“Fake news! Fake news! Fake news!”
This is the noise issuing from the liberal Democrat echo chamber and its loyal mainstream media mouthpieces, one of which, The Washington Post, has really stepped in it.
With no apparent vetting whatsoever (Journalism 101), WaPo published a transparently bogus story accusing about 200 news websites of being Russian tools, publishing lies and “fake news” that their Russian masters feed them.
Nearly all of the sites accused of “espionage” by WaPo’s source are right wing blogs (imagine that!), with a handful of token leftist and libertarian sites to give the appearance of nonpartisanship.
So, dutifully toting the liberal Democrat water, The Washington Post has jumped on the leftist bandwagon and is screaming FAKE NEWS! from the rooftops, which is a clear attempt to shut down the right wing blogosphere for helping elect Donald Trump. The power shift from the mainstream media to the blogosphere is evident and is scaring the bejesus out of the Democrats. They recognize that unless they can shut down the right wing blogosphere they will likely never win another election, unless, of course, they shift drastically to the right, which would give us a sixtyish sort of political dynamic, like JFK versus Nixon, when the parties were much closer in philosophy and the mainstream media was far more honest. No need to worry though, liberal weenies. The Democrat Party is so far left today it can never reach the center. It is dominated and controlled by Marxists who will never allow a move to the center. You may all hold hands now and sing kumbaya around your dying and failed social experiment.
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The mainstream media, in their unashamed partisan bias in favor of liberal Democrats, is who created the modern phenomenon of the right wing blogosphere. American patriots were starving for honest reporting, and that is where they found it. Now the left is accusing nearly 200 members of that right wing blogosphere of espionage and working hand in hand with those evil Russians. This is just a start. They will try to silence all voices opposing the left.
This is going to blow up in WaPo’s face like a prank cigar. They had better start lawyering up right now! I know the owners of a few of the sites WaPo’s source accused of being Russian tools. They are patriots of the highest character and they are PISSED! They are also considering legal action. If Powdered Wig had been on their list, there would be no question for me. I would have filed a suit already.
Isn’t it ironic that The Washington Post is accusing others of being Russian agents and disseminating “fake news,” by being the greatest merchant of fake news themselves?
Following is “The List” of what WaPo is calling fake news Russian propaganda sites. You may recognize many of them….
From The Intercept
THE WASHINGTON POST ON THURSDAY NIGHT promoted the claims of a new, shadowy organization that smears dozens of U.S. news sites that are critical of U.S. foreign policy as being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” The article by reporter Craig Timberg – headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” – cites a report by a new, anonymous website calling itself “PropOrNot,” which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign.”
The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute.
This Post report was one of the most widely circulated political news articles on social media over the last 48 hours, with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of U.S. journalists and pundits with large platforms hailing it as an earth-shattering exposé. It was the most-read piece on the entire Post website after it was published on Friday.
Yet the article is rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations, and fundamentally shaped by shoddy, slothful journalistic tactics. It was not surprising to learn that, as BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel noted, “a lot of reporters passed on this story.” Its huge flaws are self-evident. But the Post gleefully ran with it and then promoted it aggressively, led by its Executive Editor Marty Baron:
Russian propaganda effort helped spread fake news during election, say independent researchers https://t.co/3ETVXWw16Q
— Marty Baron (@PostBaron) November 25, 2016
In other words, the individuals behind this newly created group are publicly branding journalists and news outlets as tools of Russian propaganda – even calling on the FBI to investigate them for espionage – while cowardly hiding their own identities. The group promoted by the Post thus embodies the toxic essence of Joseph McCarthy but without the courage to attach their names to their blacklist. Echoing the Wisconsin Senator, the group refers to its lengthy collection of sites spouting Russian propaganda as “The List.”
The credentials of this supposed group of experts are impossible to verify, as none is provided either by the Post or by the group itself. The Intercept contacted PropOrNot and asked numerous questions about about its team, but received only this reply: “We’re getting a lot of requests for comment and can get back to you today =) [smiley face emoticon].” The group added: “We’re over 30 people, organized into teams, and we cannot confirm or deny anyone’s involvement.”
Thus far, they have provided no additional information beyond that. As Fortune’s Matthew Ingram wrote in criticizing the Post article, PropOrNot’s Twitter account “has only existed since August of this year. And an article announcing the launch of the group on its website is dated last month.” WHOIS information for the domain name is not available, as the website uses private registration.
More troubling still, PropOrNot listed numerous organizations on its website as “allied” with it, yet many of these claimed “allies” told The Intercept, and complained on social media, they have nothing to do with the group and had never even heard of it before the Post published its story.
Just want to note I hadn't heard of Propornot before the WP piece and never gave permission to them to call Bellingcat "allies" https://t.co/jQKnWzjrBR
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 25, 2016
.@ggreenwald No-one I've spoken to listed as "allies" on their site had even heard of them before the WP piece.
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 25, 2016
At some point last night, after multiple groups listed as “allies” objected, the group quietly changed the title of its “allied” list to “Related Projects.” When The Intercept asked PropOrNot about this clear inconsistency via email, the group responded concisely: “We have no institutional affiliations with any organization.”
In his article, the Post’s Timberg did not include a link to PropOrNot’s website. If readers had the opportunity to visit the site, it would have become instantly apparent that this group of ostensible experts far more resembles amateur peddlers of primitive, shallow propagandistic clichés than serious, substantive analysis and expertise; that it has a blatant, demonstrable bias in promoting NATO’s narrative about the world; and that it is engaging in extremely dubious McCarthyite tactics about a wide range of critics and dissenters.
To see how frivolous and even childish this group of anonymous cowards is – which the Post venerated into serious experts in order to peddle their story – just sample a couple of the recent tweets from this group:
(These clowns sound like a couple of pimply-faced teens working out their mom’s basement. Good enough for WaPo, though!) ~ Thomas Madison
As for their refusal to identify themselves even as they smear hundreds of American journalists as loyal to the Kremlin or “useful idiots” for it, this is their mature response:
(Your names will be revealed when federal authorities pin your IP address) ~ Thomas Madison
The Washington Post should be very proud: it staked a major part of its news story on the unverified, untestable assertions of this laughable organization.
One of the core functions of PropOrNot appears to be its compilation of a lengthy blacklist of news and political websites which it smears as peddlers of “Russian propaganda.” Included on this blacklist of supposed propaganda outlets are prominent independent left-wing news sites such as Truthout, Naked Capitalism, Black Agenda Report, Consortium News and Truthdig.
Also included are popular libertarian hubs such as Zero Hedge, Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute, along with the hugely influential right-wing website the Drudge Report and the publishing site WikiLeaks. Far-right, virulently anti-Muslim blogs such as Bare Naked Islam are likewise dubbed Kremlin mouthpieces. Basically, everyone who isn’t comfortably within the centrist Hillary-Clinton/Jeb-Bush spectrum is guilty. On its Twitter account, the group announced a new “plugin” that automatically alerts the user that a visited website has been designated by the group to be a Russian propaganda outlet.
We just published a BETA (very beta) version of our Chrome plugin, which highlights domains we've IDed: https://t.co/FaGTOTJO2C
— PropOrNot ID Service 🇺🇸 (@propornot) November 25, 2016
Presumably, this massive number was created by including on its lists highly popular sites such as WikiLeaks, as well The Drudge Report, the third-most popular political news website on the internet. Yet this frightening, Cold War-esque “213 million” number for Russian “planted” news story views was uncritically echoed by numerous high-profile media figures, such as New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman and professor Jared Yates Sexton — although the number is misleading at best.
Some of the websites on PropOrNot’s blacklist do indeed publish Russian propaganda — namely Sputnik News and Russia Today, which are funded by the Russian government. But many of the aforementioned blacklisted sites are independent, completely legitimate news sources which often receive funding through donations or foundations and which have been reporting and analyzing news for many years.
The group commits outright defamation by slandering obviously legitimate news sites as propaganda tools of the Kremlin.
One of the most egregious examples is the group’s inclusion of Naked Capitalism, the widely respected left-wing site run by Wall Street critic Yves Smith. That site was named by Time Magazine as one of the best 25 Best Financial Blogs in 2011 and by Wired Magazine as a crucial site to follow for finance, and Smith has been featured as a guest on programs such as PBS’ Bill Moyers Show. Yet this cowardly group of anonymous smear artists, promoted by the Washington Post, has now placed them on a blacklist of Russian disinformation.
The group eschews alternative media outlets like these and instead recommends that readers rely solely on establishment-friendly publications like NPR, the BBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed and VICE. That is because a big part of the group’s definition for “Russian propaganda outlet” is criticizing U.S. foreign policy.
PropOrNot does not articulate its criteria in detail, merely describing its metrics as “behavioral” and “motivation-agnostic.” That is to say, even if a news source is not technically a Russian propaganda outlet and is not even trying to help the Kremlin, it is still guilty of being a “useful idiot” if it publishes material that might in some way be convenient or helpful for the Russian government. In other words, the website conflates criticism of Western governments and their actions and policies with Russian propaganda. News sites that do not uncritically echo a pro-NATO perspective are accused of being mouthpieces for the Kremlin, even if only unwitting ones.
While blacklisting left-wing and libertarian journalists, PropOrNot also denies being McCarthyite. Yet it simultaneously calls for the U.S. government to use the FBI and DOJ to carry out “formal investigations” of these accused websites, “because the kind of folks who make propaganda for brutal authoritarian oligarchies are often involved in a wide range of bad business.” The shadowy group even goes so far as to claim that people involved in the blacklisted websites may “have violated the Espionage Act, the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and other related laws.”
In sum: they’re not McCarthyite; perish the thought. They just want multiple U.S. media outlets investigated by the FBI for espionage on behalf of Russia.