The Washington Post’s McCarthyistic conspiracy theory implicating some 200 Web sites in an alleged Russian propaganda network continues to spread across mainstream media despite being debunked, as in Patrick Henningsen’s report.
By Patrick Henningsen
The mainstream media’s post-election hysteria has taken on new level of crazy. It seems that The Washington Post has gone off the deep end this past week, claiming that Russia is behind the “fake news” crisis which they claim helped propel an insurgent Donald Trump to victory on Nov. 8, and they are still standing by the official conspiracy theory that Russia has somehow hacked into the U.S. elections. Everything that’s wrong with the establishment media is contained within this incredible story…
The hacking claim is nothing new – backed by the White House and trumpeted by Hillary Clinton, the U.S. mainstream media has claimed that Russia has been hacking and manipulating our U.S. elections. The only problem is it never happened. What’s more disturbing though, is the complete collapse in journalistic standards at what used to be considered ‘America’s paper of record.’
It seems the The Post is playing a key role in waging a new McCarthy-style witch hunt targeting any independent websites which dare to challenge the prevailing anti-Russian party line currently dominating the mainstream political and media establishment – evident beyond any doubt after reading this latest feature in The Washington Post written by Craig Timberg entitled, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, Experts say.”
“Experts say”? Make no mistake, this was a true-to-form propaganda piece by the Washington Post, and in itself could be classed as actual “fake news.”
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult to debunk this article. I take no pleasure in saying this, as The Post was once a newspaper I admired growing up, however, what’s going on right now with America’s mainstream media is nothing short of tragic. More than anything, the 2016 Election showed the world how biased, corrupt and broken America’s papers of record have become. Instead of emulating Woodward and Bernstein, it seems most of the ‘journalists’ are channeling Stephen Glass instead. For those who don’t know already, Glass was one of Washington’s fake news pioneers of note, writing for the leftwing magazine, New Republic. Glass routinely madeup news stories which his journalism school-trained editors weren’t smart enough to pick up on.
It’s clear that the same partisan Clinton and Democratic Party supporters embedded in the media who were pushing anti-Russian talking points throughout the election cycle – are not giving up. As I pointed out in my pre-election piece entitled, “Hillary’s ‘Russian Hack’ Hoax: The Biggest Lie of this Election Season,” what was previously a stance reserved for right-wing neoconservative hawks and Cold War hold-outs has become the new standard for the establishment wing of the Democratic Party – which is the universal demonization of Russia, and the hitlerization of its current president, Vladimir Putin.
The mainstream media continues to lower the bar on what it claims is ‘journalism’. Just when you thought you’ve seen the worst, unsourced, completely contrived “investigation,” the Washington Post, which used to be regarded as the paragon of American journalism, has produced a rant of an article that is written as if it were a student submission:
“The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”
You have to feel bad for The Post’s Craig Timberg who seems to have drawn the short straw this week in the anti-Russia propaganda pool at the Post. According to his biography at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford, Timberg’s primary mission is, “studying potential revenue sources and business opportunities related to foreign news coverage, which he fears is under particular threat from digital disruption of the news industry.” The perfect man for the job.
His Thanksgiving Day exposé posits a unified theory of a Trump-Putin axis of evil – an all of the above, buckshot blog post pushed out by the Washington Post (amazing) where Timberg claims The Russians are not only behind the US establishment’s latest “fake news” hysteria, but also hacking both the DNC and the US elections, and carrying Donald Trump into the White House.
To support his case, Timberg claims that:
“Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House.”
So The Post claims that the Russians hacked the DNC and US elections systems, engineered Facebook’s ‘fake news’ crisis, which helped get Trump elected. In order to weave all three of these things together, Timberg had to rely on the mainstream media’s propaganda weapon of choice: anonymous sources. After that, it was just a case of plugging-in and hyperlinking to previous Washington Post headlines made to look as if these events actually happened, when no evidence exists to date that they ever did:
“U.S. government officially accuses Russia of hacking campaign to interfere with elections”? (By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Oct 7, 2016)
This story was used to great effect by Hillary Clinton herself on national TV during the Presidential debates. The headline is written to give the false impression there was actual proof to back up such profound accusations, but when you actually read the article, there is nothing. It seems that in today’s Washington Post, what passes for evidence can be as little as the President accusing Russia of being involved.
