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Washington Post pushes Neo-McCarthyism, blames Russia for “fake news” and Trump win

The Washington Post’s attack on reputable news sites relying upon an alleged survey carried out by a mysterious group that prefers to remain anonymous, is not only a sinister exercise in media manipulation and neo-McCarthyism, but is clearly intended to promote and impose a neocon agenda.

Patrick Henningsen

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This article was submitted by the author, and was published by 21st Century Wire.

The mainstream media’s post-election hysteria has taken on new level of crazy. It seems that The Washington Post has gone off the deep end this week, claiming that Russia is behind the “fake news” crisis which they claim helped propel an insurgent Donald Trump to victory on Nov 8th, and they are still standing by the official conspiracy theory that Russia has somehow hacked into the US elections. Everything that’s wrong with the establishment media is contained within this incredible story…

 

The hacking claim is nothing new – backed by the White House and trumpeted by Hillary Clinton, the US mainstream media has claimed that Russia has been hacking and manipulating our US elections. The only problem is it never happened.What’s more disturbing though, is the complete collapse in journalistic standards at what used to be consideredAmerica’s paper of record.’

It  seems the The Post is playing a key role in waging a new McCarthy-style witch hunt targeting any independent websites which dare to challenge the prevailing anti-Russian party line currently dominating the mainstream political and media establishment – evident beyond any doubt after reading this latest feature in The Washington Post written by Craig Timberg entitled, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, Experts say.

“Experts say”? Make no mistake, this was a true-to-form propaganda piece by the Washington Post, and in itself could be classed as actual “fake news.”

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult to debunk this article. I take no pleasure in saying this, as The Post was once a newspaper I admired growing up, however, what’s going on right now with America’s mainstream media is nothing short of tragic. More than anything, the 2016 Election showed the world how biased, corrupt and broken America’s papers of record have become. Instead of emulating Woodward and Bernstein, it seems most of  the ‘journalists’ are channeling Stephen Glass instead. For those who don’t know already, Glass was one of Washington’s fake news pioneers of note, writing for the leftwing magazine, New RepublicGlass routinely madeup news stories which his journalism school-trained editors weren’t smart enough to pick up on.

It’s clear that the same partisan Clinton and Democratic Party supporters embedded in the media who were pushing anti-Russian talking points throughout the election cycle – are not giving up. As I pointed out in my pre-election piece entitled, “Hillary’s ‘Russian Hack’ Hoax: The Biggest Lie of this Election Season,” what was previously a stance reserved for right-wing neoconservative hawks and Cold War hold-outs has become the new standard for the establishment wing of the Democratic Party – which is the universal demonization of Russia, and the hitlerization of its current president, Vladimir Putin.

The mainstream media continues to lower the bar on what it claims is ‘journalism’.  Just when you thought you’ve seen the worst, unsourced, completely contrived “investigation,” the Washington Post, which used to be regarded as the paragon of American journalism, has produced a rant of an article that is written as if it were a student submission:

“The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”

wapo-craig-timberg

Timberg

You have to feel bad for The Post’s Craig Timberg (photo, left) who seems to have drawn the short straw this week in the anti-Russia propaganda pool at the Post.  According to his biography at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford, Timberg’s primary mission is, “studying potential revenue sources and business opportunities related to foreign news coverage, which he fears is under particular threat from digital disruption of the news industry.” The perfect man for the job.

His Thanksgiving Day exposé posits a unified theory of a Trump-Putin axis of evil – an all of the above, buckshot blog post pushed out by the Washington Post (amazing) where Timberg claims The Russians are not only behind the US establishment’s latest “fake news” hysteria, but also hacking  both DNC and the US elections, and carrying Donald Trump into the White House.

To support his case, Timberg claims that:

“Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House.”

So The Post claims that the Russians hacked the DNC and US elections systems, engineered Facebook’s ‘fake news’ crisis,  which helped get Trump elected. In order to weave all three of these things together, Timberg had to rely on the mainstream media’s propaganda weapon of choice: anonymous sources. After that, it was just a case of plugging-in and hyperlinking to previous Washington Post headlines made to look as if these events actually happened, when no evidence exists to date that they ever did:

  1. U.S. government officially accuses Russia of hacking campaign to interfere with elections
    (By
    Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Oct 7, 2016)

This story was used to great effect by Hillary Clinton herself on national TV during the Presidential debates. The headline is written to give the false impression there was actual proof to back up such profound accusations, but when you actually read the article, there is nothing. It seems that in today’s Washington Post, what passes for evidence can be as little as the President accusing Russia of being involved. The statement from the vaunted ‘intelligence community’ is about as vague as it gets, stating, “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” said a joint statement from the two agencies. “. . . These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” No proof, no evidence, but… they are “confident”.  This must be the same sort of confidence these same intelligence agencies had when they briefed Colin Powell about Saddam Hussein’s mobile anthrax labs, aka The Winnebagos of Death. Sounds crazy, I know, but it was good enough for the mainstream media in 2002-2003, just like “we are confident” is good enough for the Washington Post today.

2. “Russian hackers targeted Arizona election system” (By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Aug 29, 2016)

Despite the misleading headline, the article does not contain any evidence or anything remotely near ‘proof’ by any normal journalistic standards. But this is not normal journalism. After reading past the colorful headline in the  Arizona Russian Hack story, it gets really vague, claiming the FBI’s theory that ‘Russia did it’ was, ” “credible” and significant, “an eight on a scale of one to 10.” It’s hard not to laugh when reading some of these mainstream stories. It gets better, saying that, “FBI investigators did not specify whether the hackers were criminals or employed by the Russian government. Bureau officials on Monday declined to comment…”  What else is this but Washington-based, politically motivated propaganda, designed to scapegoat Russia?

