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“Russian Talking Points” Look An Awful Lot Like Well-Documented Facts

By Caitlyn Johnstone | Rogue Journalist | May 2, 2018

Things aren’t looking great for the Democratic establishment, which recently admitted that it stacks its primaries against progressive candidates and is currently engaged in a desperate, hail Mary lawsuit against WikiLeaks for its factual publications about the party. So of course you know what that means.

That’s right! It’s time for Democratic pundits to begin down-punching Jill Stein.

“Jill Stein is on @NewDay right now repeating Russian talking points on its interference in the 2016 election and on US foreign policy,” tweeted CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto today, without shame or self-reflection.

Sciutto was referring to comments Stein made on a CNN interview today about America’s undeniable, entirely factual and well-documented history of meddling in other countries’ elections, including a citation of an ex-CIA Director’s recent admission that the US has interfered in foreign electoral processes and continues to do so to this day.

Because that’s what constitutes a “Russian talking point” these days: raw, easily verifiable facts.

Stein’s interviewer, Chris “It’s illegal to read WikiLeaks” Cuomo, echoed a similar sentiment in response to her points, in essence arguing that only Russians should be stating these blatantly obvious and extremely relevant facts.

“You know, that would be the case for Russia to make, not from the American perspective,” Cuomo said. “Of course, there’s hypocrisy involved, lots of different big state actors do lots of things that they may not want people to know about. But let Russia say that the United States did it to us, and here’s how they did it, so this is fair play. From the American perspective and you running for president, more than once of this country, shouldn’t your position have been, this was bad what they did, they’re trying to do it right now and we have to stop it?”

Right. Because you have so many Russians on your show making that case, do you Chris?

This is absolute lunacy. The implication here is that it isn’t ever okay for Americans to talk about Russia in any other context than how awful and evil its government is; that nobody can speak about how America’s behavior factors into the equation in a very real and significant way. Not because it’s not factual, not because it’s not relevant, but because it’s a “Russian talking point”, and only Russians should be saying it.

And this sentiment being promulgated by these establishment pundits is being swallowed hook, line and sinker by the rank-and-file citizenry who consume such media. Every single day, without exception, I am accused multiple times of being a propagandist for the Kremlin. Not because there’s any evidence for that, not because I’m writing anything that is untruthful, but because I’m writing “Russian talking points”, i.e. arguments that have ostensibly been made at some point by Russians.

And it is, to be perfectly honest, infuriating. These people are actively making the case for willful ignorance and stupidity. They’re actively arguing that facts which don’t support the narratives being promulgated by the CIA and the State Department should be completely excluded from all discussion within the western hemisphere, and that only Russians should be making them. They do this while simultaneously arguing that Russian media is dangerous and should be avoided by Americans. Only Russians should argue against CIA/CNN narratives, and we should never, ever listen to those arguments.

They’re arguing for the deliberate omission of relevant facts from dialogue. They are arguing that we should all be morons, on purpose.

Of course it’s relevant to the discussion that the US interferes with foreign democratic processes far more than any other government on the planet! Are you nuts? Yes, obviously if yours is the primary country responsible creating a climate wherein governments meddle in the elections of other nations, that undeniable fact must necessarily be a part of any sensible analysis of what’s happening and what should be done about it. Anyone who tries to argue that that fact shouldn’t be a part of the conversation is making an argument in favor of stupidity.

That’s not a “whataboutism”, as empire loyalists like Eric Boehlert habitually claim. It’s crucial factual information.

The environment that these pundits are creating is itself hostile to democracy. If all “talking points” are excluded from the conversation other than those which lead to continually escalating sanctions, proxy wars, nuclear posturing and brinkmanship, then there’s no way for activism or democracy to tap the brake on the west’s ongoing trajectory toward direct military confrontation with a nuclear superpower.

In her interview, Stein outlined this quite clearly:

“You know, I think that kind of position which says that we’re in a totally different category from the rest of the world is not working. This century of American domination, you know, sort of didn’t play out the way we thought it would, we’re embroiled now — we have the military in practically every country around the world. In the recent taxes that people pay, the average American paid almost $3,500 that went into the Department of Offense, I would call it, not the Department of Defense, $3,500, whereas we put $40 into the EPA.

“You know, 57 percent of our discretionary dollars now are going into the military. It’s part of a mindset that says, we’re always right and they’re always wrong and we’re going to be dominating militarily and economically. We’re in a multi-polar world right now and, you know, we need to behave as an exemplary member of the community and that is by upholding ourselves and leading the way on international law, human rights and diplomacy. That approach is really paying off on the Korean peninsula right now. I think we should be using it more broadly.”

Cuomo, who as the son of a New York Governor and brother of the current New York Governor is as much Democratic Party royalty as a Clinton, had some very interesting facial expressions in response to Stein’s arguments. Whenever an interviewee makes strong points which go against the establishment grain he always looks like he’s taking a really uncomfortable shit:

There have been far too many cartoonishly absurd responses to Stein’s interview for me to address in a single article without putting my laptop through the wall in a fit of rage, but this tweet from MSNBC and Atlantic contributor Natasha Bertrand is really something else.

“Jill Stein just told @CNN that her presence at RT gala in Moscow Dec 2015 wasn’t controversial at the time because Obama ‘was still on track for a reboot’ with Putin,” said Bertrand, adding that “Russia had already annexed Crimea, invaded eastern Ukraine, intervened in Syria for Assad, and hacked the DNC.”

This is actual, real-life “Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia” Orwellian revisionist doublethink. There was no public information about any Russian DNC hack in 2015, and the average American hardly ever thought about Russia at that time. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry personally met with Vladimir Putin in July of 2016 to discuss collaboration against terrorist forces in Syria. Only in the most warped, revisionist, funhouse mirror Orwellian reality tunnel can it be claimed that Stein visiting Moscow in December of 2015 would have been considered shady or controversial at the time.

The fact that Bertrand’s tweet was liked and shared thousands of times on Twitter is extremely creepy and disturbing. Establishment media didn’t start indoctrinating American liberals with Russia hysteria until the tail end of 2016, but it’s been so effective that MSNBC mainliners are now gaslighting themselves into a revision of their own history.

This is why people like myself fight the CIA/CNN Russia narrative so aggressively. Not because we’re propagandists, not because we’re “useful idiots”, not because of “Russian talking points”, but because the US-centralized power establishment’s nonstop campaign to manufacture support for its agendas of global hegemony are making us all stupid and crazy.

Stop playing along with this bullshit. Stop letting them make us stupid and crazy. Stop letting them manipulate us into consenting to escalations with a nuclear superpower. Stop. Turn back. Wrong way.

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Tapper-Clapper Leak Proves Media, Intelligence ‘Collaborated’ to Make Russiagate

Sputnik – May 3, 2018

Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, who landed a job at CNN in August 2017 after leaving the government, leaked information to CNN’s Jake Tapper regarding the infamous Steele dossier and its salacious allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump – then denied his actions to Congress under oath.

The leak, and the cover up, shows the “collaboration between the media and the intelligence community in building up Russiagate,” Max Blumenthal, a journalist and bestselling author, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.

​The dossier, which was first published in January by BuzzFeed, includes allegations that Russian authorities “had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for at least five years.”

In addition, the dossier states that the Kremlin “had been feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, for several years.” The document, which was created by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, also makes claims about sexual acts between Trump and Russian sex workers, among other things.

On Friday, the US House Intelligence Committee released a 253-page report stating that Clapper leaked details of the dossier to Tapper. Clapper initially declined discussing the dossier information with the journalist, but later admitted to it. The committee’s report also states that there was “no evidence” of collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

“When initially asked about leaks related to the International Committee Assessment in July 2017, former DNI Clapper flatly denied ‘discussing the dossier [compiled by Steele] or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists,'” the report reads.

The report also states that Clapper “subsequently acknowledged discussing the dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic.”

Blumenthal explained that the dossier was the catalyst for the Russiagate scandal.

“I think this should be a bigger scandal than it is,” he told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

“James Clapper — when he was the DNI — oversaw both the CIA and the FBI. There was a dossier going around in [January 2017] in Washington that everyone was talking about but hadn’t been reported on. It was the dossier produced by Christopher Steele, which is the basis for the Russia narrative. Clapper and the intelligence community wanted the dossier out there. On January 6, Clapper sends James Comey, who is then the FBI director, to brief Trump on the dossier. Meanwhile, Clapper leaks the story to Tapper. Tapper and his team at CNN report that Trump was the subject of a two-page dossier by an unnamed British agent,” Blumenthal said.

“The next thing you know, Buzzfeed releases the entire dossier. Trump calls it fake news and the whole blow-up with the press begins on January 9. Russiagate goes to a whole other level. Tapper is going on Twitter and talking about the veracity of the document. You can see the collaboration between the media and the intelligence community in building up Russiagate,” Blumenthal added.

On Monday, George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley said on “Fox & Friends” that there is a “serious issue here.”

“Clapper has already admitted that he did speak with CNN. Now, he is insisting he didn’t speak to any media until January 20, but he indicated he spoke to CNN in early January. CNN reported that high-level people had confirmed the information and if one of those individuals is Clapper, it is a serious problem. He could be accused, again, of perjury,” Turley said.

This is not the first time that Clapper has run into issues with Congress.

In 2013, he apologized for telling Congress that the National Security Agency does not collect data on Americans. He later said his statement was “clearly erroneous.”

See Also:

Clinton Team Was ‘Feeding’ Allegations to Trump’s Dossier Author – Released Memo

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Ex-DNI Clapper leaked Steele dossier info to CNN, then tried to deny it in Congress – House report

RT | April 28, 2018

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence-turned CNN pundit, first denied and then admitted to discussing the anti-Trump ‘Steele dossier’ with a CNN journalist while in office, an intelligence report reveals.

The 253-page US House Intelligence Committee report on the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections outlines Clapper’s “inconsistent testimony to the Committee about his contacts to the media, including CNN.” Pages 107-108 feature the record of how Clapper “flatly denied” discussing the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele with the media during a congressional testimony in July, but then “subsequently acknowledged discussing the dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper.”

Tapper co-authored a breaking CNN report on a briefing that US President Donald Trump received from senior intelligence officials on a Steele Dossier.

The heavily-redacted House report notes that Clapper discussed the topic with Tapper around the same time that Trump and outgoing President Barack Obama received their respective briefings on the Steele dossier. The conversation took place in “early January,” which runs counter to Clapper’s own account of events, in which he previously insisted that he had not leaked any info to the media about the infamous dossier before he left office on January, 20.

The House report also says that the CNN article served as a trigger for all the subsequent dossier-related publications, becoming a “proximate cause of BuzzFeed News’ decision to publish the dossier for the first time just a few hours later.” The report notes that the dossier had long been circulating in the intelligence community and among the media, but only following the CNN release that cited “multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings” in its report, Pandora’s box was opened.

Ironically, a day after CNN published its report, which it now turns out could have been sourced by Clapper himself, the former DNI chief publicly denounced the leaks, voicing his “profound dismay,” and saying that he does not “believe the leaks came from within the IC [ intelligence community],” the report notes.

The Steele dossier features unverified, salacious details about Trump’s stay in Moscow, sparking speculations that Russia might be in possession of compromising material, which it could use to blackmail the US president.

Topping off the Clapper-CNN controversy is the fact that soon after leaving office, he was hired by none other than CNN as its national security analyst. The timing is mentioned specifically in the House report, which says Clapper started working for CNN “shortly after his testimony to the committee.”

This is not the first time that Clapper has been caught red-handed lying to lawmakers. Last month marked five years since he told the US Select Committee on Intelligence how the National Security Agency (NSA) was not collecting the data on millions of Americans. Three months later, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden uncovered a mass surveillance program that had been run by the agency for years.

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media suspiciously quiet on US & UK-backed Saudi atrocities in Yemen

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 24, 2018

On Sunday night, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen hit a wedding party in Hajja province, killing up to 50 people. Strangely, no one in the Western media is calling for sanctions or regime change in Riyadh.

In fact, it seems they’re not that concerned at all. This is despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly accused of indiscriminate bombing in Yemen during a military campaign which has brought 8 million civilians to the brink of famine.

By early evening on Monday, BBC News was displaying not one, not two, but five stories about the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s new baby boy. At the time of checking, there was no story at all about Yemen featured on the BBC’s front page.

Cynical minds might suspect this is because the British government is party to the slaughter in Yemen through its selling of massive amounts of weapons to the Saudi government. In the BBC’s piece on the attack, hidden seven stories down on the World News page, there was no mention at all of this relationship between London and Riyadh.

The Guardian and the Independent gave more prominence to the Yemen story than the BBC, both displaying reports on the front pages of their websites – but the levels of outrage were seriously muted in comparison with the reaction to alleged attacks on civilians by the Syrian government.

Journalists in the United States seem to be suffering from the same kind of selective outrage. A CNN story on the deaths in Yemen initially did not mention the words ‘Saudi Arabia’ until the seventh paragraph. The story was later updated to include news of the death of top Houthi leader Saleh al-Sammad, while the news about the deaths of up to 50 people at the wedding was knocked down to the fourth paragraph. This strange reluctance to be harsh on Riyadh or to give the Yemen war the prominence it deserves in the media, is clearly an effort to downplay atrocities which won’t play as well in front of a Western audience. It’s harder to play the role of the outraged anchor when you have to explain that the US signed an arms deal worth $110 billion with Saudi Arabia last year – a deal which included $7 billion worth of “precision weapons” from Raytheon and Boeing.

Perhaps if the White Helmets had shown up with a video camera and accusations of chemical weapons use, the story would have gotten more traction. Alas, it appears a gentler kind of bomb was used to kill the civilian victims. Reading the Western reports on Yemen, you get the sense that it is being reported out of duty, only to be buried somewhere and forgotten about the next day.

