Caitlin Johnstone: Smearing US Antiwar Leftists

A U.S. senator is using a McCarthyite article in The New York Times to call for an investigation of nine organizations for ties to the Chinese Communist Party, including the renowned peace activism group CODEPINK.  

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, right, with Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro in 2020.
(Alan Santos, Palácio do Planalto, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article

Citing a recent McCarthyite smear piece by The New York Times, Sen. Marco Rubio published a letter last week that he’d sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for the investigation of American leftist antiwar groups, claiming they are “tied to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and operating with impunity in the United States.”

Rubio listed nine organizations that he said should be investigated “for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.” Included in Senator Rubio’s blacklist of suspected Chinese foreign agents is the renowned peace activism group Code Pink, which has been drawing attention to the destructiveness of U.S. warmongering, militarism and economic warfare for decades.

“According to The New York Times, many progressive organizations have received funding from Neville Roy Singham, a leftist U.S. citizen who lives in Shanghai and has ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Rubio writes. “Yet, none of the entities tied to Singham have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The U.S. must enforce its laws more fiercely in the face of foreign adversaries who abuse our open system to advance their malign interests.”

Rubio’s letter is just the latest in the rapidly escalating push within the U.S. government to use FARA to persecute antiwar activists, Chinese nationals in the United States, and those deemed insufficiently hostile toward China. As Amanda Yee recently observed with Liberation News:

“Under Biden, FARA has been invoked to target Black liberation activists like the African People’s Socialist Party for criticizing U.S. involvement in the Ukraine war and Chinese American hotel worker and organizer Li Tang ‘Henry’ Liang for advocating peaceful relations between the United States and China.”

It’s worth taking a close look at The New York Times piece referenced by Rubio, because the ridiculousness of its arguments and the hypocrisy it accidentally exposes are worth drawing attention to.

First of all, we should point out the irony of an outlet like The New York Times publishing an article accusing anyone of being involved in propaganda.

The New York Times has supported every U.S. war and has been run by the same wealthy family since the late 1800s, and it has an extensive history of peddling McCarthyite red scare propaganda throughout the years. It has been singled out consistently and aggressively by critics of U.S. propaganda such as Noam Chomsky for its unique role in setting the agenda for news reporting throughout the Western world in a way that benefits the information interests of the U.S. empire.

The article in question is titled “A Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a U.S. Tech Mogul,” and it ultimately amounts to nothing more than a report saying “uh, hey, there’s a rich guy who likes China.”

Despite the complete emptiness of its claims, the article took no fewer than 11 people to write (Mara Hvistendahl, David A Fahrenthold, Lynsey Chutel and Ishaan Jhaveri are credited as authors, Joy Dong, Michael Forsythe, Flávia Milhorance, Liu Yi and Suhasini Raj contributed reporting, and Susan C. Beachy and Michelle Lum contributed research). 

This platoon of journalists could have been out doing real investigative journalism on real issues like poverty in the United States or the victims of Washington’s drone wars, but instead they were put toward research on an American millionaire named Neville Roy Singham, whose sole offense appears to be throwing his wealth around in support of China and communism instead of the U.S, empire and capitalism.

Despite the article’s ominous tone and the self-congratulatory grandiosity of its 11 co-reporters, the claim that Singham is actually an agent of the Chinese government is studiously avoided. The authors use sleazy phrases like “Singham’s ties to Chinese propaganda interests” and report that he has done communisty things like calling people “comrade” and writing in a notebook with a hammer and sickle on it, but at no time do they actually attempt to dispute Singham’s forceful assertion that he has no ties to the Chinese government. All they do is say he’s used his money to promote support for China and communism, and then try to frame that as a dark and suspicious thing using tone and insinuation.

“I categorically deny and repudiate any suggestion that I am a member of, work for, take orders from, or follow instructions of any political party or government or their representatives,” Singham told the Times via email. “I am solely guided by my beliefs, which are my long-held personal views.”

No attempt is made to refute Singham’s claim in the article. As far as the actual data in their reporting is concerned, Singham is just some rich American using his money to promote values he supports in the same way rich Americans do every single day.

