I really hope you’re paying attention to what’s happening, because on Thursday Russian television took over the live online feed of American democracy, replacing the floor of the House of Representatives with Twitter information about the weather in Eastern Europe.
The feed came back after 10 minutes but in the meantime viewers of C-SPAN missed Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) talking about the need for oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission of American business — and potential conflicts that could come from abroad, including Russia.
In a mysterious glitch the Russian-government-owned channel Russia Today replaced the online C-SPAN feed. C-SPAN still can’t explain it — “We don’t believe we were hacked. Instead, our initial investigation suggests that this was caused by an internal routing error” — but am I the only one who wonders whether it was a coincidence?
We officially ain’t in Kansas anymore, folks.
Perhaps you all remember a couple of years ago when North Korea hacked a Hollywood studio, caused all the computers at Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City to go haywire, stopped the company’s operations in its tracks and then leaked to the Internet a feature film that had not yet been released.
We might have thought it was an isolated case by a dictatorial crazy, but instead it was a harbinger of things to come, and those things have come.
Statement from C-SPAN about January 12 Online Signal Interruption pic.twitter.com/dlkSOntJgz
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 13, 2017
Here’s one possibility: For a brief but highly suggestive 10 minutes on Thursday morning, Russia let us know that our TV networks are entirely vulnerable to their capricious sense of humor, or perhaps something more sinister.
It felt like we were in a “Batman” movie when the Joker comes in and starts to take over Gotham.
We are living in an unprecedented swirl of conflicting news stories involving our government and our future president, in which the media itself has become a focus of the news. Russia and its agenda have suddenly become a source of ongoing suspicion involving our president-elect.
And that’s only part of it. The president-elect is in open warfare with our intelligence agencies, his Cabinet nominees have now declared themselves to be in opposition to many of his positions and the PEOTUS’s plan to eliminate business conflicts of interest has been denounced by multiple ethicists as totally inadequate.
Meanwhile, Trump tweets about L.L. Bean and television ratings while the rest of us are left to ponder the offensive image of “golden showers.”
From amid all the chaos, Russia may have sent a message: We are not safe from their hacking, anywhere.
The journey through the looking glass has well and truly begun.