In a joint communiqué issued following a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Britain, the UK government wrote that it welcomed Riyadh’s “continuing commitment” to ensuring that its military campaign in Yemen “is conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

It remains to be seen whether UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the British press corps will issue a tough rebuke to Saudi Arabia following the most recent atrocity. Op-ed pieces about how the Saudi regime ‘must go’ are surely in the works as we speak.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

CNN reporter inhales deadly ‘chemical weapons’ on camera: ‘Yeah that stings’

The global Fake News leader’s Arwa Damon sampled a little sarin in the course of her humanitarian propaganda piece on Syria

By Ricky Twisdale | The Duran | April 20, 2018

CNN, the world leader in hard hitting, real news (do you sense any irony?), has produced this stupendous report from a refugee camp in Northern Syria, with people it says “survived” the “chemical attack” in Douma earlier this month.

The US, Britain and France alleged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pointlessly attacked his own people in Douma with sarin nerve agent, prompting the three nations to launch air strikes on Syria on the night of April 13-14th.

CNN correspondent Arwa Damon was at the camp to interview the “survivors” – as well as sample a little sarin herself.

The report (below) shows Damon and others, handling backpacks, clothing and toys allegedly exposed to Syrian government chemical weapons.

Damon plunges her face into one backpack, reacting, “There’s definitely something that stings” after taking her first whiff of sarin.

Neither Damon nor anyone else in the video, uses gloves or any form of protection when handling the articles allegedly contaminated with deadly chemicals.

As a reminder, here are the effects of sarin exposure according to the US government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • A person’s clothing can release sarin after it has come in contact with sarin vapor, which can lead to exposure of other people.
  • Sarin is the most volatile of the nerve agentsPeople can be exposed to the vapor even if they do not come in contact with the liquid form of sarin.
  • Symptoms likely will appear within a few seconds after exposure to the vapor form of sarin
  • People may not know that they were exposed because sarin has no odor.
  • Even a small drop of sarin on the skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching where sarin touched the skin
  • People exposed to a low or moderate dose of sarin by breathing contaminated air…or touching contaminated surfaces may experience some or all of the following symptoms within seconds to hours of exposure:
    • Runny nose
    • Watery eyes
    • Small, pinpoint pupils
    • Eye pain
    • Blurred vision
    • Drooling and excessive sweating
    • Cough
    • Chest tightness
    • Rapid breathing
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain
    • Increased urination
    • Confusion
    • Drowsiness
    • Weakness
    • Headache
    • Slow or fast heart rate
    • Low or high blood pressure

Those are the symptoms of a low to moderate dose. The CDC webpage goes on to note a large dose immediately leads to convulsions and death.

There’s definitely something that stings” – yeah that about sums up the symptoms of exposure to the deadly nerve agent.

The CNN fake news report goes on to interview others in the camp, without any proof of where they in fact came from, or more importantly, the political allegiance of the alleged witnesses.

All in a day’s work for the network that now prides itself on promotion of salacious gossip, unverified atrocity claims, and warmongering hysteria.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | , | 1 Comment

‘Dictator’ Putin wins ‘fraud-tainted’ vote: Western media sticks to narrative on Russian election

RT | March 18, 2018

From Soviet comparisons to accusations of authoritarianism, mainstream coverage of Russia’s presidential election has barely changed since 2004, though mentions of the UK spy poisoning scandal did add a fresh layer of insinuation.

As Putin was thanking his supporters for a landslide victory from the stage in Red Square, Western outlets rolled out long, pre-written news stories, liberally mixing reporting and opinion.

“The vote was tainted by widespread reports of ballot-box stuffing and forced voting, but the complaints will likely do little to undermine Putin,” wrote AP’s lead report. “The Russian leader’s popularity remains high despite his suppression of dissent and reproach from the West over Russia’s increasingly aggressive stance in world affairs and alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election.”

The Washington Post called Sunday’s vote an “elaborate presidential-election-day spectacle” that sought “to legitimize the election,” which “critics described as a charade,” by boosting the turnout as “a lack of suspense or popular opposition candidates threatened to keep people home.”

Calling the election a “hollow exercise,” the New York Times reached for the most predictable of parallels.

“Gone were the Soviet days when there was just one name on the ballot and the winner habitually harvested 99 percent of the vote. The spirit was similar, however, with pictures of Mr. Putin and his campaign slogan, ‘Strong president, strong Russia,’ blanketing the country,” it wrote.

In its top report. CNN said that Putin “seeks tighter grip on power,” while also reminding its readers that “he is already the country’s longest-serving leader since the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin” (which is not actually true – that would be Leonid Brezhnev). CNN added that Putin is “banking on confrontation with international players this election.”

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia didn’t even bother with such nuances, calling Putin a straight-up “dictator,” though the article was later amended to merely describe the vote as “inevitable.”

For the Guardian, “paradoxically, the first order of business now… is for Putin to set up an escape plan.”

“Kremlin politics have become a bloodsport,” wrote Andrew Roth, the Guardian’s correspondent for Moscow. “With a shrinking economy [also untrue] and elites manoeuvring before a possible succession battle, the knives are out.”

This year, the usual analysis was also sprinkled with allegations that a Moscow agent poisoned Sergei Skripal with the toxin “Novichok, a gruesome calling card” to provoke a British response, according to the Guardian.

“A row with London can do Putin no harm, especially among voters who share his uncompromising nationalist worldview and his smouldering sense of victimhood,” an article in the Guardian said this week.

“The diplomatic crisis this poisoning case has caused may help him get more people into polling booths,” echoed Australia’s ABC.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

When Former Spies Turn into TV ‘Experts’

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.02.2018

Once upon a time in the United States there was a general perception that organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were both apolitical and high-minded, existing only to calmly and professionally promote the safety and security of the nation. Directors of both organizations often retired quietly without fanfare to compose their memoirs, but apart from that, they did not meddle in politics and maintained low profiles. There was a widespread belief at CIA that former officers should rightly retire to a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they could breed Labrador retrievers or cultivate orchids.

But the relative respectability of America’s national security agencies largely vanished in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist incidents. It was learned that both the CIA and FBI had made fatal mistakes in their investigations of the al-Qaeda group, putting in question their effectiveness, and the leaders of both organizations began to focus on pleasing their political masters. The appearance of CIA Director George Tenet at the United Nations supporting lies promoted by Secretary of State Colin Powell was a low point, but there were many more to follow.

The 2016 election brought out the worst in the CIA’s leadership, with its Director John Brennan lining up behind Hillary Clinton together with former Acting Director Michael Morell and former Director Michael Hayden. Morell even claimed that Trump was a Russian agent. Indeed, there has been remarkably little speculation regarding the possible roles of some senior intelligence officials, most notably CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, both of whom were in office during the electoral campaign. In September 2016, the two men reportedly were involved in obtaining information on Page and it has also been suggested that Brennan sought and obtained raw intelligence from British, Polish, Dutch and Estonian intelligence services, which might have motivated FBI’s James Comey to investigate the Trump associates. Brennan and Clapper, drawing on intelligence resources and connections, might have helped the FBI build a fabricated case against Trump.

