The arrest of NSA contractor Reality Winner caused mass confusion in the wake of The Intercept‘s publication of a leaked NSA document allegedly submitted by Winner. The Intercept‘s report on the document seems to spend entire pages qualifying claims of Russian phishing attempts. Shortly after Winner’s arrest, she was labeled a Bernie Sanders supporter. This has served as a talking point for the legacy media and establishment interests to sow divisions where new signs of collaboration had grown among anti-establishment elements from opposing sides of the political spectrum. If such attempts to fracture collaboration are successful, it would no doubt further the interests of legacy media and the establishment it protects.
Winner’s social media accounts are littered with anti-Trump statements along with some bizarre posts, with surprisingly sparse mention of Sanders. Meanwhile, The Guardian noted that Winner is a a former US Air Force linguist who speaks Pashto, Farsi and Dari. The Los Angeles Times wrote that Winner had worked at an NSA contractor company called Pluribus International since February this year, holding a Top Secret clearance. As Winner was arrested and charged for leaking an NSA document, one could reasonably assume that her status as a USAF veteran and cryptologist would be more relevant than a few retweets of Senator Sanders.
That Winner is being primarily referred to in terms of support for the former Democratic Party Presidential candidate as opposed to other more relevant labels like USAF Veteran, cryptologist, or NSA contractor, reflects a main stream media desire to sow division between right and left-leaning anti-establishment groups by highlighting Winner’s political affiliation.
Co-operation across traditional ideological barriers was visible in recent days when a The Oathkeepers, a right-wing militia group, volunteered to protect attorneys suing the DNC on behalf of Bernie Sanders supporters. This occurred after it was reported by Disobedient Media and elsewhere that the same attorneys had received a series of bizarre, ominous phone calls, the first of which matched the number registered to former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ office. The help extended to Jared and Elizabeth Beck of the DNC lawsuit by the Oathkeepers was one of a growing number of instances of co-operation between left and right leaning anti-establishment movements.
Growing levels of anti-establishment impetus from both ends of the political spectrum can be seen in a distilled form in the report by independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone, in her article “In Order To Take Down The Deep State, We Must Collaborate Across Ideological Lines.” Johnstone wrote of the right-leaning Resistance Chicks, describing them as “crystal clear” that the real political divide exists between America’s “unelected power establishment” versus those who oppose it. Johnstone cited the Resistance Chicks’ observation that there is “only one party, and that is the deep state party that is evil.” The article is the epitome of the shared ground between left and right-wing anti-establishment feeling which seeks first and foremost to end the corruption of an elitist establishment.
Johnstone’s article is especially significant in the current context of Reality Winner’s recent arrest. Numerous media outlets’ characterization of Winner as primarily a Sanders supporter encouraged division on the subject based purely on political affiliation. Specifically, it provided a narrative where those who would defend Trump would find themselves pitted against a Sanders supporter as the embodiment of the attempted revival of the Russian hacking narrative who called Trump a “piece of sh**” and expressed an intent to burn down the Whitehouse.
Winner used a twitter profile under the alias Sarah Winners, but did not show much concern regarding concealing her identity. She posted numerous pictures of herself alongside tweets like:
That Winner has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly leaking is undeniable. What is arguable is the terminology used to classify her is questionable. Media reports label her a “confirmed Sanders supporter,” despite the fact that Winner’s twitter account doesn’t follow Bernie Sanders in any way, rarely referenced him, and the article claiming she supported Sanders provided zero evidence that she did.
By characterizing Winner as a staunch Sanders fan, legacy media encouraged alienation between groups that had begun to collaborate against vested interests in the media and establishment. Winner’s primary political affiliation according to the social media she left for the public appears to represent primarily a visceral hatred for President Donald Trump.
Mainstream media’s accuracy also been called into question regarding their coverage of Winner’s arrest and the NSA document which prompted it. Numerous media reports had stated that the document provided “proof” of Russian hacking of the U.S. Presidential election last year. However, Wikileaks stated via twitter that such headlines were false, as the NSA report had not showed voter machine hacking. Wikileaks added that claims were only in terms of attempts to “phish voter registration outfits.” Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept also stated via twitter that the document should be read skeptically.
Repercussions from the documents Winner leaked to the Intercept and her rapid arrest by the FBI remain to be seen. However, it is clear that the deep state and the legacy media that supports it implicitly benefit from labelling Winner a Sanders supporter. The divide and conquer method is used repeatedly because it works.