For The Daily Beast, I looked at a new narrative bubbling through the American fringe over the past few months:
The narrative, as it is, appears to stem largely from a 1996 Time magazine cover. Featuring a puffy Yeltsin holding an American flag, the headline is impossible to miss: “YANKS TO THE RESCUE.” Focused on the efforts of a trio of West Coast American consultants—George Gorton, Joseph Shumate, and Richard Dresner, all of whom had been close to former California Gov. Pete Wilson—the piece portrays the three as supposedly essential to Yeltsin’s re-election. In a fit of arrogance, one consultant describes his work as “simple education, Campaigning 101.”
The cover, and the angle, have been too good to pass up for whingeing, far-left sites looking to excuse Russia’s hacking campaign. Truth Out put forth a prime example last month, claiming the consultants “secretly ran Yeltsin’s re-election campaign.” AlterNet recently featured an interview in which the guest—who himself runs a website positing that Obama led an “assault on FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s War on Poverty”—added that Yeltsin was little more than a “drunken U.S. stooge.” One 2006 article on the topic from an “independent socialist magazine” has also seen a recent resurge, allowing new readers to check out the magazine’s “Reflections of Fidel” section.