Currently the senior officials who were so hostile to Donald Trump have decided against going quietly into their generously rewarded retirements. Morell has long been a paid contributing “expert” for CBS news, Hayden has had the same role at CNN, and they are are now being joined by John Brennan at NBC. Brennan, an NBC “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” is an Obama-Clinton loyalist who can be relied upon to oppose policies and actions undertaken by the Trump Administration, admittedly not a bad thing, but he will be doing so from a strictly partisan perspective. And the danger is that his tag as former CIA Director will give him a certain credibility, which, depending on the issue, might not be deserved or warranted. To be sure CIA interests will be protected, but they will be secondary to commentary from a partisan and revenge seeking John Brennan who is out to burnish his own sorry reputation. He looks perpetually angry when he is on television because he is.

Brennan has behaved predictably in his new role. In his first appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday he said that the Steele dossier did “not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was presented to President Obama…” which is a lie.  He denounced the release of the so-called “Nunes memo” by the House Intelligence Committee because it was “exceptionally partisan,” which is true, and because it exposes secrets, which it does not. Brennan is also a leader of the blame Russia movement. He has claimed without providing any evidence that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the 2016 election and he can be counted upon to be yet one more anti-Russian voice on the mainstream media.

Brennan, who was hated by much of the CIA’s rank-and-file during his tenure as director, does not have much of a reputation for truth-telling. He lied  about how the Agency under his leadership tried to spy on and disrupt the Senate’s investigation into CIA torture. He was also the driving force behind the Obama administration “kill list” of U.S. citizens selected for assassination. Concerns that Brennan will represent the Agency’s viewpoint on NBC News are largely irrelevant as the network should have instead considered his credibility and judgment before hiring him.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lifting of US Propaganda Ban Gives New Meaning to Old Song

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan discuss allegations of Russian influence in presidential elections (CNN Screenshot)
By Whitney Webb – Mint Press News – February 12, 2018

Though its ostensible purpose is to fund the US military over a one year period, the National Defense Authorization Act, better known as the NDAA, has had numerous provisions tucked into it over the years that have targeted American civil liberties. The most well-known of these include allowing the government to wiretap American citizens without a warrant and, even more disturbingly, indefinitely imprison an American citizen without charge in the name of “national security.”

One of the lesser-known provisions that have snuck their way into the NDAA over the years was a small piece of legislation tacked onto the NDAA for fiscal year 2013, signed into law in that same year by then-President Barack Obama. Named “The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012,” it completely lifted the long-existing ban on the domestic dissemination of US government-produced propaganda.

For decades, the US government had been allowed to produce and disseminate propaganda abroad in order to drum up support for its foreign wars but had been banned from distributing it domestically after the passage of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. However, the Modernization Act’s co-authors, Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA, no relation to the Smith of the 1948 act), asserted that removing the domestic ban was necessary in order to combat “al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among populations.”

Thornberry stated that removing the ban was necessary because it had tied “the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others, by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.” Yet, given that Thornberry is one of the greatest beneficiaries of weapon manufacturers’ campaign contributions, the real intent — to skeptics at least — seemed more likely related to an effort to ramp up domestic support for US military adventurism abroad following the disastrous invasions of Iraq and Libya.

Five years later, the effects of the lifting of the ban have turned what was once covert manipulation of the media by the government into a transparent “revolving door” between the media and the government. Robbie Martin — documentary filmmaker and media analyst whose documentary series,  “A Very Heavy Agenda,” explores the relationships between neoconservative think tanks and media — told MintPress, that this revolving door “has never been more clear than it is right now” as a result of the ban’s absence.

In the age of legal, weaponized propaganda directed at the American people, false narratives have become so commonplace in the mainstream and even alternative media that these falsehoods have essentially become normalized, leading to the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.”

Those who create such news, regardless of the damage it causes or the demonstrably false nature of its claims, face little to no accountability, as long as those lies are of service to US interests. Meanwhile, media outlets that provide dissenting perspectives are being silenced at an alarming rate.

The effects of lifting the ban examined

Since 2013, newsrooms across the country, of both the mainstream and “alternative” variety, have been notably skewed towards the official government narrative, with few outside a handful of independently-funded media outlets bothering to question those narratives’ veracity. While this has long been a reality for the Western media (see John Pilger’s 2011 documentary “The War You Don’t See”), the use of government-approved narratives and sources from government-funded groups have become much more overt than in years past.

From Syria to Ukraine, US-backed coups and US-driven conflicts have been painted as locally driven movements that desperately need US support in order to “help” the citizens of those countries — even though that “help” has led to the near destruction of those countries and, in the case of  Ukraine, an attempted genocide. In these cases, many of the sources were organizations funded directly by the US government or allied governments, such as the White Helmets and Aleppo Media Centre (largely funded by the US and U.K. governments) in the case of Syria, and pro-Kiev journalists with Nazi ties (including Bogdan Boutkevitch, who called for the “extermination” of Ukrainians of Russian descent on live TV) in the case of Ukraine, among other examples. Such glaring conflicts of interests are, however, rarely — if ever — disclosed when referenced in these reports.

More recently, North Korea has been painted as presenting an imminent threat to the United States. Recent reports on this “threat” have been based on classified intelligence reports that claim that North Korea can produce a new nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks, including a recent article from the New York Times. However, those same reports have admitted that this claim is purely speculative, as it is “impossible to verify until experts get beyond the limited access to North Korean facilities that ended years ago.” In other words, the article was based entirely on unverified claims from the US intelligence community that were treated as compelling.

As Martin told MintPress, many of these government-friendly narratives first began at US-funded media organizations overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) — an extension of the US state department.

Martin noted that US-funded media, like Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe (RFE), were among the first to use a State Department-influenced narrative aimed at “inflaming hostilities with Russia before it soaked into mainstream reporting.” Of course, now, this narrative — with its origins in the US State Department and US intelligence community — has come to dominate headlines in the corporate media and even some “alternative” media outlets in the wake of the 2016 US election.

This is no coincidence. As Martin noted, “after the ban was lifted, things changed drastically here in the United States,” resulting in what was tantamount to a “propaganda media coup” where the State Department, and other government agencies that had earlier shaped the narrative at the BBG, used their influence on mainstream media outlets to shape those narratives as well.

A key example of this, as Martin pointed out, was the influence of the new think-tank “The Alliance for Securing Democracy,” whose advisory council and staff are loaded with neocons, such as the National Review’s Bill Kristol, and former US intelligence and State Department officials like former CIA Director Michael Morell. The Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Russia-focused offshoot, “Hamilton 68,” is frequently cited by media outlets — mainstream and alternative — as an impartial, reliable tracker of Russian “meddling” efforts on social media.

Martin remarked that he had “never seen a think tank before have such a great influence over the media so quickly,” noting that it “would have been hard to see [such influence on reporters] without the lifting of the ban,” especially given the fact that media organizations that cite Hamilton 68 do not mention its ties to former government officials and neoconservatives.

In addition, using VOA or other BBG-funded media has become much more common than it was prior to the ban, an indication that state-crafted information originally intended for a foreign audience is now being used domestically. Martin noted that this has become particularly common at some “pseudo-alternative” media organizations — i.e., formerly independent media outlets that now enjoy corporate funding. Among these, Martin made the case that VICE News stands out.

After the propaganda ban was lifted, Martin noticed that VICE’s citations of BBG sources “spiked.” He continued:

One of the things I immediately noticed was that they [VICE news ] were so quick to call out other countries’ media outlets, but yet — in every instance I looked up of them citing BBG sources — they never mentioned where the funding came from or what it was and they would very briefly mention it [information from BBG sources] like these were any other media outlets.”

He added that, in many of these cases, journalists at VICE were unaware that references to VOA or other BBG sources appeared in their articles. This was an indication that “there is some editorial staff [at VICE News ] that is putting this in from the top down.”

Furthermore, Martin noted that, soon after the ban was lifted, “VICE’s coverage mirrored the type of coverage that BBG was doing across the world in general,” which in Martin’s view indicated “there was definitely some coordination between the State Department and VICE.” This coordination was also intimated by BBG’s overwhelmingly positive opinion of VICE in their auditing reports, in which the BBG “seemed more excited about VICE than any other media outlet” — especially since VICE was able to use BBG organizations as sources while maintaining its reputation as a “rebel” media outlet.

Martin notes that these troubling trends have been greatly enabled by the lifting of the ban. He opined that the ban was likely lifted “in case someone’s cover [in spreading government propaganda disguised as journalism] was blown,” in which case “it wouldn’t be seen as illegal.” He continued:

For example, if a CIA agent at the Washington Post is directly piping in US government propaganda or a reporter is working the US government to pipe in propaganda, it wouldn’t be seen as a violation of the law. Even though it could have happened before the ban, it’s under more legal protection now.

Under normal circumstances, failing to disclose conflicts of interests of key sources and failing to question government narratives would be considered acts of journalistic malpractice. However, in the age of legal propaganda, this dereliction matters much less. Propaganda is not intended to be factual or impartial — it is intended to serve a specific purpose, namely influencing public opinion in a way that serves US government interests. As Karl Rove, the former advisor and deputy chief of staff to George W. Bush, once said, the US “is an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” This “reality” is defined not by facts but by its service to empire.

Meanwhile, counter-narratives, however fact-based they may be, are simultaneously derided as conspiracy theories or “fake news,” especially if they question or go against government narratives.

The revolving door

Another major consequence of the ban being lifted goes a step further than merely influencing narratives. In recent years, there has been the growing trend of hiring former government officials, including former US intelligence directors and other psyops veterans, in positions once reserved for journalists. In their new capacity as talking heads on mainstream media reports, they repeat the stance of the US intelligence community to millions of Americans, with their statements and views unchallenged.

For instance, last year, CNN hired former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper, a key architect of RussiaGate, has committed perjury by lying to Congress and more recently lied about the Trump campaign being wiretapped through a FISA request. He has also made racist, Russophobic comments on national television. Now, however, he is an expert analyst for “the most trusted name in news.” CNN last year also hired Michael Hayden, who is a former Director of both the CIA and the NSA, and former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence.

CNN isn’t alone. NBC/MSNBC recently hired former CIA director John Brennan — another key architect of RussiaGate and the man who greenlighted (and lied about) CIA spying on Congress — as a contributor and “senior national security and intelligence analyst.” NBC also employs Jeremy Bash, former CIA and DoD Chief of Staff, as a national security analyst, as well as reporter Ken Dilanian, who is known for his “collaborative relationship” with the CIA.

This “revolving door” doesn’t stop there. After the BBG was restructured by the 2016 NDAA, the “board” for which the organization was named was dissolved, making BBG’s CEO — a presidential appointee — all powerful. BBG’s current CEO is John Lansing, who – prior to taking the top post at the BBG – was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), a marketing association comprised of 90 of the top US and Canadian cable companies and television programmers. Lansing’s connection to US cable news companies is just one example of how this revolving door opens both ways.

Media-government coordination out of the shadows

Such collusion between mainstream media and the US government is hardly new. It has only become more overt since the Smith-Mundt ban was lifted.

For instance, the CIA, through Operation Mockingbird, started recruiting mainstream journalists and media outlets as far back as the 1960s in order to covertly influence the American public by disguising propaganda as news. The CIA even worked with top journalism schools to change their curricula in order to produce a new generation of journalists that would better suit the US government’s interests. Yet the CIA effort to manipulate the media was born out of the longstanding view in government that influencing the American public through propaganda was not only useful, but necessary.

Indeed, Edward Bernays, the father of public relations, who also worked closely with the government in the creation and dissemination of propaganda, once wrote:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

While this was once an “invisible” phenomenon, it is quickly becoming more obvious. Now, Silicon Valley oligarchs with ties to the US government have bought mainstream and pseudo-alternative media outlets and former CIA directors are given prominent analyst positions on cable news programs. The goal is to manufacture support at home for the US’ numerous conflicts around the world, which are only likely to grow as the Pentagon takes aim at “competing states” like Russia and China in an increasingly desperate protection of American hegemony.

With the propaganda ban now a relic, the once-covert propaganda machine long used to justify war after war is now operating out in the open and out of control.

February 13, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Media’s Objectivity Questioned Abroad

By Andrew Spannaus | Consortium News | February 2, 2108

Pick up a major newspaper or watch the television news in a European country, and it’s more likely than not you’ll quickly find a reference to the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CNN in reporting about the United States. In the era of Donald Trump, this mainstream media “Triad” continues to set the agenda for many foreign news organizations following events in the U.S., providing them with a viewpoint that is promptly transmitted to their readers and viewers as the authoritative interpretation of what’s going on in America.

A funny thing is starting to happen though: well-known public figures and journalists are beginning to point out the obvious, that these important news outlets no longer look objective. Rather, it seems they see themselves as part of the “resistance” against the President.

In just the past month, this writer has heard radio hosts, political analysts and even diplomatic personnel in Italy and Switzerland couch their public remarks about Trump with the observation that the U.S. mainstream media can no longer be considered objective. This is a notable shift, because even among those who are decidedly anti-Trump, the Triad is increasingly seen as representing the voice of a certain “establishment,” a grouping that does not speak for the majority of the American people.

Across Europe, many follow U.S. politics closely, due to a mix of cultural fascination and the fact that decisions in America continue to have a major impact around the world, of course. People look to the United States as an example and an indicator of economic and social trends, whether they approve of them or not. And in terms of news, they look in particular to the newspapers “of record”, long considered to provide quality and influential reporting and opinions on both domestic and foreign affairs.

Some news organizations take this veneration for the Triad to extreme lengths. In Italy, where I live, the references to the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN are constant, often presented as key interventions likely to shift the political situation in the U.S. A new revelation in one of those outlets regarding Russiagate, for example, might be considered a game changer, bringing us closer to impeachment.

The concentration on these publications has gotten to the point that it heavily limits the perception of what’s going on in the country. In the past, this distortion was harder to detect; getting direct news meant reading a few major newspapers – often delivered late in the day – without having many points of comparison. Yet now, in the era of the internet, an American abroad can follow whatever news and events he or she wants, without suffering from a limitation on direct sources or the filters of a foreign press organization.

This new situation led me to the following realization some years ago: many foreign news outlets get much of their news from the Triad, rather than from their own direct reporting. Often I could read the Washington Post and the New York Times online, and already know what would be reported to Italians on the major evening news programs.

For journalists it is of course essential to be aware of how the news is reported in the country they are covering; but if one does only that, information becomes limited by what certain outlets report, and also by their editorial line. There appear to be two different kinds of foreign correspondents covering the United States: those who spend their time in New York or Washington and dedicate most of their attention to establishment sources and events, and those who attempt to get a fuller sense of what’s going on outside of those venues as well.

By way of example, consider the difference between a correspondent from the major television networks whose contacts are mostly other journalists and opinion leaders in the principal power centers, and a correspondent who periodically takes trips to other areas of the country.

I saw a positive example recently when a journalist from RSI (Swiss Italian Radio and Television) spent several days in the former steel town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; the opinions he gathered from residents of that area gave a different view than the more common interviews of Fifth Avenue shoppers or financial analysts in New York. Everyone’s opinion counts, of course, but if you never get out of the bubble, you tend to miss what’s going on in the rest of society.

This blindness was the dominating characteristic of the 2016 election campaign, when major media outlets around the world failed to recognize the deep currents that led to the strong support for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and ultimately carried the former to the White House. The same inability to grasp the depth of the revolt of the voters against the political and financial elites expressed by pro-establishment media outlets was almost automatically transferred abroad, due to the slavish imitation of the Triad by foreign news outlets.

The 2016 presidential election was a jolt to the system. Suddenly everyone was forced to confront the fact that almost all of the respected media and commentators had gotten it wrong, clearly failing to understand how so many could vote for a candidate considered dangerously unprepared and offensive.

Outside of the United States, people were forced to reassess whose news and opinions they could trust, leading to a period of more serious discussion of the economic and social dynamics in the United States and beyond. If half of the voters – combining the support for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and others with that for Trump – were willing to give their vote to outsiders promising deep changes in the system, then clearly things must not be going as well as the media had been saying.

Never fear, the same media outlets and commentators quickly came up with a new narrative that papered over their previous mistakes: the Russians did it. Thus, in addition to the allegedly racist and ignorant voters outside of urban areas, the fault for Hillary Clinton’s embarrassing loss was pinned on Vladimir Putin. A convenient way to forget the reasons why so many Americans rejected the political establishment.

So rather than a discussion of decades of favoring finance over the real economy, and how “free trade” policies have caused a race to the bottom, the debate focuses on the perils of protectionism, and how important it is to defend globalization. And instead of stigmatizing the disastrous policies of continuous war, we are treated to a steady stream of neocon narratives, including from the numerous representatives of the interventionist camp who have found their way into the Trump administration.

The most recent example of this phenomenon is the sudden return to essentially the same economic narrative heard before the elections. In recent weeks media outlets and experts in Europe have begun to once again sing the praises of the U.S. economy. The stock market is doing great, and unemployment is low, so boom times must be back.

The coverage seems eerily familiar to that during the end of the Obama administration, which of course many people didn’t believe. It’s easy to imagine how Americans who rejected such talk before will react if they don’t see a tangible improvement in their lives in the coming months and years. A low official unemployment rate and modest wage growth is better than the alternative, but far from sufficient to deal with structural problems such as harsh inequality, unstable employment, the lack of social welfare protections and low purchasing power.

The White House is now complicit in this narrative, of course, as Trump wants to believe, and declare, that his policies are making things better. The mainstream media’s obfuscation of the truth should be a lesson to the President, lest he find himself on the wrong end of the revolt before long.

Andrew Spannaus is a journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news and analysis to Italian institutions and businesses.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Hottest Week Of The Year – All Of Antarctica Below Freezing

By Tony Heller | Real Climate Science | January 24, 2018

This week is the hottest week of the year in Antarctica, and the entire continent is below freezing. In the map below, I have masked out all above freezing temperatures.

Climate Reanalyzer

Meanwhile, our fake news and fake science organizations tell us Antarctica is melting down, and it is bad news.

A huge part of Antarctica is melting and scientists say that’s bad news – CNN

Experts also say refugees will be forced to flee to Antarctica before 2030.

Climate change study predicts refugees fleeing into Antarctica – Telegraph

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 2 Comments

Western Arrogant Doublethink on Iran

Strategic Culture Foundation | 05.01.2018

If the shoe were on the other foot, one can imagine the absolute outcry in the Western media. If social protests were to break out in the United States or Europe, and Iranian leaders issued interfering calls in support of those protests, there would be mouth-foaming denunciations of Tehran for “mischievous meddling” in others’ sovereignty.

Yet over the past week, this is exactly what Western governments and news media have been doing in regard to public protests in Iran.

The US government has taken the lead with President Trump labelling the Iranian authorities a “brutal and corrupt regime”.

European governments have been a little more circumspect in their statements, urging the Iranian authorities to be “restrained” and to “allow peaceful protests”.

Nevertheless, European leaders are subtly shoring up the American narrative that the street demonstrations across Iran are a righteous democratic cause against an oppressive regime. That was the implication in statements made by Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron. This week, the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian cancelled an official trip to Tehran. Such moves represent an unacceptable attempt to undermine the Iranian authorities.

Images carried by American media, in particular CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post, of protesters holding up clenched fists have sought to simplify the events in Iran as a “good-citizens-versus-bad-regime” scenario. Notwithstanding that the protests have been relatively small and the grievances are mainly about economic concerns – not a rebellion against state institutions.

By contrast, Russia called on foreign states to back off making prejudiced comments on the Iranian disturbances. Moscow said the events in Iran were an internal political matter for Iranians to resolve without foreign countries interfering.

The irony of Western doublethink is rich. Over the past year, there has been a recurring theme among Western governments and media of “foreign interference” allegedly in their political affairs. Russia has been the focus of these allegations, even though there is no evidence to support such claims. The ever-so pious Western governments and media have no such reservations about “foreign meddling” when it comes to their brazen rush to pile into Iran’s internal politics as shown this week. Or in the forthcoming Russian presidential elections.

Western interference is not just limited to pejorative statements on Iran’s protests. The US State Department has openly admitted that it is communicating via social media with anti-government protesters. This active involvement by Washington is a repeat of similar outside agitation during the so-called Green Movement disturbances in Iran back in 2009. As mentioned above, one can imagine the hue and cry in Western capitals if Iran, or Russia, or some other foreign state, was agitating anti-austerity demonstrations in Washington, London and Paris.

Iranian authorities have sound reason to suspect that Western interference may be even more sinister. The protests – while largely peaceful – have included what appears to be an organized violent element. At least one police officer was reportedly shot dead and police stations have come under armed attack. The rapid escalation of violence and burning of public property suggest a subversive agenda. Comparisons have been made to the way protests in Syria in 2011 were exploited by Western powers for an agenda of regime change which led to all-out war in that country.

For now, the demonstrations in over a dozen cities across Iran appear to have subsided. They have been replaced by much larger public rallies in support of the government and President Hassan Rouhani, as well as the country’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The economic grievances that sparked the initial protests last week are real enough. Iranians are reportedly enduring hard economic times with soaring inflation of basic living costs and high unemployment among the youth population. But this is a political challenge for the Iranian government to overcome in response to their nation’s grievances.

Ironically, however, it illustrates another aspect of Western doublethink. Western media have reported – with upside-down logic – that President Rouhani “has failed to deliver on economic improvements”. But that “failure” is largely due to the US and Europe not fully implementing the nuclear accord signed with Iran in July 2015, which was also signed by Russia and China and who are abiding by the treaty. That internationally binding accord obliges the end to decades of Western-imposed economic sanctions on Iran.

While the Europeans have begun normalizing economic relations with Iran, not so the Trump administration. Washington has in fact increased the financial blockade under the tendentious pretext of Iran’s alleged “support for terrorism”. Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip up the 2015 nuclear accord. Washington has also intimidated European states, companies and banks from engaging fully with Iran.

The European Union needs to show more backbone towards the US and tell Washington that the nuclear accord is a legal mandate to lift economic sanctions off Iran. Iran’s economic problems are directly related to the bad faith that Western states are showing with regard to the UN-approved nuclear deal. Washington’s policy towards Iran is a continuation of decades of US-led aggression towards the Islamic Republic ever since its 1979 revolution against the American-backed stooge regime of Shah Pahlavi.

The readiness shown by the US and Europe to interfere in Iran’s internal problems is nothing but arrogant doublethink. Get over it.

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

Russia-gate’s Litany of Corrections

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 11, 2017

The U.S. mainstream media’s year-long hysteria over Russia’s alleged role in the election of Donald Trump has obliterated normal reporting standards leading to a rash of journalistic embarrassments that have both disgraced the profession and energized Trump’s backers over new grievances about the MSM’s “fake news.”

Misguided groupthink is always a danger when key elements of the Washington establishment and the major news media share the same belief – whether that is Iraq’s supposed possession of WMD or the need to bring down some foreign or domestic leader unpopular with the elites.

Yet, we have rarely witnessed such a cascading collapse of journalistic principles as has occurred around the Russia-gate “scandal.” It is hard to keep track of all the corrections or to take note of all the dead ends that the investigation keeps finding.

But anyone who dares note the errors, the inconsistencies or the illogical claims is either dismissed as a “Kremlin stooge” or a “Trump enabler.” The national Democrats and the mainstream media seem determined to keep hurtling down the Russia-gate roadway assuming that the evidentiary barriers ahead will magically disappear at some point and the path to Trump’s impeachment will be clear.

On Friday, the rush to finally prove the Russia-gate narrative led CNN — and then CBS News and MSNBC — to trumpet an email supposedly sent from someone named Michael J. Erickson on Sept. 4, 2016, to Donald Trump Jr. that involved WikiLeaks offering the Trump campaign pre-publication access to purloined Democratic National Committee emails that WikiLeaks published on Sept. 13, nine days later.

With CNN finally tying together the CIA’s unproven claim that WikiLeaks collaborates with Russia and the equally unproven claim that Russian intelligence “hacked” the Democratic emails, CNN drew the noose more tightly around the Trump campaign for “colluding” with Russia.

After having congressional reporter Manu Raju lay out the supposed facts of the scoop, CNN turned to a panel of legal experts to pontificate about the crimes that the Trump campaign may have committed now that the “evidence” proving Russia-gate was finally coming together.

Not surprisingly the arrival of this long-awaited “proof” of Russian “collusion” exploded across social media. As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald noted in an article critical of the media’s performance, some Russia-gate enthusiasts heralded the CNN revelation with graphics of cannons booming and nukes exploding.

The problem, however, was that CNN and other news outlets that jumped on the story misreported the date of the email; it was Sept. 14, 2016, i.e., the day after WikiLeaks released the batch of DNC emails, not Sept. 4. In other words, it appeared that “Erickson” – whoever he was – was simply alerting the Trump campaign to the WikiLeaks disclosure.

CNN later issued a quiet correction to its inflammatory report – and not surprisingly people close to Trump cited the false claim as yet another example of “fake news” being spread by the mainstream media, which has put itself at the forefront of the anti-Trump Resistance over the past year.

But this sloppy journalism – compounded by CNN’s rush to put the “Sept. 4 email” in some criminal context and with CBS and MSNBC panting close behind – was not a stand-alone screw-up. A week earlier, ABC News made a similar mistake in claiming that candidate Donald Trump instructed Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the campaign, when Trump actually made the request after the election when Flynn was national security adviser-designate, a thoroughly normal move for a President-elect to make. That botched story led ABC News to suspend veteran investigative reporter Brian Ross.

Another inaccurate report from Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets – that Russia-gate special prosecutor Robert Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records of President Trump and his family – was denied by Trump’s lawyer and later led to more corrections. The error apparently was that the bank records were not those of Trump and his family but possibly other associates.

A Pattern of Bias

But it wasn’t just a bad week for American mainstream journalism. The string of errors followed a pattern of earlier false and misleading reporting and other violations of journalistic standards, a sorry record that has been the hallmark of the Russia-gate “scandal.” Many stories have stirred national outrage toward nuclear-armed Russia before petering out as either false or wildly exaggerated. [See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’sRussia-gate Jumps the Shark.”]

As Greenwald noted, “So numerous are the false stories about Russia and Trump over the last year that I literally cannot list them all.”

The phenomenon began in the weeks after Trump’s shocking victory over Hillary Clinton as Democrats and the mainstream media looked for people to blame for the defeat of their much-preferred candidate.

So, on Thanksgiving Day, just weeks after the election, The Washington Post published a front-page story based on an anonymous group called PropOrNot accusing 200 Web sites of acting as propaganda agents for Russia. The list included some of the Internet’s leading independent news sources, including Consortiumnews, but the Post did not bother to contact the slandered Web sites nor to dissect the dubious methodology of the unnamed accusers.

Apparently, the “crime” of the Web sites was to show skepticism toward the State Department’s claims about Syria and Ukraine. In conflating a few isolated cases of “fake news” in which people fabricated stories for political or profitable ends with serious dissent regarding the demonizing of Russia and its allies, the Post was laying down a marker that failure to get in line behind the U.S. government’s propaganda on these and other topics would get you labeled a “Kremlin tool.”

As the Russia-gate hysteria built in the run-up to Trump’s inauguration during the final weeks of the Obama administration, the Post also jumped on a claim from the Department of Homeland Security that Russian hackers had penetrated into the nation’s electrical grid through Vermont’s Burlington Electric.

As journalist Gareth Porter noted, “The Post failed to follow the most basic rule of journalism, relying on its DHS source instead of checking with the Burlington Electric Department first. The result was the Post’s sensational Dec. 30 story under the headline ‘Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.’ …

“The electric company quickly issued a firm denial that the computer in question was connected to the power grid. The Post was forced to retract, in effect, its claim that the electricity grid had been hacked by the Russians. But it stuck by its story that the utility had been the victim of a Russian hack for another three days before admitting that no such evidence of a hack existed.”

The Original Sin

In other cases, major news outlets, such as The New York Times, reported dubious Russia-gate claims from U.S. intelligence agencies as flat fact, rather than unproven allegations that remain in serious dispute. The Times and others reported Russian “hacking” of Democratic emails as true even though WikiLeaks denied getting the material from the Russians and the Russians denied providing it.

For months into 2017, in dismissing or ignoring those denials, the U.S. mainstream media reported routinely that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred in the conclusion that Russia was behind the disclosure of Democratic emails as part of a plot initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to help elect Trump. Anyone who dared question this supposed collective judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies risked being called a “conspiracy theorist” or worse.

But the “consensus” claim was never true. Such a consensus judgment would have called for a comprehensive National Intelligence Estimate, which was never commissioned on the Russian “hacking” issue. Instead there was something called an “Intelligence Community Assessment” on Jan. 6 that – according to testimony by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in May 2017 – was put together by “hand-picked” analysts from only three agencies: the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.

Even after Clapper’s testimony, the “consensus” canard continued to circulate. For instance, in The New York Times’ White House Memo of June 25, correspondent Maggie Haberman mocked Trump for “still refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”

Finally, the Times ran a correction appended to that article. The Associated Press ran a similar “clarification” applied to some of its fallacious reporting which used the “17-intelligence-agencies” meme.

After the correction, however, the Times simply shifted to other deceptive wording to continue suggesting that U.S. intelligence agencies were in accord on Russian “hacking.” Other times, the Times just asserted the claim of Russian email hacking as flat fact. All of this was quite unprofessional, since the Jan. 6 “assessment” itself stated that it was not asserting Russian “hacking” as fact, explaining: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

Even worse than the Times, the “fact-checking” site Politifact, which is part of Google’s First Draft Coalition for deciding what the search engine’s algorithms will promote as true and what information will be disappeared as false, simply decided to tough it out and continued insisting that the false “consensus” claim was true.

When actual experts, such as former National Security Agency technical director William Binney, sought to apply scientific analysis to the core claim about Russian “hacking,” they reached the unpopular conclusion that the one known download speed of a supposed “hack” was not possible over the Internet but closely matched what would occur via a USB download, i.e., from someone with direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s computers using a thumb drive. In other words, the emails more likely came from a DNC insider, not an external “hack” from the Russians or anyone else.

You might have thought that the U.S. news media would have welcomed Binney’s discovery. However, instead he was either ignored or mocked as a “conspiracy theorist.” The near-religious belief in the certainty of the Russian “hack” was not to be mocked or doubted.

‘Hand-picked’ Trouble

In recent days, former DNI Clapper’s reference to “hand-picked” analysts for the Jan. 6 report has also taken on a more troubling odor, since questions have been raised about the objectivity of the Russia-gate investigators and — as any intelligence expert will tell you — if you “hand-pick” analysts known for their personal biases, you are hand-picking the conclusion, a process that became known during the Reagan administration as “politicizing intelligence.”

Though little is known about exactly who was “hand-picked” by President Obama’s intelligence chiefs to assess the Russian “hacking” suspicions, Russia-gate special prosecutor Robert Mueller has been forced to reassign Peter Strzok, one of the top FBI investigators who worked on both the Hillary Clinton email-server case and the Trump-Russia inquiry, after it was discovered that he exchanged anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages with a lawyer who also works at the FBI.

Last week, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sought answers from new FBI Director Christopher Wren about Strzok’s role in clearing Hillary Clinton of criminal wrongdoing in her use of a private unsecured email server to handle official State Department communications while Secretary of State. They also wanted to know what role in the Russia-gate probe was played by a Democratic-funded “opposition research” report from ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, which included unverified hearsay claims by unnamed Russians about Trump.

Wren avoided direct answers by citing an ongoing Inspector General’s review and Mueller’s criminal investigation, but Republicans expressed displeasure at this evasiveness.

The Republican questions prompted E.J. Dionne Jr., a liberal columnist at The Washington Post, to publish a spirited attack on the GOP committee members, accusing them of McCarthyistic tactics in questioning the FBI’s integrity.

Dionne’s straw man was to postulate that Republicans – because of this discovery of anti-Trump bias – would discount evidence that proves Trump’s collusion with Russia: “if Strzok played some role in developing [the] material. … Trump’s allies want us to say: Too bad the president lied or broke the law or that Russia tried to tilt our election. This FBI guy sending anti-Trump texts is far more important, so let’s just forget the whole thing. Really?”

But the point is that no such evidence of Russian collusion has been presented and to speculate how people might react if such evidence is discovered is itself McCarthyistic, suggesting guilt based on hypotheticals, not proof. Whatever one thinks of Trump, it is troubling for Dionne or anyone to imply treasonous activities based on speculation. That is the sort of journalistic malfeasance that has contributed to the string of professional abuses that pervades Russia-gate.

What we are witnessing is such an intense desire by mainstream journalists to get credit for helping oust Trump from office that they have forgotten that journalism’s deal with the public should be to treat everyone fairly, even if you personally disdain the subject of your reporting.

Journalists are always going to get criticized when they dig up information that puts some politician or public figure in a negative light, but that’s why it’s especially important for journalists to strive for genuine fairness and not act as if journalism is just another cover for partisan hatchetmen.

The loss of faith among large swaths of Americans in the professionalism of journalists will ultimately do severe harm to the democratic process by transforming information into just one more ideological weapon. Some would say that the damage has already been done.

It was, if you recall, the U.S. mainstream media that started the controversy over “fake news,” expanding the concept from the few low-lifes who make up stories for fun and profit into a smear against anyone who expressed skepticism toward State Department narratives on foreign conflicts. That was the point of The Washington Post’s PropOrNot story.

But now many of these same mainstream outlets are livid when Trump and his backers throw the same “fake news” epithet back at the major media. The sad truth is that The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and other leading news organizations that have let their hatred of Trump blind them from their professional responsibilities have made Trump’s job easy.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

December 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment