Washington is a month away from Inauguration Day, and while millions of Americans are looking inwards, asking how the election of Donald Trump happened, much of the US mainstream news media is looking at Moscow for answers. 

Talk of Russian hacking of Democratic Party emails jumped back into the headlines on December 9 when The Washington Post reported that the CIA concluded that Russia had meddled in the US elections and helped Donald Trump to win, according to a "senior US official".

When you look at the history of the CIA's foreign meddling, not just today, but over decades of overthrowing and attempting to overthrow democratically-elected governments throughout the world, I mean, the US does not have any leg to stand on. The hypocrisy of this is mind-blowing.

Ben Norton, reporter, Alternet

The anonymous source didn't stop the talking heads, pundits and columnists from treating an allegation as fact, leading The New York Times to call the election "tainted" and the result "illegitimate".

"I think we should be very sceptical. Even the US intelligence community is divided on this. The multiple officials in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is the head of the US intelligence community, told Reuters that they're not entirely on board with the CIA's claims. They said that, 'Yes, Russia may have been involved in potential hacking.' But they can't prove that the Russians intent was supposedly to help Donald Trump win the election," says journalist Ben Norton of Alternet. 

American news consumers are in a suspicious mood. Having weathered an epidemic of fake news throughout the election campaign, they are bringing a new degree of scrutiny to mainstream news sources, like The Washington Post, as well.

The other historical factor feeding into the scepticism goes back a decade and a half - the run-up to the Iraq War.

Most of the stories about Saddam Hussein's WMDs and his links to al-Qaeda, both of which proved non-existent, came from intelligence agencies like the CIA and were spread to Americans through multiple news outlets, The Washington Post among them.

So the reporting of intelligence leaks - again, anonymously sourced - helped take the US to war once. And with all this talk of breached firewalls and enemies at the gates, one has to wonder where this story is going.

Talking us through the story are: Marcy Wheeler, blogger, Emptywheel; Greg Miller, reporter, Washington Post; Ben Norton, reporter, Alternet; and Kevin Ryan, director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center, Harvard.

Source: Al Jazeera