By definition, Timberg is using actual fake and misleading news articles (produced by his employer the Washington Post) in order to validate his own unified conspiracy theory. It’s hard to tell if Timberg himself is even aware of what he’s doing. If not, certainly an argument can be made for mainstream ‘journalists’ who are so ensconced in their own corporate bubble that they actually believe their own organization’s propaganda.

Despite the best efforts of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, the White House and mainstream media outlets like CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, the New York Times and countless other outlets, all of whom either endorsed Hillary Clinton or tailored their news coverage to favor her campaign – with many even colluding directly with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), there is zero evidence to validate the establishment’s epic Conspiracy Theory that the Kremlin master-minded the greatest election heist in modern times.


prop-or-not

VIRTUAL WITCH HUNT: “PropOrNot.com”


 

Deep Throat: The Washington Post’s Secret ‘Source’

Timberg claims to have a mysterious deep throat ‘source’: “researchers” from a group called PropOrNot, a website which just sprung up on October 30, 2016, and who claims to have “proof” that ties together ‘Fake News’/ ‘Pro-Trump’ articles online – back to Russia. The only problem is, he can’t show us any of their research, nor can he tell us the name of the principal, allegedly because this person fears threats of retribution.  Timberg states, “The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy,” said the executive director of PropOrNot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers. When you hear things like this in the mainstream media, there is a high probability you are reading an actual government-sponsored propaganda piece.

More likely, the only fear ProOrNot’s authors have is of being held accountable for their own online smear and propaganda campaign.

PropOrNot’s web domain registration is also hidden behind “Domains By Proxy,” a company in Scottsdale Arizona.

Timberg’s ‘source’ is a nameless website, with no author names given, with links to “Boycott Russia Today,” and yet, PropOrNot claims to be “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds,” and Timberg says they plan to release their findings on Friday “showing the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”

“… (PropOrNot) planned to release its own findings Friday showing the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns,” stated Timberg.

Timberg’s highly anticipated “release” from the anonymous source doesn’t seem to have happened though. A visit to PropOrNot’s website Friday shows no such report released. When, or if such a report is actually released by the website, it will certainly be interesting to analyze its findings.

Thus far the only ‘investigation’ PropOrNot has done was an article implicating the financial news site Zero Hedge posted on Oct 31st and can be found here – a unintelligible mix of websites, speculating that they are somehow linked and in league with the Kremlin. It claims its thesis in corroborated by other sites PropOrNot says are “our allies” – similar anti-Russia web sources including the EU Disinformation Review (a ‘campaign’ run by the EU’s East StratCom Task force), Polygraph Info (run by US gov’t-backed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America)Fake News Watch (home of an extensive virtual book burning list), Stop Fake (Ukraine based, Pro-Maidan), Russia Lies (run by Julia Davis, a “national security expert” behind the tabloid reports alleging foul play in celebrity Britney Murphy’s death), and of course no anti-Russian allied list would be complete without Bellingcat (by now a widely discredited, Atlantic Council/NATO-linked, anti-Russian, anti-Syrian, ‘open source investigation’ website, run by Elliot Higgins).

The timing of this anti-Russian campaign is no coincidence either. This week the EU passed a new anti-Russian resolution to ‘counter act’ supposed Russian propaganda:  ‘EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties’, with 179 voting against it and 208 abstaining.

mccarthy-red-scare-e1480137889147

BEWARE: McCarthyism is still in style in 2016 (Image: @21WIRE)

PropOrNot’s “Executive Summary” (yes, we’re trying not to laugh, too) states:

“Thus far we at PropOrNot have identified over 200 distinct websites which qualify as Russian propaganda outlets according to our criteria, and target audiences in the United States. We estimate the regular US audiences of these sites to number in the tens of millions. We are gathering data to measure that more precisely, but we are confidant that it includes at least 15 million Americans.”

The McCarthyite tone of their defamation is breathtaking, as the site claims they can spot Russian agents of influence online and collaborator websites through an endless list of ‘things to look out for’:

(…) 9. Refer their audiences to each other, via hyperlinks and other means, at disproportionately high rates;

10. Are consistently visited by the same audiences, both directly and via search, demonstrating that those intra-network referrals build “brand loyalty” in their audiences over time;

11. Are consistently visited by their audiences after searches for terms which congrue with the Russian propaganda “line”, and are unrelated to the purported focus of their branding; (…) 

I guess it never occurred to these geniuses that people might be loyal followers of well-established alternative websites like AntiWar.com, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House, OpEd NewsActivist Post, Global Research.ca, Oriental Review,Truth-Out, Truth DigZero Hedge, Ron Paul Institute (former US Congressman) and Paul Craig Roberts (former Cabinet member under President Reagan), to name only a few off of PropOrNot’s massive list of alleged ‘Russian propaganda collaborators.’

This is basically an amateur attempt to reverse engineer a virtual conspiracy – spuriously connecting 200 popular alternative websites – with a theoretical Russian plot. 

It should be a cause for concern that The Washington Post is now promoting a ‘Blacklist’ in the spirit of Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare.

Michael Krieger, editor of Liberty BlitzKrieg, one the sites on PropOrNot’s “List” sums up the fundamental flaw in both Timberg and ProOrNot’s insular Washington DC-centric mainstream bubble thinking:

“What’s particularly interesting about this list, isn’t the fact that a bunch of anonymous whiners decided to demonize successful critics of insane, inhumane and ethically indefensible U.S. government policy, but rather the fact that the Washington Post decided to craft an entire article around such a laughably ridiculous list. This just further proves a point that is rapidly becoming common knowledge amongst U.S. citizens with more than a couple of brain cells to rub together. The mainstream media is the real “fake news.”

Krieger adds:

“Unfortunately, this is apparently all we know so far about this shadowy organization, which is simply hilarious considering the group deems any alternative news source that does not agree with the U.S. government narrative to be either outright Russian propaganda, or “useful idiots.”

Krieger makes an indisputable point though, and one that’s also been made by numerous qualified pundits: by far the most prolific purveyor of real fake news and propaganda, especially over the last 30 years – is undoubtedly the US and UK media, and as we can all see – they haven’t slowed down.

The issue of confirmation bias in western media is chronic, but it’s also institutional problem when you consider that many of these mainstream writers are submerged under their own layer of Western-generated American or British propaganda.

As a result, they might be completely oblivious of the fact that John Kerry has been caught lying to the world at the UN about what Russia supposedly did in the Ukraine, Crimea, and Syria, or they might have missed UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s shrill antics at the UN – an embarrassment to the US in front of a world audience, or Admiral John Kirby’s epic meltdown last week after he couldn’t defend his own lies to an RT reporter at the US State Department press briefing. On Syria in particular, US politicians have lied so much and so often, that most serious people around the world do not believe a word that comes out of this Administration’s mouth – and American and European bloggers most certainly have a right to point this out – not because it pleases Putin – but because they are disgusted with their own government’s poor (and highly illegal) conduct on the world stage, especially at this moment in Syria and Yemen. Evidently, none this factors into the reports by Timberg and “PropOrNot.”

Maybe they didn’t get the memo either, about the fact that Assad did not “gas his own people” in East Ghouta in August 2013, or any other time that can be proven by his accusers.

Many in the US media are simply living inside of their own self-generated, self-reverential propaganda bubble.

Even more incredibly, PropOrNot then implores its visitors to only visit get information from US-gov funded news sources like NPR, state-owned media like the BBC, Murdoch-owned and financed outlets like the Wall Street Journal and VICE News, and corporate establishment media sources:

“We call on the American public to: Obtain news from actual reporters, who report to an editor and are professionally accountable for mistakes. We suggest NPR, the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington PostBuzzfeedVICE, etc, and especially your local papers and local TV news channels. Support them by subscribing, if you can!”

It’s pretty incredible to see The Washington Post basing a case on an anonymous website – one which is conducting a virtual witch hunt, clearly with malicious intent (to smear some 200 websites), as a primary journalistic source? Incredible.

At this point, everyone should question the political motives of Washington Post staff writer Craig Timberg. It’s beyond outrageous even by today’s decrepid standards.

Judging by the looks of it, PropOrNot itself is a pretty good example of pure black propaganda.

Who is behind Timberg’s ‘source’ PropOrNot? Is it Timberg himself? Is it run by staff at The Washington Post? As it’s so secretive, then you can’t rule that possibility out.

In true NeoMcCarthyite form, PropOrNot has also issued “The List” – a guide to alternative media websites which it accuses of “echo Russian propaganda.” As of today, amazingly, 21st Century Wire.com is not included on their virtual book burning list (but its likely to be after they read this article).

Strangely, there is no mention at all by Timberg about a report by BuzzFeed News which identified the primary source of the actual ‘fake news’ flooding Facebook – more than 150 pro-Trump websites being run from a single town, by a cohort of savvy teenagers in Veles, Macedonia – which is not Russia. Granted, Buzzfeed and The Guardian are both establishment media that sometimes produce their own propaganda. However, unless Timberg can refute either the Buzzfeed or The Guardian reports on this subject, or somehow tie His suspected battery of Russian hackers to Veles, then this entire unified conspiracy theory in D.O.A.

According to these investigations, the Veles crew are not ideologically motivated, but rather, driven by that old classic – money. They are raking it in with standard Google Ad Sense and other online traffic CPM advertising unit revenue, with incomes ranging from $5,000 to as high as $30,000 per month.  They’re not doing it for Mother Russia, but rather for Benjamin Franklin.



fake-news-fb-2016-11-25-at-21-24-31

Example of an actual fake news post on a Facebook news group from the website USINFONEWS.com (Nov. 2016)

It’s certainly possible that the Macedonia’s fake news bedroom empire is being managed by someone higher up the food chain than a cadre of eastern European gamers, but based on their ubiquitous references to breaking FOX News events and nuanced political and emotive button pushing from these faux news sites – it’s on the whole much more likely that any alleged ‘Pro-Trump’ hidden hand would be more likely directing their talking points from inside of the United States.

Timberg’s fake story in The Post was then echoed by Daniel Politi at the popular liberal website Slate, under the heading,How Russian Propaganda Used Facebook to Spread Fake News During the Election,” in an attempt to give more credence to Timberg’s contrived thesis:

Politi says

“.. at least some of the false news that spread in the last few months of the campaign appears to have had much more serious geopolitical implications and was spread thanks to “a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign,” reports the Washington Post, which cites two recent expert reports on the issue.”

Again, “expert” claims. Just to remind readers, the first expert is an anonymous Russiaphobic website PropOrNot, while the other ‘expert’ writes for an anti-Russian blog and works for a neoconservative think tank (see Neocon below).

Less we forget, Slate invented a fake story that went viral in October, one which was retweeted by Hillary Clinton herself. Apparently, Clinton’s campaign staff fed her planted online news story created by another on Slate’s ‘journalists’ named Franklin Foer, complete with the comical clickbait headline, Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?

Here’s Hillary Clinton’s tweet of Slate’s own ‘fake news’ story:

hillarystweet

It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia.

http://slate.me/2dWggCd

John Roberts at Forbes explains how Slate got caught passing off actual ‘fake news’ at the height of the election, “The bottom line is that Slate screwed up by publishing this in the first place, and by adding more kooky misinformation to an already addled election season. As for Foer, he says on Twitter a “follow up” piece is in the works.”

What the difference between Slate’s fake news story and the Macedonian fake Trump stories on Facebook? There is no difference, other than the fact that Hillary Clinton ended up making a fool out of herself by tweeting out – and validating to her millions of followers – a completely made-up, fake news story by Slate. 

So Craig Timberg and Slate are guilty of doing exactly what Timberg and his deep throat ‘source’ PropOrNot are accusing Russia’s alleged clandestine Facebook and blogger network of doing – passing around and “echoing fake news.”

How these ‘journalists’ at The Washington Post and Slate expect to be taken seriously after this is just beyond the pale.

Neocon Think Tanks and other ‘Experts’

Craig Timberg’s other supporting ‘evidence’ or opinion (it’s hard to tell the difference in the Washington Post these days) is being supplied by Clint Watts from the ubiquitously titled, Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), a Cold War era ‘think tank’ (not surprisingly, still stuck in the Cold War), no doubt with links to Washington’s intelligence establishment. If that think tank sounds familiar to any neocon fossil hunters, you’d know that FPRI is run by none other than John Lehman, one of the original signatories to the neoconservative doctrine of continuous war, Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and a foreign policy advisor to both John McCain and Mitt Romney – two virulent anti-Russian hawks. So it’s no surprise then that Timberg is referencing his ‘expert’ Watts, along with co-authors Andrew Weisburd and JM Berger, in an article from the website War On the Rocks, entitled:

Trolling For Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”  

This is coupled with a related story by Watts and Andrew Weisburd published at the very anti-Russian publication, the Daily Beast, entitled:

How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too) – “Fake news stories from Kremlin propagandists regularly become social media trends. Here’s how Moscow does it… and what it means for America’s election 2016.”

Impressive headline, if not a touch Click Bait-y. Once again, the familiar mainstream media pattern of misleading headlines inferring that the article contains actual evidence, and again, the evidence supplied by Watts is that ‘a lot of people think Russia did it,’ claiming that:

“And the evidence is compelling. A range of activities speaks to a Russian connection: the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials, hacks surrounding voter rolls and possibly election machines, Putin’s overt praise for Trump, and the curious Kremlin connections of Trump campaign operatives Paul Manafort and Carter Page.”

Very “compelling”? Essentially, the above are a series of familiar, albeit recycled, talking points that may as well have beamed-in via John Podesta’s personal Blackberry. To Clinton supporters, those talking points sounded plausible a month ago, but even staunch Clintonites are fast abandoning the Russian conspiracy theories. For establishment supporters of Hillary Clinton, that translates as case closed. This is a perfect example of a propaganda bubble, or a self-feeding propaganda loop. Many have argued that it was this sort of delusional incestuous closed loop that inadvertently helped to get Donald Trump elected on Nov 8th.

Timberg’s source at War On the Rocks also claims that Putin has rebooted the old Soviet “Active Measures” information warfare program designed to “Undermine citizen confidence in democratic governance.” Their evidence: a 1992 document from the US Information Agency, of course, not anything from Russia itself. Again, we’ll have to accept the word of the “intelligence community,” because they talked about it back in 1992. The rest of the theory is comprised of a fill-in-the-blanks exercise plugging-in a little Alex Jones for good measure, and various other websites – into a highly creative infographic ‘proving’ the Russians are waging an ‘Active Measures on Steroid’ information warfare against the United States.

Here’s creative infographic from their website designed to stitch together Watts’s elaborate conspiracy theory:

russia_active_measures

Watts also claims that anyone in the West who supports Bashar al Assad in Syria is doing so at the behest of this ‘Russian Active Measures operation:

“When experts published content criticizing the Russian-supported Bashar al Assad regime, organized hordes of trolls would appear to attack the authors on Twitter and Facebook. Examining the troll social networks revealed dozens of accounts presenting themselves as attractive young women eager to talk politics with Americans, including some working in the national security sector. These “honeypot” social media accounts were linked to other accounts used by the Syrian Electronic Army hacker operation. All three elements were working together: the trolls to sow doubt, the honeypots to win trust, and the hackers (we believe) to exploit clicks on dubious links sent out by the first two.”

This is derivative theorizing that would make even Bellingcat wince. The use of the word “troll” as a generalized pejorative label is buttressed by an even more bias notion that no one in the west would ever be against regime change in Syria, unless they were convinced otherwise by attractive Russian online honeypots. This level of ‘research’ is beyond ridiculous, and yet, this is what passes for a ‘trusted source’ at the Washington Post today.

