“Rolling Stone: WaPo ‘Fake News/Russian Propaganda’ Story is Shameful and Disgusting”

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Along with the new Cold War, which, as before, has been created by the U.S. Corporation, McCarthyism has also reared its totalitarian ugly-head once again:

Rolling Stone: WaPo ‘fake news/Russian propaganda’ story is shameful and disgusting

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Last week, a technology reporter for the Washington Post named Craig Timberg ran an incredible story. It has no analog that I can think of in modern times. Headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” the piece promotes the work of a shadowy group that smears some 200 alternative news outlets as either knowing or unwitting agents of a foreign power, including popular sites like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism.

The thrust of Timberg’s astonishingly lazy report is that a Russian intelligence operation of some kind was behind the publication of a “hurricane” of false news reports during the election season, in particular stories harmful to Hillary Clinton. The piece referenced those 200 websites as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.”

The piece relied on what it claimed were “two teams of independent researchers,” but the citing of a report by the longtime anticommunist Foreign Policy Research Institute was really window dressing.

The meat of the story relied on a report by unnamed analysts from a single mysterious “organization” called PropOrNot – we don’t know if it’s one person or, as it claims, over 30 – a “group” that seems to have been in existence for just a few months.

It was PropOrNot’s report that identified what it calls “the list” of 200 offending sites. Outlets as diverse as AntiWar.com, LewRockwell.com and the Ron Paul Institute were described as either knowingly directed by Russian intelligence, or “useful idiots” who unwittingly did the bidding of foreign masters.

Forget that the Post offered no information about the “PropOrNot” group beyond that they were “a collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”

Forget also that the group offered zero concrete evidence of coordination with Russian intelligence agencies, even offering this remarkable disclaimer about its analytic methods:

“Please note that our criteria are behavioral. … For purposes of this definition it does not matter … whether they even knew they were echoing Russian propaganda at any particular point: If they meet these criteria, they are at the very least acting as bona-fide ‘useful idiots’ of the Russian intelligence services, and are worthy of further scrutiny.”

What this apparently means is that if you published material that meets their definition of being “useful” to the Russian state, you could be put on the “list,” and “warrant further scrutiny.”

Forget even that in its Twitter responses to criticism of its report, PropOrNot sounded not like a group of sophisticated military analysts, but like one teenager:

“Awww, wook at all the angwy Putinists, trying to change the subject – they’re so vewwy angwy!!” it wrote on Saturday.

“Fascists. Straight up muthafuckin’ fascists. That’s what we’re up against,” it wrote last Tuesday, two days before Timberg’s report.

Any halfway decent editor would have been scared to death by any of these factors. Moreover the vast majority of reporters would have needed to see something a lot more concrete than a half-assed theoretical paper from such a dicey source before denouncing 200 news organizations as traitors.

But if that same source also demanded anonymity on the preposterous grounds that it feared being “targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers”? Any sane reporter would have booted them out the door. You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.

Yet the Post thought otherwise, and its report was uncritically picked up by other outlets like USA Today and the Daily Beast. The “Russians did it” story was greedily devoured by a growing segment of blue-state America that is beginning to fall victim to the same conspiracist tendencies that became epidemic on the political right in the last few years. […]

Source: Rolling Stone: WaPo ‘fake news/Russian propaganda’ story is shameful and disgusting | OffGuardian

P.S. 1

Dear President Putin

Valdimir Putin
President of Russia
Moscow

November 29, 2016 “Information Clearing House”

Dear President Putin,

Now that CIA agent Craig Timberg posing as a Washington Post reporter has blown my cover and exposed me as a Russian agent, I was wondering if I might ask you for a Russian passport and a bit of diplomatic cover, perhaps assistant press officer at the Russian embassy in Washington, until I can get out of the country. I saw that you gave a passport to Steven Seagal, so I am hopeful that being a Russian agent is as important as teaching martial arts to Russians.

I don’t know what the pay scale for Russian agents is, but whatever I have coming to me please deposit in a Russian bank. The Swiss banks are no longer useful as the Swiss government allowed Washington to write its banking laws. Perhaps also you could line me up with a publisher for my memoirs—“My Life As A Putin Stooge.”

We need to get on with this ASAP as the Washington Post has the FBI on my tail. They will be very angry at me for deceiving them all those years when I held top secret and higher security clearances while I was a Russian agent. Any day now the Washington Post might discover that my fellow KGB agent Ronald Reagan and I cut taxes on the rich in order to make capitalism so oppressive that the American people would rise up and overthrow it. Boy did we fool the left-wing!

I regret that the Washington Post got wise to me being a Russian agent, but it wasn’t my fault. I think the leak came from one of those Atlanticist Integrationists you are stuck with in your government. Better check up on it as 200 of the Russian financed websites have already been exposed.

Better have someone bring me the passport and diplomatic appointment. I would be nabbed by TSA if I fly to Washington to collect the documents. A diplomatic appointment is better than asylum, because Washington, like the old Soviet Union, doesn’t recognize political asylum. Just ask Julian Assange…

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45940.htm

P.S. 2

No, Russian Agents Are Not Behind Every Piece of Fake News You See

By Mathew Ingram

November 29, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “Fortune” –

Making everyone who shares fake news part of a Russian conspiracy is not helpful.

One of the themes that has emerged during the controversy over “fake news” and its role in the election of Donald Trump is the idea that Russian agents of various kinds helped hack the process by fueling this barrage of false news. But is that really true?

In a recent story, the Washington Post says that this is definitely the case, based on information provided by two groups of what the paper calls “independent researchers.” But the case starts to come apart at the seams the more you look at it.

One group is associated with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank known for its generally hawkish stance on relations between the U.S. and Russia, which says it has been researching Russian propaganda since 2014.

The second group is something called PropOrNot, about which very little is known. Its website doesn’t name anyone who is associated with it, including the researchers who worked on the report. And the Post doesn’t name the group’s executive director, whom it quotes, because it says he is afraid of “being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45934.htm

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