Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:43 pm

What Santa And The Dying Child Story Teaches Us About Fake News, Data And Verification
By Kalev Leetaru
December 15, 2016

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Some of the world’s most prestigious and reputable news outlets took a moment this week to carry the heartwarming story of a Santa Claus actor who held a boy in his arms at the hospital before he died, offering him comforting words in the spirit of the Christmas season. Outlets covering the story included a veritable who’s who of the media world both in the US and across the world, including the Washington Post, BBC, CNN, NBC, Daily Mail, Japan Times, Today, People, Cosmopolitan, Mashable, BuzzFeed and many many more. However, last night the Knoxville News Sentinel, the originator of the story, published a note from its editor warning that after further investigation it could not verify the substance and details of the story and was no longer standing by its contents. While stopping short of saying the story did not happen, the paper noted that each of the major hospitals in the area had confirmed that the events as described did not occur in their facility, casting doubt on key details of the account, even as the actor himself stood by his story.

While in an ordinary week such a story might simply be written off as another possible viral hoax, what makes this series of events so remarkable is that they occurred in a week saturated with discussion of “fake news” and the need to do a better job of fact checking and verifying the information we consume. Indeed, several of the same outlets carrying the Santa Claus story have also run pieces this week and last arguing that citizens must turn to mainstream media to protect themselves against “fake news” because of the immense amount of verification and fact checking that journalists at these outlets do before reporting on a story. Slate went so far as to create a browser plugin where its editors will screen news coverage and flag articles they believe to be fake. Yet, if some of the world’s most respected news outlets like the Washington Post, BBC and CNN all freely published an unverified story, how could we trust them to somehow do so much better on other stories?

First, its important to ask how such a story went viral in the midst of journalism’s soul searching about “fake news.” It all started with a news outlet: the Knoxville News Sentinel, which ran the original story. The News Sentinel is part of the USA Today Network and the story was rapidly picked up by its other properties and then from there went viral across the national and international news spheres. The News Sentinel’s editor wrote last night that the paper had not performed additional fact checking before running the story and only after the article went viral and outlets like Snopes began to question its veracity, did the newspaper finally reach out to local hospitals and determine that the events as written in the article did not occur at any of their facilities. As each additional news outlet rushed to cover the viral story, they too failed to perform basic journalistic diligence in picking up the phone and calling around to local hospitals for verification and more detail. Instead, essentially a giant trust game played out in that each outlet wrote about the story because it trusted that the earlier outlet had performed the necessary due diligence on it.

The News Sentinel did not respond to a request for a comment on why it did not perform additional verification on the story until after it had gone viral nor what its standard policies on pre-publication verification are. The Washington Post also did not respond to a request for comment as to why, in at least the second time in the last few weeks, it ran a major story without performing additional steps to verify it.

In the case of the Washington Post's earlier PropOrNot story, the newspaper initially strongly defended its work, arguing that it had thoroughly vetted its reporting, offering “The Post reviewed its findings, and our questions about them were answered satisfactorily during the course of multiple interviews.” Only after extensive reporting by other outlets did the Post reverse its stance to claim it performed no verification of any kind, saying in an Editor’s Note “The Post … does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do.”

When asked to comment on the Post’s pre-publication verification and vetting processes and why it did not ask for comment from other researchers in the field to offer additional perspectives before publishing the PropOrNot story, a Post spokeswoman offered only that the paper would have no further comment on the matter. The Post also declined to outline its verification workflow or the steps it takes to verify a story prior to publication.

Such silence is especially troubling in an era when newspapers like the Post are positioning themselves as a bulwark against “fake news” by arguing that their immense verification and vetting workflows ensure they have positively confirmed all elements of a story prior to publication and thus readers can rest assured that a story that appears on their pages has undergone the most rigorous fact checking imaginable. Yet, the reality appears to be precisely the opposite: in the Post’s case, it first claimed to have rigorously investigated the PropOrNot story, only to reverse itself in the face of criticism and say it was merely reporting what it had been told and not standing behind the results in any way.

In the case of the Santa Claus story, it appears the Post similarly did not perform the most basic of due diligence to call around to the local hospitals in the area to confirm the basic details of the story before running it. Yet, more concerningly, the editorial note it subsequently appended to the story places the blame solely on the News Sentinel, while not saying a word about why the Post itself didn’t do any fact checking of its own. In short, the Post’s argument is that it simply trusted another outlet to do due diligence and that once a story enters the news cycle, no other outlet bears responsibility to verify it. This is remarkably similar to the castle defense formerly popular in cyber security circles, in which a company would assume that the outer layers of its network would verify that incoming network traffic was trusted and that once traffic entered the network it could be trusted without additional verification.

Of course, one might argue that it simply isn’t worth the time of a newspaper like the Post to expend precious journalistic resources verifying the minute details of a personal interest story. On the other hand, most would likely agree that publishing a media blacklist like the PropOrNot story certainly does deserve extensive fact checking. The problem is that there is no way to know, when reading a typical newspaper story, how much (if any) fact checking the details of that story underwent. There is no appendix that lists all of the details the reporter did or did not confirm. Indeed, this is the case in all major Western news outlets, but this practice creates the illusion of trust that the reporter must have verified the story before the newspaper would even think of publishing it.

In many ways, the Santa Claus story that went viral without a bit of verification is merely a reflection of the broader problems facing both the news industry and the data science world as a whole. As I noted last week, the inverted pyramid of journalism allows stories like this to flourish by placing the emphasis on conclusions and story rather than underlying facts. Similarly, in our information-saturated realtime-focused society, we’re more interested in short punchy conclusions than we are in the reams of data and caveats that accompany them.

In the case of a large data analysis, the original analytic report might contain pages of caveats, nuances, assumptions and explanations on how to interpret the result. In turn, that result and a few of the caveats are repacked for the next level of decision making, which in turn strips out even more detail to present to the next level of management, until at the highest level of decision making authority, only the final strengthened conclusion remains, absent all of the critical evidence that might call it into question. A single analyst’s tentative conclusion, offered with just 20% probability of being correct, might, through a giant game of telephone, become a definitive answer supported by the entire analytic community.

Here, it appears that each news outlet covering this story simply assumed that the one before had performed the necessary fact checking and as the number of major outlets covering the story grew, so too did its perceived trustworthiness, as readers assumed that all of these outlets had independently verified the details, subjecting it to an ever greater collection of fact checking and verification.

At the end of the day, we simply don’t know if this heartwarming story is true or false or somewhere in between and the Santa Claus actor at the heart of the story stands firmly by his account. However, what we do know is that of the myriad news outlets covering the story, including some of the world’s best-known and most reputable brands in journalism, not one of them made even the most basic of efforts to verify the story before publishing it, content instead to happily spread a viral feel-good holiday narrative. Moreover, in their post-postmortems this morning, not one of these major outlets has accepted ownership over this failure to verify, placing the blame instead on the News Sentinel. In a world besieged by “fake news” how can these same news outlets ask the world’s citizens to turn to them as skilled fact checkers and arbiters of the truth if they can’t be bothered to make a few fact checking phone calls before rushing a story out the door?
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:11 am

BBC Propaganda Watch: Tell-Tale Signs That Slip Through The Cracks
by Medialengs.org Editor
December 13, 2016

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Even the most powerful systems of propaganda inadvertently allow uncomfortable truths to slip out into the public domain. Consider a recent BBC News interview following the death of Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro. Dr Denise Baden, Associate Professor in Business Ethics at the University of Southampton, who has studied Castro's leadership and Cuban business models, was asked by BBC News presenter Maxine Mawhinney for her views on Cuba and Castro. It's fair to say that Baden's responses didn't follow the standard establishment line echoed and amplified in much of the 'mainstream' media.

Mawhinney kicked off the interview with the standard Western propaganda line about Castro:

'He ruled with an iron fist, didn't he?'


Baden immediately challenged the cliché:

[img]'Well,%20that's%20something%20that%20everyone's%20fond%20of%20saying.%20But%20when%20I%20talk%20to%20the%20people%20who%20live%20in%20Cuba,%20and%20the%20Cubans%20who've%20come%20to%20live%20in%20the%20UK,%20that's%20not%20the%20story%20that%20I%20get.%20The%20feeling%20that%20comes%20through%20is%20of%20Fidel%20Castro%20almost%20as%20a%20father%20figure.%20So,%20the%20older%20generation%20tend%20to%20see%20him%20as%20a%20hero%20of%20the%20revolution.%20They're%20aware%20that%20many%20of%20them%20wouldn't%20even%20be%20here%20if%20it%20wouldn't%20have%20been%20for%20the%20health%20advances%20and%20the%20equalisation%20of%20resources%20that%20he%20provided.'[/img]

The academic, who visited the island in 2013 and 2014, 'drawn by its record on sustainability', then pointed out that it was the crippling US embargo on Cuba that was responsible for much of the hardships suffered by the Cubans for over five decades: a crucial point that the BBC interviewer significantly did not pursue.

Mawhinney then raised Castro's human rights record. Baden addressed the issue of free speech first:

'When I went to talk to people in Cuba, I found it remarkable how freely they all spoke about Fidel Castro, and Raul Castro, and the policies. I was expecting from the discourse we hear that people would be afraid to speak out. And that wasn't what I found - people spoke out very freely.'


The BBC interviewer pressed her on whether Cuban people really did speak out:

'Did they criticise the regime?'


Baden:

'Oh yes. I had the head of a topical newspaper who was quite critical of the government in some ways. Not all ways, but some ways. And I think what it is, is the [Western] media's been dominated by America. So, for example, when Obama visited Havana [in March 2016] you had the Cuban Ladies in White come out to protest against the human rights abuses. And so, of course, that dominates the headlines. But they're paid for by Americans – people don't realise that; an American agency pays for them. The Cubans don't take them seriously.'


Once again, the BBC interviewer did not pick up the uncomfortable point about US support, including financial sponsorship, of anti-Castro activism. Imagine the reverse case if Cuba, or another foreign power, were responsible for funding or otherwise fomenting activism inside the United States. Indeed, look at the media outrage at alleged interference by 'Putin's Russia' in the recent US election, with a new explosion of coverage devoted to evidence-free assertions made by anonymous CIA officials.

The BBC interviewer returned to Castro:

'But he did carry out human rights abuses. Look, let's just take one section. Gay people and those with Aids – completely persecuted.'


Again, Baden's response deviated from the 'mainstream' script:

'I think when you look back at the time at which the revolution was considered to be a little bit homophobic, which was in the 60s, I'm not sure many countries could hold their heads up high and say that they were as open as they should be. So, I think you have to look at it in context of the period as well.'


Trying a different tack, Mawhinney continued:

'You seem quite fond of Fidel Castro.'


Rather than rise to this personalised bait, Baden pointed out that, like many Western consumers of news broadcasts, she had long 'been exposed to the Miami voice [often privileged Cuban exiles], which is the very dominant voice, and I think I was just surprised when I went there not to find this browbeaten people who felt oppressed.'

She continued:

'And I think that made me a little bit cross actually because I think we have been exposed to a lot of misinformation, and this quite small minority in Florida has dominated the headlines today and over the past fifty years.'


This implicit criticism of BBC News was left hanging in the air.

By now sounding quite incredulous, the BBC interviewer asked:

'So, are you saying that what he did, the things that we would see as a human rights abuse was okay?'


Baden's calm challenge was professorial:

'Well, do you want to be more specific?'


Mawhinney followed up in hand-waving fashion:

'Well, the prisoners, the political prisoners, the problems with gay people, et cetera, et cetera.'


Baden replied:

'Well no, I don't think political prisoners are ever okay. And I don't think persecuting gay people is ever okay.'


Crucially, the academic then made the point that matters:

'What I'm disputing is that Fidel Castro of Cuba was any worse than any other country. I think if you expose America to the same lens, then you'd have a stack of crimes that would overshadow what Fidel Castro has done.'


It's a rare moment when even a mention of American crimes is carried on BBC airwaves, never mind stating that they would dwarf the alleged crimes of an Official Enemy.

Baden continued with the context that was routinely missing from, or downplayed in, recent coverage of Cuba following Castro's death:

'I think the important thing to realise is the moment Fidel came into power in the revolution, at the time at which there was very strong anti-Communist feeling, the Americans did everything they could to subvert that. They invaded in the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis was a response to an expected additional invasion, and there was, I think, an estimated 638 CIA-sponsored attempts on Fidel Castro's life. So, I think you have to understand the responses and the fear of open speech in context of a constant aggression coming from ninety miles over the water.'


Again, the notion of 'constant aggression' from the US is virtually verboten on the BBC.