The statement from the vaunted ‘intelligence community’ is about as vague as it gets, stating, “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” said a joint statement from the two agencies. “… These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” No proof, no evidence, but… they are “confident”. This must be the same sort of confidence these same intelligence agencies had when they briefed Colin Powell about Saddam Hussein’s mobile anthrax labs, aka The Winnebagos of Death. Sounds crazy, I know, but it was good enough for the mainstream media in 2002-2003, just like “we are confident” is good enough for the Washington Post today.
“Russian hackers targeted Arizona election system” (By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Aug 29, 2016)
Despite the misleading headline, the article does not contain any evidence or anything remotely near ‘proof’ by any normal journalistic standards. But this is not normal journalism. After reading past the colorful headline in the Arizona Russian Hack story, it gets really vague, claiming the FBI’s theory that ‘Russia did it’ was, “credible” and significant, “an eight on a scale of one to 10.” It’s hard not to laugh when reading some of these mainstream stories. It gets better, saying that, “FBI investigators did not specify whether the hackers were criminals or employed by the Russian government. Bureau officials on Monday declined to comment…” What else is this but Washington-based, politically motivated propaganda, designed to scapegoat Russia?
By definition, Timberg is using actual fake and misleading news articles (produced by his employer the Washington Post) in order to validate his own unified conspiracy theory. It’s hard to tell if Timberg himself is even aware of what he’s doing. If not, certainly an argument can be made for mainstream ‘journalists’ who are so ensconced in their own corporate bubble that they actually believe their own organization’s propaganda.
Despite the best efforts of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, the White House and mainstream media outlets like CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, the New York Times and countless other outlets, all of whom either endorsed Hillary Clinton or tailored their news coverage to favor her campaign – with many even colluding directly with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), there is zero evidence to validate the establishment’s epic Conspiracy Theory that the Kremlin master-minded the greatest election heist in modern times.
VIRTUAL WITCH HUNT: “PropOrNot.com”
Deep Throat: The Washington Post’s Secret ‘Source’
Timberg claims to have a mysterious deep throat ‘source’: “researchers” from a group called PropOrNot, a website which just sprung up on October 30, 2016, and who claims to have “proof” that ties together ‘Fake News’/‘Pro-Trump’ articles online – back to Russia. The only problem is, he can’t show us any of their research, nor can he tell us the name of the principal, allegedly because this person fears threats of retribution. Timberg states, “The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy,” said the executive director of PropOrNot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers. When you hear things like this in the mainstream media, there is a high probability you are reading an actual government-sponsored propaganda piece.
More likely, the only fear PropOrNot’s authors have is of being held accountable for their own online smear and propaganda campaign.
PropOrNot’s web domain registration is also hidden behind “Domains By Proxy,” a company in Scottsdale Arizona.
Timberg’s ‘source’ is a nameless website, with no author names given, with links to “Boycott Russia Today,” and yet, PropOrNot claims to be “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds,” and Timberg says they plan to release their findings on Friday “showing the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”
“… (PropOrNot) planned to release its own findings Friday showing the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns,” stated Timberg.
The much anticipated groundbreaking report arrived belatedly and can be found online here and in PDF here. On first glance, it’s much worse than we thought, but our analysis is still forthcoming.
Thus far the only ‘investigation’ PropOrNot has done was an article implicating the financial news site Zero Hedge posted on Oct 31st and can be found here – a unintelligible mix of websites, speculating that they are somehow linked and in league with the Kremlin. It claims its thesis is corroborated by other sites PropOrNot says are “our allies” – similar anti-Russia web sources including the EU Disinformation Review (a ‘campaign’ run by the EU’s East StratCom Task force), Polygraph Info (run by US gov’t-backed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America), Fake News Watch (home of an extensive virtual book burning list), Stop Fake (Ukraine based, Pro-Maidan), Russia Lies (run by Julia Davis, a “national security expert” behind the tabloid reports alleging foul play in celebrity Britney Murphy’s death), and of course no anti-Russian allied list would be complete without Bellingcat (by now a widely discredited, Atlantic Council/NATO-linked, anti-Russian, anti-Syrian, ‘open source investigation’ website, run by Elliot Higgins).
