Opinion: Is Noam Chomsky right about Russian interference being “a joke”?

At a time when the US media is transfixed by President Trumps legal woes, Noam Chomsky continues to maintain that the circus is nothing more than a distraction. In a program entitled Democracy Now, the famed liberal linguistics professor reduced the ongoing American coverage to being “a joke” and “marginalia”.

But is Chomsky right? Did the week’s events truly represent a tipping point in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow?

Strictly speaking, Chomsky is probably being unfair to the US media in singling them out for their distractions as much of the world media, including the British media, have provided wall-to-wall coverage of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s conviction and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty plea.

However, his salient point remains true in that the major stories relating to Trump remain swept under the carpet in favour of a grander narrative that attempts to discredit a President that may have his position through ill-gotten gains.

“So, of all Trump’s policies, the one that is the most dangerous and destructive, in fact poses an existential threat, is his policies on climate change, on global warming.” Chomsky offered by way of example of a story that wasn’t getting the coverage it deserved.

“Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done,” Chomsky went on, “I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies—what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015.”

Chomsky is known for his strongly critical views of the Israeli government and the country’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories and dominant influence within American politics.

Although the involvement of Israel within American politics isn’t entirely analogous, Chomsky’s larger point remains valid; particularly given that there remains no smoking gun to connect the President to Russian interference.

Which is perhaps why what happens next might persuade Professor Chomsky the most and whether possible damning revelations, as Cohen has suggested, may yet materialise. In the meantime, the media will continue to perplex Chomsky as to their choices as to what ought to lead the headlines for the day.

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