This remarkable segment of BBC News would most likely have been lost down the Memory Hole were it not for Media Lens reader Steve Ennever who captured it, uploaded it to YouTube, and then informed people about it (including us). The clip quickly went viral. At the time of writing, it has had around 140,000 views on YouTube, with around half a million views on the Media Lens Facebook page and 2.7 million views via EvolvePolitics. This truly shows the power of social media.

Most public commenters were highly appreciative of the way Baden handled the BBC interview. A few preferred to say instead: 'Well done BBC for showing this', as though the corporation had upheld its commitment to impartiality. But those people are rather missing the point. The BBC line of interviewing – in reality, assertions with a token question mark added at the end - consisted of propaganda bullet points. Thanks to Baden, here was a rare and welcome example of that propaganda line being dismantled live on BBC News.

Yes, it is possible to praise the interviewer, or BBC News, for 'allowing' that to happen here; Maxine Mawhinny did at least refrain from constantly interrupting the interviewee in the way of Andrew Neil, Andrew Marr or John Humphrys. By 'balancing' praise with criticism, some argue, the BBC will be 'encouraged' to 'improve' its performance. Perhaps marginally. But, as seen over many years, the very structure of the BBC means there is a systemic bias in favour of the state, big business, elites and power. Praising a prison guard for being a little less harsh is futile when the prison system remains essentially unchanged. Are we really meant to be pathetically grateful for tiny bits of comfort?

Such are the perils of live television, then, for BBC News. An interviewee may end up querying, perhaps rejecting, the ideological script presented by a BBC News journalist. The script may even be turned on its head, by pointing out that the West is guilty of far worse crimes than the Bogeyman in question – Fidel Castro, as we saw above.

'A Grand Bargain'

Another potentially vulnerable moment for the BBC in maintaining the correct ideological stance is the live artificial 'chat' that takes place between a BBC News presenter and a journalist who is on location, or sitting across a glossy table from the presenter in the studio. Normally these are such tightly managed affairs between two highly trained and carefully selected media professionals that nothing 'untoward' happens. But very occasionally, the impromptu language allows over-reaching or unguarded thoughts to spill out, making alert viewers do a double-take.

For example, BBC Business Editor Simon Jack inadvertently delivered a tasty morsel of newspeak on BBC News at Ten last month (BBC One, November 21, 2016). Jack was describing Prime Minister Theresa May's keynote speech to business leaders at the CBI conference. Supposedly, her tone was more 'conciliatory' compared to a previous 'withering attack' a week earlier when she had pointed out 'some abuses she saw in capitalism and their [business leaders'] behaviour in some corners of British business'. May's vague words then about curbing 'the worst excesses of capitalism' did not exactly herald a revolution. Instead, they smacked of appeasing 'populism' in the wake of Brexit and Trump's US electoral win.

Jack paraphrased May's key message to the CBI:

'I know you've got some problems. And there's going to be a grand bargain. I'll do some things, I'll lower taxes, I'll invest in productivity. You clean up your act and make sure the wealth is shared.'


BBC viewers may well have thought: 'Run that past me again?' Did you really report without comment, far less journalistic scrutiny, that the Prime Minister instructed business elites to 'make sure the wealth is shared'? Is the British public expected to believe that big business will actually 'make sure the wealth is shared'? As ever, there was no proper scepticism towards government pronouncements or policy. In reality, Jack's role is the BBC News editor for business – and government. Sometimes the bias is that blatant.

Another point in BBC News where viewers can be rewarded for particular vigilance is at the start of the programme; or when a specific news story is being introduced. Here the required establishment view – the perspective of 'our' government or big business - is sometimes especially obvious.

For example, on November 16, Fiona Bruce introduced an item on BBC News at Ten with:

'In Iraq, special forces are slowly pushing back so-called Islamic State in the country's second city, Mosul. But the fighting is hard...'


This was propaganda-style reporting once again from BBC News; no doubt similar to how the Russian media report on Russian forces pushing back against terrorists in Syria. Indeed, as we have pointed out before, there are many parallels between British and Russian/Soviet propaganda reporting of foreign policy and military action (see here, here and here).

'The World Wants America As Its Policeman'

And then there are those brave people who enter the labyrinthine den of the BBC 'complaints system'. This is a soul-crushing experience that even the former BBC chairman Lord Grade once described as 'grisly' due to a system that is 'absolutely hopeless'. So what hope for us mere mortals? Anyone who makes the attempt is surely forever disabused of the notion that BBC News engages with, or indeed serves, the public in any meaningful way. Long-time readers may recall that Helen Boaden, then head of BBC News, once joked that she evaded public complaints that were sent to her on email:

'Oh, I just changed my email address.'


One of our favourite cases was a challenge made about an article by that avuncular epitome of BBC gravitas, World Affairs Editor John Simpson. In a 2014 article, 'Barack Obama's best years could still be ahead of him', Simpson claimed that:

'The world (well, most of it) wants an active, effective America to act as its policeman, sorting out the problems smaller countries can't face alone.'


One of our readers (name withheld) read the article, then submitted a complaint to the BBC, noting that:

'In an international opinion poll by Gallup this year the US was found to be the greatest threat to peace in the world, voted three times more dangerous to world peace than the next country. The BBC article is therefore, at worst, incorrect and biased or at best highly inaccurate. Will you be retracting the statement?'


Needless to say, the BBC did no such thing. In fact, Sean Moss, whose job title reads 'BBC Complaints Adviser for BBC News website', delivered a comical reply (forwarded to us, 13 November 2014):

'In fact the poll referenced in your complaint was from the end of last year rather than this year. It is an annual end of year survey which in this edition "explores the outlook, expectations, hopes and fears of people from 65 countries around the world" from 2013.

'Given that we're now nearly at the end of 2014 and they will be conducting a new poll next month we're unclear on what basis you feel these views are still applicable.'


'Unclear' if 'still applicable'? Far from being a rogue result, the US regularly tops polls of global public opinion as the world's greatest threat to peace. As Noam Chomsky noted in an interview earlier this year when discussing nuclear weapons:

'Iran is not a threat, period. The world doesn't regard Iran as a threat. That's a U.S. obsession. You look at global—polls of global opinion taken by Gallup's international affiliate, the leading U.S. polling agencies—agency, one of the questions that they ask is, "Which country is the greatest threat to world peace?" Answer: United States, by a huge margin. Iran is barely mentioned. Second place is Pakistan, inflated by the Indian vote, that's way behind the United States. That's world opinion. And there are reasons for it. Americans are protected from this information.'


Not only Americans. British – indeed, global - audiences too; thanks in no small measure to the BBC.

The requirement to keep awkward facts hidden or marginalised is especially pressing on those BBC journalists who are entrusted to report from the United States. Thus, in an online report titled 'The decline of US power?', the BBC New York correspondent Nick Bryant had to tread carefully in even mentioning America's 'approval rating', as measured by Gallup:

'In Asia, America's median approval rating in 2014, as measured by Gallup, was 39%, a 6% drop since 2011.

'In Africa, the median approval went down to 59%, the lowest since polling began, despite Obama hosting the US-Africa Leaders' Summit in Washington in August, last year.'


There was no mention that, as mentioned, global public opinion regularly regards the US as the greatest threat to world peace, and by a considerable margin.

However, there was plenty of space for Bryant to churn out the usual BBC boilerplate about America's 'national interest' and Obama's 'pragmatism' and 'diplomatic dexterity'; all this about a leader who boasted he had bombed seven countries, rapidly escalated a killer drone programme and broke his pledge to shut down the US Guantanamo torture camp in Cuba.

Dying In A Ditch For BBC News 'Impartiality'

The irony in the ongoing corporate media allegations about 'fake news' (see our previous media alert) is that, as Glenn Greenwald noted, 'those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.' That is because the corporate media fears losing control of the media agenda.

As for BBC News, its privileged, publicly-funded position as supposedly the world's most trusted broadcaster is under threat. So, while reasonable questions can be asked of the growing behemoths of the media landscape – Google, YouTube and Facebook – 'mainstream' journalists know full well not to publicly scrutinise their own industry's output of state-corporate 'fake news'.

Thus, BBC Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones can safely hold Facebook up to the light and ask:

'If Facebook or something similar had not existed, would Donald Trump still be heading for the White House?

'That is hard to say but what does seem likely is that social media served to polarise views in what was already a bitter election and may have encouraged a few hesitant voters to come out for Mr Trump.

'This makes Facebook's claims that it just a technology platform, rather than a hugely powerful media company with Mark Zuckerberg as editor-in-chief, look very thin indeed. But there are few signs that the company is ready to face up to this heavy responsibility or engage in some serious soul-searching.' (our emphasis)


It would be virtually unthinkable for a BBC journalist to write of his employer:

'there are few signs that the broadcaster is ready to face up to this heavy responsibility or engage in some serious soul-searching.'


But then, as John Pilger noted recently:

'Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education – Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia — and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post.'


As a prime example, consider Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's political editor. Last week, Press Gazette awarded her the accolade of 'Journalist of the Year'. She told the trade paper proudly that:

'I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC.'


Two former senior BBC figures would dispute that self-serving depiction of wonderful BBC 'impartiality'. Greg Dyke, a former BBC director general, believes that:

'The BBC is part of a "conspiracy" preventing the "radical changes" needed to UK democracy.'


He says that a parliamentary commission should look into the 'whole political system', adding that:

'I fear it will never happen because I fear the political class will stop it.'


And Sir Michael Lyons, former chairman of the BBC Trust , said earlier this year that there had been 'some quite extraordinary attacks' on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by the BBC.

Readers may recall that Kuenssberg was behind the on-air resignation of a Labour shadow foreign minister in an apparent attempt to manipulate the news agenda and heap pressure on Corbyn. Former British diplomat Craig Murray describes her as:

'the most openly biased journalist I have ever seen on the BBC'.


Up to and including dying in a ditch, Kuenssberg would do anything to defend the impartiality of the BBC. Well, perhaps not anything. Asked for her 'impartial' view on why 35,000 members of the public had signed a petition calling for her to be sacked for her bias, Kuenssberg replied rather less heroically: 'I'm not going to get into that.'

Des Freedman, Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, notes that the kind of bias displayed by Kuenssberg:

'isn't an accident or a one-off example of "bad journalism" but is built into a media system that is intertwined with the interests that run the country.'


He adds:

'This doesn't mean that there's a smoke-filled room somewhere where anti-Corbyn people get together. I think you just call it a routine editorial meeting. The point is many senior journalists ... reflect the dominant strain that runs through their newsrooms – one based on the assumed benefits of neoliberalism and foreign intervention and the undesirability (or the sheer madness of the idea) of redistribution, nationalisation and people like Jeremy Corbyn who don't share the same social circles or ideological commitments.'


As Freedman rightly concludes:

'We need a wholly different media system: one that's not afraid to challenge power because it's not steeped in power in the first place.'


DC and DE
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:28 am

The art of the Trumpaclysm. How the U.S. invaded, occupied, and remade itself.
by Tom Engelhardt
February 27, 2017

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


It’s been epic! A cast of thousands! (Hundreds? Tens?) A spectacular production that, five weeks after opening on every screen of any sort in America (and possibly the world), shows no sign of ending. What a hit it’s been! It’s driving people back to newspapers (online, if not in print) and ensuring that our everyday companions, the 24/7 cable news shows, never lack for “breaking news” or audiences. It’s a smash in both the Hollywood and car accident sense of the term, a phenomenon the likes of which we’ve simply never experienced. Think of Nero fiddling while Rome burned and the cameras rolled. It’s proved, in every way, to be a giant leak. A faucet. A spigot. An absolute flood of non-news, quarter-news, half-news, crazed news, fake news, and over-the-top actual news.

And you know exactly what – and whom – I’m talking about. No need to explain. I mean, you tell me: What doesn’t it have? Its lead actor is the closest we’ve come in our nation’s capital to an action figure. Think of him as the Mar-a-Lego version of Batman and the Joker rolled into one, a president who, as he told us at a news conference recently, is “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life” and the “least racist person” as well. As report after report indicates, he attacks, lashes out, mocks, tweets, pummels, charges, and complains, showering calumny on others even as he praises his achievements without surcease. Think of him as the towering inferno of twenty-first-century American politics or a modern Godzilla eternally emerging from New York harbor.

