Reston, VA – With the rise of the term “fake news,” many individuals have turned to self-proclaimed fact-checking sites like Snopes and PolitiFact; the objectivity of these sites tends to be questioned by conservatives as having a covert liberal bias.
On Tuesday, the conservative Media Research Center unveiled a new project entitled “Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers,” which is designed to “ensure the fact-checkers themselves are reliable, or exposed as liberal partisans if they aren’t.”
The Media Research Center explained in its announcement:
Sometimes you have to check the fact-checkers.
More and more, major news outlets are relying on “fact checkers” to, allegedly, ensure that the news is factual, sources are reliable, and statements are accurate.
In theory, this is admirable. In practice, it has proven to be simply another opportunity for the media to push their leftist agenda.
Fact checking groups — such as PolitiFact — routinely cast judgments while failing to disclose their own left-wing bias. Their allies in the media try to cast these groups as neutral third parties when, in fact, they are card-carrying members of the liberal echo chamber.
It’s no wonder that the public has so little faith in the fact-checkers. A 2016 Rasmussen poll found that an astonishing 62% of American voters think the fact-check-ers are biased.
The Media Research Center is flipping the script on these faux-fact-checkers. It’s time to turn the tables and give the public the real facts.
How You Can Distinguish Fake News from Real News, According to the Expert
What kind of fake news is most damaging? Is it the kind that puts out a conspiracy theory with no evidence? Or is it a headline story that can easily be debunked, designed to ride a wave of viral clicks which only lasts hours or days?
Those aren’t the most dangerous types of fake news. The real problem is when trusted mainstream media sources roll out a propaganda campaign. And that happens basically every day.
In fact, the whole “fake news” agenda is part of a campaign of disinformation.
He insisted in a speech that he too thought somebody needed to step in and curate information of this wild, wild West media environment. Nobody in the public had been clamoring for any such thing, yet suddenly the topic of fake news dominates headlines on a daily basis.
It’s as if the media had been given its marching orders. Fake news they insisted was an imminent threat to American democracy.
But as somebody who studied the industry that seeks to manipulate all of us on behalf of paid interests, I know that few themes arise in our environment organically.
A noted propagandist told me, “It’s like a movie,” he said, and it gave me chills at the time.
“Nearly every scene or image that crosses our path in daily life,” he said, “was put there for a reason. Often by someone who paid a lot of money to place it there.”
What if the whole anti-fake news campaign was an effort on somebody’s part to keep us from seeing or believing certain websites or stories by controversializing them or labeling them as fake news?
Note: If any images are hard to see, you can look here. (I’m not sure why, but these images are a tad fuzzier at ZH.)
A little over a year ago, the deep-state graced the world with Propornot. Thanks to them, 2017 became the year of fake news. Every news website and opinion column now had the potential to be linked to the Steele dossier and Trump collusion with Russia. Every journalist was either with us or against us. Every one that was against us became Russia’s trolls.
Fortunately for the free world, the anonymous group known as Propornot that tried to “out” every website as a potential Russian colluder, in the end only implicated themselves.
Turnabout is fair play and that’s always the fun part, isn’t it? With that in mind, I know the dogs are going to howl this evening over this one.
The damage Propornot did to scores of news and opinions websites in late 2016-2017provides the basis of a massive civil suit. I mean huge, as in the potential is there for a tobacco company sized class-action sized lawsuit. I can say that because I know a lot about a number of entities that are involved and the enormous amount of money behind them. How serious is this?
In 2016, a $10,000 reward was put out for the identities of Propornot players. No one has claimed it yet, and now, I guess no one will. There are times in your life that taking a stand has a cost. To make sure the story gets out and is taken seriously, this is one of those times.
If that’s what it takes for you to understand the danger Propornot and the groups around them pose to everyone you love, if you understand it, everything will have been well worth it.
In this article, you’ll meet some of the people staffing Propornot. You’ll meet the people and publications that provide their expenses and cover the logistics. You’ll meet a few of the deep state players. We’ll deal with them very soon. They need to see this as the warning shot over the bow and start playing nice with regular people. After that, you’ll meet the NGO’s that are funding and orchestrating all of it. How am I doing so far?
The image that you see is the clincher or game winner that supplies the necessary proof up front and the direct path to Propornot. This was a passive scan of propornot.com showing the administrative dashboard belongs to the InterpreterMag.com as shown on the left of the image. On the right, it shows that uploads to Propornot.com come from InterpreterMag.com and is a product of that publication.
Now we have the first layer of Propornot, fake news, and our 1st four contestants. We havea slew of new media organizations that are influenced by, or feeding Propornot. Remember, fake news got off the ground and got its wings because of the attention this website received from the Washington Post in Dec. 2016.
