By: Tyler Cowan | 08-17-2017 | News
Photo credit: Edoardo Baraldi | Flickr

Does WaPo Want the Truth about Russiagate to Die in the Dark?

Russiagate began to dissolve around the time that Seth Rich began trending in the news again in the last couple of weeks. Red scare propaganda is at an all time high since the height of the McCarthy era and it seems like <i>someone </i> may have a vested interest in making sure it stays that way. The Russiagate fable has had its difficulties all along. Blasted by Adrian Chen in the New Yorker who called it “propaganda about Russian propaganda,” Matt Taibbi of the Rolling Stone who called it “shameful, disgusting.” Glenn Greenwald wrote about it in 2016 and again in January of 2017, claiming “Washington Post is richly rewarded for false news about Russia Threat while the public is deceived.”

Bold claims, but the Pulitzer prize winning journalist of Guardian and Intercept fame is a level-headed reporter and deftly talented investigative journalist, I think he can handle his own in this battle.

<a href=”” > Bold Claims </a>

Some of Greenwald’s claims don’t even require boldness. It’s an absolute fact that editors notes, slowly and quietly leaking out into some of their viral fanfiction about Boris and Natasha of the internet versus Americans and the American Democratic Process. Some of these editors notes didn’t come as clear retractions and at least one had a delay of two full weeks to appear. Another had the retraction notice moved from the top of the article to the end of the article.

Washington Post has been one of the worst offenders as far as “anonymous sources” goes. I personally have a copy of the Washington Post style guide from 1978. Anonymous sources are to be avoided in all cases unless their lives or national security are at risk. Well, since Bezos opened the doors of Amazon and WaPo to the CIA with an investment to the tune of $600M it wouldn’t be too “tinfoil hat” to wonder if CIA agents or assets might be behind the shadows whispering in the ear of loyal WaPo propagandists.

Anonymous sources and “independent researchers” formed a great bit of the source for the Russia claims. It was the “independent researchers” at PropOrNot that led to the massive list of “fake news” sites that kicked off the “fake news is Russia” sub-plot. Kind of sad honestly that the Post, once a venerable journalistic institution, has to offer flimsy apologies like the following:

‘“The Post … does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings’ [and] ‘since the publication of the Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list’).” Some of the “fake news” organizations took enough offense to threaten legal action.

The Post’s apology (if you could qualify it as such):

“WHETHER THE POST’S false stories here can be distinguished from what is commonly called ‘Fake News’ is, at this point, a semantic dispute, particularly since ‘Fake News’ has no cogent definition. Defenders of Fake News as a distinct category typically emphasize intent in order to differentiate it from bad journalism. That’s really just a way of defining Fake News so as to make it definitionally impossible for mainstream media outlets like the Post ever to be guilty of it (much the way terrorism is defined to ensure that the U.S. government and its allies cannot, by definition, ever commit it).”

Greenwald’s scathing commentary on the Russiagate incident flays the once respected print news giant. Elevating the Russia threat, appealing to audience’s desire for “Russia scare” stories, access and source protection (remaining loyal to the “unnamed government sources” that pepper its pages). Glenn even suggests that some of the basis for the Russiagate saga could have been profit driven “to generate revenue through sensationalistic click-bait headlines.”

<a href=””> This wouldn’t even be the first time that DHS had been wrong about a Russian Hack </a>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">CNN is trying to &quot;debunk&quot; the Seth Rich story, but the Russian hacking was already debunked and they know it.<a href=""></a></p>&mdash; No More Wars (@AprilM871) <a href="">August 10, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Most recently, <i> <a href= ””><i> Washington Post </i></a>

t</i> is attempting to bully <i>Nation</i> into reneging on their debunking of Russiagate. After heat from <i>WaPo</i> was put on by Erik Wemple the piece is being “inspected” during a post-publication editorial review.

“Yet occasionally drawing plaudits from far-right websites is a pitfall of the magazine’s intellectual free-for-all, says the editor-cum-publisher. ‘The Nation … has always been a big tent on the progressive side. We’ve never enforced a line.’ More: ‘I am proud of the work we’ve done in spurring debates about U.S.-Russia. The coverage of Russia has been, I think, in the spirit of The Nation … and I want to maintain that spirit and not let one article change that.’”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Trump just retweeted the conspiracy theorist who pushed <a href="">#PizzaGate</a> and Seth Rich story <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Colleen Shalby (@CShalby) <a href="">August 15, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Not unlike Pizzagate, most of the “debunking” done by WaPo was based on the genetic fallacy. “Oh, that source isn’t credible, they’re a Seth Rich researcher.” It seems possible that the protection of the Russiagate hoax could go further even than Greenwald suggested. What if part of the Russia narrative is priming for war with Russia. Like Libya, Syria and other US targets, no central bank, plus vast natural resources (in this case natural gas reserves) could make it a prime target for Imperialist expansion.

Truth comes second to the party line and perception management at the Nation now. As evidenced in a portion of an open letter by Nation staff to the editor:

“Donald Trump is now facing what may be an irreversible crisis. The full extent of Trump’s ties to the Russian government is unknown, but what we know so far – his comments to Russian officials in the Oval Office, in the immediate aftermath of the Comey firing; the conduct of current and former officials in his administration – raises serious questions about his competence. The revelation that Trump pressed James Comey to end the investigation of Michael Flynn before firing Comey indicates an egregious attempt to obstruct justice that has rightly drawn comparisons to Watergate. We now have the extraordinary spectacle of an “American-firster” who has leaked intelligence to a foreign government that meddled in the election that catapulted him into power, and who seems to have been absolutely comfortable in hiring a national security adviser he knew to be a) under investigation; and b) a paid consultant to foreign powers.

We understand that anxiety about foreign – especially Russian – influence is a familiar trope in American politics, and has been used in the past to suppress internal dissent. But to emphasize this particular angle in Nation coverage over the conduct of the Trump administration is a dereliction of our responsibility as progressive journalists. Last week, for example, the magazine ran a piece casting doubt on the motivation of the officials behind the White House leaks, one of several it has published in recent months that have implied the real threat to national security is not Trump’s conduct but rather the attacks on him. As longtime associates of The Nation, we are deeply concerned that by making these editorial emphases and by likening calls for investigations into the Russia connection to “red baiting,” the magazine is not only playing into the hands of the Trump administration but doing a dishonor to its best traditions. We have noted, too, with dismay, that Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, and other far-right adversaries have taken comfort in the writings of other Nation writers on the current crisis.”

Democracy dies in the dark? Seems that may be <i>just</i> where <i>AmazoBezoWaPo’s</i> paymasters at the CIA want us…

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