Time magazine's latest edition features a jarring cover of St. Basil's Cathedral, meant to represent the Kremlin, emerging from a disappearing White House.
The Time cover story, "Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America," is a chilling account that includes details on Russian malware that would allow Russian intelligence to take over official United States government Twitter accounts to spread disinformation.
The feature story explains how Russia may have finally achieved a Cold War-era goal to "alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion."
Massimo Calabresi writes for Time,
In 2016, Russia had used thousands of covert human agents and robot computer programs to spread disinformation referencing the stolen campaign emails of Hillary Clinton, amplifying their effect. Now counterintelligence officials wondered: What chaos could Moscow unleash with thousands of Twitter handles that spoke in real time with the authority of the armed forces of the United States? At any given moment, perhaps during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, Pentagon Twitter accounts might send out false information. As each tweet corroborated another, and covert Russian agents amplified the messages even further afield, the result could be panic and confusion.
According to Time, Russia's interference in the 2016 election is believed by U.S. intelligence officials to be only a single part of an "ongoing information war against global democracy."
On-edge White House staffers navigate hostile, erratic president
Along with the lengthy article on Russian interference in the U.S., Time also released a report titled "Trump's Loyalty Test."
The story describes a "hostile" work environment that quotes an anonymous White House aide saying its employees are "in the dark" and watching Twitter to figure out the president's real-time changes in mind.
A dire picture is painted of screaming White House staffers behind closed doors desperately trying to reign in an executive who engages in unforced errors and erratic behaviors.
"The good news is that if you don't like a decision, there's a good chance the President will come up with a new one if he watches enough Fox & Friends," Time quotes an anonymous White House source as saying.
According to one anonymous staffer, the president likes to keep White House employees "on thin ice," which staffers describe as a paralyzing dynamic.
This isn't the first Time issue to critically report on Trump in 2017 with an unflattering cover.
A March 20 cover shows the Washington Monument breaking under a leaning Trump, while the Feb. 27 cover depicts the president, windblown amid flying Oval Office papers and flapping hair with the caption, "Nothing to See Here."
Correction: May 18, 2017
A previous version of this article misreported what Time's cover was supposed to depict. It is St. Basil's Cathedral, meant to represent the Kremlin.