Political Bias: An Occupational Hazzard at The Washington Post

In a previous article, it’s just a little too obvious that Timberg can’t hold back his disappointment in Hillary Clinton’s defeat when you read his headline: Could better Internet security have prevented Trump’s shocking win?.  Claims Timberg

“The election of Republican Donald Trump has stunned Silicon Valley, sparking renewed fears about how the federal government’s powerful surveillance machinery could undermine personal privacy — especially in the hands of a man with a history of threatening retaliation against those who challenge him,” 

The hysterical lamenting quickly turns to fear mongering:

“In Silicon Valley, many were dazed after Tuesday’s election. Some companies let their employees take the day off or wrote all-staff letters reminding their colleagues of their commitment to inclusive workplaces that protect women, immigrants and minorities. Techies, meanwhile, warned one another on Twitter to begin using privacy and encrypted tools.”

What is the difference between this politicized diatribe and the fake Macedonia posts on Facebook? There is no difference, they are doing the same thing. What is going on at The Washington Post? It looks like the organization abandoned any pretence of objective journalism.

Here you have a writer who is on staff at The Washington Post and a fellow at Stanford University’s John S. Knight School of Journalism – trying to posit a unified conspiracy theory that Russia steered the outcome of a US Presidential Election.

Timberg is just one of many examples of overtly politically bias writers in mainstream publications, specifically employed by The Washington Post, New York Times, ABC, CBS, CNN and others.  Many were caught working in collusion with the Hillary Clinton campaign, like The Post’s “star reporter” Juliet Eilperin who was revealed in an email to have offered John Podesta “heads up” about a story she was about to publish, even going so far as to provide the Clinton campaign CEO with a brief pre-publication synopsis. Here are a few more famous “journalists” and their corrupted publications guilty of colluding with the Clinton Campaign:

Notably absent from this list of disinformers is CBS/PBS Charlie Rose, whose overt shilling for Clinton broke all records of mendacity.

Notably absent from this list of disinformers is CBS/PBS Charlie Rose, the media sycophant whose overt shilling for Hillary Clinton broke all records of mendacity.

Not surprisingly, Timberg then goes on to call the news output of RT (Russia Today) “propaganda,” and goes on to base his value judgment on a Rand Corporation report that describes Russian media as a “propaganda efforts a ‘firehose of falsehood’ because of their speed, power and relentlessness” — a report which also claims that Russia attacked neighboring Georgia in 2008, a common western meme, when in reality it was US-backed Georgian military forces that attacked South Ossetia – an obvious point which Timberg seems to have overlooked due to his own confirmation bias. Sadly, this is par for the course with most US media pundits, most of whom do not really care what actually happened, only what Washington’s party line is on events.

His source, War on the Rocks, continues pushing their conspiracy theory, stating, “But most observers are missing the point. Russia is helping Trump’s campaign, yes, but it is not doing so solely or even necessarily with the goal of placing him in the oval office. Rather, these efforts seek to produce a divided electorate and a president with no clear mandate to govern. The ultimate objective is to diminish and tarnish American democracy.”

I think America has managed to do a pretty good job of that by itself.

Decline of the US Mainstream Media

The loss of credibility is the least of The Post’s worries though.

The reality is that in an effort to recoup dwindling revenues needed to pay for its inflated salaries and non-investigative ‘investigations,’ The Washington Post themselves have had to resort to pushing daily some of the most gratuitous ‘click bait’ stories on the web. Here’s one of many daily low-brow items, this ‘Polar Bear Eats Dog‘ story is from Tuesday Nov 22nd:

If you follow the Post’s newsfeed, you will see endless articles like the polar bear story, most of which carry a deceptive headline that does not reflect the story in the article. That’s real Click Bait, and it’s now their bread and butter.

polarbear-dog-washington-post-click-bait

In an age of universal corruption in Washington and rampant collusion between political elites and the US corporate media, it’s much easier to scapegoat an existential enemy for every systemic and institutional crisis affecting America. Whole industries have been spun out of this old habit: the intelligence industry, the defense industry, and the new ‘security’ industry – collectively well over a trillion-dollar per year financial concern requires a boogyman in order to justify not only its existence, but also its corporate share prices, and financial growth projections. Now there’s a real unified conspiracy theory for you! Maybe Craig Timberg should consider looking into that conspiracy, in the tradition of the former versions of Woodward and Bernstein.

Author Jay Dyer explained the current corporate media structure in America today in his article entitled, The Entire Mainstream Warmongering Media is Fake,” explaining,

“Given the mainstream media is almost wholly owned by 6 conglomerates, we can begin to see how the coordination and control once considered a “conspiracy theory” is now made evident.

6_major_corporations_own_90_communications

2012 Ownership Chart (Image Source: Jays Analysis)

In 1983, there were 50 and now it is roughly six, with NewsCorp owning the largest papers on three continents. That these facts sound like a “conspiracy theory” can only be presumed from a position of ignorance, especially given the full coordination and deception regarding the Trump – Clinton election of 2016, from rigged polls to Wikileaks revelations of 6o plus top media operatives directly promoting Hillary.”

Dyer adds

“If the Trump phenomena showed anything, it showed the consensus reality the mainstream media attempted to create concerning Hillary’s certain victory, as well as the consensus reality erected for decades, is not omnipotent.”

In short, the entire US corporate media seems to function with a singular hive mind, aggressively promoting one war after the another, and elevating a new geopolitical foe every few years. This can be explained in part by the defense industry’s ownership of US mainstream outlets, and the hundreds of millions dollars these Pentagon-linked companies pour into both TV, print and online ads – none of that explains how editors, writers and producers at these outlets can sit there and still claim they are still performing their duty as part of the Fourth Estate.

As it stands, mainstream journalism is truly dead in America.

On Oct 9, 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it accurately:

“We have witnessed a fundamental change of circumstances when it comes to the aggressive Russophobia that now lies at the heart of U.S. policy towards Russia. It’s not just a rhetorical Russophobia, but aggressive steps that really hurt our national interests and pose a threat to our security.”

What Lavrov didn’t say is that it has now reached hysterical proportions in US mainstream media circles, where those who call themselves journalists are willing to say virtually anything, even hyperbole, so long as it fills the anti-Russian narrative.

Unfortunately, The Washington Post continues to be a big part of the problem. 

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Authored by Joseph Jankowski via PlanetFreeWill.com,


On Thursday, the watchdog revealed that it had received two batches, 184 pages and 45 pagesof newly uncovered emails belonging to Hillary Clinton from the U.S. Department of State sent and received over her unsecured server.

The emails were uncovered by a FOIA lawsuit filed on May 6, 2015, after the State Department failed to respond to a March 4, 2015 FOIA request seeking all emails sent or received by Clinton in her official capacity as Secretary of State, as well as all emails by other State Department employees to Clinton regarding her non-“state.gov” email address.

Judicial Watch broke down what they found:

  • On June 7, 2011, Clinton received classified information on her non-secure email account from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which Blair also forwarded to Jake Sullivan, about Blair’s Middle East negotiations with Israel, the Palestinians and the French
  • On January 26, 2010, Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan sent classified information via his unsecure Blackberry to Huma Abedin’s State Department email account that he’d earlier sent to Clinton’s and Abedin’s non-secure @clintonemail.com email accounts about U.K. negotiations with Northern Ireland.
  • On October 28, 2010, Clinton exchanges information with her friend Marty Torrey – a congressional aide – who asks Clinton in an email if she would advise that Torrey meet with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Clinton responds through her non-secure email account approving the meeting and notes that she is emailing him from Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • An email chain dated April 8, 2010, which contains a memo from Sid Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton related to the change of government in Kyrgyzstan, contains information classified “confidential” and is redacted as “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” Blumenthal urges Clinton to “develop relations” with the new government in Kyrgyzstan.

These emails caused Judicial Watch founder Tom Fitton to call for the Department of Justice to re-open the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time in office.

“These emails were undercovered from the emails that Hillary Clinton tried to delete or otherwise hide from the American people,” Fitton said in a video posted Thursday. “These new emails once again show why the Clinton email investigation needs to be re-opened by the Justice Department.”

The batch of emails also disclosed a January 26, 2010, email to Hillary Clinton’s private server from her deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan, that is classified “confidential” and contains a “call sheet” that Clinton received prior to a call with Northern Ireland political leaders.

Interesting, but not surprising, is also an email that shows a meeting scheduled between Hillary Clinton and leftwing billionaire George Soros.

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Doug Casey on Social Media: “Facebook enshrines stupidity”

“Just as Myspace was displaced by Facebook, I predict Facebook 2.0 will come along and replace Facebook.”

The Duran

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Authored by Joel Bowman via InternationalMan.com:


Joel Bowman: G’day, Doug. Thanks for speaking with us today.

Doug Casey: No problem, Joel. It’s a pleasure to hear your Australian accent come across the ether from Mexico.

Joel: Let’s dive right in. A week or two ago, Facebook registered the largest single day loss for any one company in stock market history – roughly $122 billion. CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost around $15 billion himself, as much as the annual GDP of several resource-rich, West African nations.

Looking back to 2000, during the go-go days of the dot.com boom, Intel and Microsoft both registered staggering single-day losses, too… $90 billion and $80 billion, respectively. And we know what happened next in that case…

So, investors want to know… is past prologue? What’s next for Silicon Valley’s tech darlings?

Doug: Talking about losing multiple billions in a single day, it’s really a sign of the times. I remember when the only billionaires in the world were Howard Hughes, John Paul Getty and John Beresford Tipton– the mythical billionaire on a 1950’s-era show called “The Millionaire.”

These days, however, it seems everyone’s a billionaire. In fact, there are several thousand billionaires roaming the planet today, with new ones being minted almost every day.

Of course, much of this so-called wealth is just paper. It’s not real. In fact, it’s pretty clear to me that we’re in a stock market bubble. Which is being driven by the bond market hyper-bubble. And that, in turn, is fueling a real estate bubble, which I believe is just now beginning to deflate in major cities around the world.

None of this augurs well for the stock market. You’ve got bubbles all over the place. Except in the resource market. That’s the one place that hasn’t inflated. In fact, it’s been going down since it’s last peak in 2011.

Getting back to Facebook, I hope it goes bankrupt. I hate it as an institution. I hate what it does. I don’t like its policies. I don’t like its management. I don’t like the fact that it’s causing people to destroy whatever privacy they have left. While turning their brains to mush sending out selfies all day.

Joel: You’ve put a lot on the table there, Doug. Let’s unpack a bit of that, starting with the general tendency toward cerebral rot…

Many younger readers may not remember this, but there actually existed a time before everybody knew everything, when people had to read books and discuss them, engage in healthy debate and rigorous dialectic in order to learn and develop intellectually.

Now that everyone apparently has plenty of time to Instagram their kale salads and “like” one and other’s cat pictures, are we to assume mankind has finally reached the End of Learning…some new Age of Enlightenment?

Or might Facebook and its (anti)social media cousins represent – in addition to the potential fallout for investors – another, hidden cost to society?

