When I penned my post on WaPo’s ‘Russia Got Trump Elected’ story, I made cursory attempts to learn about the so-called ‘experts’ that WaPo cited, particularly the activist-sounding PropOrNot entity. I could find nada.
Enter Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, who begin the takedown, demonstrating how the most vociferous screamers of ‘fake news’ are quite often the ones peddling what can objectively be called ‘fake news’:
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.
They note how the WaPo piece:
… 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.
So, Matt Drudge is a ‘useful idiot’ helping the Russian government. Who knew!
By extension, any news aggregator website or blog whose overall slant is anti-Hillary (usually due to reporting wire stories that the MSM ignores) is also a Russian stooge. This would, of course, also include Wikileaks.
In casting the group behind this website as “experts,” the Post described PropOrNot simply as “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.” Not one individual at the organization is named…
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.”…
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….
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…
Norton & Greenwald do concede, as I did in my post, that RT and Sputnik News (both being entities funded by the Russian government) might be news agencies consciously working for the interests of the Russian government, and how this is no-big-whoop, as they are just 2 entities in a proliferating media universe:
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…
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…
So, who is behind PropOrNot?
Who exactly is behind PropOrNot, where it gets its funding and whether or not it is tied to any governments is a complete mystery. The Intercept also sent inquiries to the Post’s Craig Timberg asking these questions, and asking whether he thinks it is fair to label left-wing news sites like Truthout “Russian propaganda outlets.” Timberg replied: “I’m sorry, I can’t comment about stories I’ve written for the Post.”
As is so often the case, journalists – who constantly demand transparency from everyone else – refuse to provide even the most basic levels for themselves. When subjected to scrutiny, they reflexively adopt the language of the most secrecy-happy national security agencies: we do not comment on what we do…
Would anyone like to wager on the odds that George Soros is somehow funding this organization?
Of the ‘fake news’ coming from the MSM, Norton & Greenwald write:
Two of the most discredited reports from the election season illustrate the point: a Slate article claiming that a private server had been located linking the Trump Organization and a Russian bank (which, like the current Post story, had been shopped around and rejected by multiple media outlets), and a completely deranged rant by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald claiming that Putin had ordered emails in the WikiLeaks release to be doctored – both of which were uncritically shared and tweeted by hundreds of journalists to tens of thousands of people, if not more.
The Post itself – now posing as warriors against “fake news” – published an article in September that treated with great seriousness the claim that Hillary Clinton collapsed on 9/11 Day because she was poisoned by Putin… As is so often the case, those who mostly loudly warn of “fake news” from others are themselves the most aggressive disseminators of it.
Among those suffering from PTSD (Post-Trump-Syndrome Disorder), the desperation is palpable.
Trump isn’t really our POTUS!
Racism in AmeriKKKa!