As for his supporting cast? Islamophobes, Iranophobes, white nationalists; bevies of billionaires and multimillionaires; a resurgent stock market gone wild; the complete fossil fuel industry and every crackpot climate change “skeptic” in town; a press spokesman immortalized by Saturday Night Live whose afternoon briefings are already beating the soap opera General Hospital in the ratings; a White House counselor whose expertise is in “alternative facts”; a national security adviser who (with a tenure of 24 days) seemed to sum up the concept of “insecurity”; a White House chief of staff and liaison with the Republicans in Congress who’s already being sized up for extinction, as well as a couple of appointees who were “dismissed” or even frog-marched out of their offices and jobs for having criticized The Donald and not fessed up… honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up, or rather only Trump himself can do so. And by the way, just so you know, based on the last weeks of “news” I could keep this paragraph going more or less forever without even breaking into a sweat.

Among so many subjects I haven’t even mentioned, including Melania and former wife Ivana – is it even possible that she could become the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic? – there are, of course, the Trump kids and their businesses and the instantly broken promises on (such an old-fashioned phrase) their conflicts of interest and the conflicts about those conflicts and the presidential tweets, threats, and bluster that have gone with them, not to speak of the issue of for-pay access to the new president. And how about Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner (another walking conflict of you-know-what), who reputedly had a role in the appointment of the new ambassador to Israel, a New York bankruptcy lawyer known for raising millions of dollars to fund a West Bank Jewish settlement and for calling supporters of the liberal Jewish group J Street “far worse than kapos” (Jews who aided the Nazis in their concentration camps). Kushner has now been ordained America’s ultimate peacemaker in the Middle East. And don’t forget that sons Donald and Eric are already saving memorabilia for the future Trump presidential library, a concept that should take your breath away. (Just imagine a library with those giant golden letters over its entrance to honor a man who proudly doesn’t read books and, as with presidential executive orders and possibly even volumes he’s “written,” signs off on things he’s barely bothered to check out.)

And speaking of Rome (remember Nero fiddling?), have you noticed that these days all news roads lead back to… well, Donald Trump? Take my word for it: nothing happens in our world any longer that doesn’t relate to him and his people (or, by definition, it simply didn’t happen). Since he rode that Trump Tower escalator to the presidential race in June 2015, his greatest skill has, without any doubt, been his ability to suck up all the media air in any room, whether that “room” is the Oval Office, Washington, or the world at large. He speaks at a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, amid angry outbursts on leaks from the intelligence community and attacks on “the dishonest media” for essentially firing his national security adviser, he suddenly turns his attention to the Israeli-Palestinian issue and says, “So, I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two but honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians – if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.” And the world as we’ve known it in the Middle East is suddenly turned upside down and inside out.

Generalizing

In its way, even 20 months after it began, it’s all still so remarkable and new, and if it isn’t like being in the path of a tornado, you tell me what it’s like. So no one should be surprised at just how difficult it is to step outside the storm of this never-ending moment, to find some – any – vantage point offering the slightest perspective on the Trumpaclysm that’s hit our world.

Still, odd as it may seem under the circumstances, Trump’s presidency came from somewhere, developed out of something. To think of it (as many of those resisting Trump now seem inclined to do) as uniquely new, the presidential version of a virgin birth, is to defy both history and reality.

Donald Trump, whatever else he may be, is most distinctly a creature of history. He’s unimaginable without it. This, in turn, means that the radical nature of his new presidency should serve as a reminder of just how radical the 15 years after 9/11 actually were in shaping American life, politics, and governance. In that sense, to generalize (if you’ll excuse the pun), his presidency already offers a strikingly vivid and accurate portrait of the America we’ve been living in for some years now, even if we’d prefer to pretend otherwise.


After all, it’s clearly a government of, by, and evidently for the billionaires and the generals, which pretty much sums up where we’ve been heading for the last decade and a half anyway. Let’s start with those generals. In the 15 years before Trump entered the Oval Office, Washington became a permanent war capital; war, a permanent feature of our American world; and the military, the most admired institution of American life, the one in which we have the most confidence among an otherwise fading crew, including the presidency, the Supreme Court, public schools, banks, television news, newspapers, big business, and Congress (in that descending order).

Support for that military in the form of staggering sums of taxpayer dollars (which are about to soar yet again) is one of the few things congressional Democrats and Republicans can still agree on. The military-industrial complex rides ever higher (despite Trumpian tweets about the price of F-35s); police across the country have been armed like so many military forces, while the technology of war on America’s distant battlefields – from Stingrays to MRAPs to military surveillance drones – has come home big time, and we’ve been SWATified.

This country has, in other words, been militarized in all sorts of ways, both obvious and less so, in a fashion that Americans once might not have imagined possible. In the process, declaring and making war has increasingly become – the Constitution be damned – the sole preoccupation of the White House without significant reference to Congress. Meanwhile, thanks to the drone assassination program run directly out of the Oval Office, the president, in these years, has become an assassin-in-chief as well as commander-in-chief.

Under the circumstances, no one should have been surprised when Donald Trump turned to the very generals he criticized in the election campaign, men who fought 15 years of losing wars that they bitterly feel should have been won. In his government, they have, of course, now taken over – a historic first – what had largely been the civilian posts of secretary of defense, secretary of homeland security, national security adviser, and National Security Council chief of staff. Think of it as a junta light and little more than the next logical step in the further militarization of this country.

It’s striking, for instance, that when the president finally fired his national security adviser, 24 days into his presidency, all but one of the other figures that he reportedly considered for a post often occupied by a civilian were retired generals (and an admiral), or in the case of the person he actually tapped to be his second national security adviser, a still-active Army general. This reflects a distinct American reality of the twenty-first century that The Donald has simply absorbed like the human sponge he is. As a result, America’s permanent wars, all relative disasters of one sort or another, will now be overseen by men who were, for the last decade and a half, deeply implicated in them. It’s a formula for further disaster, of course, but no matter.

Other future Trumpian steps – like the possible mobilization of the National Guard, more than half a century after guardsmen helped desegregate the University of Alabama, to carry out the mass deportation of illegal immigrants – will undoubtedly be in the same mold (though the administration has denied that such a mobilization is under serious consideration yet). In short, we now live in an America of the generals and that would be the case even if Donald Trump had never been elected president.

Add in one more factor of our moment: we have the first signs that members of the military high command may no longer feel completely bound by the classic American prohibition from taking any part in politics. General Raymond “Tony” Thomas, head of the elite U.S. Special Operations Command, speaking recently at a conference, essentially warned the president that we are “at war” and that chaos in the White House is not good for the warriors. That’s as close as we’ve come in our time to direct public military criticism of the White House.

The ascendancy of the billionaires

As for those billionaires, let’s start this way: a billionaire is now president of the United States, something that, until this country was transformed into a 1% society with 1% politics, would have been inconceivable. (The closest we came in modern times was Nelson Rockefeller as vice president, and he was appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1974, not elected.) In addition, never have there been so many billionaires and multimillionaires in a cabinet – and that, in turn, was only possible because there are now so staggeringly many billionaires and multimillionaires in this country to choose from. In 1987, there were 41 billionaires in the United States; in 2015, 536. What else do you need to know about the intervening years, which featured growing inequality and the worst economic meltdown since 1929 that only helped strengthen the new version of the American system?

In swift order in these years, we moved from billionaires funding the political system (after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the financial floodgates) to actually heading and running the government. As a result, count on a country even friendlier to the already fantastically wealthy – thanks in part to whatever Trump-style “tax cuts” are put in place – and so the possible establishment of a new “era of dynastic wealth.” From the crew of rich dismantlers and destroyers Donald Trump has appointed to his cabinet, expect, among other things, that the privatization of the U.S. government – a process until now largely focused on melding warrior corporations with various parts of the national security state – will proceed apace in the rest of the governing apparatus.

We were, in other words, already living in a different America before November 8, 2016. Donald Trump has merely shoved that reality directly in all our faces. And keep in mind that if it weren’t for the one-percentification of this country and the surge of automation (as well as globalization) that destroyed so many jobs and only helped inequality flourish, white working class Americans in particular would not have felt so left behind in the heartland of their own country or so ready to send such an explosive figure into the White House as a visible form of screw-you-style protest.

Finally, consider one other hallmark of the first month of the Trump presidency: the “feud” between the new president and the intelligence sector of the national security state. In these post-9/11 years, that state within a state – sometimes referred to by its critics as the “deep state,” though given the secrecy that envelops it, “dark state” might be a more accurate term – grew by leaps and bounds. In that period, for instance, the U.S. gained a second Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security with its own security-industrial complex, while the intelligence agencies, all 17 of them, expanded in just about every way imaginable. In those years, they gained a previously inconceivable kind of clout, as well as the ability to essentially listen in on and monitor the communications of just about anyone on the planet (including Americans). Fed copiously by taxpayer dollars, swollen by hundreds of thousands of private contractors from warrior corporations, largely free of the controlling hand of either Congress or the courts, and operating under the kind of blanket secrecy that left most Americans in the dark about its activities (except when whistle-blowers revealed its workings), the national security state gained an ascendancy in Washington as the de facto fourth branch of government.

Now, key people within its shadowy precincts find Donald Trump, the president who is in so many ways a product of the same processes that elevated them, not to their liking – even less so once he compared their activities to those of the Nazi era – and they seem to have gone to war with him and his administration via a remarkable stream of leaks of damaging information, especially about now-departed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
As Amanda Taub and Max Fisher of the New York Times wrote, “For concerned government officials, leaks may have become one of the few remaining means by which to influence not just Mr. Flynn’s policy initiatives but the threat he seemed to pose to their place in democracy.”

This, of course, represented a version of whistle-blowing that, when directed at them in the pre-Trump era, they found appalling. Like General Thomas’s comments, that flood of leaks, while discomfiting Donald Trump, also represented a potential challenge to the American political system as it once was known. When the fiercest defenders of that system begin to be seen as being inside the intelligence community and the military you know that you’re in a different and far more perilous world.

So much of what’s now happening may seem startlingly new and overwhelming. In truth, however, it’s been in development for years, even if the specifics of a Trump presidency were not so long ago unimaginable. In March of 2015, for instance, two months before The Donald tossed his hair into the presidential ring, in a post at TomDispatch I asked if “a new political system” was emerging in America and summed the situation up this way:

“Still, don’t for a second think that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state. Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.”


We’re now living in Donald Trump’s America (which I certainly didn’t either predict or imagine in March 2015); we’re living, that is, in an ever more chaotic and aberrant land run (to the extent it’s run at all) by billionaires and retired generals, and overseen by a distinctly aberrant president at war with aberrant parts of the national security state. That, in a nutshell, is the America created in the post-9/11 years. Put another way, the U.S. may have failed dismally in its efforts to invade, occupy, and remake Iraq in its own image, but it seems to have invaded, occupied, and remade itself with remarkable success. And don’t blame this one on the Russians.

No one said it better than French King Louis XV: Après moi, le Trump.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:20 am

Bill O’Reilly hosted a fake Swedish defense “advisor” to fearmonger about refugees. Swedish Armed Forces Press Secretary: "We do not know who he is."
by Nick Fernandez
February 27, 2017

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Fox News has been accused, yet again, of using deceptive tactics to fearmonger about refugees in Sweden.

On the February 23 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly brought on a guest named Nils Bildt, who was introduced as “a Swedish defense and national security advisor,” to discuss Sweden’s refugee policies. During the segment, Bildt argued that Swedish authorities “are unable … to socially integrate” refugees, and claimed that, as a result, “There is a problem with socially deviant activity, there is a problem with crime, [and] there is a problem with areas or hotspots of crime” in Sweden. Bildt alleged that these “problems” are“not being openly and honestly discussed … because if you don’t agree with the liberal, shall we say, common agenda, then you are viewed as an outsider or not even taken seriously.”

The Swedish Armed Forces, however, do not appear to know who Bildt is. According to a translation of an article in the Swedish outlet Göteborgs-Posten, the press secretary of the Swedish Armed Forces has said that they “do not know who [Bildt] is,” and that he is “definitely not a spokesman for the Armed Forces.” The translated Göteborgs-Posten article reported that Bildt currently lives in Japan.

O’Reilly’s characterization of Bildt as “a Swedish defense and national security adviser” is the latest deceptive attempt from Fox News to portray the refugee population in Sweden as deviant and “unable … to socially integrate.” Just two days earlier, on February 21, Fox host Tucker Carlson showed an interview between filmmaker Ami Horowitz and two Swedish police officers about the supposed surge in refugee violence in the country. After the segment ran, the officers featured in the interview were “shocked” by the deceptive editing of the interview, claimed they were not asked about immigration at all, and asserted “that their testimony had been taken out of context.”

Right-wing media have claimed that the Swedish government is “importing thousands of men from countries … that embrace rape for men as something that is acceptable” and that Swedish authorities “don’t want to tell the world what is going on” with their refugee population, and have attempted to revive the fearmongering myth of Muslim “no-go zones” in Sweden.

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Fake Sweden expert on Fox News – has criminal convictions in US, no connection to Swedish security
by Dagens Nyheter
February 26, 2017

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Fox News continues to focus on the debate about how immigration is breaking Sweden. One guest last night, described as a ”Swedish defense and national security advisor”, spoke about the problems caused by criminality in Swedish cities and suburbs. But neither the Swedish Defense Ministry nor Foreign Office have heard of the expert. Nils Bildt, who called for an “open and honest” debate on crime, has previously been convicted of a violent offence in the United States.

President Trump's statements about Sweden, based on a report on his favourite TV-channel Fox News, continue to drive the debate about the country in the United States. Sweden is portrayed as a nation plagued by crime and rape, in large part due to immigration.

This Friday the matter was the focus of debate during the conservative Fox-presenter Bill O’Reilly's show, where Nils Bildt confirmed Donald Trump's negative view of Sweden. Nils Bildt was introduced by Fox as a ”Swedish defense and national security advisor”, which has caused more than a few raised eyebrows.

Bildt said that it is impossible to ”have an open and honest debate in Sweden about integration” and that the politicians ”has absolutely no systematic plan for integrating mass amounts of immigrants to become productive members of society”.

– The Swedish political debate is completely false. If you don’t agree with the liberal, common agenda you are viewed as an outsider and not taken seriously, said Bildt also.

And, commenting about crime:

– There is a problem with crime, there is a problem with areas or hotpost of crime, be it in Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm or the suburbs thereof and these things are not openly discussed.

Marie Pilsäter at the Swedish Defense Ministry says that no-one called Nils Bildt works there. ”We have no spokesman by that name”, she said. The Foreign Office also denies that he works there. ”We do not know who he is.”

Nils Bildt is the son of Sven Tolling, well know in Swedish equestrian circles. Nils Bildt emigrated from Sweden in 1994. Nine years later he changed his last name from Tolling to Bildt, and he now runs several security companies in the United States. His last known address, according to Swedish registers, is in Tokyo. It is unclear if his companies are still in business.

Nils Bildt, who spoke on Fox News about crime in Sweden, is convicted of a violent offence himself, according to documents from Arlington General District Court in Virginia. Bildt was arrested on the 19th of June, 2014, for assaulting a law enforcement person and for obstruction of justice, after threatening an official [Case number: GC14002638-00].

He was sentenced to one year in prison on the 10th of November the same year. He was also convicted of public inebriation at the same time. Nils Bildt, in an e-mail to DN, says he is ”unaware of the allegations” and therefore cannot comment.

Nils Bildt sent a short e-mail to DN earlier on Friday, explaining why he was given the title of ”Swedish defense and national security advisor”: ”I appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox News. The title was chosen by Fox News's editor – I had no personal control over what title they chose. I am an independent analyst based in the USA”, he wrote.

In a statement from Fox New to Dagens Nyheter, the producer of the network’s news show The O’Reilly Factor, David Tabacoff, says:

”Our booker made numerous inquiries and spoke to people who recommended Nils Bildt and after pre-interviewing him and reviewing his bio, we agreed that he would make a good guest for the topic that evening.”

Johan Wiktorin, a former defense analyst at the Military Intelligence and Security Service, MUST, says that he has never heard of Nils Bildt. ”He is unknown in Sweden as an expert on national security. The depiction of Sweden as a problem country in American media is a disturbing trend.”

English translation by Amanda Johansson Murie.

Correction: Marie Pilsäter was incorrectly spelled Marie Pisäter in an earlier version of this article.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:27 am

This Is How Your Hyperpartisan Political News Gets Made. BuzzFeed News traced a group of liberal and conservative websites back to the same company. “The product they’re pitching is outrage,” said one liberal writer.
by Craig Silverman
Feb. 27, 2017

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Liberal Society / Conservative 101

The websites Liberal Society and Conservative 101 appear to be total opposites. The former publishes headlines such as “WOW, Sanders Just Brutally EVISCERATED Trump On Live TV. Trump Is Fuming.” Its conservative counterpart has stories like “Nancy Pelosi Just Had Mental Breakdown On Stage And Made Craziest Statement Of Her Career.”

So it was a surprise last Wednesday when they published stories that were almost exactly the same, save for a few notable word changes.

After CNN reported White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was “sidelined from television appearances,” both sites whipped up a post — and outrage — for their respective audiences. The resulting stories read like bizarro-world versions of each other — two articles with nearly identical words and tweets optimized for opposing filter bubbles. The similarity of the articles also provided a key clue BuzzFeed News followed to reveal a more striking truth: These for-the-cause sites that appeal to hardcore partisans are in fact owned by the same Florida company.

Liberal Society and Conservative 101 are among the growing number of so-called hyperpartisan websites and associated Facebook pages that have sprung up in recent years, and that attracted significant traffic during the US election. A previous BuzzFeed News analysis of content published by conservative and liberal hyperpartisan sites found they reap massive engagement on Facebook with aggressively partisan stories and memes that frequently demonize the other side’s point of view, often at the expense of facts.

Jonathan Albright, a professor at Elon University, published a detailed analysis of the hyperpartisan and fake news ecosystem. Given the money at stake, he told BuzzFeed News he’s not surprised some of the same people operate both liberal and conservative sites as a way to “run up their metrics or advertising revenue.”

“One of the problems that is a little overlooked is that it’s not one side versus the other — there are people joining in that are really playing certain types of political [views] against each other,” Albright said.

And all it takes to turn a liberal partisan story into a conservative one is to literally change a few words.

Liberal Society’s story about Conway’s alleged TV ban ran with the headline, “White House FINALLY Gives Kellyanne Conway The Boot, Are You Glad?” Things were more grim over at Conservative 101: “White House Just Gave Conway The Boot, Prepare To Be Infuriated.”

Both stories talked of her being given “the boot,” and both underplayed the fact that her absence from TV was temporary, given she was due to be on Fox News that very night.

The stories unfolded in tandem from there.

“Kellyanne Conway has been a terrible communications director for Donald Trump,” were the first words of the story for liberals.

“Kellyanne Conway has been the go-to communications director for Donald Trump,” said the one for conservatives.

They embedded the same tweets from Conway and MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. They used the same quotes from the CNN story. They chose almost the exact same wording to talk about Conway being “banned” from major TV networks. But, critically, the conservative version inserted a reference to the “mainstream liberal media”:

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“Are you glad to see Conway gone?” asked Liberal Society at the end of its post.

“Will you miss seeing Conway on TV?” asked Conservative 101.

The stories read like they were stamped out of the same content machine because they were. Using domain registration records and Google Analytics and AdSense IDs, BuzzFeed News determined that both sites are owned by American News LLC of Miami.

That company also operates another liberal site, Democratic Review, as well as American News, a conservative site that drew attention after the election when it posted a false article claiming that Denzel Washington endorsed Trump. It also operates GodToday.com, a site that publishes religious clickbait.

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Ben Collins ✔ @oneunderscore__
This Facebook trending story is 100% made up.
Nothing in it is true.
This post of it alone has 10k shares in the last six hours.
2:01 PM - 14 Nov 2016


Liberal Society, Democratic Review, and God Today all have the same Google Analytics ID in their source code, which means they are connected. Domain registration records show that American News LLC is the owner of God Today. (The other two sites have private ownership records.)

Conservative 101 and American News have the same Google AdSense ID and domain records show that the latter is also registered to American News LLC. Corporate records list John Crane and Tyler Shapiro as officers of the company, and Crane is listed in domain ownership records. They did not respond to three emails and a phone message from BuzzFeed News.

Domain records suggest they began as conservative news publishers. John Crane acquired the AmericanNews.com domain in 2014 and added Conservative101.com in May of 2016. The company moved into liberal partisan news with the registration of DemocraticReview.com in June of last year and LiberalSociety.com a month later. (Their religious clickbait site, GodToday.com, was registered in February of last year.)

They also appear to run several large Facebook pages that play a major role in helping their partisan content generate social engagement and traffic. Content from American News is pushed out via a page with more than 5 million fans, while Liberal Society’s stories are promoted on a page with over 2 million fans.

Given the anti-Trump aspect of the Conway story, it’s not surprising that the liberal version performed better on Facebook than the conservative one. Liberal Society’s story generated over 40,000 shares, reactions, and comments, while the Conservative 101 version earned less than 4,000.

That’s not the norm for these sites. An analysis of their top-performing content on Facebook using data from BuzzSumo found that American News is by far the most successful of the sites. It also appears to push the envelope more than the others when it comes to misleading and false headlines. Since the election, it has generated huge engagement for stories that falsely claimed Miley Cyrus and Rosie O’Donnell were moving away from the US “for good” due to Trump’s victory. It also scored a hit with a false report that Nicole Kidman was “blackballed” in Hollywood for saying the country should come together to support Trump now that he’s the president. Those three stories alone generated more than 2.5 million Facebook engagements.

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American News

In contrast, Liberal Society’s biggest hit since the election is headlined “Obama Addresses Republicans: ‘I Didn’t Create Trump, Your Bigotry Toward Me Did’ – But He Has A Plan.” It generated just over 360,000 Facebook engagements. Even though the headline presents it as a direct quote, Obama did not say those exact words. It appears the headline was largely copied from a March 2016 article on liberal site Occupy Democrats, which reported accurately on comments Obama made at the time. (It also did not use quotation marks in its original headline.)

Grant Stern is a progressive who writes a column for Occupy Democrats and is the executive director of Photography Is Not A Crime. BuzzFeed News sent him American News LLC’s liberal and conservative sites and asked him to comment on the fact that they’re run by the same company.

“Those websites are marketing websites,” he said after looking at the content, “and the product they’re pitching is outrage.”

It’s unclear if the people running American News LLC use the same writers for their conservative and liberal websites, or if they have separate teams. What is clear is at least one of their sites is using fake author photos. The author page for God Today lists two writers, Henry Freeman and John Sullivan. The photos for these writers are taken from stock video footage. Sullivan appears in a Shutterstock video entitled “Mature man playing golf on golf course.” Freeman’s photo is taken from footage entitled, “Young man writing in notebook in city park.” (After this article was published, God Today removed the photos and bios for Sullivan and Freeman from the authors page.)

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Liberal Society / Shutterstock

Liberal Society is the only partisan site owned by the group that lists its writers. It does not have photos but the bios for Travis Davidson and Jacob Richardson are written in an identical style to the ones on God Today. Here’s Henry Freeman’s from God Today:

Henry Freeman grew up in North Carolina and attended the University of Alabama, where he studied journalism. He has a passion for writing and thoroughly enjoys bringing smiles to the faces of his readers. He hopes to one day become an entrepreneur and give back to his community.


This is Jacob Richardson’s on Liberal Society:

Jacob Richardson was raised in New York City. He attended UC Berkeley where he studied Political Science and Journalism. He now lives in California and says he will live there for the rest of his life. He has a passion for staying current with global news, including politics, business, and sports. He plans on getting married in the near future and starting a family.


Now that it has at least two liberal sites and two conservative ones, American News LLC appears to be setting its sights on expanding its presence in the religious clickbait space. On Feb. 17 John Crane registered two new domains: DevoutAmerica.com and EthicalAmerican.com. Neither are active as of now.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:50 am

Provoking nuclear war by media
by John Pilger
23 August 2016

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The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.

Far from conspiring with the convicted Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Milosevic actually "condemned ethnic cleansing", opposed Karadzic and tried to stop the war that dismembered Yugoslavia. Buried near the end of a 2,590 page judgement on Karadzic last February, this truth further demolishes the propaganda that justified Nato's illegal onslaught on Serbia in 1999.


Milosevic died of a heart attack in 2006, alone in his cell in The Hague, during what amounted to a bogus trial by an American-invented "international tribunal". Denied heart surgery that might have saved his life, his condition worsened and was monitored and kept secret by US officials, as WikiLeaks has since revealed.

Milosevic was the victim of war propaganda that today runs like a torrent across our screens and newspapers and beckons great danger for us all. He was the prototype demon, vilified by the western media as the "butcher of the Balkans" who was responsible for "genocide", especially in the secessionist Yugoslav province of Kosovo. Prime Minister Tony Blair said so, invoked the Holocaust and demanded action against "this new Hitler". David Scheffer, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], declared that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59" may have been murdered by Milosevic's forces.

This was the justification for Nato's bombing, led by Bill Clinton and Blair, that killed hundreds of civilians in hospitals, schools, churches, parks and television studios and destroyed Serbia's economic infrastructure. It was blatantly ideological; at a notorious "peace conference" in Rambouillet in France, Milosevic was confronted by Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, who was to achieve infamy with her remark that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were "worth it".

Albright delivered an "offer" to Milosevic that no national leader could accept. Unless he agreed to the foreign military occupation of his country, with the occupying forces "outside the legal process", and to the imposition of a neo-liberal "free market", Serbia would be bombed. This was contained in an "Appendix B", which the media failed to read or suppressed. The aim was to crush Europe's last independent "socialist" state.

Once Nato began bombing, there was a stampede of Kosovar refugees "fleeing a holocaust". When it was over, international police teams descended on Kosovo to exhume the victims of the "holocaust". The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines". The final count of the dead in Kosovo was 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the pro-Nato Kosovo Liberation Front. There was no genocide. The Nato attack was both a fraud and a war crime.

All but a fraction of America's vaunted "precision guided" missiles hit not military but civilian targets, including the news studios of Radio Television Serbia in Belgrade. Sixteen people were killed, including cameramen, producers and a make-up artist. Blair described the dead, profanely, as part of Serbia's "command and control". In 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, revealed that she had been pressured not to investigate Nato's crimes.

This was the model for Washington's subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, by stealth, Syria. All qualify as "paramount crimes" under the Nuremberg standard; all depended on media propaganda. While tabloid journalism played its traditional part, it was serious, credible, often liberal journalism that was the most effective - the evangelical promotion of Blair and his wars by the Guardian, the incessant lies about Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction in the Observer and the New York Times, and the unerring drumbeat of government propaganda by the BBC in the silence of its omissions.

At the height of the bombing, the BBC's Kirsty Wark interviewed General Wesley Clark, the Nato commander. The Serbian city of Nis had just been sprayed with American cluster bombs, killing women, old people and children in an open market and a hospital. Wark asked not a single question about this, or about any other civilian deaths. Others were more brazen. In February 2003, the day after Blair and Bush had set fire to Iraq, the BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr, stood in Downing Street and made what amounted to a victory speech. He excitedly told his viewers that Blair had "said they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right." Today, with a million dead and a society in ruins, Marr's BBC interviews are recommended by the US embassy in London.

Marr's colleagues lined up to pronounce Blair "vindicated". The BBC's Washington correspondent, Matt Frei, said, "There's no doubt that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially to the Middle East ... is now increasingly tied up with military power."

This obeisance to the United States and its collaborators as a benign force "bringing good" runs deep in western establishment journalism. It ensures that the present-day catastrophe in Syria is blamed exclusively on Bashar al-Assad, whom the West and Israel have long conspired to overthrow, not for any humanitarian concerns, but to consolidate Israel's aggressive power in the region. The jihadist forces unleashed and armed by the US, Britain, France, Turkey and their "coalition" proxies serve this end. It is they who dispense the propaganda and videos that becomes news in the US and Europe, and provide access to journalists and guarantee a one-sided "coverage" of Syria.

The city of Aleppo is in the news. Most readers and viewers will be unaware that the majority of the population of Aleppo lives in the government-controlled western part of the city. That they suffer daily artillery bombardment from western-sponsored al-Qaida is not news. On 21 July, French and American bombers attacked a government village in Aleppo province, killing up to 125 civilians. This was reported on page 22 of the Guardian; there were no photographs.

Having created and underwritten jihadism in Afghanistan in the 1980s as Operation Cyclone - a weapon to destroy the Soviet Union - the US is doing something similar in Syria. Like the Afghan Mujahideen, the Syrian "rebels" are America's and Britain's foot soldiers. Many fight for al-Qaida and its variants; some, like the Nusra Front, have rebranded themselves to comply with American sensitivities over 9/11. The CIA runs them, with difficulty, as it runs jihadists all over the world.

The immediate aim is to destroy the government in Damascus, which, according to the most credible poll (YouGov Siraj), the majority of Syrians support, or at least look to for protection, regardless of the barbarism in its shadows. The long-term aim is to deny Russia a key Middle Eastern ally as part of a Nato war of attrition against the Russian Federation that eventually destroys it.

The nuclear risk is obvious, though suppressed by the media across "the free world". The editorial writers of the Washington Post, having promoted the fiction of WMD in Iraq, demand that Obama attack Syria. Hillary Clinton, who publicly rejoiced at her executioner's role during the destruction of Libya, has repeatedly indicated that, as president, she will "go further" than Obama.

Gareth Porter, a samidzat journalist reporting from Washington, recently revealed the names of those likely to make up a Clinton cabinet, who plan an attack on Syria. All have belligerent cold war histories; the former CIA director, Leon Panetta, says that "the next president is gonna have to consider adding additional special forces on the ground".
What is most remarkable about the war propaganda now in floodtide is its patent absurdity and familiarity. I have been looking through archive film from Washington in the 1950s when diplomats, civil servants and journalists were witch-hunted and ruined by Senator Joe McCarthy for challenging the lies and paranoia about the Soviet Union and China. Like a resurgent tumour, the anti-Russia cult has returned.

In Britain, the Guardian's Luke Harding leads his newspaper's Russia-haters in a stream of journalistic parodies that assign to Vladimir Putin every earthly iniquity. When the Panama Papers leak was published, the front page said Putin, and there was a picture of Putin; never mind that Putin was not mentioned anywhere in the leaks.

Like Milosevic, Putin is Demon Number One. It was Putin who shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Headline: "As far as I'm concerned, Putin killed my son." No evidence required. It was Putin who was responsible for Washington's documented (and paid for) overthrow of the elected government in Kiev in 2014. The subsequent terror campaign by fascist militias against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine was the result of Putin's "aggression". Preventing Crimea from becoming a Nato missile base and protecting the mostly Russian population who had voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia - from which Crimea had been annexed - were more examples of Putin's "aggression". Smear by media inevitably becomes war by media. If war with Russia breaks out, by design or by accident, journalists will bear much of the responsibility.

In the US, the anti-Russia campaign has been elevated to virtual reality. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, an economist with a Nobel Prize, has called Donald Trump the "Siberian Candidate" because Trump is Putin's man, he says. Trump had dared to suggest, in a rare lucid moment, that war with Russia might be a bad idea. In fact, he has gone further and removed American arms shipments to Ukraine from the Republican platform. "Wouldn't it be great if we got along with Russia," he said.

This is why America's warmongering liberal establishment hates him. Trump's racism and ranting demagoguery have nothing to do with it. Bill and Hillary Clinton's record of racism and extremism can out-trump Trump's any day. (This week is the 20th anniversary of the Clinton welfare "reform" that launched a war on African-Americans). As for Obama: while American police gun down his fellow African-Americans the great hope in the White House has done nothing to protect them, nothing to relieve their impoverishment, while running four rapacious wars and an assassination campaign without precedent.

The CIA has demanded Trump is not elected. Pentagon generals have demanded he is not elected. The pro-war New York Times - taking a breather from its relentless low-rent Putin smears - demands that he is not elected. Something is up. These tribunes of "perpetual war" are terrified that the multi-billion-dollar business of war by which the United States maintains its dominance will be undermined if Trump does a deal with Putin, then with China's Xi Jinping. Their panic at the possibility of the world's great power talking peace - however unlikely - would be the blackest farce were the issues not so dire.

"Trump would have loved Stalin!" bellowed Vice-President Joe Biden at a rally for Hillary Clinton. With Clinton nodding, he shouted, "We never bow. We never bend. We never kneel. We never yield. We own the finish line. That's who we are. We are America!"

In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn has also excited hysteria from the war-makers in the Labour Party and from a media devoted to trashing him. Lord West, a former admiral and Labour minister, put it well. Corbyn was taking an "outrageous" anti-war position "because it gets the unthinking masses to vote for him".

In a debate with leadership challenger Owen Smith, Corbyn was asked by the moderator: "How would you act on a violation by Vladimir Putin of a fellow Nato state?" Corbyn replied: "You would want to avoid that happening in the first place. You would build up a good dialogue with Russia... We would try to introduce a de-militarisation of the borders between Russia, the Ukraine and the other countries on the border between Russia and Eastern Europe. What we cannot allow is a series of calamitous build-ups of troops on both sides which can only lead to great danger."

Pressed to say if he would authorise war against Russia "if you had to", Corbyn replied: "I don't wish to go to war - what I want to do is achieve a world that we don't need to go to war."

The line of questioning owes much to the rise of Britain's liberal war-makers. The Labour Party and the media have long offered them career opportunities. For a while the moral tsunami of the great crime of Iraq left them floundering, their inversions of the truth a temporary embarrassment. Regardless of Chilcot and the mountain of incriminating facts, Blair remains their inspiration, because he was a "winner".

Dissenting journalism and scholarship have since been systematically banished or appropriated, and democratic ideas emptied and refilled with "identity politics" that confuse gender with feminism and public angst with liberation and wilfully ignore the state violence and weapons profiteering that destroys countless lives in faraway places, like Yemen and Syria, and beckon nuclear war in Europe and across the world.

The stirring of people of all ages around the spectacular rise of Jeremy Corbyn counters this to some extent. His life has been spent illuminating the horror of war. The problem for Corbyn and his supporters is the Labour Party. In America, the problem for the thousands of followers of Bernie Sanders was the Democratic Party, not to mention their ultimate betrayal by their great white hope. In the US, home of the great civil rights and anti-war movements, it is Black Lives Matter and the likes of Codepink that lay the roots of a modern version.

For only a movement that swells into every street and across borders and does not give up can stop the warmongers. Next year, it will be a century since Wilfred Owen wrote the following. Every journalist should read it and remember it...

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


--
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:39 pm

George Orwell: ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’

Appendix

THE PRINCIPLES OF NEWSPEAK


Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles in the Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist. It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or Standard English, as we should call it) by about the year 2050. Meanwhile it gained ground steadily, all Party members tending to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions more and more in their everyday speech. The version in use in 1984, and embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Editions of the Newspeak Dictionary, was a provisional one, and contained many superfluous words and archaic formations which were due to be suppressed later. It is with the final, perfected version, as embodied in the Eleventh Edition of the Dictionary, that we are concerned here.

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.


Newspeak was founded on the English language as we now know it, though many Newspeak sentences, even when not containing newly-created words, would be barely intelligible to an English-speaker of our own day. Newspeak words were divided into three distinct classes, known as the A vocabulary, the B vocabulary (also called compound words), and the C vocabulary. It will be simpler to discuss each class separately, but the grammatical peculiarities of the language can be dealt with in the section devoted to the A vocabulary, since the same rules held good for all three categories.

The A vocabulary. The A vocabulary consisted of the words needed for the business of everyday life — for such things as eating, drinking, working, putting on one's clothes, going up and down stairs, riding in vehicles, gardening, cooking, and the like. It was composed almost entirely of words that we already possess, words like hit, run, dog, tree, sugar, house, field — but in comparison with the present-day English vocabulary their number was extremely small, while their meanings were far more rigidly defined. All ambiguities and shades of meaning had been purged out of them. So far as it could be achieved, a Newspeak word of this class was simply a staccato sound expressing one clearly understood concept. It would have been quite impossible to use the A vocabulary for literary purposes or for political or philosophical discussion. It was intended only to express simple, purposive thoughts, usually involving concrete objects or physical actions.

The grammar of Newspeak had two outstanding peculiarities. The first of these was an almost complete interchangeability between different parts of speech. Any word in the language (in principle this applied even to very abstract words such as if or when) could be used either as verb, noun, adjective, or adverb. Between the verb and the noun form, when they were of the same root, there was never any variation, this rule of itself involving the destruction of many archaic forms. The word thought, for example, did not exist in Newspeak. Its place was taken by think, which did duty for both noun and verb. No etymological principle was followed here: in some cases it was the original noun that was chosen for retention, in other cases the verb. Even where a noun and verb of kindred meaning were not etymologically connected, one or other of them was frequently suppressed. There was, for example, no such word as cut, its meaning being sufficiently covered by the noun-verb knife. Adjectives were formed by adding the suffix -ful to the noun-verb, and adverbs by adding -wise. Thus for example, speedful meant ‘rapid’ and speedwise meant ‘quickly’. Certain of our present-day adjectives, such as good, strong, big, black, soft, were retained, but their total number was very small. There was little need for them, since almost any adjectival meaning could be arrived at by adding -ful to a noun-verb. None of the now-existing adverbs was retained, except for a very few already ending in -wise: the -wise termination was invariable. The word well, for example, was replaced by goodwise.

In addition, any word — this again applied in principle to every word in the language — could be negatived by adding the affix un-, or could be strengthened by the affix plus-, or, for still greater emphasis, doubleplus-. Thus, for example, uncold meant ‘warm’, while pluscold and doublepluscold meant, respectively, ‘very cold’ and ‘superlatively cold’. It was also possible, as in present-day English, to modify the meaning of almost any word by prepositional affixes such as ante-, post-, up-, down-, etc. By such methods it was found possible to bring about an enormous diminution of vocabulary. Given, for instance, the word good, there was no need for such a word as bad, since the required meaning was equally well — indeed, better — expressed by ungood. All that was necessary, in any case where two words formed a natural pair of opposites, was to decide which of them to suppress. Dark, for example, could be replaced by unlight, or light by undark, according to preference.

The second distinguishing mark of Newspeak grammar was its regularity. Subject to a few exceptions which are mentioned below all inflexions followed the same rules. Thus, in all verbs the preterite and the past participle were the same and ended in -ed. The preterite of steal was stealed, the preterite of think was thinked, and so on throughout the language, all such forms as swam, gave, brought, spoke, taken, etc., being abolished. All plurals were made by adding -s or -es as the case might be. The plurals of man, ox, life, were mans, oxes, lifes. Comparison of adjectives was invariably made by adding -er, -est (good, gooder, goodest), irregular forms and the more, most formation being suppressed.

The only classes of words that were still allowed to inflect irregularly were the pronouns, the relatives, the demonstrative adjectives, and the auxiliary verbs. All of these followed their ancient usage, except that whom had been scrapped as unnecessary, and the shall, should tenses had been dropped, all their uses being covered by will and would. There were also certain irregularities in word-formation arising out of the need for rapid and easy speech. A word which was difficult to utter, or was liable to be incorrectly heard, was held to be ipso facto a bad word: occasionally therefore, for the sake of euphony, extra letters were inserted into a word or an archaic formation was retained. But this need made itself felt chiefly in connexion with the B vocabulary. Why so great an importance was attached to ease of pronunciation will be made clear later in this essay.

The B vocabulary. The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them. Without a full understanding of the principles of Ingsoc it was difficult to use these words correctly. In some cases they could be translated into Oldspeak, or even into words taken from the A vocabulary, but this usually demanded a long paraphrase and always involved the loss of certain overtones. The B words were a sort of verbal shorthand, often packing whole ranges of ideas into a few syllables, and at the same time more accurate and forcible than ordinary language.

The B words were in all cases compound words(2). They consisted of two or more words, or portions of words, welded together in an easily pronounceable form. The resulting amalgam was always a noun-verb, and inflected according to the ordinary rules. To take a single example: the word goodthink, meaning, very roughly, ‘orthodoxy’, or, if one chose to regard it as a verb, ‘to think in an orthodox manner’. This inflected as follows: noun-verb, goodthink; past tense and past participle, goodthinked; present participle, goodthinking; adjective, goodthinkful; adverb, goodthinkwise; verbal noun, goodthinker.

The B words were not constructed on any etymological plan. The words of which they were made up could be any parts of speech, and could be placed in any order and mutilated in any way which made them easy to pronounce while indicating their derivation. In the word crimethink (thoughtcrime), for instance, the think came second, whereas in thinkpol (Thought Police) it came first, and in the latter word police had lost its second syllable. Because of the great difficulty in securing euphony, irregular formations were commoner in the B vocabulary than in the A vocabulary. For example, the adjective forms of Minitrue, Minipax, and Miniluv were, respectively, Minitruthful, Minipeaceful, and Minilovely, simply because -trueful, -paxful, and -loveful were slightly awkward to pronounce. In principle, however, all B words could inflect, and all inflected in exactly the same way.

Some of the B words had highly subtilized meanings, barely intelligible to anyone who had not mastered the language as a whole. Consider, for example, such a typical sentence from a Times leading article as Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc. The shortest rendering that one could make of this in Oldspeak would be: ‘Those whose ideas were formed before the Revolution cannot have a full emotional understanding of the principles of English Socialism.’ But this is not an adequate translation. To begin with, in order to grasp the full meaning of the Newspeak sentence quoted above, one would have to have a clear idea of what is meant by Ingsoc. And in addition, only a person thoroughly grounded in Ingsoc could appreciate the full force of the word bellyfeel, which implied a blind, enthusiastic acceptance difficult to imagine today; or of the word oldthink, which was inextricably mixed up with the idea of wickedness and decadence. But the special function of certain Newspeak words, of which oldthink was one, was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them. These words, necessarily few in number, had had their meanings extended until they contained within themselves whole batteries of words which, as they were sufficiently covered by a single comprehensive term, could now be scrapped and forgotten. The greatest difficulty facing the compilers of the Newspeak Dictionary was not to invent new words, but, having invented them, to make sure what they meant: to make sure, that is to say, what ranges of words they cancelled by their existence.

As we have already seen in the case of the word free, words which had once borne a heretical meaning were sometimes retained for the sake of convenience, but only with the undesirable meanings purged out of them. Countless other words such as honour, justice, morality, internationalism, democracy, science, and religion had simply ceased to exist. A few blanket words covered them, and, in covering them, abolished them. All words grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality, for instance, were contained in the single word crimethink, while all words grouping themselves round the concepts of objectivity and rationalism were contained in the single word oldthink. Greater precision would have been dangerous. What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshipped ‘false gods’. He did not need to know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy. He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods.
In somewhat the same way, the party member knew what constituted right conduct, and in exceedingly vague, generalized terms he knew what kinds of departure from it were possible. His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by the two Newspeak words sexcrime (sexual immorality) and goodsex (chastity). Sexcrime covered all sexual misdeeds whatever. It covered fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and other perversions, and, in addition, normal intercourse practised for its own sake. There was no need to enumerate them separately, since they were all equally culpable, and, in principle, all punishable by death. In the C vocabulary, which consisted of scientific and technical words, it might be necessary to give specialized names to certain sexual aberrations, but the ordinary citizen had no need of them. He knew what was meant by goodsex — that is to say, normal intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman: all else was sexcrime. In Newspeak it was seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further than the perception that it was heretical: beyond that point the necessary words were nonexistent.

No word in the B vocabulary was ideologically neutral. A great many were euphemisms. Such words, for instance, as joycamp (forced-labour camp) or Minipax (Ministry of Peace, i.e. Ministry of War) meant almost the exact opposite of what they appeared to mean. Some words, on the other hand, displayed a frank and contemptuous understanding of the real nature of Oceanic society. An example was prolefeed, meaning the rubbishy entertainment and spurious news which the Party handed out to the masses. Other words, again, were ambivalent, having the connotation ‘good’ when applied to the Party and ‘bad’ when applied to its enemies.
But in addition there were great numbers of words which at first sight appeared to be mere abbreviations and which derived their ideological colour not from their meaning, but from their structure.

So far as it could be contrived, everything that had or might have political significance of any kind was fitted into the B vocabulary. The name of every organization, or body of people, or doctrine, or country, or institution, or public building, was invariably cut down into the familiar shape; that is, a single easily pronounced word with the smallest number of syllables that would preserve the original derivation. In the Ministry of Truth, for example, the Records Department, in which Winston Smith worked, was called Recdep, the Fiction Department was called Ficdep, the Teleprogrammes Department was called Teledep, and so on. This was not done solely with the object of saving time. Even in the early decades of the twentieth century, telescoped words and phrases had been one of the characteristic features of political language; and it had been noticed that the tendency to use abbreviations of this kind was most marked in totalitarian countries and totalitarian organizations. Examples were such words as Nazi, Gestapo, Comintern, Inprecorr, Agitprop. In the beginning the practice had been adopted as it were instinctively, but in Newspeak it was used with a conscious purpose. It was perceived that in thus abbreviating a name one narrowed and subtly altered its meaning, by cutting out most of the associations that would otherwise cling to it. The words Communist International, for instance, call up a composite picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx, and the Paris Commune. The word Comintern, on the other hand, suggests merely a tightly-knit organization and a well-defined body of doctrine. It refers to something almost as easily recognized, and as limited in purpose, as a chair or a table. Comintern is a word that can be uttered almost without taking thought, whereas Communist International is a phrase over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily. In the same way, the associations called up by a word like Minitrue are fewer and more controllable than those called up by Ministry of Truth. This accounted not only for the habit of abbreviating whenever possible, but also for the almost exaggerated care that was taken to make every word easily pronounceable.

In Newspeak, euphony outweighed every consideration other than exactitude of meaning. Regularity of grammar was always sacrificed to it when it seemed necessary. And rightly so, since what was required, above all for political purposes, was short clipped words of unmistakable meaning which could be uttered rapidly and which roused the minimum of echoes in the speaker's mind. The words of the B vocabulary even gained in force from the fact that nearly all of them were very much alike. Almost invariably these words — goodthink, Minipax, prolefeed, sexcrime, joycamp, Ingsoc, bellyfeel, thinkpol, and countless others — were words of two or three syllables, with the stress distributed equally between the first syllable and the last. The use of them encouraged a gabbling style of speech, at once staccato and monotonous. And this was exactly what was aimed at. The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness. For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgement should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument, and the texture of the words, with their harsh sound and a certain wilful ugliness which was in accord with the spirit of Ingsoc, assisted the process still further.

So did the fact of having very few words to choose from. Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning ‘to quack like a duck’. Like various other words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

From power of the people to polyarchy

Definitions of concepts are not theoretically neutral and are not simply the result of individual taste or preference of the writer... Definitions of concepts are also mandated by the dominant usages in a group or society, made authoritative by dictionaries, by sanctions against the "wrong" usage. And definitions are also part of the hegemony of language itself, the "deep structure" of meanings buried in the foundations of social order. To broaden the classic statement of Marx, the ruling ideas of an age are not only the ideology of its ruling class but also the vocabulary of dominant elites.

-- Robert Alford and Roger Friedland [58]

Democracy means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to rule them.

-- Joseph Schumpeter [59]

Democracy is what philosopher W. B. Gallie terms an essentially contested concept.60 This refers to a concept in which different and competing definitions exist, such that terms themselves are problematic since they are not reducible to "primitives." Each definition yields different interpretations of social reality. In and of themselves, these terms are hollow and their meaning is only discernible from the vantage point of the social and theoretical context of their usage. By their nature, these terms involve implicit assumptions, are enveloped in ideology, and are therefore subsets of broader discourse which sets the framework of the social-political or theoretical agenda in question. Each essentially contested concept comes to have multiple and internally contradictory meanings which are given to it by specific class and group interests with a stake in its definition. Ideological positions, or more precisely, the intersubjective expression of vested class and group interests, are often ensconced in what is presented as scientific, objective discussion of democracy. Analysis should thus uncover these assumptions and their relation to interests.

What US policymakers mean by "democracy promotion" is the promotion of polyarchy, a concept which developed in US academic circles closely tied to the policymaking community in the United States in the post-World War II years (the word was first coined by Robert DahI 61). Polyarchy refers to a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation in decision-making is confined to leadership choice in elections carefully managed by competing elites. The pluralist assumption is that elites will respond to the general interests of majorities, through polyarchy's "twin dimensions" of "political contestation" and "political inclusiveness," as a result of the need of those who govern to win a majority of votes. It is theoretically grounded in structural-functionalism - and behind it, the positivist focus on the separate aspects and the external relations of things - in which the different spheres of the social totality are independent, each performing systems maintenance functions and externally related to each other in a larger Parsonian "social system." Democracy is limited to the political sphere, and revolves around process, method and procedure in the selection of "leaders." This is an institutional definition of democracy. Political scientist Samuel Huntington notes that the classic definition of democracy as power/rule by the people - rooted in the original Greek, power or rule (eralos) of the people (demos) - and "its derivatives and applications over the ages" have "sharply declined, at least in the American scholarly discussions, and have been replaced by efforts to understand the nature of democratic institutions." Huntington concludes: "Democracy has a useful meaning only when it is defined in institutional terms. The key institution of democracy is the selection of leaders through competitive elections."62 In turn, polyarchy has been conflated to the staple definition of democracy in both "democratization" and "democracy promotion" literature.63

The concept of polyarchy is an outgrowth of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century elite theories developed by Italian social scientists Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto. On the one hand, these theories were developed to legitimize the rapid increase in the concentration of wealth and political power among dominant elites, and their ever-greater control over social life, with the rise of corporate capitalism. On the other hand, democracy, by the late nineteenth century, had ceased being an instrument of this industrial elite against the old feudal oligarchy and was instead becoming a vehicle for the demands of those it dominated. In the latter part of their careers, Mosca went on to argue that "democratic" rather than fascist methods are best suited to defend the ruling class and preserve the social order, whereas Pareto went on to embrace fascism as the best method. This split, on the basis of a shared commitment to preserving the social order, constitutes an historical analogy to the debate in US foreign policy-making circles over whether "democracy" or authoritarianism in the Third World is actually the best method of preserving international order. "In perceiving the insight underlying the apparent paradox that democratic methods prudently used can enhance the strength and stability of a ruling class, Mosca solved his problem," notes political scientist Peter Bachrach. "But before his theory could be successfully integrated within the context of modern democratic theory, the theory of democracy itself required a radical revision."64 That radical revision took place in US academia in the post-World War II years.

The institutional definition embodied in polyarchy came to substitute, at the level of mainstream Western social science, the classic definition of democracy. Despite the emergence of the earlier elite theories, the classic definition had been fairly well established until the post-World War II period. This redefinition thus coincided with a worldwide upsurge of democratic aspirations and movements in the wake of the defeat of fascism and the breakup of the old colonial system. Behind the birth of dozens of newly independent nations, the spread of democratic and national liberation movements, and several successful Third World revolutions were struggles over what new social and political systems would replace the crumbling colonial order. The redefinition of democracy also took place alongside the postwar construction of a new international system and the emergence of the United States as the undisputed world power. It began with Joseph Schumpeter's 1942 study, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, in which he rejected the "classical theory of democracy" defined in terms of "the will of the people" and "the common good." Instead, Schumpeter advanced "another theory" of democracy: "institutional arrangements for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote."65 This redefinition gave "democratic" content to the anti-democratic essence of Mosca's and Pareto's earlier elitism theories, thus providing for their legitimization. According to Huntington, the debate between the institutional and the classical definition of democracy went on for several decades after World War II, and was concluded with the publication of Robert Dahl's Polyarchy in 1971.

In its Parsonian-Schumpeterian version, the polyarchic definition of democracy is equated with the stability of the capitalist social order. By definitional fiat, power is exercised in the general welfare and any attempt to change the social order is a pathological challenge to democracy. "The maintenance of democratic politics and the reconstruction of the social order are fundamentally incompatible," states Huntington.66 There is no contradiction in this model in affirming that "democracy" exists and also acknowledging massive inequalities in wealth and social privilege. The problem is posed as to how these inequalities might negatively affect the maintenance of "democracy." Therefore, the notion that there may be a veritable contradiction in terms between elite or class rule, on the one hand, and democracy, on the other, does not enter -- by theoretical-definitional fiat -- into the polyarchic definition. At best, the polyarchic conception leaves open the possibility as to whether "political democracy" may or may not facilitate "social and economic democracy." In contrast, I am arguing that polyarchy as a distinct form of elite rule performs the function of legitimating existing inequalities, and does so more effectively than authoritarianism.

Historian Raymond Williams holds that a class perspective on the politics of language is necessary, since "many crucial meanings have been shaped by a dominant class."67 Sociologists Robert Alford and Roger Friedland argue that "concepts come to be part of dominant or subordinate paradigms. Clusters of terms come to control discourse when a particular school of thought dominates a university department, a professional association, or a government agency." As such, "paradigms of inquiry become part of the substructure of meanings, which may disappear into the underpinnings of a discipline as its ideology."68 The polyarchic definition of democracy, which is only one variant of an essentially contested concept, has come to enjoy hegemony, in the Gramscian sense, in social scientific, political, and mass public discourse.

-- Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and Hegemony, by William I. Robinson


The C vocabulary. The C vocabulary was supplementary to the others and consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms. These resembled the scientific terms in use today, and were constructed from the same roots, but the usual care was taken to define them rigidly and strip them of undesirable meanings. They followed the same grammatical rules as the words in the other two vocabularies. Very few of the C words had any currency either in everyday speech or in political speech. Any scientific worker or technician could find all the words he needed in the list devoted to his own speciality, but he seldom had more than a smattering of the words occurring in the other lists. Only a very few words were common to all lists, and there was no vocabulary expressing the function of Science as a habit of mind, or a method of thought, irrespective of its particular branches. There was, indeed, no word for ‘Science’, any meaning that it could possibly bear being already sufficiently covered by the word Ingsoc.

From the foregoing account it will be seen that in Newspeak the expression of unorthodox opinions, above a very low level, was well-nigh impossible.
It was of course possible to utter heresies of a very crude kind, a species of blasphemy. It would have been possible, for example, to say Big Brother is ungood. But this statement, which to an orthodox ear merely conveyed a self-evident absurdity, could not have been sustained by reasoned argument, because the necessary words were not available. Ideas inimical to Ingsoc could only be entertained in a vague wordless form, and could only be named in very broad terms which lumped together and condemned whole groups of heresies without defining them in doing so. One could, in fact, only use Newspeak for unorthodox purposes by illegitimately translating some of the words back into Oldspeak. For example, All mans are equal was a possible Newspeak sentence, but only in the same sense in which All men are redhaired is a possible Oldspeak sentence. It did not contain a grammatical error, but it expressed a palpable untruth — i.e. that all men are of equal size, weight, or strength. The concept of political equality no longer existed, and this secondary meaning had accordingly been purged out of the word equal. In 1984, when Oldspeak was still the normal means of communication, the danger theoretically existed that in using Newspeak words one might remember their original meanings. In practice it was not difficult for any person well grounded in doublethink to avoid doing this, but within a couple of generations even the possibility of such a lapse would have vanished. A person growing up with Newspeak as his sole language would no more know that equal had once had the secondary meaning of ‘politically equal’, or that free had once meant ‘intellectually free’, than for instance, a person who had never heard of chess would be aware of the secondary meanings attaching to queen and rook. There would be many crimes and errors which it would be beyond his power to commit, simply because they were nameless and therefore unimaginable. And it was to be foreseen that with the passage of time the distinguishing characteristics of Newspeak would become more and more pronounced — its words growing fewer and fewer, their meanings more and more rigid, and the chance of putting them to improper uses always diminishing.

When Oldspeak had been once and for all superseded, the last link with the past would have been severed. History had already been rewritten, but fragments of the literature of the past survived here and there, imperfectly censored, and so long as one retained one's knowledge of Oldspeak it was possible to read them. In the future such fragments, even if they chanced to survive, would be unintelligible and untranslatable. It was impossible to translate any passage of Oldspeak into Newspeak unless it either referred to some technical process or some very simple everyday action, or was already orthodox (goodthinkful would be the Newspeak expression) in tendency. In practice this meant that no book written before approximately 1960 could be translated as a whole. Pre-revolutionary literature could only be subjected to ideological translation — that is, alteration in sense as well as language. Take for example the well-known passage from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government...


It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink. A full translation could only be an ideological translation, whereby Jefferson's words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government.

A good deal of the literature of the past was, indeed, already being transformed in this way. Considerations of prestige made it desirable to preserve the memory of certain historical figures, while at the same time bringing their achievements into line with the philosophy of Ingsoc. Various writers, such as Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Byron, Dickens, and some others were therefore in process of translation: when the task had been completed, their original writings, with all else that survived of the literature of the past, would be destroyed. These translations were a slow and difficult business, and it was not expected that they would be finished before the first or second decade of the twenty-first century. There were also large quantities of merely utilitarian literature — indispensable technical manuals, and the like — that had to be treated in the same way. It was chiefly in order to allow time for the preliminary work of translation that the final adoption of Newspeak had been fixed for so late a date as 2050.

1949

____

2) Compound words such as speakwrite, were of course to be found in the A vocabulary, but these were merely convenient abbreviations and had no special ideologcal colour.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:37 pm

Why Has Trust in Media Collapsed? Look at Actions of WSJ, Yahoo, Business Insider and Slate.
by Glenn Greenwald
March 30 2017

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


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LAST WEEK, we published documents that definitively debunked and disproved a claim which numerous media outlets had circulated and affirmed for years: that Edward Snowden lied about where he was during his first 11 days in Hong Kong. Contrary to the fable these outlets dispensed to their readers – that Snowden did not check into the Mira Hotel on May 21 as he claimed but only did so on June 1: 11 days later – these new documents, obtained from the Mira, prove that Snowden arrived there exactly when he always said, rendering their published stories factually false. Many of these stories had even claimed that anonymous U.S. investigators were unable to find hotel or credit card records for Snowden during these 11 days – exactly the records we just published.

The same day our story was published, the New York Times reporter Charlie Savage – who had previously spent weeks documenting that this claim about Snowden never had any journalistic basis to begin with – confirmed the authenticity of the new documents. As Savage wrote: “the documents show [Snowden] stayed in both the Icon and then, starting on May 21st, the Mira, under his own name, using his own credit cards. So there is no mystery gap, and the credit card records obviously were readily available to American investigators all along.”

The concocted discrepancy was significant because these media outlets – and many commentators citing their false story – used it to strongly suggest that Snowden, during these “Missing 11 Days,” was doing something nefarious: such as meeting his Russian or Chinese handlers. Numerous outlets uncritically aired this false claim, including the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News, Business Insider, Slate, Interpreter Magazine and Folha de S.Paulo (Brazil’s largest newspaper).

A WSJ op-ed writer, Edward Jay Epstein, released a book in February featuring this fraud as a linchpin in his innuendo that Snowden was a Russian spy, which he then aired on a Lawfare podcast with Benjamin Wittes. This fable was also adopted by several former intelligence community employees now embedded in the pundit class – such as former CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden and NSA employee John Schindler – as well as cable personalities such as MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid. Both Yahoo News and Slate used this falsehood as part of their accusation that Oliver Stone’s film about Snowden was misleading.

Joy Reid ✔ @JoyAnnReid
Ahem... Snowden Won't Talk About His Time In Hong Kong — And Now We Know Why http://www.businessinsider.com/snowden- ... ong-2014-6 … via @BI_Defense
5:44 PM - 1 Jul 2014

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"So where was Edward Snowden between May 20 and May 31?"
businessinsider.com


Even the best and most careful journalists get things wrong sometimes. But the minimal requirement for journalistic credibility and integrity is acknowledging and fixing mistakes. When the debate over Fake News first emerged, advocates of the term insisted that it was this attribute – a willingness to admit and correct errors – that distinguishes credible news outlets that sometimes err from fakes and frauds.

Yet in this case, only one of the media outlets that published what is now a significant and documented falsehood – Brazil’s Folha – has even acknowledged these new documents. In Folha’s case, they did so lamely and grudgingly: rather than add an editor’s note or correction to their original story by reporter Igor Gielow (which still stands uncorrected), they published a short news article about these new hotel documents, which merely noted that I claim that these new documents “resolve a mystery” about Snowden. The Folha article also neglects to note that they were one of the outlets originally publishing the false story. But at least they said something.

That stands in stark contrast to all the U.S. outlets that published this falsehood and yet, 10 days later, have said literally nothing, continuing to allow what they now know is a factually false story to remain online uncorrected. They have simply refused even to address or acknowledge this new evidence. That includes the newspaper that first printed this falsehood and then re-published it most frequently – the Wall Street Journal – but also outlets such as Business Insider, Yahoo News and Slate, as well as Hayden, Reid, and most amazingly, Edward Jay Epstein, whose book aggressively features this fraud.

