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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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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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Trump’s CIA Now Unbound And Back To Its Traditional Hijinks

There is further evidence that suggests the neo-cons, in cahoots with Haspel at the CIA, set out to disrupt the Hanoi summit.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Under the directorship of torture and black site maven Gina Haspel, Donald Trump’s Central Intelligence Agency has returned to its traditional roots of conducting “black bag” operations and disrupting electrical grids through cyber-attacks.

The Venezuelan government has accused the Trump administration of giving the green light for a series of crippling power failures in Venezuela, which affected 22 of Venezuela’s 23 states, including the capital of Caracas. The long-duration power failures were cited by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a reason for the US withdrawing its diplomats from Caracas. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that an international commission assisted by specialists from Russia, China, Iran, and the United Nations would help his country analyze the sources of the Venezuelan electrical grid cyber-attack. Initial cyber-forensics by Venezuela traced some of the cyber warfare being waged against Venezuela to nodes in Houston and Chicago.

In addition to electricity, water service was disrupted in Venezuela. From Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Maduro tweeted on March 12: “From the Presidential Command Post, we monitored minute-by-minute the progress of the recovery of the National Electric System.”

Cyber-attacks on a country that puts its civilian population in jeopardy might, at first glance, appear to be a violation of the Geneva Conventions on warfare. However, without a Digital Geneva Convention, civilian populations are not covered by the current Geneva Conventions. However, in 2015, the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UN GGE), which included experts from the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and other nations, agreed that current international law does apply to cyberspace. Most international legal experts agree that the Geneva Conventions require a digital annex to cover the type of cyber-disruption of the Venezuelan electrical grid carried out by the US intelligence services.

Hybrid warfare against Venezuela, which includes economic, diplomatic, and cyber, has the backing of the neo-conservatives who now call the shots for the Trump White House. They include, in addition to Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton; Iran-Contra felon Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special envoy to the US-backed opposition-led rump Venezuelan government of Juan Guaido; Cuban-American Mauricio Claver-Carone, the senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council; and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, who represents the interests of South Florida’s right-wing oligarch exiles from Venezuela and other Latin American countries.

While Trump was preparing for his Hanoi summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump’s second summit with Kim, Haspel’s CIA dug into its old bag of black operations, while also engaging in the more modern form of cyber-attack in targeting North Korea.

On February 22, 2019, ten males, all wearing masks, broke into the North Korean embassy, which is located in the residential suburb of Aravaca, north of Madrid, Spain, and subjected eight embassy staff members to brutal interrogation tactics, including tying up the diplomats, throwing black bags over their heads (a specialty of Ms. Haspel), and subjecting them to beatings. One female diplomat managed to escape through a second-floor window and her screams alerted a neighbor, who promptly called the police. Two embassy employees required medical attention from their injuries.

The Spanish police and National Intelligence Center (CNI) linked two of the embassy invaders to the CIA. “El Pais,” a Spanish national newspaper, reported that the CIA issued one of its standard “denials,” however, the paper stated that Spanish authorities found the denial from Langley, Virginia to be “unconvincing.” “El Pais” reported that the invasion of the North Korean embassy by the CIA had severely harmed relations between Madrid and Washington.

The National Police Corps’ General Commissariat of Information (CGI) and CNI concluded that the attack and occupation of the North Korean embassy was not carried out by common criminals but was the work of a “military cell” that stole mobile phones and computers. Two of the embassy invaders were identified as Koreans and, based on CGI’s and CNI’s analysis of security camera video footage, they were further recognized as Koreans linked to the CIA. Spanish authorities did not rule out the possibility that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service assisted the CIA in the embassy invasion. The embassy invaders escaped from the embassy using two North Korean luxury sedans bearing diplomatic plates. The cars were later found abandoned.

The criminal inquiry into the incident is now before the Spanish High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, which could order the arrests of the embassy attackers and, if they are in the United States or South Korea, have Spain’s INTERPOL national bureau put out a Red Notice for their arrest and extradition to Spain to stand trial.

Spanish authorities believe the CIA’s embassy attackers were looking for information on Kim Hyok Chol, the former North Korean ambassador to Spain, who was declared “persona non grata” by the Spanish government in 2017. Kim Hyok Chol, a career diplomat from one of North Korea’s elite families who studied French at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies and speaks fluent English, is now one of Kim Jong Un’s trusted diplomatic advisers on nuclear talks with the Trump administration and he traveled with Chairman Kim to the failed Hanoi summit with Trump.

With certainty, Kim Hyok Chol thoroughly briefed Kim Jong Un on the CIA’s storming of his old diplomatic post in Spain. When Trump and Chairman Kim met in Hanoi on February 27 and if the issue of the CIA’s siege of the North Korean embassy was brought up, that could have been enough to derail the summit. Considering the fact that war hawks like Bolton, Abrams, and Pompeo are now calling the foreign policy shots for the Trump administration, the attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid, just five days prior to the Hanoi summit, may have been ordered by Washington’s neo-con cell with the intention of scuttling the second meeting between Trump and Kim and put on ice any future meetings.

There is further evidence that suggests the neo-cons, in cahoots with Haspel at the CIA, set out to disrupt the Hanoi summit. While Trump was meeting with Kim in Vietnam, the CIA is believed to have launched a cyber-attack on the Korean American National Coordinating Council (KANCC) in New York, an organization with ties to the Pyongyang government. KANCC is a non-governmental organization with offices in the Interchurch Center building, near Columbia University in Manhattan. It champions the dropping of US sanctions against North Korea, a sore point in Hanoi between Trump and Kim.

The Trump-Kim Hanoi summit was reported to have hit a roadblock over North Korea’s request for a partial lifting of US sanctions on North Korea, in return for the continued North Korean moratorium on nuclear testing and a partial freeze on production of fissile material. With the CIA’s attack on the North Korean embassy in Spain still fresh in the minds of the North Korean side and the neo-cons’ insistence, pushed by Bolton and Pompeo, for complete North Korean nuclear disarmament, the Hanoi summit was destined for failure. And, with Bolton, Abrams, Pompeo, and other dangerous neo-cons in charge at the White House and the State Department — and Haspel dancing to their tune at the CIA – North Korea and Venezuela are not the only countries currently in the gunsights of the Trump administration.

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