The timing of this anti-Russian campaign is no coincidence either. This week the EU passed a new anti-Russian resolution to ‘counter act’ supposed Russian propaganda: ‘EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties’, with 179 voting against it and 208 abstaining.
PropOrNot’s “Executive Summary” (yes, we’re trying not to laugh, too) states:
“Thus far we at PropOrNot have identified over 200 distinct websites which qualify as Russian propaganda outlets according to our criteria, and target audiences in the United States. We estimate the regular US audiences of these sites to number in the tens of millions. We are gathering data to measure that more precisely, but we are confidant that it includes at least 15 million Americans.”
The McCarthyite tone of their defamation is breathtaking, as the site claims they can spot Russian agents of influence online and collaborator websites through an endless list of ‘things to look out for’:
(…) 9. Refer their audiences to each other, via hyperlinks and other means, at disproportionately high rates;
- Are consistently visited by the same audiences, both directly and via search, demonstrating that those intra-network referrals build “brand loyalty” in their audiences over time;
- Are consistently visited by their audiences after searches for terms which congrue with the Russian propaganda “line”, and are unrelated to the purported focus of their branding; (…)
I guess it never occurred to these geniuses that people might be loyal followers of well-established alternative websites like AntiWar.com, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House, OpEd News, Activist Post, Global Research.ca, Oriental Review, Truth-Out, Truth Dig, Zero Hedge, Consortium News (run by award-winning US journalist Robert Parry), Ron Paul Institute (former US Congressman) and Paul Craig Roberts (former Cabinet member under President Reagan), to name only a few off of PropOrNot’s massive list of alleged ‘Russian propaganda collaborators.’
This is basically an amateur attempt to reverse engineer a virtual conspiracy – spuriously connecting 200 popular alternative websites – with a theoretical Russian plot.
It should be a cause for concern that The Washington Post is now promoting a ‘Blacklist’ in the spirit of Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare.
Michael Krieger, editor of Liberty BlitzKrieg, one the sites on PropOrNot’s “List” sums up the fundamental flaw in both Timberg and ProOrNot’s insular Washington DC-centric mainstream bubble thinking:
“What’s particularly interesting about this list, isn’t the fact that a bunch of anonymous whiners decided to demonize successful critics of insane, inhumane and ethically indefensible U.S. government policy, but rather the fact that the Washington Post decided to craft an entire article around such a laughably ridiculous list. This just further proves a point that is rapidly becoming common knowledge amongst U.S. citizens with more than a couple of brain cells to rub together. The mainstream media is the real “fake news.”
Krieger adds: “Unfortunately, this is apparently all we know so far about this shadowy organization, which is simply hilarious considering the group deems any alternative news source that does not agree with the U.S. government narrative to be either outright Russian propaganda, or “useful idiots.”
Krieger makes an indisputable point though, and one that’s also been made by numerous qualified pundits: by far the most prolific purveyor of real fake news and propaganda, especially over the last 30 years – is undoubtedly the US and UK media, and as we can all see – they haven’t slowed down.
The issue of confirmation bias in western media is chronic, but it’s also an institutional problem when you consider that many of these mainstream writers are submerged under their own layer of Western-generated American or British propaganda. As a result, they might be completely oblivious of the fact that John Kerry has been caught lying to the world at the UN about what Russia supposedly did in the Ukraine, Crimea, and Syria, or they might have missed UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s antics at the UN – an embarrassment to the US in front of a world audience, or Admiral John Kirby’s epic meltdown last week after he couldn’t defend his own lies to an RT reporter at the US State Department press briefing. On Syria in particular, US politicians have lied so much and so often, that most serious people around the world do not believe a word that comes out of this Administration’s mouth – and American and European bloggers most certainly have a right to point this out – not because it pleases Putin – but because they are disgusted with their own government’s poor (and highly illegal) conduct on the world stage, especially at this moment in Syria and Yemen. Evidently, none of this factors into the reports by Timberg and “PropOrNot.”
Maybe they didn’t get the memo either, about the fact that Assad did not “gas his own people” in East Ghouta in August 2013, or any other time that can be proven by his accusers.
Many in the US media are simply living inside of their own self-generated, self-reverential propaganda bubble.
Even more incredibly, PropOrNot then implores its visitors to only visit and get information from US government-funded news sources like NPR, state-owned media like the BBC, Murdoch-owned and financed outlets like the Wall Street Journal and VICE News, and corporate establishment media sources:
“We call on the American public to: Obtain news from actual reporters, who report to an editor and are professionally accountable for mistakes. We suggest NPR, the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, VICE, etc, and especially your local papers and local TV news channels. Support them by subscribing, if you can!”
It’s pretty incredible to see The Washington Post basing a case on an anonymous website – one which is conducting a virtual witch hunt, clearly with malicious intent (to smear some 200 websites), as a primary journalistic source.
At this point, everyone should question the political motives of Washington Post staff writer Craig Timberg. It’s beyond outrageous even by today’s decrepit standards.
Judging by the looks of it, PropOrNot itself is a pretty good example of pure black propaganda.
Who is behind Timberg’s ‘source’ PropOrNot? Is it Timberg himself? Is it run by staff at The Washington Post? As it’s so secretive, you can’t rule that possibility out.
In true NeoMcCarthyite form, PropOrNot has also issued “The List” – a guide to alternative media websites which it accuses of “echo Russian propaganda.” As of today, amazingly, 21st Century Wire.com is not included on their virtual book burning list (but its likely to be after they read this article).
Strangely, there is no mention at all by Timberg about a report by BuzzFeed News which identified the primary source of the actual ‘fake news’ flooding Facebook – more than 150 pro-Trump websites being run from a single town, by a cohort of savvy teenagers in Veles, Macedonia – which is not Russia. Granted, Buzzfeed and The Guardian are both establishment media that sometimes produce their own propaganda. However, unless Timberg can refute either the Buzzfeed or The Guardian reports on this subject, or somehow tie his suspected battery of ‘Kremlin controlled’ hackers to Veles, then this entire unified conspiracy theory in D.O.A.
According to these investigations, the Veles crew are not ideologically motivated, but rather, driven by that old classic – money. They are raking it in with standard Google Ad Sense and other online traffic CPM advertising unit revenue, with incomes ranging from $5,000 to as high as $30,000 per month. They’re not doing it for Mother Russia, but rather for Benjamin Franklin.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for PropOrNot, on their front page they posted this:
“UPDATE: We are publishing our Black Friday Report, adding FAQ entries, updating The List, and more! Please see our latest post for more information. Also, for a sense of what certain kinds of Russian trolls look and sound like in real life, check out this Samantha Bee segment, which cleverly interviews Russian social-media and comment-section propagandists:”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OauLuWXD_RI [PropOrNot links to the Samantha Bee Show]
Aside from the fact that this secret Washington Post source would rely on the Samantha Bee Show for anything, the geniuses at PropOrNot seem to have missed the fact that the alleged Russian Trolls were acting for money – they convinced Bee they were a “the real deal” when she approached them via Twitter, where the hoaxer and his female associate were paid $10,000 for appearing on Bee’s “Full Frontal” show.
Bee may have just fell short of a Pulitzer for that one.
It’s certainly possible that Macedonia’s fake news bedroom empire is being managed by someone higher up the food chain than a cadre of eastern European gamers, but based on their ubiquitous references to breaking FOX News events and nuanced political and emotive button pushing from these faux news sites – it’s on the whole much more likely that any alleged ‘Pro-Trump’ hidden hand would be more likely directing their talking points from inside of the United States.
Timberg’s fake story in The Post was then echoed by Daniel Politi at the popular liberal website The Slate, under the heading, “How Russian Propaganda Used Facebook to Spread Fake News During the Election,” in an attempt to give more credence to Timberg’s contrived thesis:
Politi says, “.. at least some of the false news that spread in the last few months of the campaign appears to have had much more serious geopolitical implications and was spread thanks to “a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign,” reports the Washington Post, which cites two recent expert reports on the issue.”
Again, “expert” claims. Just to remind readers, the first expert is an anonymous Russiaphobic website PropOrNot, while the other ‘expert’ writes for an anti-Russian blog and works for a neoconservative think tank (see Neocon below).
Less we forget, The Slate invented a fake story that went viral in October, one which was retweeted by Hillary Clinton herself. Apparently, Clinton’s campaign staff fed her planted online news story created by another on The Slate’s ‘journalists’ named Franklin Foer, complete with the comical clickbait headline, “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?”
Here’s Hillary Clinton’s tweet of The Slate’s own ‘fake news’ story:
(View image on Twitter)
Follow Hillary Clinton
It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia.
John Roberts at Forbes explains how The Slate got caught passing off actual ‘fake news’ at the height of the election, “The bottom line is that Slate screwed up by publishing this in the first place, and by adding more kooky misinformation to an already addled election season. As for Foer, he says on Twitter a “follow up” piece is in the works.”
What’s the difference between The Slate’s fake news story and the Macedonian fake Trump stories on Facebook? There is no difference, other than the fact that Hillary Clinton ended up making a fool out of herself by tweeting out – and validating to her millions of followers – a completely make-up, fake news story by The Slate.
So Craig Timberg and The Slate are guilty of doing exactly what Timberg and his deep throat ‘source’ PropOrNot are accusing Russia’s alleged clandestine Facebook and blogger network of doing – passing around and “echoing fake news.”
How these ‘journalists’ at The Washington Post and The Slate expect to be taken seriously after this is just beyond the pale.
Neocon Think Tanks and other ‘Experts’
Craig Timberg’s other supporting ‘evidence’ or opinion (it’s hard to tell the difference in the Washington Post these days) is being supplied by Clint Watts from the ubiquitously titled, Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), a Cold War era ‘think tank’ (not surprisingly, still stuck in the Cold War), no doubt with links to Washington’s intelligence establishment. If that think tank sounds familiar to any neocon fossil hunters, you’d know that FPRI is run by none other than John Lehman, one of the original signatories to the neoconservative doctrine of continuous war, Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and a foreign policy advisor to both John McCain and Mitt Romney – two virulent anti-Russian hawks. So it’s no surprise then that Timberg is referencing his ‘expert’ Watts, along with co-authors Andrew Weisburd and JM Berger, in an article from the website War On the Rocks, entitled:
“Trolling For Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”
This is coupled with a related story by Watts and Andrew Weisburd published at the very anti-Russian publication, the Daily Beast, entitled:
How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too) – “Fake news stories from Kremlin propagandists regularly become social media trends. Here’s how Moscow does it… and what it means for America’s election 2016.”
Impressive headline, if not a touch Click Bait-y. Once again, the familiar mainstream media pattern of misleading headlines inferring that the article contains actual evidence, and again, the evidence supplied by Watts is that ‘a lot of people think Russia did it,’ claiming that:
“And the evidence is compelling. A range of activities speaks to a Russian connection: the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials, hacks surrounding voter rolls and possibly election machines, Putin’s overt praise for Trump, and the curious Kremlin connections of Trump campaign operatives Paul Manafort and Carter Page.”
Very “compelling”? Essentially, the above are a series of familiar, albeit recycled, talking points that may as well have been beamed-in via John Podesta’s personal Blackberry. To Clinton supporters, those talking points sounded plausible a month ago, but even staunch Clintonites are fast abandoning the Russian conspiracy theories. For establishment supporters of Hillary Clinton, that translates as case closed. This is a perfect example of a propaganda bubble, or a self-feeding propaganda loop. Many have argued that it was this sort of delusional incestuous closed loop that inadvertently helped to get Donald Trump elected on Nov 8th.
Timberg’s source at War On the Rocks also claims that Putin has rebooted the old Soviet “Active Measures” information warfare program designed to “Undermine citizen confidence in democratic governance.” Their evidence: a 1992 document from the US Information Agency, of course, not anything from Russia itself. Again, we’ll have to accept the word of the “intelligence community,” because they talked about it back in 1992. The rest of the theory is comprised of a fill-in-the-blanks exercise plugging-in a little Alex Jones for good measure, and various other websites – into a highly creative infographic ‘proving’ the Russians are waging an ‘Active Measures on Steroid’ information warfare against the United States.
Here’s creative infographic from their website designed to stitch together Watts’s elaborate conspiracy theory:
Watts also claims that anyone in the West who supports Bashar al Assad in Syria is doing so at the behest of this ‘Russian Active Measures’ operation:
“When experts published content criticizing the Russian-supported Bashar al Assad regime, organized hordes of trolls would appear to attack the authors on Twitter and Facebook. Examining the troll social networks revealed dozens of accounts presenting themselves as attractive young women eager to talk politics with Americans, including some working in the national security sector. These “honeypot” social media accounts were linked to other accounts used by the Syrian Electronic Army hacker operation. All three elements were working together: the trolls to sow doubt, the honeypots to win trust, and the hackers (we believe) to exploit clicks on dubious links sent out by the first two.”
This is derivative theorizing that would make even Bellingcat wince. The use of the word “troll” as a generalized pejorative label is buttressed by an even more bias notion that no one in the west would ever be against regime change in Syria, unless they were convinced otherwise by attractive Russian online honeypots. This level of ‘research’ is beyond ridiculous, and yet, this is what passes for a ‘trusted source’ at the Washington Post today.
Political Bias: An Occupational Hazzard at The Washington Post
In a previous article, it’s just a little too obvious that Timberg can’t hold back his disappointment in Hillary Clinton’s defeat when you read his headline: “Could better Internet security have prevented Trump’s shocking win?“
“The election of Republican Donald Trump has stunned Silicon Valley, sparking renewed fears about how the federal government’s powerful surveillance machinery could undermine personal privacy — especially in the hands of a man with a history of threatening retaliation against those who challenge him,” claims Timberg.
The hysterical lamenting quickly turns to fear mongering:
“In Silicon Valley, many were dazed after Tuesday’s election. Some companies let their employees take the day off or wrote all-staff letters reminding their colleagues of their commitment to inclusive workplaces that protect women, immigrants and minorities. Techies, meanwhile, warned one another on Twitter to begin using privacy and encrypted tools.”
What is the difference between this politicized diatribe and the fake Macedonia posts on Facebook? There is no difference, they are doing the same thing. What is going on at The Washington Post? It looks like the organization abandoned any pretense of objective journalism.
Here you have a writer who is on staff at The Washington Post and a fellow at Stanford University’s John S. Knight School of Journalism – trying to posit a unified conspiracy theory that Russia steered the outcome of a US Presidential Election.
Timberg is just one of many examples of overtly politically bias writers in mainstream publications, specifically employed by The Washington Post, New York Times, ABC, CBS, CNN and others. Many were caught working in collusion with the Hillary Clinton campaign, like The Post’s “star reporter” Juliet Eilperin who was revealed in an email to have offered John Podesta a “heads up” about a story she was about to publish, even going so far as to provide the Clinton campaign CEO with a brief pre-publication synopsis. Here are a few more famous “journalists” and their corrupted publications guilty of colluding with the Clinton Campaign:
Not surprisingly, Timberg then goes on to call the news output of RT (Russia Today) “propaganda,” and goes on to base his value judgment on a Rand Corporation report that describes Russian media as a “propaganda efforts a ‘firehose of falsehood’ because of their speed, power and relentlessness” — a report which also claims that Russia attacked neighboring Georgia in 2008, a common western meme, when in reality it was US-backed Georgian military forces that attacked South Ossetia – an obvious point which Timberg seems to have overlooked due to his own confirmation bias. Sadly, this is par for the course with most US media pundits, most of whom do not really care what actually happened, only what Washington’s party line is on events.
His source, War on the Rocks, continues pushing their conspiracy theory, stating, “But most observers are missing the point. Russia is helping Trump’s campaign, yes, but it is not doing so solely or even necessarily with the goal of placing him in the oval office. Rather, these efforts seek to produce a divided electorate and a president with no clear mandate to govern. The ultimate objective is to diminish and tarnish American democracy.”
I think America has managed to do a pretty good job of that by itself.
Decline of the US Mainstream Media
The loss of credibility is the least of The Post’s worries though.
The reality is that in an effort to recoup dwindling revenues needed to pay for its inflated salaries and non-investigative ‘investigations,’ The Washington Post themselves have had to resort to pushing daily some of the most gratuitous ‘click bait’ stories on the web. Here’s one of many daily low-brow items, this ‘Polar Bear Eats Dog‘ story is from Tuesday Nov 22nd.
If you follow the Post’s newsfeed, you will see endless articles like the polar bear story, most of which carry a deceptive headline that does not reflect the story in the article. That’s real Click Bait, and it’s now their bread and butter.
In an age of universal corruption in Washington and rampant collusion between political elites and the US corporate media, it’s much easier to scapegoat an existential enemy for every systemic and institutional crisis affecting America. Whole industries have been spun out of this old habit: the intelligence industry, the defense industry, and the new ‘security’ industry – collectively well over a trillion-dollar per year financial concern requires a boogyman in order to justify not only its existence, but also its corporate share prices, and financial growth projections. Now, there’s a real unified conspiracy theory for you! Maybe Craig Timberg should consider looking into that conspiracy, in the tradition of the former versions of Woodward and Bernstein.
Author Jay Dyer explained the current corporate media structure in America today in his article entitled, “The Entire Mainstream Warmongering Media is Fake,” explaining, “Given the mainstream media is almost wholly owned by 6 conglomerates, we can begin to see how the coordination and control once considered a “conspiracy theory” is now made evident.
2012 Ownership Chart (Image Source: Jays Analysis)
In 1983, there were 50 and now it is roughly six, with NewsCorp owning the largest papers on three continents. That these facts sound like a “conspiracy theory” can only be presumed from a position of ignorance, especially given the full coordination and deception regarding the Trump – Clinton election of 2016, from rigged polls to Wikileaks revelations of 60-plus top media operatives directly promoting Hillary.”
Dyer adds, “If the Trump phenomena showed anything, it showed the consensus reality the mainstream media attempted to create concerning Hillary’s certain victory, as well as the consensus reality erected for decades, is not omnipotent.”
In short, the entire US corporate media seems to function with a singular hive mind, aggressively promoting one war after the another, and elevating a new geopolitical foe every few years. This can be explained in part by the defense industry’s ownership of US mainstream outlets, and the hundreds of millions of dollars these Pentagon-linked companies pour into both TV, print and online ads – none of that explains how editors, writers and producers at these outlets can sit there and still claim they are still performing their duty as part of the Fourth Estate.
As it stands, mainstream journalism is truly dead in America.
On Oct 9, 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it accurately:
“We have witnessed a fundamental change of circumstances when it comes to the aggressive Russophobia that now lies at the heart of U.S. policy towards Russia. It’s not just a rhetorical Russophobia, but aggressive steps that really hurt our national interests and pose a threat to our security.”
What Lavrov didn’t say is that it has now reached hysterical proportions in US mainstream media circles, where those who call themselves journalists are willing to present virtually anything and call it reporting, even if it’s pure hyperbole, so long as it fulfils the anti-Russian narrative.
Unfortunately, The Washington Post continues to be a big part of the problem.
Patrick Henningsen is the founder and managing editor of the independent news and media analysis website 21st Century Wire.com and host of the weekly SUNDAY WIRE radio show which broadcasts live weekly on the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). [This article originally appeared at 21st Century Wire.com]