“Planted!” by Ted Cruz and Dmitry Peskov

When The National Enquirer ran a story about Ted Cruz’s five (or eight?) alleged mistresses, the candidate called the leak “garbage” (that’s what tabloids peddle) and accused Donald Trump of planting the dirt (probably dug up by Rubio’s team). But Cruz did not say he had always been true to his wife, and so far has not sued the tabloid.

Dmitry Peskov’s response to the Great Panama Leak has followed the same pattern: it’s the work of Western intelligence services; it’s part of a vicious media war on Russia; and anyway, it’s sloppy journalism and mostly hot air. “We expected better from you guys.”

If Cruz has romped with one or two women (five would be flattering), especially if they expected to be paid, the pastor’s son will find it hard to go on as a candidate. I don’t expect to hear a Cruz supporter argue: “We’ve known it all along and we’ll keep looking the other way. Only a man of God can thump the Bible like this man. He is truly the Raphael of Bible-thumping.”

But the man in the Kremlin, not even named in the Panama papers, won’t lose sleep over the leak. Most of the Russians who have never bothered to look into allegations of corruption won’t be bothered by this outpouring. Those who know and do not care will remain unmoved, muttering in unison with the regime’s opponents: “More proof of what we’ve always known. Now what?” Nathalie Nougayrède has no clue, as usual.

This said, the value of the leak to humanity is incomparably greater than its value to propagandists of all kinds. The more documents from the stash are published, either as originals or as decent summaries, the better we understand how the real world works, and knowledge is power after all.

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