At the Interpreter Mag level, here are the people:
- Michael Weiss is the Editor-in-Chief at the InterpreterMag.com. According to his Linkd profile, he is also a National Security Analyst for CNN since Jul 2017 as well as an Investigative Reporter for International Affairs for CNN since Apr 2017. He has been a contributor there since 2015. He has been a Senior Editor at The Daily Beast since Jun 2015.
With the lengthy CNN cred’s, how much involvement does CNN have in fake news? Yes, I know, but we’re talking about Propornot.
- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick is a Russian translator and analyst for the Interpreter. She has worked as an editor for EurasiaNet.org and RFE/RL.
- Pierre Vaux is an analyst and translator for the Interpreter. He’s also an intern. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, RFE/RL and Left Foot Forward and works at Dataminr Inc.
- James Miller’s bio at the InterpreterMag.com includes Managing Editor of The Interpreter where he reports on Russia, Ukraine, and Syria. James runs the “Under The Black Flag” column at RFE/RL which provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. He is a contributor at Reuters, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, and other publications. He is an expert on verifying citizen journalism and has been covering developments in the Middle East, specifically Syria and Iran, since 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @MillerMENA- Miller even works for the US Embassy in Kiev “diplo-page” the Kiev Post.
The Interpreter is a product of the Atlantic Council.The Digital Forensics Research Lab has been carrying the weight in Ukrainian-Russian affairs for the Atlantic Council. Fellows working with the Atlantic Council in this area include:
- Bellingcat- Aric Toler and Eliot Higgins- This linked article shows how an underwear salesman became one of the most important faces of the deep state. Don’t laugh, the image is really appropriate. Higgins’ insecurity runs so deep because of his failures that Higgins tries to get publications censured that question his author-i-tie.
- Anne Applebaum
- StopFake- Irena Chalupa- Chalupa is the sister to the same Alexandra Chalupa that brought the term Russian hacking to worldwide attention. Irena Chalupa is a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. She is also a senior correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), where she has worked for more than twenty years. Ms. Chalupa previously served as an editor for the Atlantic Council, where she covered Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Irena Chalupa is also the news anchor for Ukraine’s propaganda channel Stopfake.org She is a Ukrainian Diaspora leader. The Chalupa’s are the 1st family of Ukrainian propaganda. She works with and for Ukrainian Intelligence through the Atlantic Council, Stopfake, and her sisters Andrea (Euromaidanpr) and Alexandra.
- Dimitry Alperovich- CEO of Crowdstrike and person who consulted a Ouija board and guessed Russia may have hacked something, somewhere, sometime.
The strand that ties this crew together is they all work for Ukrainian Intelligence. If you hit the links, the ties are documented very clearly. We’ll get to that point again shortly, but let’s go further:
Propornot-> Atlantic Council -> Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
Who are the BBG? According to Wikipedia- “The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is an independent agency of the United States government. According to its website, its mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. The BBG supervised Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio y Television Marti, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.
The board of the BBG was eliminated and replaced with a single appointed chief executive officer as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was passed in December 2016.”
On January 1, 2016, the Interpreter became a special project of RFE/RL and under the oversight of the BBG. The Secretary of State had a seat on the board of the BBG until December 2016. Why the change?
During the 2016 election, the BBG developed a major conflict of interest. At least two BBG board members worked actively for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. These government officials were working against the president-elect after the election. It looks like it didn’t go unnoticed. In the following linked article, it shows that they should be investigated for their part in an attempted coup.
From a Nov 7, 2016, article– “Karen Kornbluh is helping refine and to get Hillary Clinton’s message out. ” All of them are names to watch if Clinton wins — and key jobs at the FCC and other federal agencies are up for grabs.”
According to her bio: Karen founded the New America Foundation’s Work and Family Program and is a senior fellow for Digital Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Karen has written extensively about technology policy, women, and family policy for The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Washington Post. New York Times columnist David Brooks cited her Democracy article “Families Valued,” focused on “juggler families” as one of the best magazine articles of 2006.
Michael Kempner is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of MWW Group, a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, and may get a greater role if she is elected. Kempner is a member of the Public Relations Hall of Fame. Michael Kempner hired Anthony Weiner after the sexting scandal broke in 2011.
Jeff Shell, chairman of the BBG and Universal Filmed Entertainment is supporting a secondary role by being an honor roll donor to the Atlantic Council. While the BBG is supposed to be neutral it has continuously helped increase tensions in Eastern Europe. While giving to the Atlantic Council may not be illegal while in his position, currently, the Atlantic Council’s main effort is to ignite a war with Russia. This may set up a major conflict of interest.
According to journalist Robert Parry “The people that will be taking senior positions and especially in foreign policy believe “This consensus is driven by a broad-based backlash against a president who has repeatedly stressed the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint, especially in the Middle East.”
Parry goes on to say that at the forefront of this is the Atlantic Council, a think tank associated with NATO. Their main goal is a major confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.”
So, to make sense of all this, most of the people listed would have held cabinet positions in a Hillary Clinton presidency. If the Interpreter is a project of RFE/RL then the decision to go ahead with Propornot would have to go across their desk. That includes then Sec of State, John Kerry.
The unasked question of why would a US Government Agency do this (?) needs to be addressed. All the people listed above were actively working for Clinton to get her elected and throw Donald Trump’s campaign off the rails.
After the election, they were going to take care of Clinton’s “deplorables” by dissecting alternative media. I wrote about this before the election and I warned several major new sites what they could expect. I was right on the money. After she lost, it was already in motion. The deplorable media didn’t fall into a particular political pattern other than they did not promote Hillary Clinton.
The purpose of Propornot has been to get people to demand freedom of speech be rolled back. This was/is to be done by destroying fact-based media. If you read further, the entire plan is laid out starting from 2015 when it started coming together.
These people want reality shaped on what the perceived majority (louder) group believes to be true, regardless of what the facts are. Perception based reality is only a Facebook like away from killing one person or elevating another to hero status regardless of what they have done.That little statement about the free speech rally says it all.
It’s something that would hardly be noticed unless you were looking for it because it is part of the meta-data.
Now you can say it’s only a sentence and who cares? Nobody communicates through metadata do they? Wasn’t that what Propornot was all about? Yes, they do communicate through metadata. That’s why I look at it.
Do you see it? No? Look again. There in the metadata, at the bottom of the image is an ad for a job. Go for it and remember to mention the header. It could just as easily be hacking instructions, or a do not disturb sign. That’s why it pays to really research carefully.
The Boston ‘Free Speech’ Rally was billed by the social networks and MSM as a fascist rally. It was really a Free Speech Rally. What they learned is that with just a little nudge, they can make you demand nationalist repression. Nice going Boston!
Hey, is this starting to sound a little conspiratorial? If it is, we need ruskie hackers with Guy Fawkes masks to make this work. They have to admit to changing international politics through hacking in 2016, belong to a foreign country, code in Russian, and use spear phishing techniques to lure people in. Let’s not forget that they also have to work for some form of Intelligence.
Most importantly, they have to work with and influence all of the people above. They will definitely impact US foreign policy toward Russia. Let’s raise the stakes even more. The hackers have to answer to whoever is funding a lot of the illegal and immoral activities.
They are not even savvy enough to stay clear of outing each other. This is the Pravy Sektor hacker RUH8. The common thread for these hackers is clear if you read the linked material on the profiles that make up these organizations. They work for Bellingcat, Informnapalm, the Atlantic Council, Ukrainian Intel, and the Diaspora.
In a follow-up article, I have reason to ask if they were given access to United States Government Top Secret Secure Servers. I’m not kidding. In a Euromaidan Press article dated November 2nd, 2016, the hackers state enthusiastically “Ukrainian hackers have a rather high level of work. So the help of the USA… I don’t know, why would we need it? We have all the talent and special means for this. And I don’t think that the USA or any NATO country would make such sharp movements in international politics.”
And we have a winner. In 2016 the sharp movement in international politics was caused by…survey says….hacking!!!!
According to Donna Brazille, the Democratic Party servers were hacked multiple times and the hacking didn’t stop until December 2016. At this juncture, we should be able to agree that Seth Rich leaked the information to Wikileaks. But, now we are talking about other hacks.
In the above linked article, these hacker specifically say their favorite route is spear phishing email accounts. In the article, you’ll also see they work directly for Ukrainian Intel. Bellingcat works directly for Ukrainian Intel and works with them and the Atlantic Council. Stopfake is a product of Irena Chalupa who works for RFE/RL, the Atlantic Council and the Ukrainian government. Stopfake works directly with them and is a product of the Ukrainian government. Crowdstrike has an ongoing relationship with Ukrainian Intel and these particular hackers. Crowdstrike conjured up Fancy Bear. Well say, hello to the real fancy bear of 2016 (*fancybear is technically a set of tools and not people).
This means that former Secretary of State John Kerry approved of Ukrainian Intelligence hackers having access to servers inside a US Government Agency because of Propornot and the Atlantic Councils reliance on the hackers.
How are the Ukrainian hackers tied into Propornot at any level? James Miller isn’t shy about using their work. Propornot relies on the work of the Atlantic Council, Aric Toler, Aaron Weisburd, Clint Watts, and Joel Harding. The Ukrainian hackers work directly with InformNapalm and are the go-to resource for most of the people involved and all of the people just named.
Americans are attacking Americans for a foreign country for what amounts to pennies. We’ll deal with them again soon.
Who does the Atlantic Council work for? It’s the same people that staff RFE/RL.
“On 29 January 2016 in Washington, U.S.A., Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij and Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe officially signed a Memorandum of Agreement to renew the cooperation between the UWC and the Atlantic Council, that began in September 2014.
In accordance with this Memorandum, the UWC will continue its cooperation with the Atlantic Council on implementing the “Ukraine in Europe Initiative”, which aims to galvanize international support for an independent, sovereign and territorially integral Ukraine, including Crimea. This initiative is also intended to support reforms in Ukraine and its EuroAtlantic integration, and to counter Russian disinformation.”
This one little paragraph spells out clearly what I have shown in detail throughout this article.
The Ukrainian World Congress is represented in the US Congress by the Ukrainian Caucus headed up by ISIS supporter and Nazi cheerleader Marcy Kaptur. Her Ukrainian Caucus represents people with political positions that scared Adolf Hitler in WWII.
The obvious takeaway is that a lawsuit is a bare minimum that needs to happen. People need to be investigated for crimes against the state. When we take a closer look at who had potential access to top-secret servers, that will become painfully obvious.
These people have tried and are trying to rip the fabric of society in pieces. At the very least, they have earned a good tarring…and feathering. When you look at the financial end of this a lawsuit in the billions would barely touch it.
Just one company the Ukrainian Diaspora started for this is valued over 100 million dollars. This will need to be a class action suit with a cease and desist to the BBG.
In early 2015, almost 2 years before most people took the idea of censorship seriously, I documented its inception. In the same way, it happens with many of the biggest stories of our times, I stumbled onto it by accident. In early March 2015, Ukrainian Information Policy designer Joel Harding laid out what to expect going forward in the following statements: “In military IIO operations center on the ability to influence foreign audiences, US, and global audiences, and adversely affect enemy decision making through an integrated approach. Even current event news is released in this fashion. Each portal is given messages that follow the same themes because it is an across the board mainstream effort that fills the information space entirely when it is working correctly.
The purpose of “Inform and Influence Operations” is not to provide a perspective, opinion, or lay out a policy. It is defined as the ability to make audiences “think and act” in a manner favorable to the mission objectives. This is done through applying perception management techniques which target the audiences emotions, motives, and reasoning.
These techniques are not geared for debate. It is to overwhelm and change the target psyche.
Using these techniques information sources can be manipulated and those that write, speak, or think counter to the objective are relegated as propaganda, ill-informed, or irrelevant.”- Harding
While the above sounds gloriously overoptimistic, Harding, along with his little band of Kremlin Troll hunters personally started developing the idea of organizations capable of blackballing journalists and publications in a way that could not be construed as censorship.
From another March 2015 article– A “Disinformation Charter” for Media and Bloggers: Top-down censorship should be avoided. But rival media, from Al-Jazeera to the BBC, Fox and beyond, need to get together to create a charter of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Vigorous debate and disagreement qre ,of course, to be encouraged—but media organizations that practice conscious deception should be excluded from the community. A similar code can be accepted by bloggers and other online influencers.
This “Disinformation Charter” for responsible behavior (Ministry of Truth?) he describes is to fight “conscious deception” can only be weighed against how he describes Propaganda. “The word is frequently used to describe any news emerging one’s opponent.”– Harding
Journalists that need to be excluded are those “our side” label as propagandists or active measure agents.”
Harding’s connections in media are very large. Through his friend Mathew Armstrong, Harding had access to and the ear of the board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The BBG board is staffed by the who’s who of network and radio broadcast, print media and shortwave CEO’s and heavy hitters. They are behind RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty).
On the other end of this in 2015, Joel Harding was assembling a group of miscreants to attack the social networks of different journalist and publications. The crude logic behind a direct assault was that by developing, training, and overseeing vast troll networks they could speak over their opposition (people that their employers wanted to be silenced) and subdue dissident online conversation and control the information.
Where this wasn’t feasible, they set up hack and harass attacks at various publication to get them to stop publishing hard-hitting journalists. This still hasn’t been effective because it caused publishers to dig in and harden their internet properties instead.
The softer more indirect approach Harding pushed in March 2015 quickly developed into the unified media strategy he wanted for the US and Europe. Control the information and don’t allow contradicting information or news into the media stream. When it does get in, call it propaganda.
SO the best way to protect democracy is censorship?
Europe is gone.
Welcome to tyranny!
Following Germany’s (and Brussels) lead to tyrannical repression of any free speech in Europe, French President Macron said on Wednesday he would overhaul French media legislation this year to fight the spread of “fake news.”
As Reuters reports, since he was elected last year, Macron has criticized Russian media in particular, openly accusing TV channel RT of sowing disinformation about him via its website and social media during the presidential election.
“If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must have strong legislation,” Macron told a news conference.
Macron said the legislation would concern social media platforms, especially during election periods, and deeply change the role of France’s media watchdog CSA.
One can’t help but read Macron’s quote and think Orwellian utopia…
A day after CNN botched a hit-job on President Trump – which came a week after an erroneous ABC report on General Flynn sent stocks tumbling, which came a month after Bloomberg’s Justin Sink launched “KoiGate” during President Trump’s trip to Japan – the Washington Post’s David Weigel hopped on the Fake News bandwagon and tweeted a photo of an empty arena before a Trump rally in Florida – hours before the event started.
Trump responded to Weigel’s tweet, saying the WaPo reporter had “put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived.”
Weigel – who had already been fired once by the Washington Post once in 2010 over political bias only to be rehired in 2015, deleted the tweet – saying that Davide Martosko of the Daily Mail told him he’d gotten it wrong.
Sure thing: I apologize. I deleted the photo after @dmartoskotold me I’d gotten it wrong. Was confused by the image of you walking in the bottom right corner. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/939616077356642304 …
Martosko seemed surprised.
We haven’t connected in at least a year, BTW. https://twitter.com/daveweigel/status/939616810684514304 …
Trump took the opportunity to ding the MSM “opposition party,” referring to suspended ABC News correspondent Brian Ross as a “fraudster” at the rally, a week after Ross published fake news that former National Security advisor Michael Flynn had directed Trump to make contact with Russian officials during the campaign. ABC later corrected the report – but not after it sent the Dow spiraling 350 points. Trump suggested people who lost money “consider hiring a lawyer and using ABC for the damages this bad reporting has caused – many millions of dollars!”
Trump also took shots at CNN during the rally after the network was forced to make a major correction to a story on Friday in which they said Donald Trump Jr. received documents from Wikileaks on September 4, 2016 before they had been officially released, when in fact, a random person emailed him a link to publicly available documents on September 14.
CNN corrected the report, issuing the following statement.
CNN originally reported the email was released September 4 — 10 days earlier — based on accounts from two sources who had seen the email. The new details appear to show that the sender was relying on publicly available information. The new information indicates that the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported.
Trump shot back, tweeting “Fake News CNN made a vicious and purposeful mistake yesterday. They were caught red handed, just like lonely Brian Ross at ABC News (who should be immediately fired for his mistake),” Trump wrote. “Watch to see if @CNN fires those responsible, or was it just gross incompetence?” It is worth noting that Ross was not fired but rather suspended for 4 weeks.
With the “resistance” MSM reporting story after story which either coincidentally or due to the underlyuing bias, turns to be faker and faker news, and Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel stacked with very, very, very, very biased investigators which are being revealed in bombshell after bombshell, one has to wonder who will believe whatever ‘grand scheme’ of collusion or whatever it is that Mueller is probing these days, they accuse Trump of next in what seems like an endless witch hunt through an upside-down rabbit hole.
Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened
FRIDAY WAS ONE of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time. The humiliation orgy was kicked off by CNN, with MSNBC and CBS close behind, and countless pundits, commentators, and operatives joining the party throughout the day. By the end of the day, it was clear that several of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets had spread an explosive but completely false news story to millions of people, while refusing to provide any explanation of how it happened.
The spectacle began Friday morning at 11 a.m. EST, when the Most Trusted Name in News™ spent 12 straight minutes on air flamboyantly hyping an exclusive bombshell report that seemed to prove that WikiLeaks, last September, had secretly offered the Trump campaign, even Donald Trump himself, special access to the Democratic National Committee emails before they were published on the internet. As CNN sees the world, this would prove collusion between the Trump family and WikiLeaks and, more importantly, between Trump and Russia, since the U.S. intelligence community regards WikiLeaks as an “arm of Russian intelligence,” and therefore, so does the U.S. media.
This entire revelation was based on an email that CNN strongly implied it had exclusively obtained and had in its possession. The email was sent by someone named “Michael J. Erickson” — someone nobody had heard of previously and whom CNN could not identify — to Donald Trump Jr., offering a decryption key and access to DNC emails that WikiLeaks had “uploaded.” The email was a smoking gun, in CNN’s extremely excited mind, because it was dated September 4 — 10 days before WikiLeaks began promoting access to those emails online — and thus proved that the Trump family was being offered special, unique access to the DNC archive: likely by WikiLeaks and the Kremlin.
It’s impossible to convey with words what a spectacularly devastating scoop CNN believed it had, so it’s necessary to watch it for yourself to see the tone of excitement, breathlessness, and gravity the network conveyed as they clearly believed they were delivering a near-fatal blow on the Trump-Russia collusion story:
There was just one small problem with this story: It was fundamentally false, in the most embarrassing way possible. Hours after CNN broadcast its story — and then hyped it over and over and over — the Washington Post reported that CNN got the key fact of the story wrong.
The email was not dated September 4, as CNN claimed, but rather September 14 — which means it was sent after WikiLeaks had already published access to the DNC emails online. Thus, rather than offering some sort of special access to Trump, “Michael J. Erickson” was simply some random person from the public encouraging the Trump family to look at the publicly available DNC emails that WikiLeaks — as everyone by then already knew — had publicly promoted. In other words, the email was the exact opposite of what CNN presented it as being.
How did CNN end up aggressively hyping such a spectacularly false story? They refuse to say. Many hours after their story got exposed as false, the journalist who originally presented it, congressional reporter Manu Raju, finally posted a tweet noting the correction. CNN’s P.R. department then claimed that “multiple sources” had provided CNN with the false date. And Raju went on CNN, in muted tones, to note the correction, explicitly claiming that “two sources” had each given him the false date on the email, while also making clear that CNN did not ever even see the email, but only had sources describe its purported contents:
All of this prompts the glaring, obvious, and critical question — one that CNN refuses to address: How did “multiple sources” all misread the date on this document, in exactly the same way and toward the same end, and then feed this false information to CNN?
It is, of course, completely plausible that one source might innocently misread a date on a document. But how is it remotely plausible that multiple sources could all innocently and in good faith misread the date in exactly the same way, all to cause the dissemination of a blockbuster revelation about Trump-Russia-WikiLeaks collusion? This is the critical question that CNN simply refuses to answer. In other words, CNN refuses to provide the most minimal transparency to enable the public to understand what happened here.
WHY DOES THIS matter so much? For so many significant reasons:
To begin with, it’s hard to overstate how fast, far, and wide this false story traveled. Democratic Party pundits, operatives, and journalists with huge social media platforms predictably jumped on the story immediately, announcing that it proved collusion between Trump and Russia (through WikiLeaks). One tweet from Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, claiming that this proved evidence of criminal collusion, was retweeted thousands and thousands of times in just a few hours (Lieu quietly deleted the tweet after I noted its falsity, and long after it went very viral, without ever telling his followers that the CNN story, and therefore his accusation, had been debunked).
This tweet is from a member of Congress today. It was RT’d more than 7,000 times (and counting), and liked more than 15,000 times. It’s based on a completely false claim, from a debunked CNN story. This happens over and over. This seems damaging. And still no retraction. https://twitter.com/tedlieu/status/939129798793793536 …
Incredibly, to this very moment — almost 24 hours after CNN’s story was debunked — Wittes has never noted to his more than 200,000 followers that the story he so excitedly promoted turned out to be utterly false, even though he returned to Twitter long after the story was debunked to tweet about other matters. He just left his false and inflammatory claims uncorrected.
Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall believed the story was so significant that he used an image of an atomic bomb detonating at the top of his article discussing its implications, an article he tweeted to his roughly 250,000 followers. Only at night was an editor’s note finally added noting that the whole thing was false.
It’s hard to quantify exactly how many people were deceived — filled with false news and propaganda — by the CNN story. But thanks to Democratic-loyal journalists and operatives who decree every Trump-Russia claim to be true without seeing any evidence, it’s certainly safe to say that many hundreds of thousands of people, almost certainly millions, were exposed to these false claims.
Surely anyone who has any minimal concerns about journalistic accuracy — which would presumably include all the people who have spent the last year lamenting Fake News, propaganda, Twitter bots, and the like — would demand an accounting as to how a major U.S. media outlet ended up filling so many people’s brains with totally false news. That alone should prompt demands from CNN for an explanation about what happened here. No Russian Facebook ad or Twitter bot could possibly have anywhere near the impact as this CNN story had when it comes to deceiving people with blatantly inaccurate information.
Second, the “multiple sources” who fed CNN this false information did not confine themselves to that network. They were apparently very busy eagerly spreading the false information to as many media outlets as they could find. In the middle of the day, CBS News claimed that it had independently “confirmed” CNN’s story about the email and published its own breathless article discussing the grave implications of this discovered collusion.
Most embarrassing of all was what MSNBC did. You just have to watch this report from its “intelligence and national security correspondent” Ken Dilanian to believe it. Like CBS, Dilanian also claimed that he had independently “confirmed” the false CNN report from “two sources with direct knowledge of this.” Dilanian, whose career in the U.S. media continues to flourish the more he is exposed as someone who faithfully parrots what the CIA tells him to say (since that is one of the most coveted and valued attributes in U.S. journalism), spent three minutes mixing evidence-free CIA claims as fact with totally false assertions about what his multiple “sources with direct knowledge” told him about all this. Please watch this — again, not just the content but the tenor and tone of how they “report” — as it is Baghdad Bob-level embarrassing:
Think about what this means. It means that at least two — and possibly more — sources, which these media outlets all assessed as credible in terms of having access to sensitive information, all fed the same false information to multiple news outlets at the same time. For multiple reasons, the probability is very high that these sources were Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee (or their high-level staff members), which is the committee that obtained access to Trump Jr.’s emails, although it’s certainly possible that it’s someone else. We won’t know until these news outlets deign to report this crucial information to the public: Which “multiple sources” acted jointly to disseminate incredibly inflammatory, false information to the nation’s largest news outlets?
Just last week, the Washington Post decided — to great applause (including mine) — to expose a source to whom they had promised anonymity and off-the-record protections because they discovered that she was purposely feeding them false information as part of a scheme by Project Veritas to discredit the Post. It’s a well-established principle of journalism — one that is rarely followed when it comes to powerful people in D.C. — that journalists should expose, rather than protect and conceal, sources who purposely feed them false information to be disseminated to the public.
The Post made the right call to report off-the-record comments given they were offered with fraudulent intent. This should be done far more often to actually powerful-in-DC people who spread lies while hiding behind anonymity https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/a-woman-approached-the-post-with-dramatic–and-false–tale-about-roy-moore-sje-appears-to-be-part-of-undercover-sting-operation/2017/11/27/0c2e335a-cfb6-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html?utm_term=.b6e35306506c …
Is that what happened here? Did these “multiple sources” who fed not just CNN, but also MSNBC and CBS completely false information do so deliberately and in bad faith? Until these news outlets provide an accounting of what happened — what one might call “minimal journalistic transparency” — it’s impossible to say for certain. But right now, it’s very difficult to imagine a scenario in which multiple sources all fed the wrong date to multiple media outlets innocently and in good faith.
If this were, in fact, a deliberate attempt to cause a false and highly inflammatory story to be reported, then these media outlets have an obligation to expose who the culprits are — just as the Washington Post did last week to the woman making false claims about Roy Moore (it was much easier in that case because the source they exposed was a nobody in D.C., rather than someone on whom they rely for a steady stream of stories, the way CNN and MSNBC rely on Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee). By contrast, if this were just an innocent mistake, then these media outlets should explain how such an implausible sequence of events could possibly have happened.
Thus far, these media corporations are doing the opposite of what journalists ought to do: Rather than informing the public about what happened and providing minimal transparency and accountability for themselves and the high-level officials who caused this to happen, they are hiding behind meaningless, obfuscating statements crafted by P.R. executives and lawyers.
How can journalists and news outlets so flamboyantly act offended when they’re attacked as being “Fake News” when this is the conduct behind which they hide when they get caught disseminating incredibly consequential false stories?
THE MORE SERIOUS you think the Trump-Russia story is, the more dangerous you think it is when Trump attacks the U.S. media as “Fake News,” the more you should be disturbed by what happened here, the more transparency and accountability you should be demanding. If you’re someone who thinks Trump’s attacks on the media are dangerous, then you should be first in line objecting when they act recklessly and demand transparency and accountability from them. It is debacles like this — and the subsequent corporate efforts to obfuscate — that have made the U.S. media so disliked and that fuel and empower Trump’s attacks on them.
Third, this type of recklessness and falsity is now a clear and highly disturbing trend — one could say a constant — when it comes to reporting on Trump, Russia, and WikiLeaks. I have spent a good part of the last year documenting the extraordinarily numerous, consequential, and reckless stories that have been published — and then corrected, rescinded, and retracted — by major media outlets when it comes to this story.
All media outlets, of course, will make mistakes. The Intercept certainly has made our share, as have all outlets. And it’s particularly natural, inevitable, for mistakes to be made on a highly complicated, opaque story like the question of the relationship between Trump and the Russians, and questions relating to how WikiLeaks obtained the DNC and Podesta emails. That is all to be expected.
But what one should expect with journalistic “mistakes” is that they sometimes go in one direction and other times go in the other direction. That’s exactly what has not happened here. Virtually every false story published goes only in one direction: to be as inflammatory and damaging as possible on the Trump-Russia story and about Russia particularly. At some point, once “mistakes” all start going in the same direction, toward advancing the same agenda, they cease looking like mistakes.
No matter your views on those political controversies, no matter how much you hate Trump or regard Russia as a grave villain and threat to our cherished democracy and freedoms, it has to be acknowledged that when the U.S. media is spewing constant false news about all of this, that, too, is a grave threat to our democracy and cherished freedom.
So numerous are the false stories about Russia and Trump over the last year that I literally cannot list them all. Just consider the ones from the last week alone, as enumerated by the New York Times yesterday in its news report on CNN’s embarrassment:
It was also yet another prominent reporting error at a time when news organizations are confronting a skeptical public, and a president who delights in attacking the media as “fake news.”
Last Saturday, ABC News suspended a star reporter, Brian Ross, after an inaccurate report that Donald Trump had instructed Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, to contact Russian officials during the presidential race.
The report fueled theories about coordination between the Trump campaign and a foreign power, and stocks dropped after the news. In fact, Mr. Trump’s instruction to Mr. Flynn came after he was president-elect.
Several news outlets, including Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, also inaccurately reported this week that Deutsche Bank had received a subpoena from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, for President Trump’s financial records.
The president and his circle have not been shy about pointing out the errors.
That’s just the last week alone. Let’s just remind ourselves of how many times major media outlets have made humiliating, breathtaking errors on the Trump-Russia story, always in the same direction, toward the same political goals. Here is just a sample of incredibly inflammatory claims that traveled all over the internet before having to be corrected, walked back, or retracted — often long after the initial false claims spread, and where the corrections receive only a tiny fraction of the attention with which the initial false stories are lavished:
- Russia hacked into the U.S. electric grid to deprive Americans of heat during winter (Wash Post)
- An anonymous group (PropOrNot) documented how major U.S. political sites are Kremlin agents (Wash Post)
- WikiLeaks has a long, documented relationship with Putin (Guardian)
- A secret server between Trump and a Russian bank has been discovered (Slate)
- RT hacked C-SPAN and caused disruption in its broadcast (Fortune)
- Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app (Crowdstrike)
- Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states (multiple news outlets, echoing Homeland Security)
- Links have been found between Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian investment fund under investigation (CNN)
That really is just a small sample. So continually awful and misleading has this reporting been that even Vladimir Putin’s most devoted critics — such as Russian expatriate Masha Gessen, oppositional Russian journalists, and anti-Kremlin liberal activists in Moscow — are constantly warning that the U.S. media’s unhinged, ignorant, paranoid reporting on Russia is harming their cause in all sorts of ways, in the process destroying the credibility of the U.S. media in the eyes of Putin’s opposition (who — unlike Americans who have been fed a steady news and entertainment propaganda diet for decades about Russia — actually understand the realities of that country).
U.S. media outlets are very good at demanding respect. They love to imply, if not outright state, that being patriotic and a good American means that one must reject efforts to discredit them and their reporting because that’s how one defends press freedom.
But journalists also have the responsibility not just to demand respect and credibility but to earn it. That means that there shouldn’t be such a long list of abject humiliations, in which completely false stories are published to plaudits, traffic, and other rewards, only to fall apart upon minimal scrutiny. It certainly means that all of these “errors” shouldn’t be pointing in the same direction, pushing the same political outcome or journalistic conclusion.
But what it means most of all is that when media outlets are responsible for such grave and consequential errors as the spectacle we witnessed yesterday, they have to take responsibility for it by offering transparency and accountability. In this case, that can’t mean hiding behind P.R. and lawyer silence and waiting for this to just all blow away.
At minimum, these networks — CNN, MSNBC, and CBS — have to either identify who purposely fed them this blatantly false information or explain how it’s possible that “multiple sources” all got the same information wrong in innocence and good faith. Until they do that, their cries and protests the next time they’re attacked as “Fake News” should fall on deaf ears, since the real author of those attacks — the reason those attacks resonate — is themselves and their own conduct.
Update: Dec. 9, 2017
Hours after this article was published on Saturday — a full day and a half after his original tweets promoting the false CNN story with a “boom” and a cannon — Benjamin Wittes finally got around to noting that the CNN story he hyped has “serious problems”; needless to say, that acknowledgment received a fraction of retweets from his followers as his original tweets hyping the story attracted.
President Trump has been actively tweeting this morning as he heads to Asia, but one of his messages particularly caught our eye…
The rigged Dem Primary, one of the biggest political stories in years, got ZERO coverage on Fake News Network TV last night. Disgraceful!
That cannot be, right? And considering the source was once a well-sponsored, well-respected contributor to many of these organizations, we were shocked. So we decided to do a little fact-checking.
Well, it turns out – much to our surprise – that, as The Hill reports, the broadcast evening newscasts on three major networks on Thursday didn’t mention bombshell revelations by former Democratic National Committee interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile.
If you have been living under a rock (or only getting your news from the mainstream media), in her recently released book, disgraced (for cheating in a CNN debate) Brazile exposed that she discovered evidence that she said showed Hillary Clinton’s campaign “rigged” the Democratic presidential primary.
Seems like that would extremely newsworthy, but as The Hill notes, “ABC’s World News Tonight,” “NBC Nightly News” and “CBS Evening News” all didn’t report the allegations by Brazile on Thursday evening despite it receiving considerable coverage on cable news and in print and online media. Brazile was also trending as one of Twitter’s top topics on Thursday.
So what did the so-called ‘news’ media cover?
Despite the Brazile blackout, the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts all featured reports on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the recent indictments of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate, Richard Gates.
Somehow, the so-called Big Three evening newscasts draw more than 20 million viewers combined on a nightly basis.
All of which probably explains this…