Doug: Perhaps humanity is bifurcating into the Morlocks and the Eloi at this point. It’s true that people used to go to libraries. But even the Library of Congress has only a tiny fraction the world’s data available; libraries are quaint and delightful, but they’re dinosaurs.

All the knowledge in the world is now at our fingertips on the Internet. The Internet is one of the greatest inventions in history, on a par with moveable type and the Gutenburg printing press. A few people are using it to educate and better themselves—but relatively few.

Most people just use it for trivial amusement, as you mentioned. Facebook adds very little value to the equation. In fact, I can’t see that it does much that’s productive. It’s basically a vehicle for gossip and watching cat videos.

Joel: And it’s less than that. Aside from the general degradation of public discourse, social media also represents a kind of unalterable historical record of bad jokes and regrettable moments, accessible to anyone who may wish to besmirch one’s character or skittle one’s reputation.

We’ve all said things we wish we hadn’t. To err is to be human, after all. What do you make of a world in which everyone’s worst moments are readily available to everyone else – including potential enemies – at the click of a mouse?

Doug: Facebook enshrines stupidity. A heavy Facebook user is, in effect, saying: “Look at me! I’m a thoughtless person who doesn’t have anything better to do with his time”. That’s on top of the fact that users are exposing their thoughts, actions, and whereabouts to the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and any of a hundred other nefarious agencies. In fact, there are credible allegations that Facebook, along with Google and Amazon, are willing tools of these intelligence agencies. No good can come of being a Facebookista.

But that’s about whether you should use Facebook. Whether you should own Facebook stock is a different question. Even after the recent selloff, Facebook still has a market cap of about $500 billion, which impresses me as a lot for a chat site cum advertising vehicle. Especially one where most of its growth is behind it. A lot of users are getting hip to the fact they’re not customers, they’re the product.

Facebook was a clever innovation ten years ago. But you know, there’s an old saying in the stock market: High Tech, Big Wreck!

Just as Myspace was displaced by Facebook, I predict Facebook 2.0 will come along and replace Facebook. My understanding is that kids now see Facebook as something used by old people– people over 21 years of age. So if it’s going nowhere with the younger generation, where’s it’s future? Maybe it picks up a billion new users in the Third World. Ultimately, what’s that worth?

Facebook may not be a terminal short sale, but I certainly won’t be putting any of my own money into the stock.

Joel: Assuming you’re correct and Facebook 2.0 does displace the current market leader, are you hopeful that such a platform may serve to promote a heightened level of discourse? Perhaps people might find their way into “phyles,” that is, subgroups based on commonly shared values that actually have real world meaning?

Doug: I hope that, in a year or two, International Man itself grows into a community of likeminded people with above average I.Q.s, libertarian values, and real world experience. IM might, itself, even branch off to become its own kind of Facebook. A private version.

I know there’s a lot of talk about regulating FB, or breaking it up. That’s a bad idea; the government should have zero to do with business in general—and areas related to free speech in particular. I’m disgusted by the fact FB has kicked Alex Jones and others off their platform. But they have a right to do so, as a private company. Although, on the other hand, they’re almost a creature of the State.

But that’s not an excuse for the government to “step in”. What will happen is that a newer, better Facebook lookalike—or a dozen of them—will replace them. FB will self-destruct. It’s a non-problem.

To be frank, you and I don’t really have that much in common with most of the 7.3 billion people on this planet. In fact, while I like many individual humans, I despise humanity in general. The more people you put together in a group, the more they act like chimpanzees. Big groups force down the lowest common denominator.

There’s some cause for optimism, but only on a person-to-person basis. I prefer the company of people who value free minds and free markets—and I suspect most people who are reading this now feel the same way.

Joel: That’s probably a very good note to end this conversation on, Doug. Thanks, as always, for taking the time.

Doug: Meanwhile, we’ll look for something with the potential of Facebook in 2008… and stay away from Facebook today.

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Why did Erdogan free two Greek soldiers after six months in a Turkish prison?

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 83.

Alex Christoforou

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Two Greek soldiers freed after months in a Turkish prison returned to Greece by government jet after their unexpected release by a Turkish provincial court.

Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said he phoned his Turkish counterpart to express his satisfaction with the soldiers’ release and invite him to visit Greece.

Kammenos told reporters, referring to the Feast of the Dormation, which falls on August 15 and to the Italian torpedoing on a Greek warship on this day in 1940…

“This is a great day for our motherland, the day of Our Lady, the day of Tinos in 1940.”

“I hope that their release…will herald a new day in Greek-Turkish relations. We can live together peacefully, for the benefit of both our peoples.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind Erdogan’s unexpected overture to Greece, with the sudden release of two Greek soldiers held in a Turkish prison for nearly 6 months.

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Via Ekathimerini

The soldiers – 2nd Lieutenant Angelos Mitretodis and Sergeant Dimitris Kouklatzis – were met by Kammenos, the army chief of staff and an honor guard after their arrival at 3 a.m. at the airport in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

“All I want to say is thank you,” Mitretodis told reporters.

The men were arrested on March 1 for illegally entering Turkey after crossing the heavily militarized land border. Greece strongly protested their long detention in the western town of Edirne, arguing that they had strayed across during a patrol of a trail of suspected illegal immigration amid poor visibility due to bad weather.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed their release as “an act of justice,” and provided the jet he uses on official foreign journeys to bring them back.

Their release “will contribute to strengthening friendship, good neighborly relations and stability in the region,” Tsipras said in a statement. “I want to congratulate and thank (the two men) and their families for their fortitude, patience and trust in our efforts, which were finally justified.”

In Athens, the Foreign Ministry said: “We welcome the release of the two members of the Greek armed forces … following more than five months of unjustified custody in Edirne prison. This decision by the Turkish authorities is positive and will contribute to the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations and the friendship between our people.

“The constant efforts exerted by the Prime Minister, the Foreign Ministry and the diplomatic and consular missions of Greece in Turkey have borne fruit. Once again diplomacy is the biggest winner.”

The men’s arrest had considerably strained Greek-Turkish relations. Kammenos had claimed that they were being held “hostage” by Turkey, which is trying to secure the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen who fled to Greece after the 2016 failed military coup in Turkey.

Ankara accuses its servicemen of involvement in the coup, but Greek courts have refused to extradite them, arguing they would not get a fair trial in Turkey and their lives would be in danger there.

The two Greeks were released Tuesday pending the outcome of their trial by a Turkish court. Turkey’s state Anadolu Agency said that in a court hearing to review a request for their release the two said in their defense that they had crossed the border by mistake.

Mitretodis’ father told the AP that his son had shown great strength in prison.

“My wife phoned and told me the news, and at once I called the Greek consul (in Edirne) and confirmed that the lads have been set free,” Nikos Mitretodis said. “They didn’t do anything wrong, and they spent a long time in prison. But they were strong during all that time, and remain strong, they have to be.”

“I want to thank everyone for their solidarity – the media, our political leadership, the Church and anonymous people who stood by us,” he added.

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the release of the two soldiers “on the one hand constitutes a basic act of justice on the part of the Turkish authorities. On the other hand, it shows how Turkey can and should continue to fully reestablish the climate of friendship and good neighborliness with Greece”.

Main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “The release of the two Greek officers is happy news amid the gloomy summer that our country is experiencing. All Greeks await their return with joy and emotion.”

In Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was delighted by news of the Greek soldiers’ imminent release. “As I said (before) … Turkey has nothing to fear from its European neighbors. We want to see a democratic, stable and prosperous Turkey,” he posted on Twitter.

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog:

On August 15, Greeks celebrate the “Dormition (or the Assumption) of the Virgin Mary (in Greek: Koimisis tis Theotokou). The holiday commemorates the “falling asleep” or death of the Theotokos (Mary, translated as “God-bearer”). August 15, one of the most important holidays in the Orthodox calendar, is celebrated across the country, and is a date when many Greeks leave the towns and cities where they live and work to return to their home villages.”

Stole that bit from the local Kathimerini paper. And I would add: while most Athenians leave for the islands, along with about 2 billion tourists. Thought I’d bring up the national holiday because in Turkey, they celebrate the same. The orthodox church is still going strong in both countries. Even if Turkey is leaning increasingly towards Islam. And even then: the House of the Virgin Mary shrine in Turkey, which the Apostle John is supposed to have built for her, on a mountain overlooking the Aegean, the place where Mary is said to have spent her last years, sees both Christian and Muslim pilgrims.

All this can’t be seen apart from some recent developments between the two countries. Turkey had been holding two Greek servicemen in jail after they crossed a border in bad weather early March.

Athens got a phone call from Ankara, probably to Kammenos, not Tsipras, that said: you come get them. Whether that call was before or after the court decision we’ll probably never know. A bit of a shame, because it could tell us a lot of where the decisions are made in Turkey. Then again, we do have an idea. A mere provincial court that could make decisions that go completely against what Erdogan desires? What are the odds? But stick around.

Here’s what’s interesting about this: the two soldiers, who had been in detention for almost half a year, were released by a provincial court, and got back home on a joint Turkish/Greek national holiday. What’s not to like?

But then this: a few hours after they arrive home on PM Tsipras’ own government jet at 3pm, another Turkish court decides that an appeal for American pastor Brunson to be released, is denied. Brunson is the guy Trump wants freed. John Bolton has said there’ll be no more talks until that is done. But if one court takes a decision that at least on the face of it goes against supreme ruler Erdogan’s demands, and another decides differently, Erdogan can claim the pastor’s fate is out of his hands: it’s the court system that decides.

That victory over Trump, concerning not freeing the pastor, is apparently worth more to him than the defeat of not exchanging the soldiers for the 8 Turkish servicemen who have gotten asylum in Greece. Something Erdogan is allegedly very angry about, because he accuses them of being party to the 2016 ‘coup’. He’s trying to play chess with Trump.

*****

And then Reuters has this just now:

Erdogan Spokesman Says Problems With US Will Be Resolved

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Wednesday he expected problems with the United States, which helped drive the lira to record lows, to be resolved but Washington must stop trying to influence Turkey’s judiciary. Ibrahim Kalin also told a news conference that Turkey would exercise its rights if the U.S. does not deliver F-35 jets to Ankara. The lira, which has rallied after hitting a record low of 7.24 to the dollar, would continue to recover, he said.

Via The Automatic Earth blog:

A masterstroke? Did Erdogan just succeed in making everyone, including Trump, believe the Turkish judiciary system is impartial, and he’s not the one keeping Brunson from leaving the country? Sure looks like he tried. “Sorry, Mr. Trump, it’s out of my hands.. A judge let the Greek soldiers go, and I didn’t want that either..”

Problem is, everyone knows Erdogan fired half the judiciary system and 90% or so of the press, accusing them of being part of the same coup plot as Gülen and the pastor Brunson. It’s almost amusing. Almost, because innocent people’s lives are being played out on some primitive chess board and sacrificed against dreams of ever more power. Only a pawn in their game.

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