Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

‘I want blood’: Rachel Maddow’s audience fired up by NYT story baselessly accusing ‘Russian hackers’ of attacking US hospital

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | November 30, 2020

Accusing Russia of hacking anything from the 2016 election to US cancer hospitals may be fun and games for MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, but when her audience responds by demanding apocalypse, the shtick stops being funny.

Maddow’s conspiracy theories about ‘Russian collusion’ and supposed hacking of the 2016 election that resulted in President Donald Trump have been a staple of MSNBC audiences over the past four years. She’s not giving up that routine now, even as the entire mainstream media machine has turned on a dime and insists that the 2020 election was flawless – since it resulted in Democrat Joe Biden’s victory, that is.

On Monday, Maddow cherry-picked a couple of quotes and linked a New York Times story – published last week – about ‘Russian’ hackers allegedly targeting the University of Vermont Medical Center last month.

The Times story is long on feelings and emotions of the medical personnel and cancer patients affected by the fact that the UVMC computers stopped working, but short on actual facts about the case. It works in a jab at President Donald Trump for firing head of the cybersecurity agency Chris Krebs – for disputing “baseless claims of voter fraud,” of course – even though that happened long after the alleged attack.

The story also notes that the FBI has requested the center administrators to refrain from commenting on the case – even to confirm or deny their own statements about alleged ransom requests. Absent the facts, the Times is happy to fill in the blanks by citing a private cybersecurity company, Hold Security.

Hold Security and its chief executive Alex Holden are the sole source for the claim that ‘Russian’ hackers were behind the alleged cyberattack on UVMC and other US hospitals – at least according to the Times, as well as the media coverage of the FBI’s warning in late October that Maddow referenced.

The whole thing sounds much like the debunked Times story about Russia allegedly paying “bounties” to the Taliban for killing US troops in Afghanistan, a June bombshell that was used to hammer Trump and oppose his efforts to end the endless US war there.

Even the Pentagon’s own denials didn’t make a difference; Maddow and her colleagues were “all in” on the bounties story being true. So was her audience, as evidenced by some of the replies to her tweet.

While much of the replies were in the same vein, there were some that crossed the line from partisanship into genocidal – and apocalyptic – calls for blood.

“Russia needs to finally be handled. They need to be knocked back into the stone age,” said one follower.

“I did not hate the leaders of the old Soviet Union as much as I hate the leaders of Russia right now. I want them to experience monumental, historic, unprecedented, apocalyptic pain for what they have done to us. I want blood,” said another.

Earlier this year, MSNBC’s lawyers defended Maddow against a defamation lawsuit by One America News (OANN) – whom she called “literally Russian propaganda” – by arguing her show isn’t news but opinion, and that her statement was “rhetorical hyperbole” that no reasonable person would understand as fact.

While that admission got Maddow and MSNBC off the legal hook, it raises the question of how many of her followers and their audience qualify as “reasonable” people – as the comments on her tweet about the Times story show anew.

No one, Maddow included, should be held legally liable for the content of their replies, obviously. It’s something beyond their control. But when a steady diet of propaganda, ‘insinuendo’ and conspiracy theories presented as facts creates an atmosphere that results in this sort of bloodthirst that’s on display, it doesn’t inspire confidence in her audience’s mental state.

Keep in mind that the politicians Maddow supports may soon end up with absolute power, if Trump’s claims about election fraud are really as “baseless” as the media claim. Also, don’t forget that the US and Russia have enough nuclear weapons between themselves to destroy all life on the planet. And that’s something people so obsessed with their feelings to be calling for “monumental, historic, unprecedented, apocalyptic pain” clearly haven’t given any thought.

December 1, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

CNN & Fox cut Rand Paul’s anti-war speech at RNC as he calls out Biden for backing wars in M. East, Serbia

RT | August 26, 2020

Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Kentucky) speech at the Republican National Convention was butchered by major cable networks, with CNN cutting it completely and Fox replacing the anti-war part with an interview.

Senator Paul, who frequently crossed swords with Donald Trump when both were vying to become the Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 race, admitted during his speech that he did not always agree with the president, but said that Trump’s desire to put an end to the “endless wars” far outweighs their differences.

“I’m supporting President Trump because he believes as I do, that a strong America cannot fight endless wars, we must not leave our blood and treasure in the Middle East quagmire,” Paul said.

Calling Trump “the first president in a generation to seek to end war rather than to start one,” Paul went on to attack what he called the “disastrous record of Joe Biden,” pointing out that as a senator, Biden voted to give then-President George W. Bush the authority to use force in Iraq.

“I fear Biden will choose war again. He supported the war in Serbia, Syria, Libya. Joe Biden will continue to spill our blood and treasure.”

Paul’s anti-war message, however, did not reach CNN viewers, with the cable network instead airing an interview with CNN political contributor and host Van Jones.

Fox News, which snubbed most of the first night of the convention, opting for its usual programming instead, replaced parts of Paul’s speech with host Tucker Carlson interviewing Donald Trump Jr. live on air.

MSNBC also interspersed Paul’s speech with insights from host Rachel Maddow, who attempted to fact-check Paul on his claim that Trump was “bringing our heroes home.”

Maddow claimed that the total number of personnel deployed overseas has even grown under Trump’s watch, although Paul appeared to refer primarily to deployments in hot spots in the conflict-ridden Middle East.

After he became the Democratic presidential candidate, Biden called his Iraq vote in October 2002 a “mistake,” arguing that by siding with the hawks, he wanted, not to launch a war, but rather “to prevent the war from happening.” Biden insists that, by untying Bush’s hands, he believed the administration would have been able to put more pressure on the UN Security Council and late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Despite being a strong advocate for the US bombing campaign in Yugoslavia in 1999, Biden also extended his condolences to the victims of the raids while visiting Belgrade, Serbia in August 2016.

August 26, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 3 Comments

Linguist Refutes MSNBC Host Maddow’s Defense in ‘Russian Propaganda’ Defamation Suit

Sputnik – December 4, 2019

A Santa Barbara linguist may have just dealt the coup de grace to MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow’s legal defense in a suit brought against her by One America News (OAN) alleging defamation when she claimed the network “really literally is paid Russian propaganda.”

Maddow did not use any typical opinion-markers when she stated that OAN ‘really literally is paid Russian propaganda,’” Amnon Siegel, a lawyer for OAN owner Herring Networks, wrote in response to a motion to throw out the suit made by Maddow’s lawyers in late October.

Siegel retained UC Santa Barbara linguistics professor Stefan Thomas Gries, one of the most widely cited cognitive linguists in the world, as an expert witness for the legal filing, reported the Times of San Diego, which broke the story Monday.Noting that Maddow consistently uses markers such as “I mean” and “I guess,” as well as changes in intonation to distinguish her opinions from facts, Gries said in the filing that “there are virtually no lexical, grammatical, or intonational characteristics” that would lead viewers to conclude her statement was an opinion.

“In a highly-structured and transparent way, Maddow separates informational/factual reporting and opinion in a way that marks it as factual,” he noted. “It is very unlikely that an average or reasonable/ordinary viewer would consider the sentence in question to be a statement of opinion.”

“She is a graduate of Stanford and Oxford Universities and a Rhodes Scholar,” Siegel said of Maddow. Noting that misusing the word “literally” isn’t in the reporter’s repertoire, Siegel pointed out that ”on the show, Maddow regularly uses ‘literally’ in its primary meaning,” providing several supporting examples.According to the Times, Siegel supplied Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definitions of “really” and “literally” as supporting evidence in his filing, alongside nearly three dozen references to state and federal courts citations and statutes.

In the segment in question, which aired on July 22, 2019, the MSNBC host blasted OAN for employing Kristian Brunovich Rouz, a former contributor to Sputnik News and a perennial favorite target for Maddow’s Russiagate crusade. Herring lawyers brought the $10 million suit in September.

Maddow lawyer Theodore J. “Ted” Boutrous Jr. has tried to parry the accusations by claiming his client’s use of the word “literally” was “a quintessential statement ‘of rhetorical hyperbole, incapable of being proved true or false.’”

Herring President Charles Herring also said in a declaration attached to Siegel’s response that the network was unaware of Rouz’s prior employment at Sputnik and that “neither Maddow nor anyone from Comcast Corporation, NBCUniversal Media, LLC, or MNSBC Cable LLC [sic]” had sought out answers from his company or OAN before airing the segment in question.

“Neither OAN nor Herring Networks has ever received money from Russia or the Russian government, and none of OAN’s content is influenced by Russians or the Russian government,” Herring said. “In fact, Herring Networks is exclusively financed by the Herring Family and has never received outside investment.”

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The Hunt for Konstantin Kilimnik

By Deena Stryker – New Eastern Outlook – 24.02.2019

Since 2014, the US has been accusing Russia of having ‘invaded’ Ukraine. Yet the latest story being repeated by the news media transforms an interesting proposal by a Ukrainian national to bring peace to that country into a devious attempt to have sanctions on Russia removed!

It was months ago that Rachel Maddow first mentioned the name of Konstantin Kilimnik, without mentioning why, specifically, that he had a plan to bring back Ukraine’s ousted President Yanukovich to head the Donbas. Merely quoting Kilimnik as saying ‘This is about my country’ Maddow implied he was a Russian, in what was to become a long series of misinterpretations and obfuscations.

A youngish Ukrainian who worked for Paul Manafort’s PR firm, Konstantin Kilimnik figured the Russian-speaking Donbas’s refusal to recognize the Kiev government could be ended by installing the country’s former pro-Russian President, whom the US deposed, in the breakaway province, the Minsk Agreements (I and II) laboriously crafted by the West having failed to heal the rift.

If he were an American, Kilimnik would be referred to as a patriot, but instead his only moniker is ‘having ties to the GRU’, that is being assumed because of the fact that he received language training in Russia’s Military University of the Ministry of Defense. Having become proficient in English, Kilimnik got a job working with the American Paul Manafort, who was trying to teach that President, Viktor Yanukovich to become a public figure. When, in 2014, Hillary Clinton, as Obama’s Secretary of State replaced Yanukovich with a government that relies on virulent anti-Russian fascist militias (among other things, they burned 200 opponents live), the Russian-speaking Donbas refused to recognize the new government and President Putin looked the other way when ‘volunteers’ crossed the border to help them repulse Kiev’s attacks.

(This policy is consistently referred to by the US media as Russia ‘invading’ Ukraine, hence US sanctions…). When Donald Trump ran for President, Kilimnik’s boss, Manafort, became the head of his campaign, and managed to scotch a Republican Party plan to deliver arms to Kiev for use against the Donbas.)

While the press endlessly details accusations against Manafort (known as a high-flyer wearing exotic clothes), it never mentions his protege’s goal: to secure American backing for a plan that would bring peace to Ukraine. Recently, for the first time, the BBC’s Katy Kay mentioned that plan on MSNBC. But without spelling it out, she allowed her colleagues to remark that it could result in the sanctions the US imposed on Russia being lifted. The US is not interested in bringing peace to Ukraine after five years of strife, but only in pursuing its goal of replacing Vladimir Putin with a more compliant Russian President, among other things, via sanctions for its ‘behavior’ vis a vis Ukraine.

When President Trump rightly points out that the majority Russian-speaking population of Crimea voted by 90% to rejoin Russia in a referendum, the media comments that he knows nothing about foreign affairs. Five years after the events, the American public is unlikely to remember — if it ever knew — that 90% of Crimeans are Russian. Not one in a hundred thousand knows that Catherine the Great wrested Crimea from the Ottoman Turks in the eighteenth century, building a big naval base in Sebastopol to give Russia a warm water port. (In the US it would be an impeachable offense if the president were to allow a hostile government to lay its hands on such a crucial asset.)

The latest chapter in the federal case against Manafort involves the ‘revelation’ that he met with Kilimnik in a New York bar during the campaign, providing him with polling data about the up-coming election, Trump having probably indicated to Russians in or around the government that he would be open to relaxing the sanctions imposed by Obama.

The laudable desire to bring peace to Ukraine has been turned into a crime in order to prove that Trump is appeasing Russia — either in return for money-laundering facilities or a future tower in Moscow. Washington cares not a whit that Ukraine — whose Western aspirations it supposedly backs — will continue in a state of low-level civil war for the foreseeable future.

P.S. Just in: Ukraine’s US installed president Petro Poroshenko just had an article added to the constitution stating that it is the duty of the government to ensure that Ukraine simultaneously enters the EU and NATO, so that NATO can not only camp on Russia’s European border, but in neighboring Ukraine as well.

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Pundits Worry Threat of Nuclear War Is Being Reduced

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | June 14, 2018

Media outlets don’t want America to negotiate with North Korea; they want the US to hold  North Korea for ransom.

MSNBC: Trump & Kim Now Meeting With Staff

MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow (6/12/18) appears dismayed by the manifestation of a US president meeting with an Official Enemy.

On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the host was aghast (6/12/18) that the US says it will halt the annual war games it conducts with South Korea on North Korea’s doorstep, because doing so is “an absolute jackpot for the North Korean dictator,” “one of the things he wants most on earth,” and now Washington “has just given them that for free, for nothing.”

Maddow implied that Trump has taken this step out of fealty to Russia, and complained that pausing war games that threaten North Korea benefits Russia and China. She twice called the Kim/Trump summit a “wedding,” twice said that the two leaders “love” each other, and referred to Kim as Trump’s “best friend.” In other words, de-escalation is for wimps, and what’s needed is toughness, even if it risks nuclear war.

Not once did Maddow demonstrate the slightest concern with avoiding war. The message of her segment is that the US should subject all 25 million people in North Korea to the threat of nuclear annihilation until its leaders do what the US says, a threat that necessarily extends to the rest of East Asia, since it would be decimated in any nuclear exchange, to say nothing of the likely devastating effects on the rest of the world.

WaPo: No More Concessions

The Washington Post (6/12/18) warned against trusting “a cruel and unpredictable ruler whose motives and aims are far from clear”.

The editorial board of the Washington Post (6/12/18) says that diplomacy “is certainly preferable to the slide toward war that appeared to be underway last year,” but opposes taking steps to prevent another Korean War—a nuclear one, this time. The editorialists complain that the joint statement issued by the leaders of the US and North Korea makes no mention of “US terms for disarmament”: What the editorial, tellingly titled “No More Concessions,” is saying is that the predetermined outcome of diplomacy should be complete North Korea acquiescence to US demands—which, of course, isn’t diplomacy at all.

Similarly, the New York Times’ editorial board (6/12/18) writes that “after months of venomous barbs and apocalyptic threats of war, the meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, was unquestionably a relief.” Trump, they wrote, “seems seized with the need to resolve it peacefully. That is to the good.” Yet the editorial lists measures that Times believes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea’s official name) needs to take, without saying that America should do anything, and expresses anxiety over the break in war games.

In the same vein, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (6/12/18) says that “it certainly is better for the two leaders to be exchanging compliments rather than missiles,” but describes the US suspending military exercises with South Korea as a “concession” for which America is getting “astonishingly little” in return. He purports to be against the exchanging of missiles, but thinks it’s a mistake to take steps to minimize the threat of exchanging missiles.

While acknowledging Trump being “snookered” is “far better than war,” NYT’ Nicholas Kristof (6/12/18) fears “the cancellation of military exercises will raise questions among our allies.”

“Astonishingly,” Kristof writes, Trump

even adopted North Korean positions as his own, saying that the United States military exercises in the region are “provocative.” That’s a standard North Korean propaganda line.

The columnist failed to explain how military exercises on North Korea’s doorstep, involving 50,000 South Korean troops and 17,500 of their American counterparts, are anything other than “provocative,” but evidently Kristof would have no problem with joint DPRK/Mexico maneuvers near the US southern border pretending to launch an attack featuring 67,500 soldiers, along with simulated nuclear bomber attacks (FAIR.org, 4/3/13).

The Times’ editorial is as bemused as Kristof, writing that Trump “even endorsed the North Korean view of such joint exercises as ‘provocative.’”

Kristof criticized the joint statement because it says

nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

At no point did Kristof call on the US to take any remotely comparable steps.

WaPo: Trump and Kim got what they wanted. The rest of the world, not so much.

The Washington Post‘s Anne Applebaum (6/12/18) does not seem to see Trump and Kim ceasing to threaten each other’s countries with nuclear destruction as a “gain” for those countries.

For Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post (6/12/18), provisionally scaling back American hostility to North Korea should be understood as a humiliation. She wrote that

had any previous American president, Republican or Democrat, emerged from an event like this, in which so much was given away with so little to show for it, he would have been embarrassed.

Her article was headlined, “Trump and Kim Got What They Wanted. The Rest of the World, Not So Much.” It’s likely, however, that “the rest of the world” does not want nuclear war, and might want steps that could help avert that danger—such as, say, an end to nuclear-armed America antagonizing another nuclear power by having “tens of thousands of US and [South Korean] troops, aircraft and naval vessels engaged in mock clashes” with that power.

Shining City on a Hill

Under-girding the view that the United States should only negotiate with North Korea when “negotiation” means “forcing the DPRK under nuclear duress to do whatever America says” are entrenched notions of intrinsic US superiority.

Probably the most blatant example of this is the view that the United States is “legitimizing” DPRK by meeting with its leaders. MSNBC’s Maddow seems to find it blasphemous that the summit “billed” North Korea “as a nation equal in stature to the United States.” According to the Times, Kim got a “win” by receiving the “legitimacy of being treated as an equal as a nuclear power on the world stage, country flags standing side by side.” The Post was incensed that Kim was “able to parade on the global stage as a legitimate statesman,” while Applebaum said that “the flags and the handshake will reinforce Kim’s legitimacy and make him harder to depose.”

States, and the parties that govern them, are not granted legitimacy by the United States. Legally, that legitimacy comes from United Nations recognition or its absence; as a practical matter, states and their leaders establish legitimacy through what the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci described as a combination of coercion and consent. Believing that the US has the power to confer or deny legitimacy on other countries or their leaders is part of the same imperial hubris that makes pundits panic about tentative moves in the direction of curtailing American belligerence toward North Korea, and thus the threat of nuclear war.

Washington Post: 987 people were fatally shot by police in 2017

We would find it absurd if pundits complained that Kim failed to extract a promise from Trump to halt the thousand or so extrajudicial executions that take place in the US every year.

A comparable dynamic is at work in the commentariat concern-trolling about North Korean human rights. Maddow was perplexed that the US would meet with North Korea without the North Korean leadership making any promises about “their behavior toward their own people.” The Times’ editors considered it “startling” that the joint Kim/Trump statement contains no reference to human rights in DPRK.

In this conception, America is the shining city on a hill that must free the people of the DPRK, though these analysts don’t ask who will liberate US citizens living under a regime with the highest incarceration rate in the world, rampant judicial and extrajudicial execution, widespread racism, obscene wealth inequality and an undemocratic political system. Calling for a US government crusade for change inside North Korea while overlooking all of these features of US society is another dimension of the imperial arrogance that insists it’s legitimate to subject the entire population of other nations to crushing sanctions and violent threats until their governments give Washington everything it wants.

Nor do any of these commentators address the possibility that the US ruling class might need to change its global conduct: The hanging of Saddam Hussein and the sodomizing to death of Moammar Gadhafi, neither of whom possessed nuclear weapons with which to deter America from invading and destroying the countries they governed, could be a reason why the leaders of North Korea want nuclear weapons.

For the punditry, the goal of US/North Korea talks isn’t lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, it’s total North Korean submission to US commands. Corporate media appear to be more worried about the United States being successfully defied than it is about nuclear war.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

MSNBC, where journalism goes to die

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 23, 2018

It looks like we can add yet another name to the list of journalists that MSNBC has pushed out or fired for refusing to toe the establishment line: Ed Schultz.

Schultz, whose new home is at RT, recently gave an interview to the National Review’s Jamie Weinstein. During the interview, Schultz, who had been mostly quiet about his firing from MSNBC, let loose on the channel.

“There was more oversight and more direction given to me on content at MSNBC than there ever has been here at RT — and I think it’s very sad that that story is not getting out,” Schultz said. “Many times I was told what to lead with on MSNBC — many times I was told what I was not going to do.”

Schultz called MSNBC president Phil Griffin a “watchdog” unlike anything he has experienced since leaving the channel. Asked if Griffin personally told him what to say or what angle to take on a story, Schultz said that had “often” been the case.

Schultz went on to tell Weinstein a particularly disturbing story about MSNBC’s refusal to cover former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders seriously. According to Schultz, five minutes before he was due to cover Sanders’ announcement that he would run for president, Griffin called him up and told him not to report on it.

Why? Because the network was so thoroughly determined to promote Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate that giving primetime exposure to a progressive voice like Sanders would be dangerous.

“I think the Clintons were connected to [MSNBC chairman] Andy Lack, connected at the hip. I think that they didn’t want anybody in their primetime or anywhere in their lineup supporting Bernie Sanders — I think that they were in the tank for Hillary Clinton and I think it was managed — and 45 days later I was out at MSNBC.”

But Schultz is not the only former MSNBC host with such stories. Cenk Uygur, host of ‘The Young Turks’ on YouTube, has always been vocal about how he parted ways with the channel.

According to Uygur, shortly before his departure from MSNBC, Griffin called him in for a talk. The problem was not Uygur’s ratings, which were good, but it was his “tone” and the fact that “people in Washington” were not happy about it. In other words, Uygur was coming across as too anti-establishment. He was ruffling too many feathers.

“Outsiders are cool, but we’re not outsiders, we’re insiders,” Griffin told Uygur. “We are the establishment.”

Uygur ignored Griffin’s advice and his ratings shot up — surprise, surprise; people enjoy watching news anchors who actually challenge their guests and engage in real journalism. But the top dogs at MSNBC are apparently willing to forgo high ratings to please “people in Washington.”

Last week, responding to Schultz’s recent comments, Uygur confirmed the accusation that MSNBC was essentially operating as the PR arm of the Clinton campaign.

“I had another on-air talent at MSNBC tell me, off the record, that if they ever criticized Hillary Clinton, they would immediately get a call from management,” Uygur said.

This was confirmed on air by current MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, who admitted that the Clinton campaign angrily called the network after Brzezinski levelled some mild criticism at Clinton during a previous broadcast.

“NBC got a call from the campaign like I had done something that was journalistically inappropriate or something and needed to be pulled off the air,” Brzezinski said.

There can be no question that MSNBC was firmly pro-Clinton and that the Clinton campaign did everything possible to make sure it stayed that way, but the levels of irony here are outstanding.

Clinton and her media cronies have spent much of the past two years bellowing about “the Russians” and so-called “pro-Trump” Russian media, while at the same time they were calling up American channels — channels which no doubt play a far bigger role in influencing American voters —  to chastise anchors whenever their candidate was the subject of some moderate criticism.

Depressing as it is, none of this should be surprising from MSNBC.

In 2003, Phil Donahue, one of America’s best-known TV hosts, was fired from his primetime MSNBC show in the run-up to the Iraq war. Like Uygur, the problem was not Donahue’s ratings — his was the highest-rated show on the network at the time — but the tone of his show. Donahue’s crime? He had been giving airtime to anti-war guests — and questioning the rush to war was seen to be unpatriotic.

A leaked internal memo revealed that Donahue’s bosses felt he was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war” because he was providing “a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

“They were terrified of the anti-war voice. And that is not an overstatement,” Donahue said in an interview in 2013. This was particularly a problem for MSNBC because it was owned by General Electric at the time — and the war was going to be a boon for GE business. The company stood to gain billions from Iraq war contracts and to have a voice like Donahue’s on air was unacceptable.

But Donahue was not the only anti-war voice MSNBC was determined to silence. Just weeks after the invasion of Iraq, up-and-coming network star Ashleigh Banfield gave a speech in which she criticized the American media’s “sanitized” coverage of the war.

“It wasn’t journalism,” she said. “Because I’m not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successful terrific endeavor.” American reporters, she said, had “wrapped themselves in the American flag” instead of doing real journalism that showed the true horror of war.

Following Banfield’s speech, NBC News released a statement slamming their colleague: “Ms. Banfield does not speak for NBC News. We are deeply disappointed and troubled by her remarks, and will review her comments with her.”

After that incident, MSNBC “banished” and sidelined Banfield as punishment. They took away her office, her phone, her computer.

“For 10 months I had to report to work every day and ask where I could sit. If somebody was away I could use their desk,” she explained. They eventually gave her an office in a “tape closet.” Banfield repeatedly asked to be let free of her contract, but NBC news president Neal Shapiro would not allow it. Instead they kept her on but gave her nothing to do.

“I will never forgive him for his cruelty and the manner in which he decided to dispose of me,” Banfield said. Just a gentle reminder at this point that MSNBC bills itself as a ‘progressive’ channel.

If anything, things have only gotten worse since Banfield’s thoughtful comments on the failures of American war journalism. When President Donald Trump fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria last April, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams was visibly awestruck, called the footage “beautiful” and quoted song lyrics on air to mark the occasion.

People scoff at state-funded channels like RT, while singing the praises of channels like MSNBC and CNN. Those networks benefit hugely from the myth that because they are not state-funded, they are somehow independent.

These are networks owned by giant parent corporations with plenty of skin in the political game — yet, it is rarely acknowledged that these corporations have a detrimental influence on the quality of journalism produced by their employees. The truth is rarely uttered, that network stars like Rachel Maddow are completely beholden to those corporate and political interests — and that this basic fact massively influences their reporting.

Maddow’s ratings at MSNBC have been climbing of late, no doubt due to her obsession with the ‘Russiagate’ story — a surefire crowd-pleaser among Democratic Party loyalists. But surely Maddow knows, deep down, if she ever went off script, if she ever upset her bosses by becoming truly controversial, she’d be out. Just like Uygur, Schultz, Donahue and Banfield.

For now, Maddow is safe, because she’s exactly the kind of journalist they love: She pretends to rage against the machine while earning $30,000 a day peddling all the right conspiracy theories and picking on all the right people.

A new promo for MSNBC features the cable network’s top anchors in a series of black and white old-school journalism photos. The voiceover is the late Chet Huntley, a former MSNBC newsman: “American journalism — all of it,” he says with certitude, “is the best anywhere in the world.”

It’s hard to believe that by “best” journalism, Huntley could have meant running non-stop corporate-influenced war propaganda, firing anti-establishment voices, banishing conscientious reporters to tape closets and instructing on-air talent not to ruffle any feathers in Washington.

“This is who we are,” the tagline at the end of the ad reads. But remember, thanks to Griffin and his conversation with Uygur, we know what MSNBC really is.

“We are the establishment.”

Read more:

How to become ‘an Assad apologist’? Just question MSM rhetoric & welcome to the club

US media’s love affair with war: Major outlets showed zero opposition to Syria strikes

MSNBC host claims Obama admin was ‘virtually scandal-free’

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

Liberals, Conservatives Worry About Korean Peace Threat

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | March 15, 2018

WaPo: North Korea and South Korea snooker Trump

Washington Post‘s Max Boot (3/8/18)

Commentators across the spectrum of acceptable establishment opinion are alarmed by the possibility of peace breaking out on the Korean peninsula.

Some oppose the idea of talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on principle. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin (3/9/18), for instance, suggested that Trump should not meet with Kim:

Is Trump now to glad-hand with Kim, treating him as just another world leader? Will Trump even bring up human rights? (You will recall that, in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama was ridiculed for suggesting he’d sit down with the North Korean dictator; he prudently backed off that idea.)

Her newly hired colleague Max Boot (Washington Post, 3/8/18) concurred:

As recently as August, Trump tweeted: “The US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” He was absolutely right.

Boot went on to contend:

The South Koreans claim that the North Koreans are willing to discuss denuclearization, but the likelihood is that they will only do so on terms that the United States should never accept. Kim may offer to give up his nukes if the United States will pull its forces out of South Korea and sign a peace treaty with the North.

What Boot sees as a doomsday scenario—peace between the two Koreas and the withdrawal from the peninsula of US troops, which serve as a constant threat to the North and thus ensure the permanent threat of war—is actually a formula for ensuring that there isn’t a second Korean war, one that is certain to be even more devastating than the catastrophic first one for Korea, and likely for the region and further afield.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: "Looked at each other as if in disbelief"

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC, 3/9/18)

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC, 3/9/18) seemed flabbergasted by the prospect of a meeting between the leaders:

It has been the dream of North Korean leaders for decades now that they would advance their weapons programs and their nuclear programs so much so that the United States would be forced to acknowledge them as an equal and meet with the North Korean leader…. They got there with [Trump] and I don’t know that the administration intended it to be that kind of a gift. It’s just a remarkable time to be covering this stuff.

MSNBC blogger Steve Benen (3/9/18) says he’s “not opposed to direct diplomacy,” but he sounded like a time capsule from 1951 when he warned that

Trump has agreed to give Kim Jong-un exactly what he wants. North Korean leaders have sought this kind of meeting for decades because it would necessarily elevate the rogue state: It would show the world that North Korea’s leader is being treated as an equal by the Leader of the Free World.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof  (3/9/18) also claims to prefer that the US and North Korea exchange words rather than missiles, but he expressed relief that the threat of peace was minimal: “It’s genuinely encouraging that Kim doesn’t object to the US resuming military exercises,” he wrote, but worried that America

has agreed to give North Korea what it has long craved: the respect and legitimacy that comes from the North Korean leader standing as an equal beside the American president.

For Maddow, Benen and Kristof, a catastrophic nuclear war likely to kill millions is less threatening than the (frankly remote) possibility of America treating a small Asian country as an equal. This sort of commentary shows that liberal analysts are every bit as capable of a chest-thumping jingoism as their counterparts on the right.

In Praise of Sanctions

Sanctions on North Korea make it harder for aid organizations to operate in the country, and for people living there to obtain drugs and medical supplies, such as anesthesia used for emergency operations and X-ray machines needed to diagnose tuberculosis (Washington Post, 12/16/17). Tomás Ojea Quintana, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, says he is “alarmed by reports that sanctions may have prevented cancer patients from access to chemotherapy and blocked the import of disability equipment.”

According to Kee B. Park (12/18/17), a neurosurgeon at Harvard Medical School, the hunger in North Korea “is devastating. And it’s our fault. Led by the United States, the international community is crippling North Korea’s economy” by “banning exports of coal, iron, lead, seafood and textiles, and limiting the import of crude oil and refined petroleum products,” “punishing the most vulnerable citizens” of the country. For example, UNICEF says that “an estimated 60,000 children face potential starvation in North Korea, where international sanctions are exacerbating the situation by slowing aid deliveries.”

The Post’s Boot, however, is impressed by the sanctions, and worried that they might be lifted: “North Korea hopes at a minimum for a relaxation of sanctions just when they are beginning to bite.” In the interest of precision, he should have added “60,000 children” after the word “bite.”

He continued:

It may make sense to talk to North Korea, but at a lower level, while maintaining the “maximum pressure” sanctions policy. Eventually the regime may feel so much pain that it will be willing to bargain in earnest.

North Korea doesn’t have the capacity to pain on the US, so it’s worth asking: Who will enforce hunger on America and destroy its economy to compel it to reverse its past approach (The Nation, 9/5/17) and “bargain in earnest” with North Korea? And would Boot endorse such an approach?

Boot can rest easy, however, about “so much pain” being reduced, as the Trump administration appears poised to maintain the sanctions until it determines that there has been “real progress” in the talks (AP, 3/13/18).

Kristof, like Boot, suggests that Trump “probably does” deserve credit for using sanctions to get North Korea to suspend tests of nuclear weapons:

First, Trump raised the economic pressure on North Korea with additional sanctions and extra support from China, and the pain was visible when I visited North Korea in September. Kim has made rising living standards a hallmark of his leadership, and sanctions have threatened that pillar of his legitimacy.

Kristof has made a career branding himself a bleeding heart concerned for the world’s most vulnerable but evidently his heart doesn’t bleed for “the most vulnerable citizens” of states that defy US dictates.

March 16, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic US-Backed War in Yemen, Finds Russia 5000% more newsworthy

By Ben Norton | FAIR | January 8, 2018

For the popular US cable news network MSNBC, the largest humanitarian catastrophe in the world is apparently not worth much attention—even as the US government has played a key role in creating and maintaining that unparalleled crisis.

An analysis by FAIR has found that the leading liberal cable network did not run a single segment devoted specifically to Yemen in the second half of 2017.

And in these latter roughly six months of the year, MSNBC ran nearly 5,000 percent more segments that mentioned Russia than segments that mentioned Yemen.

Moreover, in all of 2017, MSNBC only aired one broadcast on the US-backed Saudi airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. And it never mentioned the impoverished nation’s colossal cholera epidemic, which infected more than 1 million Yemenis in the largest outbreak in recorded history.

All of this is despite the fact that the US government has played a leading role in the 33-month war that has devastated Yemen, selling many billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia, refueling Saudi warplanes as they relentlessly bomb civilian areas and providing intelligence and military assistance to the Saudi air force.

With little corporate media coverage from MSNBC or elsewhere, the US—under both presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump—has staunchly supported Saudi Arabia as it imposes a suffocating blockade on Yemen, diplomatically shielding the draconian Gulf dictatorship from any form of punishment as it has plunged millions of Yemeni civilians into mass hunger and pushed the poorest country in the Middle East onto the brink of famine.

1 Mention of Saudi Airstrikes; No Mention of Cholera

MSNBC: Does Russia Have Leverage Over Trump?

A favorite theme of MSNBC coverage

FAIR conducted a thorough analysis of MSNBC‘s broadcasts archived on the Nexis news database. (The figures in this report are derived from Nexis.)

In 2017, MSNBC ran 1,385 broadcasts that mentioned “Russia,” “Russian” or “Russians.” Yet only 82 broadcasts used the words “Yemen,” “Yemeni” or “Yemenis” in the entire year.

Moreover, the majority of the 82 MSNBC broadcasts that mentioned Yemen did so only once and in passing, often simply as one nation in a longer list of nations targeted by President Trump’s travel ban.

Of these 82 broadcasts in 2017, there was only a single MSNBC news segment devoted specifically to the US-backed Saudi war in Yemen.

On July 2, the network ran a segment on Ari Melber’s The Point (7/2/17) entitled “Saudi arms deal could worsen Yemen crisis.” The three-minute broadcast covered many of the important points about US support for the catastrophic Saudi war in Yemen.

Yet this informative segment stood alone in the entire year. A search of the Nexis database and the Yemen tag on MSNBC‘s website shows that, in the approximately six months after this July 2 broadcast, the network did not devote another segment specifically to the war in Yemen.

A search of MSNBC broadcasts also shows that, while the network would sometimes within the same broadcast mention both Yemen and airstrikes, it did not—aside from Ari Melber’s lone segment—acknowledge the existence of US/Saudi coalition airstrikes on Yemen.

MSNBC: US Launches Dozens of Airstrikes Against Al Qaeda Targets in Yemen

MSNBC only notices airstrikes in Yemen when aimed at Al Qaeda

The closest the network otherwise came was in a March 31, 2017 segment on the Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, in which Joy Reid said, “And as the New York Times reports, the United States launched more attacks in Yemen this month than during all of last year.” But Reid was referencing a New York Times report (3/29/17) on US airstrikes on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (which numbered in the dozens), not US/Saudi coalition airstrikes on Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen (which numbered in the thousands).

While ignoring the US/Saudi coalition airstrikes and the thousands of civilians they killed, however, MSNBC did report on Houthi attacks on Saudi warships of the coast of Yemen. In his show MTP Daily (2/1/17), Chuck Todd favorably covered the anti-Iran posturing of Trump and National Security advisor Michael Flynn. He misleadingly spoke of the Houthis as Iranian proxies and gave former US diplomat Nicholas Burns a platform to claim, “Iran is a violent troublemaker in the Middle East.” On February 1 and 2, Chris Hayes also reported on the Houthi attack.

MSNBC was eager to highlight attacks by US official enemies, yet the tens of thousands of air sorties Saudi Arabia has launched in Yemen—with weapons, fuel and intelligence from the US and UK—were made almost entirely invisible by the network.

Years of US/Saudi coalition bombing and blockade of Yemen likewise decimated the poor country’s health system, plunging it into a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands of people and broken all previous records. MSNBC did not once acknowledge this catastrophe either, according to a search on Nexis and MSNBC‘s website. Cholera was only mentioned on MSBNC in 2017 in the context of Haiti, not Yemen.

Only Interested When Americans Die

While MSNBC did not bother to mention Yemen’s cholera epidemic, it did express lots of interest in a disastrous Navy SEAL raid President Donald Trump approved in the country, which left an American dead. Particularly early in the year, the network devoted substantial coverage to the January 29 raid, which killed dozens of Yemeni civilians and one US soldier.

A search of the Nexis database shows that MSNBC mentioned the Trump-approved US raid in Yemen in 36 distinct segments in 2017. All of the network’s major shows produced segments that focused on the raid: MTP Daily on January 31 and March 1; All In on February 2, February 8 and March 1; For the Record on February 6; The Last Word on February 6, 8 and 27; Hardball on March 1; and the Rachel Maddow Show on February 2, February 3, February 23 and March 6.

But after this raid left the news cycle, so too did Yemen. A search of Nexis and the Yemen tag on the MSNBC website shows that, excluding Ari Melber’s lone July segment, the latest segment MSNBC devoted specifically to Yemen in 2017 was the Rachel Maddow Show‘s March 6 report on the SEAL raid.

The message conveyed is clear: to the leading liberal US cable news network, Yemen is relevant when it is Americans who die—not when thousands of Yemenis are killed, bombed daily by Saudi Arabia, with US weapons, fuel and intelligence; not when millions of Yemenis are on the verge of starving to death while the US/Saudi coalition uses hunger as a weapon.

The conclusion that only Americans’ lives are newsworthy is confirmed by the fact that Trump launched another disastrous raid in Yemen on May 23, in which several Yemeni civilians were once again killed. But American soldiers did not die in this raid, so MSNBC had no interest. The network did not devote coverage to this second botched Yemen raid.

Constant Attention to Russia

According to a Nexis search of the network’s broadcasts from January 1 to July 2, 2017, “Yemen,” “Yemeni” or “Yemenis” were mentioned in 68 MSNBC segments—nearly all of which were related to the SEAL raid or the list of countries targeted by Trump’s Muslim ban.

In the approximately six months from July 3 through the end of December, the words “Yemen,” “Yemeni” or “Yemenis” were only uttered in 14 segments. In most of these segments, Yemen was mentioned just once in passing.

MSNBC: Russua Wish List

Thousands of MSNBC segments last year mentioned Russia

In this same 181-day period in which MSNBC had no segments devoted specifically to Yemen, the terms “Russia,” “Russian” or “Russians” were mentioned in a staggering 693 broadcasts.

This is to say, in the latter half of 2017, MSNBC aired 49.5 times more—or 4,950 percent more—segments that spoke of Russia than segments that spoke of Yemen.

In fact, in the four days from December 26 to December 29 alone, MSNBC said “Russia,” “Russian” or “Russians” nearly 400 times in 23 separate broadcasts, on all of the network’s major shows, including Hardball, All In, Rachel Maddow, The Last Word, Meet the Press Daily and The Beat.

The day after Christmas featured an onslaught of Russia coverage. On December 26, the words “Russia,” “Russian” or “Russians” were uttered a staggering 156 times in the broadcasts from 5 pm EST to 11 pm. The following is the breakdown of the number of mentions of Russia:

  • 33 times on MTP Daily at 5 pm
  • 6 times on The Beat at 6 pm
  • 30 times on Hardball at 7 pm
  • 38 times on All In at 8 pm
  • 40 times Rachel Maddow at 9 pm
  • 9 times on The Last Word (with Ari Melber filling in for O’Donnell) at 10 pm

On this one day, MSNBC mentioned Russia almost twice as many times in six hours of coverage than it mentioned Yemen in all of 2017.

Passing References

While MSNBC did not have a segment devoted specifically to the war in Yemen other than Ari Melber’s lone July broadcast, the country was sporadically mentioned in passing.

Chris Hayes briefly acknowledged Yemen a few times, although he did not devote a segment to it. In the May 23 broadcast of All In, the host did point out, “We have been arming and supporting the Saudis as they pursue a proxy war in Yemen against Shia rebels, the Houthis.” Aside from the fact that the supposed Saudi/Iran proxy war in Yemen to which Hayes apparently alludes is a misleading talking point that has been fueled by the US government and intelligence agencies and obediently echoed by corporate media (FAIR.org, 7/25/17), Hayes still did not recognize the US/Saudi coalition airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians.

In a June 29 interview on All In, Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour additionally spoke out on behalf of “Yemeni refugees who are victims of a proxy war that we’re funding.” Hayes added, “Who are starving to death, because we’re essentially funding the Saudis to hold them under siege.” This was the rare moment in which MSBNC acknowledged the Saudi blockade of Yemen—but, again, no mention was made of the US-backed Saudi airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemenis.

On July 5, Chris Hayes spoke using extreme euphemisms, stating, “Since taking office, the president has been swayed to take Saudi Arabia’s side in its dispute with Yemen.” Looking beyond the fact that “dispute” is an outrageous understatement for a brutal war that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands, Hayes failed to point out that former president Barack Obama, like Trump, staunchly supported Saudi Arabia as it bombed and besieged Yemen.

Rachel Maddow also again briefly mentioned the botched January US raid in Yemen in her broadcasts on April 7 and 24. So too did Hayes on October 16.

On MTP Daily on December 6, Chuck Todd similarly spoke of Yemen in passing, observing:

It is interesting, Tom, that the president seems to have these Gulf State allies. He is giving them basically carte blanche a little bit on what they’re doing in Yemen, is sort of looking the other way.

But that is it. Aside from Ari Melber’s one-off July segment, in 2017 MSNBC had no other coverage of the US-backed war that has created the largest humanitarian catastrophe in the world.

What is striking is that MSNBC is clearly extremely critical of Donald Trump, yet it has passed on one of the best opportunities to condemn his policies. Instead of covering some of Trump’s worst, most violent actions—his acts of war that have left many thousands of civilians dead—MSNBC has ignored Trump’s Yemeni victims.

Perhaps this is because it was a Democratic president—Barack Obama, a favorite of MSNBC—who first oversaw the war in Yemen for nearly two years before Trump entered office. But MSNBC‘s right-wing rival, Fox News, has shown again and again that it has no problem attacking Democrats for doing what Republicans did before them.


You can send a message to Rachel Maddow at Rachel@msnbc.com (or via Twitter: @Maddow). Chris Hayes can be reached via Twitter: @ChrisLHayes. Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Rachel Maddow Is Lost in Her Cold War Conspiracies

By Eoin Higgins | Paste | April 13, 2017

On MSNBC’s Sirius XM promos, Rachel Maddow tells the listener that the network—and by extension, herself as well—presents the news without “fear or favor.”

But a review of the month of March by Paste suggests that fear sells. With a single exception, Maddow led off every episode of her show in March with an extended, conspiratorial update for her viewers on the alleged connections between Russia and the Trump administration. Maddow’s monologues focused on the Russian oligarchic state and the authoritarian rule of President Vladimir Putin.

This obsession with Russia has had a palpable effect on the national conversation. Maddow is one of the most influential and popular voices for American liberals, and her theorizing on the Russia/Trump connection is part of a larger theory connecting the alleged collusion between the two to every world and national event.

As Aaron Mate points out in The Intercept, Maddow’s concentration on Trump is predicated on the idea that the President is a Russian pawn. It’s hardly a sure thing, and the focus may be more damaging than constructive for the “resistance.”

Maddow and likeminded influential liberals will have led their audience on a fruitless quest, all the while helping foment anti-Russia sentiment, channeling Democratic Party energy away from productive self-critique, and diverting focus from the White House’s actual policies. Trump would be handed a further gift via the damaged credibility of his “enemy”: the media responsible for holding him to account.

Look no further than the reactions to Trump’s bombing of a Syrian government airfield on April 6 for proof of that—despite the fact that Bashar al-Assad is openly backed by Russia, some liberal commentators refuse to see the missile strike as at all possibly opposed to Russian interests. “Donald Trump, Who’s Totally Not Vladimir Putin’s Puppet, Warned Russia Before Airstrikes on Syria,” was Salon’s sarcastic headline.

This is in large part because Maddow presents Russia as an outlier on the world stage, involved in activity and behavior that is incompatible with the American way of life. Yet her examples from the last month are hardly convincing.

In Russia, Maddow says, there is a “corrupt, elite class of connected thieves at the top who have been siphoning money out of that country.” Though she acknowledges that the US has massive income inequality and corruption, in Russia it’s different, because

the politically connected class at the top that is stealing is much smaller… and is much more traceable now, in the short amount of time, in terms of the way they have yanked money out of that country, and the way they have spread it all over the world to hide it and to disguise its origins.

Let’s hope nobody shatters Maddow’s image of America by pointing out that 400 Americans own as much wealth as the bottom 61 percent of the population. Or that, according to the World Bank, the United States and Russia have almost exactly the same GINI index—the standard measure of inequality.

Not only is Russia a unique kleptocracy, Maddow says, but it (along with China and North Korea) is also an abnormally bellicose nation, consumed by the need to show off its military prowess and power. This kind of behavior, Maddow argues, is antithetical to the American way of life (emphasis added).

There’s no law against parading your military, whether or not it’s an important anniversary. But through American eyes, this is a little weird, right? If this gives you the willies to look at, it`s because it`s supposed to. This is an unabashed, uncomplicated, undisguised display of military threat, military prowess or national insecurity, depending on how you look at it. I mean, this is not something that we do here in the United States.

It’s hard to know how Maddow would describe the constant flyovers by Air Force jets at football games, the honoring of fully dressed Marines at baseball games, or the numerous holidays the United States has that involve the strutting of US military machines, personnel and paraphernalia. One way to describe it, of course, would be as an unabashed, uncomplicated, undisguised display of military threat, military prowess or national insecurity—depending on how you look at it.

Instead of policy discussions, analysis of domestic issues or digging into the backgrounds of administration personnel, Maddow’s program spent March with a spotlight aimed at the new administration’s as-yet-unsubstantiated ties with Russian government intelligence services and the allegedly Russian-led hack of the DNC emails.

It paid off. Maddow’s program is the only non-Fox News program in the ten top-rated cable news programs for the first quarter of 2017, and the highest-ranked non-Fox program in the lucrative 25-54 demographic, according to AdWeek. Yet this success came with an obsession with Russia twinned with overblown dot-connecting, speculative reasoning stated as fact and an emphasis on a wide ranging, insidious conspiracy.

Maddow referenced Russia repeatedly in March. The highest number of mentions we found was 105 on March 9, the lowest was days earlier on March 6, when it came up only eight times. On average, the country was mentioned around 53 times a show—or over once a minute, once you subtract commercials from the airtime—and Maddow did not let a single opening segment go by for the entire month without at least a mention of Russia’s alleged ties to Trump.

The entire list is below, but here are three telling examples of Maddow’s obsessive attention to Russia at the expense of anything else going on in the news.

March 7, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 71 times. Maddow acknowledged news about ACA and immigration, but chose to lead instead with a study of the Russian embassy, promising to cover the breaking domestic news later.

March 14, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 19 times. The show led with the infamous tax return document that Maddow introduced with a winding 20-minute monologue that touched on a number of conspiracy theories for which she provided no proof.

March 17, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 51 times. The show led with Tom Price, then moves to the Gorsuch hearings as a pretext for a long discussion on hypothetical discoveries about Russia in House hearings.

It was on the latter date that Maddow laid out the justification for her unrelenting focus—a thesis grounded on flimsy evidence, hyperbolic rhetoric and unsubstantiated allegations:

The Russian attack on our election last year, the unexplained connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during that time, during the time of the attack, the strangeness, particularly, the strangeness of the FBI in its treatment of this matter, it’s unsettling. It’s unsettling not just because this is one scandal among so many scandals for this young administration. So many scandals that some are being ignored because they’re not big enough to warrant attention amid other scandals, right?

This is unsettling not just because it’s one scandal among many. This is unsettling because if the worst is true, if the presidency is effectively a Russian op, right, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign—I mean, that is so profoundly big. We not only need to stay focused on figuring it out, we need to start preparing for what the consequences are going to be if it proves to be true. We need to start thinking about how we’re going to deal with the worst revelations if they do come to light, if they are proved true.

Maddow could have just looked over reporting from the last four months to see that the allegations that Russia “attacked” the presidential election are questionable. But instead, she spent the entire month of March pushing an ever-escalating conspiracy theory to explain the Trump presidency, based on speculative hyperbole describing a mass web of collusion between the president, the Russian government and other actors.

“WikiLeaks got all inextricably bound up in our new national nightmare about Russia hacking our presidential election,” Maddow said (3/6/17), and “Russian intelligence was mounting an operation against us, against our election to try to affect the outcome” (3/9/17). Yet despite the fact that the MSNBC host had “been following this [with] pretty intense attention” (3/2/17), she conceded she didn’t “know what`s going on in terms of the law enforcement and intelligence investigations” (3/3/17).

That didn’t stop Maddow from speculating about what those investigations could find out about possible Trump/Russia collusion.

“We’ve had it confirmed today that what they are also investigating is whether, once again, the Russians had help from inside the United States when it came time to humble America and show our country what they are capable of,” Maddow said (3/20/17), elaborating remarkably on the testimony of FBI Director James Comey, who had said only that the agency was investigating potential ties between the campaign and the Russian government.

Maddow’s viewers wouldn’t have known that from her. Instead, they would have been treated to more accusations of an intelligence operation that used the internet and Bernie Sanders supporters to defeat Hillary Clinton.

“Russian forces were operating inside something very high-profile,” Maddow said (3/31/17). “They were operating inside the U.S. presidential election.”

“This is not part of American politics,” she said earlier in the month (3/21/17). “This is not, you know, partisan warfare between Republicans and Democrats. This is international warfare against our country and it did not end on election day. We are still in it.”

Trump’s finances came in for scrutiny as well—understandable, given that the president has refused to release his tax returns. But even a major scoop in mid-March fell prey to a rambling monologue that tried to hit all the marks of the Russian conspiracy theory before landing on a rather deflated two-page nothingburger.

“Has [Trump] received money from foreign sources? Has he received loans from foreign sources?” Maddow asked, before revealing two pages of a 2005 tax return that indicated nothing of the sort.

She added the next day that there were questions on why Trump would make public statements on the benefits of investing in Russia in 2006, trying to tie in the widely panned exposé from the night before:

Why did he think so? Were there financial ties with Russia that would give him such confidence about that pronouncement which he made very shortly after he signed this tax return?

There are no negative consequences for the liberal commentator for trafficking in these sorts of conspiracy theories, as long as they’re aimed at the “right” target—look no further than Fairness and Accuracy’s recent reporting on Louise Mensch to see how the most discredited, illogical ideas can gain credence on the centrist liberal media circuit as long as they are aimed at Russia. And in Maddow’s case, these theories have an added bonus: higher ratings and corresponding higher ad revenue.

Maddow presents herself as a fair but tough liberal commentator. Her show is based on her presentation of the news that her audience wants and needs to hear. For her to spend so much time on a Cold War enemy at the expense of real domestic policies, and for her to do so with such speculative reasoning and logical leaps and bounds makes it clear that it’s ratings, not truth, that she’s really after.

Maddow on Russia: March, 2017

Findings on the pundit’s preoccupation

March 2, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 24 times. Show leads with Attorney Jeff Sessions’ conversations with Kislyak.

March 3, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 68 times. Show leads with profile of Russian opposition to Putin.

March 6, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 8 times. Show leads with Trump family ties to central Asian nation Azerbijain.

March 7, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 71 times. Maddow acknowledges news about ACA and immigration but chooses to lead instead with a study of the Russian embassy, promising to cover the domestic breaking news later.

March 8, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 103 times. Show leads with the GOP platform on Russia and Ukraine.

March 9, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 105 times. Show leads with sanctions and mentions the unsubstantiated dossier on Trump written by retired British intelligence officer Christopher Steele Buzzfeed published, acknowledges its content has not been verified, and then quotes from it at length.

March 10, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 47 times. Show leads with Mike Flynn’s ties to the country and his dinner with RT.

March 13, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 50 times. Show leads with Russian money laundering after Maddow lets the audience know the GOP healthcare bill has problems, but she’ll get to them later.

March 14, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 19 times. Show leads with the infamous tax return document that Maddow introduced with a winding 20-minute monologue touching on a number of conspiracy theories for which she had zero proof.

March 15, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 31 times. Show leads with Geert Wilders and the Russian investigation in Congress; Maddow tries to tie an FSB agent’s prosecution in Russia to Trump.

March 16, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 65 times. Show leads with the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

March 17, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 51 times. Show leads with Tom Price, then moves to the Gorsuch hearings as a pretext for a long discussion on hypothetical discoveries about Russia in House hearings.

March 20, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 86 times. Show leads with Russian nuclear capabilities.

March 21, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 52 times. Show leads with Bernie Sanders’ online supporters were Russian agents.

March 22, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 54 times. Show leads with Paul Manafort’s connections to an unnamed Russian billionaire.

March 23, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 57 times. Show leads with health care repeal (Russia and Ukraine are a segment later on).

March 24, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 33 times. Show leads with the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian involvement in the election.

March 27, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 50 times. Show leads with the FSB and Russian banks conspiring to get Trump elected.

March 28, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 39 times. Show leads with Maddow declaring that Russia and China’s displays of military power during national holidays are unique to those countries.

March 29, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 50 times. Show leads with alleged Russian involvement in the upcoming French elections.

March 30, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 33 times. Show leads with Mike Flynn’s request for immunity, which Maddow ties to Russia.

March 31, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 80 times. Show leads with the House investigation.

You can follow Eoin Higgins on Twitter and find him at Patreon.

April 17, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

The West’s Media Delusions

By James W Carden | Consortium news | November 23, 2016

In a wide ranging and necessary survey of Russian political programming, Dr. Gilbert Doctorow, himself a frequent guest on those shows, observes that:

“The charges — that Russian media are only an instrument of state propaganda directed at the domestic population to keep Russian citizens in line and at foreign audiences to sow dissent among Russia’s neighbors and within the European Union — are taken as a matter of faith with almost no proofs adduced. Anyone who questions this ‘group think’ is immediately labeled a ‘tool of Putin’ or worse.”

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow

Dr. Doctorow has launched an important conversation in light of the release of yet another alarmist media report, this time by a British neoconservative group named (oddly) after a long deceased Democratic Senator from Washington State (Henry “Scoop” Jackson), which seeks to stifle debate on Russia policy in the West by smearing dissenters from the Russia-bashing conventional wisdom as “Putin’s useful idiots.”

Doctorow’s experience with the Russian media therefore serves a double use: to combat willful Western misconceptions of the Russian media landscape as well as to serve as a useful point of comparison with U.S. media outlets and their coverage of Russia.

If we take the example of the purportedly liberal cable news outlet MSNBC, we find, paradoxically, that the hard-right neoconservative stance toward Russia goes virtually unopposed. Regarding Russia, in comparison with their principal center-left cable news rival CNN, which, to its credit occasionally makes room for the minority “detente” point of view, MSNBC leaves about as much room for dissent as the Soviet-era Pravda – actually, perhaps less.

New McCarthyism

As it happens, there was a similar disparity when it came to the way the two networks covered the U.S. presidential election. While CNN went about bringing much needed balance to its coverage, albeit in the most inept way possible – by hiring paid flacks from each of the campaigns to appear alongside actual journalists, MSNBC (like Republican rival FOX News) wholly dispensed with any pretense of objectivity and served as little more than as a mouth piece for the disastrous Clinton campaign.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisconsin, who led the "Red Scare" hearings of the 1950s.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisconsin

As such, the “liberal” network found itself in the vanguard of the new McCarthyism which swept the 2016 campaign, but which has, in fact, been a feature of the American debate over Russia policy since at least the beginning of the Ukraine crisis in late 2013 – if not earlier.

Examples abound, but perhaps the most striking case of the neo-McCarthyite hysteria which MSNBC attempted to dress up as its legitimate concern over U.S. national security was a rant that Rachel Maddow unleashed on her audience in June when Maddow opened her show with a monologue dedicated to the proposition that Donald Trump was in league with Vladimir Putin.

Maddow, in her signature smarter-than-thou tone, informed readers that the “admiration” between Putin and Trump “really is mutual. I mean, look at this headline, ‘Putin praises Trump. He’s brilliant and talented person.’ ‘Putin praises bright and talented Trump.’ ‘Vladimir Putin praises outstanding and talented Trump.’ There was some controversy over how to exactly translate Putin’s remarks, but Putin took care to flatter Donald Trump publicly, exactly the way Donald Trump likes to be flattered, and that’s apparently enough for Donald Trump, that`s all he needs to hear, that`s all he needs to know, to tell him, how great Vladimir Putin is.

“Putin likes Trump, he must be smart, must be great. So, that is the very, very unusual context here, that you have a Republican presidential nominee who is very, very susceptible to flattery. It`s the most powerful thing in the world to him. If you compliment him, he will never forget it and that`s kind of all he needs to know about you.”

Maddow went on in this vein for quite a while longer (meaning: little actual content but lots of “very, very’s” and eye-rolling). But her central insight, such as it was, was little more than a regurgitation of Democratic National Committee talking points. To no one’s surprise, Maddow’s accusations were repeated almost verbatim in the press releases issued by the Clinton campaign which accused Trump of being little more than a Russian fifth columnist.

Maddow’s evidence-free, innuendo laden June rant took on an added importance because she was the messenger. After the risible, self-important sports journalist Keith Olbermann left the network in 2011, Maddow took over as the network’s house intellectual. So her words carry weight with its viewers in a way, say, Mika Brzezinki’s do not.

Nevertheless at no point at which I am aware did Maddow ever host a guest who pushed back against the still unproven charges that the Russian government had interfered in the U.S. election or that Donald Trump was, in the words of former CIA functionary Mike Morell, an “unwitting agent of the Kremlin” – never mind that as recently as Nov. 15, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker admitted he had “no proof” of Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election.

While it is unclear whether MSNBC’s Joy Reid is seen as “serious” a voice as Maddow, it is unquestionable that she has emerged as the network’s most enthusiastic practitioner of the new McCarthyism.

Days before the election Reid hosted Newsweek’s increasingly unhinged Kurt Eichenwald and former Naval officer Malcolm Nance who has repeatedly and without evidence claimed the Wikileaks-Podesta emails were fake.

Why, asked Reid, are the Russians backing Trump? As if that assertion was beyond dispute. Well, said Eichenwald, “They hate Hillary Clinton…” Oh. Reid then went on to wonder why the FBI is down-playing the intelligence community’s allegedly deep concern that Russia was interfering in the election.

Putin-Bashing

Days later, right after the election, Reid re-assembled a panel featuring Nance, the reliable Putin critic Nina Khrushcheva and Esquire’s Charles Pierce to reinforce the message that MSNBC had been pushing since the summer: that the Russian government had its hand on the scale of the U.S. election. Pierce, in particular, was apoplectic.

That Reid’s roundtable featured Pierce made a good deal of sense. Throughout the campaign, Pierce has been determined to draw a direct link between the Trump campaign and Putin. A sample of his output helps tell the tale. On July 24, Pierce published “Donald Trump’s and Vladimir Putin’s Shared Agenda Should Alarm Anyone Concerned About Democracy” in which Pierce speculated that “Trump seems increasingly dependent on money from Russia and from the former Soviet republics within its increasingly active sphere of influence.”

In his offering of Sept. 9, Pierce protested that “It’s not ‘red-baiting’ to be concerned about Russian interference in our elections.” Pierce, perhaps moved to madness by The Nation editorial “Against Neo-McCarthyism,” sounded as though he were channeling the ghost of James Jesus Angleton, asking, “Are we supposed to believe that Donald Trump really went on RT television by accident? That nobody on his staff knew that the Russian government’s American network picks up Larry King’s podcast?”

About a month before the election, on Oct. 11, Pierce informed readers of the once-great Esquire, “Vladimir Putin Is Determined to See Trump in the Oval Office.” Still worse, according to Pierce, “There is little question now that Vladimir Putin is playing monkey-mischief with the 2016 presidential election, and that the Trump campaign is the primary beneficiary of that.”

All of the aforementioned is to demonstrate that the American media’s much touted pluralism is little more than a fiction when it comes to reporting on Russia. The diversity of Left-Right voices on the political spectrum that Doctorow has encountered in Moscow indicates that the widespread perception that Moscow’s political culture is monolithic compared to that of the Washington’s is, at the very least, challengeable.


James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accord’s eastwestaccord.com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

In Clinton Cuckooland: 1000s-Strong Army of Russian Babushkas is Hacking America

Sputnik – 05.11.2016

If you thought there was nothing left for the Clinton propaganda machine to blame Russia for during this election season, hold on tight!

Newsweek’s infamous Kurt Eichenwald just released another bombshell: the US is being hacked by a massive army of elderly Russian emigrants who, underneath those headscarves, are actually top-notch cyberspies!

Newsweek has finally cracked the case!

Moscow is hacking America on behalf of Donald Trump — it’s an accusation that’s become a familiar refrain for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But who, exactly, are the soldiers behind Putin’s nefarious plan? Senior writer Kurt Eichenwald, who made headlines last month for pushing an equally absurd conspiracy theory about Sputnik’s own role in the intrigue, has the scoop: Western intelligence and law enforcement say tens of thousands of people have been working with Russia on its hacking and disinformation campaign for many years. They include propagandists and cyberoperatives stationed in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, located in the southwestern part of Siberia. Operations have also been conducted in the United States, primarily out of New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Those involved include a large number of Russian émigrés, as well as Americans and other foreign nationals. Intelligence operations in Europe and the U.S. have determined that the money these émigrés receive for their work is disguised as payments from a Russian pension system.

Evidence? Nah, who needs it.

You read that right: thousands of Russian retirees that moved to the States to live with their kids are hardly who they pretend to be. Those babushkas and dedushkas are really soldiers (or maybe even officers!) in the army of cyberspies hacking America from within for Donald Trump, according to Newsweek.

Why Trump? Because he’s Putin’s puppet, of course! Eichenwald goes on to reiterate his earlier theory, which, according to his own admission, was fed to him by US intelligence. He claims that the Republican nominee rehashed Russian “propaganda” at a rally speech — transmitted to the candidate by none other than yours truly, Sputnik News. What Eichenwald misses entirely is the irony of admitting that he was handed the story by his own government — the very definition of propaganda.

“You need to ask yourself — how does someone like me who is deeply wired into the intelligence community know so fast that you had posted this? It’s not like I was sitting around reading Sputnik. Others are though, and they are not reading it 24-hours a day in real time for the purpose of keeping abreast of the news,” Eichenwald told former Sputnik News writer and editor Bill Moran in an email. Newsweek magazine is displayed on a shelf at a news stand at South Station in Boston, Wednesday, May 5, 2010. The Washington Post Co. is putting Newsweek up for sale in hopes that another owner can figure out how to stem losses at the 77-year-old weekly magazine.

Not to mention that Eichenwald tried to bribe Moran with a job as a political reporter for The New Republic in exchange for his silence, when his lies and attempts at a cover-up were revealed — he also left that out of the new report.

Newsweek’s darling also failed to mention that, since his original story was published, it has been widely debunked across the board as an absolute lie.

The New York Times recently dismissed the myth of a Trump-Putin connection, reporting that the FBI has failed to find any links between the two despite a thorough investigation. The Washington Post also dismissed Eichenwald’s conspiracy theory, openly calling him out. And the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote a piece tearing apart Eichenwald’s false report.

None of these facts have stopped Newsweek’s bizarre crusade to spread this misinformation to smear both Trump and Russia, however. And Newsweek is not alone in its campaign: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday night previewed Eichenwald’s story as an important piece of evidence against Trump, and the next morning Eichenwald himself appeared on CNN to present his latest conspiracy theory. Naturally, none of the Clinton-campaigning correspondents challenged his statements.

To sum up, Eichenwald published an entirely fabricated conspiracy theory, which has been widely debunked. He attempted to bribe a journalist for his silence. He is now continuing his crusade, with new revelations about an army of geriatric ne’er-do-wells, all the while becoming more and more of a laughing stock.

Bravo, Newsweek. Now we know why you went out of print.

November 5, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Lesser Evil Politics: Really, Noam? Hubert Humphrey?

By David McDonald | CounterPunch | July 8, 2016

Is no one else tired of alternate history politics? You know, how you caused the Iraq War because you voted for Nader in 2000? I would rather jump into a pool of sludge than read more on that one. The entire enterprise is suspect because it involves just making stuff up and once you go there the sky’s the limit so you can blame anyone for anything. That’s why this tactic never dies. We are spared Al Gore in the present instance, but the price is steep.

Now Noam Chomsky has brought a cudgel to this fight. Trust me, it’s a blunt instrument.

Back in ’68, Chomsky says, “the ultraleft faction of the peace movement” caused the election of Richard Nixon by “minimizing the comparative danger” of a Nixon presidency, thereby making the huge strategic mistake of foisting Nixon on the world, prolonging the Vietnam War by “six years” and causing senseless deaths and untold suffering because we voted our hearts, not our minds.

Fortunately for those of us who were running around doing stuff in the antiwar movement and not voting Democrat, not a word of this is true.

The first fail is this: Nixon could not have been defeated even if every last member of “the ultraleft faction of the peace movement” had voted for the Democrat Humphrey, along with all their friends and relations. The devil is in those pesky electoral votes. The difference of .7% in popular vote ballooned to an electoral defeat of 301 to 191 to 46 (George Wallace), so Humphrey would have needed to pick up a bunch of states with 79 electoral votes to get to 270.

Let’s look at one of them: California. This state has a lot of data, a lot of 3rd party candidates and is favorable for Chomsky’s argument since Nixon’s victory margin there was only three percentage points. (His margin was closer in only 5 states totaling 84 electoral votes but greater in 26 others.) Nevertheless, Humphrey came up short by 223,346 votes. Now, if all the votes for all 3rd party candidates are thrown in with an equal number for their friends and family, and if this total is doubled again to account for ultraleft abstentions, Humphrey still loses California by over 10,000 votes. Chomsky’s LEV argument fails the test of arithmetic.

Really? How was it that the combined antiwar forces of 1968 could not marshal another couple hundred thousand votes (if they got their heads on straight) and could only muster 52,000 votes for all the third parties in a very contested election? Well, we didn’t have the vote. The voting age was 21. If you graduated high school after 1965 you were too young to vote in 1968. That was almost everybody in the movement. Repeat: the antiwar movement could not have saved Humphrey if it wanted to, because we didn’t have the vote. Fail.

The second fail is the preposterous charge of extending the war by 6 years. The war only lasted 6 more years under Nixon/Ford, so the Democrat, if elected, would have had to declare not just immediate but instant withdrawal. As we shall see, that is an otherworldly conjecture. Why not just claim to shorten the war by several years? This is not the only time this brief reads like a really sloppy first draft and makes an unforced error.

Chomsky himself has noted elsewhere the manner in which the decision to withdraw from Vietnam was actually made by the rulers of America. Sorry, but background. The single most important event of the Vietnam War occurred on January 31, 1968: the Tet Offensive. An armed insurrection broke out in every major town and every provincial capital and in Saigon itself, where the US Embassy was breached and partly overrun. Though this insurrection was short-lived and massively attacked with the full might of the assembled US military; although the insurrectionary forces were at least savagely repressed if not obliterated almost everywhere, and though it took years to rebuild the networks that were sacrificed in those few days; and notwithstanding the fact that the “insurrection” failed to mobilize any segment of the South Vietnamese society in noticeable let alone decisive numbers and relied instead of members of the NLF; nevertheless, the Tet Offensive is widely understood as one of the greatest military victories of history because it destroyed the will of the American people to pursue the war.

Many colonial powers have endured uprisings by subject peoples and continued more or less unfazed, like the British in India and the French in Algeria, at least for a while. But in America we were fed, for years, the lie that the war was being won and pacification of local hamlets and villages was happily proceeding. The end was in sight. So the shock of Tet in America was total. Suddenly a lot of people stopped believing anything the government said about Vietnam.

President Lyndon Johnson also stopped believing what he heard about Vietnam and in the wake of Tet instructed his new Secretary of Defense, an old pal and Democratic Party fixer going back to Truman, to assess the government’s ability to field the 205,000 more troops requested by Gen. Westmoreland as the way to put Tet behind them and go on winning the war. That was the official task but Johnson was tired of hearing totally different stories from different parts of his government and wanted to put the entire security cabinet, as the Israelis would call it, in the same room where they would be forced to arrive at an agreed assessment with no chance of weaseling out later. After three days the new Secretary of Defense concluded there was no way whatsoever to win the war and the US should adopt the strategy called “Vietnamization,” the effort to turn over fighting to the armed forces of the puppet government Washington had been propping up for over a decade. Everyone understood this could not be an overnight affair like evacuating Dunkirk, for dozens of reasons. Everyone also knew Vietnamization would never work and the real point was to disguise defeat. Whole books have been written about this. Allies had to be placated and lies prepared not just for our own but also the people of the unfortunate countries who followed the US down this rabbit hole and provided troops, like Australia and South Korea, the latter providing 50,000. Withdrawal was never going to happen in less than years, on purpose. Total fail #2.

Oddly, Chomsky’s brief never mentions by name the person we should have voted for back when we doomed the Vietnamese to six more years of war in our ultra-left fever. This is at least consistent with Chomsky’s past practice regarding Humphrey. Between when he started writing on social and political issues in February of 1967 with the explosive publication of “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” and the 1968 election Chomsky penned five important essays that established him forever as a leading American intellectual, scourge of the Vietnam War, and a man who names names. A man who would out the head of his own department in writing as no more than an academic war profiteer.

In those essays he mentions Humphrey twice, both times in passing. First:

[T]he Vice President tells us that we are fighting “militant Asian Communism” with “its headquarters in Peking” and adds that a Viet Cong victory would directly threaten the United States[.]

This is so beyond stupid that the old Chomsky, who knew when a thing spoke for itself, made no comment. Walter Lippmann, a right-wing commentator, did point out that this bespoke an unseemly lack of confidence in the US Navy. In the second mention in this blistering political year, discussing moral choices, Chomsky puts Humphrey in some spotty company thinking very bad thoughts, but also in passing, like Dante might mention some subsidiary clod shivering in a corner of some circle of hell:

Suppose that it were in the American “national interest” to pound into rubble a small nation that refuses to submit to our will. Would it then be legitimate and proper for us to act “in this national interest”? The Rusks and the Humphreys and the Citizens Committee say “Yes”. Nothing could show more clearly how we are taking the road of the fascist aggressors of a generation ago.

Is this really everything Chomsky wrote about the Man who Might Have Stopped the War? When an endorsement, in Chomsky’s mind at least, might have mattered ? Yes. That is all.

We have seen that it was mathematically impossible for Humphrey to win California, one of his better states. We have seen that the decision to exit Vietnam was taken at the level of the deep state with not an elected official in the room. Further, that the necessity to mask defeat birthed Vietnamization, which allowed for blaming everything on the hapless South Vietnamese Army as it visibly disintegrated. All this would take time. Nobody cared.

It is clear that for something other than the slow-assed withdrawal outlined above to occur Humphrey would have had to take on the entire establishment. The final fail is that Chomsky does not argue what he must: that there was something known about Humphrey’s character at the time that might make such a head-on challenge to his own administration plausible. Who, then, was Hubert Humphrey?

First, as Chomsky notes above, Humphrey was first and foremost an anti-Communist. And not just in words: He made his bones in Minnesota politics by helping to destroy the Farmer-Labor Party and fold it into the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. This meant wiping out pockets of radicalism left over from the titanic victory of the Teamsters Strike of 1934, often with the use of thugs. In national politics he sponsored a bill to make membership in the Communist Party illegal, sponsored other outlandish pieces of anti-communist legislation, voted to establish detention camps for people like us, was a founder of the anti-communist Americans for Democratic Action and was at least as full-throated an anti-communist with credentials rivaling Nixon’s.

Second, he was an order-taking schnook, and everybody knew it. It is said he advised LBJ early on that Vietnam was a loser but lost his taste for that truth when LBJ froze him out for a couple of months. Since Humphrey considered Johnson’s favor his only possible road into the White House, in the time-honored way of American politicians he proceeded to say exactly what he was told to say for the next four years, never mind that he didn’t believe it. He thus became the Administration’s foremost spokesperson on the war and gave an astonishing 400 speeches defending the Administration’s Vietnam policy.

Robert Kennedy, smelling blood because Clean Gene McCarthy almost handed Johnson his ass in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, entered the race and chased Johnson out within weeks. Before the public announcement that he would not run Johnson coldly told an ashen-faced Humphrey he would have to run against Kennedy and Humphrey, knowing he was dead meat, obeyed. Only Kennedy’s assassination saved him from utter humiliation. He took not one step to distinguish himself from Johnson’s Vietnam position during the entire campaign.

By the record, no one (except his lawyer) ever considered him a man whose thoughts or actions on the war need be discussed. Everything Chomsky himself said about Humphrey during these tumultuous times is quoted in full above. Gabriel Kolko in Anatomy of a War mentions only “Hubert Humphrey’s faltering campaign for the presidency.” In Fred Halstead’s highly detailed history of the antiwar movement Out Now he is again mentioned only once, in passing, as the evident choice of the Democratic Party machine while Jerry Rubin’s index citations run to half a column.

It is not real to think that such a man might impose his will on the machinery of state and speed up the withdrawal from Vietnam. If Chomsky has reasons to believe this, he has kept them to himself. Nothing in history and nothing in Humphrey’s character bears him out. Third and final fail.

Do you still think I have missed the boat? Let’s finally then let the candidates speak for themselves on Vietnam. Here are their respective positions as delivered from the podium during their acceptance speeches.

Humphrey:

“Let those who believe that our cause in Vietnam has been right — and those who believe it has been wrong — agree here and now: Neither vindication nor repudiation will bring peace or be worthy of our country.

The question is: What do we do now?

No one knows what the situation in Vietnam will be on January 20, 1969.

Every heart in America prays that, by then, we shall have reached a cease-fire in all Vietnam, and be in serious negotiation toward a durable peace.

Meanwhile, as a citizen, a candidate, and Vice President, I pledge to you and to my fellow Americans, that I shall do everything within my power to aid the negotiations and to bring a prompt end to this war.”

Nixon:

“We shall begin with Vietnam.

We all hope in this room that there is a chance that current negotiations may bring an honorable end to that war. And we will say nothing during this campaign that might destroy that chance.

But if the war is not ended when the people choose in November, the choice will be clear. Here it is.

For four years this Administration has had at its disposal the greatest military and economic advantage that one nation has ever had over another in any war in history.

For four years, America’s fighting men have set a record for courage and sacrifice unsurpassed in our history.

For four years, this Administration has had the support of the Loyal Opposition for the objective of seeking an honorable end to the struggle.

Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively.

And if after all of this time and all of this sacrifice and all of this support there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership — not tied to the mistakes and the policies of the past. That is what we offer to America.

And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next Administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We shall not stop there — we need a policy to prevent more Vietnams.”

Can’t tell the difference? Neither could we.

The paucity of effort Chomsky expends on this surreal exercise in alternate history politics is notable. He isn’t really trying. He never mentions Humphrey by name. He fact-checks nothing. He does not even appear to know what a Hobson’s Choice is. That’s because all the thinking, if you want to call it that, was done long ago when Chomsky joined the Democrat’s team and stopped thinking about how to actually forge political independence.

The genius of the Democrats is that they will cheerfully allow you to say anything at all, as a Democrat, so long as you toe the line on election day. No harm, no foul. Hence the livelihoods of predictable shills like Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales.

It is slightly different with Chomsky because he has maintained the step of organizational independence from the Democrats, does not suggest that the Democrats can be reformed or taken over, and yet still demands we vote for them if a vote against them might actually hurt. He has, by his own admission, voted in this manner for the last 17 presidential elections. In practice he is a Democratic Party dues cheater pretending a political independence he has never demonstrated.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment