it is trying to do something for him.
CNN reported Tuesday afternoon that hackers whom U.S. officials believe to be working for the Russian government have launched cyberattacks against the New York Times and other news outlets.
The Times followed up with a slightly different account Tuesday evening, reporting an attack on its Moscow bureau and adding that "there is no evidence that the hackers, believed to be Russian, were successful." The Times also reported that the FBI is investigating the attempted hack but is not looking into similar incidents involving other news agencies.
Trump has famously invited the Kremlin to go after emails that Hillary Clinton deleted, citing privacy.
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said at a news conference last month. But during the same event, he called the idea that he can tell Russian hackers where to aim "so far-fetched."
Still, it could be possible for Trump to influence the selection of targets without knowing it, especially if Russia would prefer to see him in the White House. Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Trump as "a really brilliant and talented person," and Trump has lauded Putin as a "strong leader." Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote in The Washington Post last week that "Putin not only has strong motives for wanting Trump to win over Clinton but also has some means to try to influence our presidential vote."
Cyberattacks are among the means, McFaul noted, pointing to the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails shortly before the party's national convention. U.S. intelligence officials said they think Russia was behind the breach, which embarrassed Trump's political foes.
If Russian hackers were to take cues from Trump, media companies — and the New York Times, specifically — would surely be on the hit list. The business executive often rails against the "failing" New York Times and the "scum" in the media. He has vowed to "open up" libel laws, if elected, to make it easier to sue news organizations over negative coverage. In short, Trump treats journalists as political opponents.
There is still plenty we don't know about this attempted media hack, but it is hardly a stretch to say that a candidate who would "love to have" the power to direct Russian hackers also would probably love to see them infiltrate the digital networks of the media companies he views as enemies. Journalists unsettled by his blacklisting of certain outlets, including The Post, and Trump's recent hiring of the lawyer who helped drive Gawker into bankruptcy certainly won't feel any more at ease now.