The three biggest intel orgs in the world have very different philosophies of how you get the job done. The U.S. likes to go after big coups -- turning a general, etc. The Chinese like ops that require enormous resources and cast a wide net, like trying to compromise every visiting student and helping them with their careers in the hopes that one of them winds up somewhere useful someday. The Russians seek to the control the story and believe that they can shape history and they do this with a massive propaganda arm along with controlling the press, etc. Do not make the assumption that your opponents think the same way you do. A company with a superior product that doesn't understand that its competition has superior marketing can still lose in the marketplace.
The Russians have been probing our responses to social media for years. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
) and our scientists such as Gilad Lotan have helpfully informed them of how to succeed where this hoax is considered to have been a failure. By the time the 2016 election came around they not only knew how to successfully plant fake news but exactly what its shelf life was and had a good idea how to build up to the current election. My guess is they also made money doing it via "clicks". So the gullible US population funded Russia's information operation against itself. Genius.
Russia was not the only genesis of the fake news. I am sure Brad Parscale understood and drove a lot of this and we know Steve Bannon made money promoting fake news. A key element in fake news though is producing as many supporting cross-links as possible. In my mind the effectiveness of Russia's contribution is the outstanding question, not whether or not it happened. Since many of the documentable origins are fake social media accounts and evaporated shell companies it will be very hard to assess who contributed what to the process. I believe there will be a tendency to over-blame "nefarious" Russia in the aftermath.