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Tue Oct 6, 2020, 11:57 AM

GQ: Alex Gibney on His Deep Dive into Russian Election Meddling

Interesting story about the continued evolution of Russian election meddling. Rather than directly broadcasting into the U.S., Russia mainly amplifies or pays existing voices that promote division in the U.S.

If you want to get a Russian paid gig, just start writing stories attacking Democrats from the "left" or pushing fealty to Trump from the "right."

https://www.gq.com/story/alex-gibney-agents-of-chaos-hbo-doc

In early 2017, Alex Gibney flew to a secret location on the West Coast to meet a man named Glenn Simpson. Just a few weeks prior, Simpson, a co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, had become known the world over for his role in producing the so-called Steele Dossier, which alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to secure Trump’s 2016 presidential victory (among far more salacious activities). Simpson told Gibney he was concerned that if anything were to happen to him, then his side of the story might never get out. Gibney, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker who had already been looking into Russia, was eager to hear it. Just a few months later, Fusion GPS’s findings would form the basis of the Mueller investigation.

Over the past 40 years, Gibney has built a reputation for unpacking some of the biggest scandals of our time: Enron, WikiLeaks, Lance Armstrong’s blood doping, Elliot Spitzer’s liaisons. If anyone could explain the Russia-Trump story in a way that others would understand, it would be him. And so after their meeting, Gibney set to work on Agents of Chaos, a two-part series that premiered on HBO in late September. The story it tells may not answer any unresolved questions, but it brings together a cast of characters who have never before appeared in the same story, including former FBI director Andrew McCabe, former Trump associates Felix Sater and Carter Page, and, of course, Glenn Simpson himself. Collectively, they provide chilling insight into the lengths to which Russia went to sow chaos in the U.S. in 2016, and the extent to which the Trump campaign was willing to help. More chilling still: While the series may be finished, the story is far from over.

In a telephone interview before the series premiered, Gibney told me that he thinks part of the problem with the way the Russia-Trump story has been told up to now is that “everybody wanted to tie it up neat.” His team decided to take a different tack altogether, to “embrace the very idea of uncertainty. And once you embrace that idea, then tying up every loose end ends up kind of missing the essence of the story.” The essence of this story, as Gibney tells it, is that the Russian government wanted to dismantle American democracy, and so they did, by the most convenient means at their disposal: us.

It’s a far messier story than the myriad conspiracy theories that have attempted to explain the events of 2016, like the idea that Trump has been a Russian asset since the 1980s or the QAnon notion this is all part of a plot by deep state Democrats to frame Trump lest he unmask their cabal of pedophiles. And that’s exactly Gibney’s point. “Conspiracy theories, at their heart, are a way of explaining the unexplainable,” he told me. “Everything fits together perfectly. Well, things don’t fit together perfectly, usually.”

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