The only reason it’s framed as malevolent is because he’s doing it in support of a country the U.S. government doesn’t like and an ideology the U.S. government doesn’t approve of. Which only makes sense if you’re a propagandist for The New York Times or one of their brainwashed rabble of victims.

The Times notes that Singham is married to CODEPINK  co-founder Jodie Evans, which you’d think would be taken as a very clear sign that Singham is sincere in his opposition to U.S. imperialism rather than acting as a secret agent of the Chinese government. But this marriage is bizarrely framed as making Singham more suspicious instead, with lines like “Ms. Evans declined to answer questions about funding from her husband” appearing in the text as though receiving funding from one’s spouse would be some kind of damning revelation.

Contrary to Rubio’s insinuations, The New York Times was actually forced to admit in its own reporting that despite the ominous and conspiratorial tone of the article, no FARA violations could be found in Singham’s activities:

“None of Mr. Singham’s nonprofits have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as is required of groups that seek to influence public opinion on behalf of foreign powers. That usually applies to groups taking money or orders from foreign governments. Legal experts said Mr. Singham’s network was an unusual case.”

The reason legal experts said Singham’s case is unusual when it comes to the question of foreign agents registration is because Singham is not a foreign agent. He lives in China, but he’s a U.S. citizen. He gives money to organizations which support China, but there are no laws against that. He shares an office with a Chinese media company and appears to give them money, but there’s no law against that either. The “legal experts” in question were probably New York Times lawyers telling reporters they can’t falsely accuse U.S. citizens and their associates of being foreign agents on no basis whatsoever.

Rubio’s letter states that “many of the organizations Mr. Singham financially supports are linked directly or indirectly to the CCP,” but there’s no indication in the reporting that any Singham-funded organization is tied to the Chinese government and operating as a foreign agent in the United States.

Rubio and his McCarthyite buddies at The New York Times use the fact that Singham funds both Chinese and American institutions to falsely insinuate that there are unregistered Singham-funded Chinese government agents operating in the U.S., but that claim isn’t actually put forward as a fact in The New York Times piece, because it isn’t a fact. What’s reported is that Singham funds Chinese organizations in China and American organizations in America, both of which are perfectly legal things to do.

The New York Times reports that Singham associates with Chinese people, promotes information that serves the interests of the Chinese government, supports communism, opposes U.S. imperialism and has an antiwar activist wife. What The New York Times does not report is one iota of information that Singham or the organizations he supports have broken any U.S. laws.

While Marco Rubio and The New York Times frame Singham’s activities as something sinister and subversive, from all evidence presented he’s actually just playing by the same rules that wealthy Americans have been playing by for generations.

They both criticize Singham’s funding of a think tank called Tricontinental which puts out commentary and analysis from a Marxist perspective, when other U.S. plutocrats openly pour vast fortunes into think tanks all the time ?— ?the only difference is that U.S. plutocrats tend to favor think tanks which support U.S. imperialism and capitalist exploitation.

One of the most depraved things that happens in the U.S. today is the way war profiteering corporations and plutocrats are allowed to fund immensely influential warmongering think tanks, which then go on to influence the thinking of government policymakers in support of war and militarism.

Media outlets like The New York Times routinely cite these war profiteer-funded think tanks as experts on foreign policy and international affairs without ever disclosing this immense conflict of interest to their audiences; a recent study by the Quincy Institute found that 85 percent of the think tanks cited in the mainstream press when reporting on the war in Ukraine were funded by war profiteers like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

That’s considered perfectly fine and normal in the United States, but a wealthy American funding organizations that want peace and economic justice is viewed by empire managers and the imperial media as an incendiary scandal.

According to all facts in evidence Singham isn’t doing anything different from the rich Americans who buy up media outlets and fund think tanks in order to advance their personal agendas, but because his personal agendas involve opposing the U.S. empire and spreading socialist ideas it’s seized on as evidence that gasoline needs to be poured onto the fire of McCarthyite hysteria in Washington.

If you look at the facts of this case you quickly see that they expose nothing nefarious about Code Pink or anyone else Singham supports, or indeed about Singham himself. What they expose is the fact that the entire mainstream political/media class is pointed at war, death and destruction across both sides of the pretend partisan divide, and will attack anyone who tries to stand in the way of the worst impulses of the imperial machine.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium

37 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Smearing US Antiwar Leftists

  1. GioCon
    August 20, 2023 at 10:22

    Rubio was hand-picked by the neocons to further their interests in the Senate. Like all neocons, he has three essential positions: pro-war, anti-Russia, anti-communism. Although the anti-war movement in the US is toothless and a mere shadow of its former self, and “leftists” have long since devolved into identity politics totalitarians, the neocons aim to prevent any resurgence of that once-strong movement. They’re not taking any chances of a grassroots movement upsetting their proxy war in Ukraine and their fantasy of a war with China. But, given that the identity politics crowd also believes in “humanitarian intervention,” the war in Ukraine is supported by a large section of so-called anti-war leftists. The left just ain’t what it used to be.

  2. Christian J Chuba
    August 19, 2023 at 23:17

    One would think that violating FARA (an anti constitutional law), would require the govt to show payment by a foreign govt. But no. As I read FARA and it just says ‘agent’, a nice, vague term that only requires that the govt claim that someone’s work looks like it serves foreign interests. It is a disgusting law. It’s a sledge hammer for the U.S. govt.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    August 19, 2023 at 12:02

    Oh Gosh! Catlin I’m confess I read some comments and soon forgot about the diminutive Rubio.

    Which, in my opinion says volumes.

    Thank CN

  4. robert e williamson jr
    August 18, 2023 at 21:28

    Yellow Journalism, “res ipsa loquitur”, “the thing speaks for itself “, for those knowledgeable in the vices of propaganda !

  5. lester
    August 18, 2023 at 20:59

    How long before Chinese restaurants are banned? Chinese Americans all jailed like Japanese Americans were?

  6. Barbara Mullin
    August 18, 2023 at 17:18

    What else makes sense to follow up years of Russiagate except now Chinagate. All total garbage.

  7. Pedro
    August 18, 2023 at 15:03

    We all know which country actually influences US politics, media, entertainment, and military budget: it’s called Israel.
    As Netanyahou has said years ago, they actually run the empire!

    • lester
      August 18, 2023 at 21:02

      Christian Zionists and Dispensationalists, like John Haggee, supporting Israel only to bring the Second Coming of Jesus, the Apocalypse. All Jews die in the process, save those who become Christians.

  8. Rudy Haugeneder
    August 18, 2023 at 13:14

    I don’t always agree with her assessments but in this case she is absolutely correct.

  9. nwwoods
    August 18, 2023 at 11:23

    In a just world on which brand names were req’d by law to reflect the truth, New York Times would be called The Daily Gaslighter.

  10. Kurt
    August 18, 2023 at 09:50

    China isn’t a communist country. Too many people, and the Chinese government itself says China is, ” socialist with Chinese characteristics,” which is just a euphemism for capitalist. There is nothing the U.S. hates more, besides communism and socialism, than a capitalist country that is beating it at its own amoral game of exploitation. The U.S. knows no boundaries in trying to maintain its hegemony with its rules based order and it will eventually collapse. The Chinese will sit back and wait for the inevitable collapse of the U.S. so they can fill the power vacuum that capitalism requires. As long as capitalism remains the economic system of which all of human society lives under, and as long as all the ” left ” Parties and organizations continue to believe that capitalism can be reformed, or mistakenly believe that China is, ” doing things right,” one hegemonic, imperialist power will just replace another and the further demoralization of the global working class will continue.
    This is what Caitlin Johnstone, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and all the ” progressive ” organizations fail to recognize.

    • lester
      August 18, 2023 at 21:06

      Spend any time in present day China and you will see that it is as Capitalist as can be. The “Communist” Party is full of businessmen, who join for the networking. It’s nor more Communist or Marxist than the Freemasons are a construction workers’ union.

    • J Anthony
      August 19, 2023 at 06:08

      No, it’s recognized. We know China is a capitalist country with communist-trappings. The only difference between the US and China is that in China, the government is more powerful than it’s corporations, where as here it is the opposite. I don’t think Caitlin or anyone else has any illusions of China being some socialist utopia. And you’re right, China plays the capitalist game better, and smarter.

    • Peter Stevenson
      August 19, 2023 at 07:52

      I lived in China for five years and have to agree with your assessment. I was surprised recently to read a piece by Mr. Prashad of Tricontinental, who I respect, extolling the virtues of the Chinese government, which is in fact run by ruthless capitalists. Xi Jinping is no more a sincere supporter of socialist revolution than Josef Stalin.

  11. Onlooker
    August 18, 2023 at 09:40

    Aha! “They both criticize Singham’s funding of a think tank called Tricontinental…” And its head, Vijay Prashad. is a regular contributor to Consortium News … we should have guessed that it is a Chicomm front organization.

    But we know what the real problem is, don’t we, Señor Rubio? All these groups publish PRO-CUBAN information!

  12. Arch Stanton
    August 18, 2023 at 08:22

    The unchecked exponential growth of the US MICIMATT has created this situation. Why was Eisenhowers warning ignored?

    It’s too late to change anything now, it has absolute power and has captured everything. Let’s pray for a Russian victory and an unbreakable BRICS alliance

  13. Richard Coleman
    August 17, 2023 at 21:06

    Rubio has also accused monthly car caravans in Miami which protest the U.S. blockade and embargo against Cuba — organized by Carlos Lazo under the banner “Puentes de Amor” — of being a subversive activity under the direct control of the Cuban government.


  14. RWilson
    August 17, 2023 at 20:27

    It’s obvious that AIPAC should be investigated for clear violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and specifically for extreme meddling in US elections. That would include influencing Rubio’s elections by giving him huge amounts of campaign money. Thus Rubio himself should be investigated as an agent of a foreign government. Such subservience would explain Rubio’s denial of many obvious facts regarding America’s foreign crimes.

    • Piotr Berman
      August 18, 2023 at 13:55

      I am afraid that AIPAC activities are legal, and are funded by American citizens who happen to be fervent Zionists, as is their right. Singham also has his fervent believes, and seems to do what people like Soros or late Adelson do, although on vastly smaller scale (Soros is not necessarily a fervent Zionist, he follow his own agenda with similar means). The “crime” of Singham is to use exactly same tools but for very different beliefs. In short, Singham is a traitor to his class, unlike the owners of NYT.

      • robert e williamson jr
        August 19, 2023 at 00:09

        Big supporter of the class system are you Mr. Berman. I can’t help but be curious. Those nasty accusations that Israel is an Apartheid state and all.

        I am afraid AIPAC activities speak for themselves. Americans are taking note. Individuals such as yourself expect for your beliefs to be respected. Why not the beliefs of Singham? I could care less as long as we find peace but the Zionist support Israel because of religious beliefs no matter how they try to hide their final solution is to blow the planet up. It is how they think and it is very selfish of them.

        Yes I know, Zionism is supposed to be political in it’s nature. From where I sit the Zionists or failed opportunists. As for you ” . . . . funded by American citizens . . . .” work at stopping Israels “free lunch-gravy train approach” to funding settlers in Israel. My number is growing,

        As for the owners of the NYT, can I assume you enjoy Yellow Journalism, and maybe reading other people mail as Hero Ruban Efron did while working for CIA. Now there is some real classy stuff!

        For the sake of Dog some folks do craft words well. Me maybe not so much, but I do tend to err on the side of truth.

        Thanks CN & Crew!

  15. Dario
    August 17, 2023 at 19:02

    Thanks, Caitlin, for another insightful, in-depth debunking of shameful, indeed MacCarthytite efforts from the MSM and nut-case psycho-politics to repress fully legitimate dissent.

    It’s the NYT that should be registered. As speakperson of the military-industrial complex and move its offices to the Pentagon.

  16. CaseyG
    August 17, 2023 at 18:36

    Maybe the New York Tines should change its name to the New York CRIMES—-Apparently some like RUBIO see crimes where others see intelligence. OR A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT THE WORLD. Amazing that Rubio attacks the Chinese instead of the STRANGE CONCLUSIONS from the New York CRIMES newspaper

    • TS
      August 18, 2023 at 09:13

      For many years, lots of people have been in favor of its changing its slogan to “All the news that fits, we print” ….

  17. Drew Hunkins
    August 17, 2023 at 17:33

    Rubio’s one of the bigger jokes in Washington. A cretin not to be taken seriously.

    • bryce
      August 17, 2023 at 21:21

      Rubio could at least refer to China’s Communist Party by its correct initials: CPC..
      What are his thoughts on the 1.3 billion Chinese who are not Communist? They represent a middle class which is larger than the entire U.S. population !

    • Piotr Berman
      August 18, 2023 at 14:00

      One of good contributions of Trump was unmasking Rubio as being a robot pretending to be human (not too well). Trump also had many vile contributions that, unfortunately, are continued and expanded by Biden (e.g. the matter of Assange, murder of Soleimani).

  18. Susan Siens
    August 17, 2023 at 17:01

    The New York Times is an abysmal joke, a sick joke, a pathetic excuse for a newspaper. I wouldn’t put anything past them including calling for an openly Nazi government in the U.S. Perhaps they could take a page from the head of the Stern Gang who wanted Israel to model itself on the Third Reich.

    I used to occasionally buy the NYT for the food section on Wednesdays and the puzzle. No more. The paper is as skinny as a small-town weekly with nothing worth reading.

    • J Anthony
      August 19, 2023 at 06:14

      They ought to change their name to “State Dept. Times”, at least it’d be more honest.

  19. August 17, 2023 at 16:37

    The unfortunate fact that this article brings to mind is that Joseph McCarthy was not the last United States Senator to have no sense of decency. Senator Marco Rubio’s attempt to discredit and smear the reputation of Jodie Evans and CODEPINK by insinuating they are tied to the Chinese Communist Party shows that he too has no sense of common decency.

  20. Valerie
    August 17, 2023 at 15:54

    OMGodzilla. You just have to laugh. These people will stop at nothing.

  21. JonnyJames
    August 17, 2023 at 15:35

    ThinkTankistan is just another iteration of the propaganda model, and the sales and marketing departments of the WMD corps. They employ so-called academics and respected “experts” to establish credibility, but it is usually 100% pure, unadulterated BS. The funders of the MasssMediaCartel, “public” TV and radio, and Thintankistan come heavily from the WMD corporations (MIC).

    I, as usual, wholeheartedly agree with and appreciate Caitlin Johnstone’s reporting on this.

    Sadly this is nothing new: for example: Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. was accused of being a communist and Soviet sympathizer when he spoke out against Vietnam war and supported the Poor People’s Campaign. (see FBI and COINTELPRO) Even before him, Paul Robeson was accused of being a communist agent of the USSR.

    The bipartisan Neo-McCarlthyite whackos (Rubio is but one example) have never gone away.

    However, this sort of thing should be no surprise and to be expected. Contrary to popular belief, the US is not a republic nor a democracy in practice. It is an empire run by a bloodthirsty, kleptocratic oligarchy.

  22. Elial
    August 17, 2023 at 14:52

    So people who want peace are communists.
    Hmmmm… Maybe the whole issue needs a rethink. Communists look to have become the good guys.

  23. Jeff Harrison
    August 17, 2023 at 14:52

    That’s what they did to Maria Butina. She wasn’t acting on behalf of any foreign government but she was proof positive that you don’t have to break the law to be convicted of breaking the law in the US.

    Little Marko is just a latter day fascist.

  24. August 17, 2023 at 13:41

    Yeah, “Singham funds a think tank called Tricontinental which puts out commentary and analysis from a Marxist perspective.” So what? For a openly left-wing appreciation of Vijay Prashad’s Tricontinental, see “Apple’s Profits and Foxconn Workers’ Wages” at

    • Bryant Jordan
      August 18, 2023 at 06:45

      If Rubio wants to investigate a US-based organization working for the interests a foreign government, but not registered as a foreign agent, he should start with AIPAC.

      • August 18, 2023 at 15:11

        You are referring to the elephant in the living room.

      • robert e williamson jr
        August 18, 2023 at 23:22

        He fears the truth too much to do so, truth is if he did his not so brilliant political career would most likely be over!

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