Before our cruise ship arrived at the port of St. Petersburg in 2017, Russia had been in the American headlines for months. That wasn’t unusual: its predecessor, the Soviet Union, made headlines all the time during my father’s Foreign Service career promoting American democracy to stem the tide of Communism. The Russians were the Bad Guys. We were the Good Guys. The Macarthy hearings made it clear: the only good Red was a dead Red, especially for the Republicans.

So what was, and is, disturbing about the Russia stories of the past two years is that the presumed Good Guys are being investigated for colluding with the Bad Guys, and the Republicans in the White House and on the Hill are being very relaxed about the whole thing. Trump’s election may have been orchestrated by Putin. Trump deflects and redirects and distracts, adopting Russian terminology to distance himself from the issue: it’s all fake news. And, anyway, what’s the big deal?

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Truth and fiction no longer stand apart: Trump’s people have given alternative facts a place at the table. Why is everyone’s head not exploding?

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