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That journalists and editors at these outlets are well-aware of these new documents proving the falsehood of their stories is beyond question. Beyond Charlie Savage, many of the nation’s most respected national security and surveillance journalists noted – in widely shared tweets – that these new documents prove the original stories to be false:

Jane Mayer @JaneMayerNYer
Newly obtained documents prove: key claim of @Snowden's accusers is a fraud https://interc.pt/2mKTrkd by @ggreenwald
9:48 AM - 21 Mar 2017

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The claim that Snowden is a foreign agent relies upon his “Missing Eleven Days” in Hong Kong: a wholesale fabrication.
theintercept.com


Scott Shane ✔ @ScottShaneNYT
Disturbing: how an easily disprovable myth about @Snowden as spy survived for years https://interc.pt/2mKTrkd @ggreenwald @charlie_savage
6:59 AM - 21 Mar 2017

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The claim that Snowden is a foreign agent relies upon his “Missing Eleven Days” in Hong Kong: a wholesale fabrication.
theintercept.com


Eric Geller ✔ @ericgeller
"Newly Obtained Documents Prove: Key Claim of Snowden’s Accusers Is a Fraud" https://theintercept.com/2017/03/21/new ... s-a-fraud/
10:30 AM - 21 Mar 2017

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The claim that Snowden is a foreign agent relies upon his “Missing Eleven Days” in Hong Kong: a wholesale fabrication.
theintercept.com


Barton Gellman ✔ @bartongellman
"Missing days" in Hong Kong, the foundation of Epstein's risible claim that Snowden worked for China, Russia or (somehow) both, disproved. https://twitter.com/bartongellman/statu ... 8345480192
12:52 PM - 21 Mar 2017


Barton Gellman ✔ @bartongellman
Last nails in @edwardepstein's Snowden "spy" story from @ggreenwald & @charlie_savage. http://interc.pt/2mKTrkd http://charliesavage.com/?p=1543
12:46 PM - 21 Mar 2017

Edward Snowden’s Hong Kong barrister authenticates hotel records debunking mystery gap claim
In the New York Review of Books, I have been engaged in a debate with Edward Jay Epstein about his book, "How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft," which lays out the...
charliesavage.com


Dustin Volz ✔ @dnvolz
This seems like an esoteric detail but it's a big deal and appears to gut a chief criticism of @Snowden detractors https://theintercept.com/2017/03/21/new ... s-a-fraud/
9:12 AM - 21 Mar 2017

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The claim that Snowden is a foreign agent relies upon his “Missing Eleven Days” in Hong Kong: a wholesale fabrication.
theintercept.com


Snowden himself repeatedly re-tweeted those to his 3 million followers. And along with Savage, I repeatedly and specifically directed tweets at the editors of these publications responsible for the false stories, asking why no correction or retraction had been made:

Glenn Greenwald ✔ @ggreenwald
.@hblodget @serwer @michaeldweiss @JoyAnnReid @SERGIO_DAVILA @jacobwe As editors who published a debunked story, will you retract it? https://twitter.com/ScottShaneNYT/statu ... 7606549513
5:56 AM - 22 Mar 2017


Glenn Greenwald ✔ @ggreenwald
48 hours later, none of the outlets publishing this false report - @Slate, WSJ, @YahooFinance, @businessinsider, @folha - have corrected. https://twitter.com/charlie_savage/stat ... 9392904193
11:34 AM - 23 Mar 2017


Glenn Greenwald ✔ @ggreenwald
Right. And @YahooFinance published it, too. And so did @Slate. And an MSNBC host. And @Interpreter_Mag. No retractions/corrections so far. https://twitter.com/rj_gallagher/status ... 5718305792
9:58 AM - 21 Mar 2017

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Charlie Savage ✔ @charlie_savage
.@WSJopinion should correct false info. http://www.charliesavage.com/?p=1543 https://www.wsj.com/articles/edward-jay ... 1404075875 … @jamestaranto @DanHenninger @StephensWSJ @FreemanWSJ
10:57 AM - 23 Mar 2017


Glenn Greenwald ✔ @ggreenwald
@MichaelBKelley Right: like most slime artists, you used innuendo. And you repeatedly affirmed as "confirmed fact" a total falsehood.


Ryan Gallagher ✔ @rj_gallagher
@ggreenwald Q is now, will @businessinsider retract/correct @MichaelBKelley's garbage reporting? Like this BS piece: http://www.businessinsider.com/snowden- ... ong-2014-7
9:55 AM - 21 Mar 2017

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Photo published for There's An 11-Day Hole In Snowden's Story About Hong Kong
There's An 11-Day Hole In Snowden's Story About Hong Kong
"I wanted them to know where I was at. I wanted them to know."
businessinsider.com


The reporter who wrote the false stories for both Yahoo News and Business Insider, Michael B. Kelley, responded when pushed on Twitter by, first, trying to imply the documents may be forgeries, then deleting those tweets and instead telling Savage: “Glad that got sorted with docs.” Yet the outlets that printed Kelley’s false claims have left them standing uncorrected.

What could possibly excuse this behavior? It’s bad enough that they all printed significant claims that – as Savage documented – never had any journalistic basis in the first place. That’s journalistic recklessness. But now they know their stories are false, and have left them standing without comment. That’s deliberate deceit, journalistic fraud.

There has been a great deal of hand-wringing over the last several months about why Fake News has proliferated and why Trump views waging war on the media as a winning strategy. The reason for both is clear: trust in established media institutions has collapsed. Yet for all the concern expressed about these trends, there is very little effort expended to examine the media’s own role in this collapse of trust.

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As these sorts of incidents demonstrate, they clearly bear a significant share of the blame. Why should any institutions as insular and unaccountable as these have any valid claim to credibility?

If you publish serious claims without any basis that mislead readers, and then refuse to acknowledge new evidence that disproves your original claims – all because you dislike the people you originally smeared with falsehoods too much to correct your error or because you hope the embarrassment will disappear faster if just you ignore it – why should anyone view you as being different than Macedonian teenagers or “alt-right” conspiracy sites? What are the cognizable differences?

A vibrant and powerful fact-checking media is supposed to be one of the great safeguards against demagoguing authoritarians and assaults on democratic institutions. That only works if they earn the trust that they need to fulfill that function.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:01 pm

Newly Obtained Documents Prove: Key Claim of Snowden’s Accusers Is a Fraud
by Glenn Greenwald
March 21 2017

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


FOR ALMOST FOUR years, a cottage industry of media conspiracists has devoted itself to accusing Edward Snowden of being a spy for either Russia and/or China at the time he took and then leaked documents from the National Security Agency. There has never been any evidence presented to substantiate this accusation.

In lieu of evidence, the propagators of this accusation have relied upon the defining tactic of tawdry conspiracists everywhere: relentless repetition of rumor and innuendo based on alleged inconsistencies until it spreads far enough through the media ecosystem to take on the appearance of being credible. In this case, there was one particular fiction — about where Snowden spent his first 11 days after arriving in Hong Kong — which took on particular significance for this group.

They insist that Snowden, contrary to what he has always maintained, did not check into the Mira Hotel on May 21, 2013, the day after he arrived in Hong Kong. Instead, they assert, he checked-in only on June 1, which means Snowden has 11 “unaccounted-for” days from the time he arrived in Hong Kong until he met with journalists at the Mira in the beginning of June. They have repeatedly leveraged this Missing Eleven Days into the insinuation that Snowden used this time to work with his Russian and/or Chinese handlers in preparation for meeting the U.S. journalists in Hong Kong.

While such reckless conspiracy-mongering is often relegated to online fringes, this accusatory fable found its way to the nation’s mainstream journalistic venues: the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Yahoo News, Lawfare, Business Insider; these media conspiracists were subsequently joined by several former officials of the intelligence community now embedded in the pundit class in affirming this tale. These outlets have repeatedly laundered and thus sanctioned the tale of the Missing Eleven Days, despite its utter lack of any journalistic basis.

Most remarkably, these conspiracists were permitted by these media outlets to repeat this lie about Snowden’s Missing Eleven Days over and over, all in service of suggesting that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power, despite the fact that even top intelligence officials who loathe Snowden have repeatedly said that they do not believe — and have seen no evidence to suggest — that he worked with any foreign government, including Russia. Obama’s own acting CIA Director Michael Morell told the Daily Beast’s Shane Harris in 2015:

My own view on this question is that both Chinese and Russian intelligence officers undoubtedly pitched him — offering him millions of dollars to share the documents he had stolen and to answer any questions they had about the NSA and CIA. But my guess is that Snowden said, “No, thank you,” given his mind-set and his clear dislike for intelligence services of any stripe.


The NSA’s second-highest official at the time of the Snowden leak, Chris Inglis, was similarly clear that no such evidence exists:

NSA's Deputy Director on the "Russian Spy" theory:https://t.co/BrRNo4zExx

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) June 13, 2016


But these media conspiracists have gotten away with this fable of the Missing Eleven Days in Hong Kong and similar tales because their core assertions were deliberately designed to be insusceptible to being affirmatively disproven. Because their accusatory story rests on claims of invisible and hidden events, they could not be exposed as frauds with definitive documentary evidence — until now.

Newly obtained documents conclusively prove that the central tale invented by these Snowden-accusing commentators is a wholesale fabrication. These documents negate the edifice on which this entire fiction has been based from the start.

THE CAMPAIGN TO depict Snowden as a Russian or Chinese spy has centrally depended upon the accusation that he is lying about how he spent his first 11 days in Hong Kong. Snowden’s version of events has never changed from the very first interview we published with him at the Guardian: on May 20, 2013, he boarded a flight from Honolulu to Hong Kong, checked into the Mira Hotel on May 21 under his own name, and then stayed continuously in Room 1014 at the Mira as he waited for the arrival of the journalists with whom he was working, paying for the room with his own credit cards.

As the journalists working on the Snowden documents, Laura Poitras and I arrived in Hong Kong on June 2, and spent the next eight days working with Snowden in Room 1014 at the Mira. Snowden thus stayed continuously at the Mira from May 21, the day after he arrived Hong Kong, until June 10, when he left due to the media craze triggered by our Guardian article revealing his identity.

But this group of accusatory journalists has repeatedly accused Snowden of lying about this time-line. They insist that Snowden checked into the Mira Hotel for the first time only on June 1: eleven days after he claims he did. They have thus spent years discussing the significance of what they ominously refer to as “The Missing Eleven Days.” This sinister Missing Eleven Days has become key to the tale they have woven to prove Snowden is a spy.

But that claim is an outright lie, and always has been. Documents now provided by the Mira Hotel to Snowden’s lawyers in Hong Kong prove the truth of exactly what Snowden has always said: that he checked into the Mira Hotel on May 21 and stayed there, under his own name, continuously through June 10.

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Snowden’s original reservation, made through booking.com, confirms that the check-in date was always May 21, and the reservation was originally scheduled for 10 nights (check-out on May 30). The hotel records confirm he arrived and checked-in on May 21, staying continually for the full reservation. Once that reservation ended, he extended it for one more day, then made another 10-day reservation through booking.com with a check-out date of June 10, and stayed continually through then, when he checked out.

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These newly obtained documents (all of which are available here and here) thus conclusively prove that the accusatory fable repeated and circulated over and over in U.S. mainstream media outlets — that Snowden did not check into the Mira prior to June 1 and thus cannot account for the mysterious Missing Eleven Days in Hong Kong — is a falsehood.

Despite its utter falsity, it is hard to overstate how continually this lie was repeated in mainstream outlets until it metastasized into Truth among a certain set of journalists and pundits obsessed with the claim that Snowden worked for the Russians and/or Chinese governments. Editors at leading U.S. media outlets continually allowed this tale to be published even though there was never any evidence to suggest that Snowden was lying. It became their give-us-the-real-birth-certificate foundation for the conspiracy web about Snowden they have spent years spinning.

THAT SNOWDEN CHECKED into the Mira only on June 1 was first asserted by a Wall Street Journal article published on June 10, 2013 — the day after we first revealed Snowden’s identity in the Guardian. The article made this claim in passing, with no basis identified.

It did not remotely suggest that Snowden had lied: to the contrary, it seems to be a case where reporting on rapidly unfolding events sloppily but innocuously misstated what seemed at the time to be an ancillary fact: the date on which Snowden checked into the Mira Hotel. Alternatively, the reporter may have spoken with a clerk who looked only at Snowden’s most recently renewed reservation form (which began on June 1) rather than the first one Snowden signed upon checking in on May 21.

Either way, nobody ever tried to vest the WSJ’s misreporting about the check-in date with significance until a year later when the paper’s op-ed page writer, Edward Jay Epstein, seized on what he thought was a critical discrepancy to build a sprawling, accusatory conspiracy theory that he ultimately parlayed into a book, a central theme of which is that Snowden systematically lied about this key event. Epstein repeatedly cited this Missing Eleven Days to suggest that Snowden could have been in cahoots with a foreign government. The first time he implied this was in a June 29, 2014 WSJ column, when he made these claims:

From May 20, the day he landed, to May 31, according to a source familiar with the Defense Intelligence Agency report on the Snowden affair, U.S. investigative agencies have been unable to find any credit-card charges or hotel records indicating his whereabouts. …

Mr. Snowden would tell Mr. Greenwald on June 3 that he had been “holed up” in his room at the Mira Hotel from the time of his arrival in Hong Kong. But according to inquiries by Wall Street Journal reporter Te-Ping Chen, Mr. Snowden arrived there on June 1. I confirmed that date with the hotel’s employees. A hotel security guard told me that Mr. Snowden was not in the Mira during that late-May period and, when he did stay there, he used his own passport and credit card.

So where was Edward Snowden between May 20 and May 31?


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Epstein, screen shot, RT interview

All of these claims are outright lies, as proven by the documents we are publishing today. Snowden arrived at and checked-into the Mira on May 21, not June 1. He paid for the room with his credit cards. It defies belief that some anonymous official told Epstein that “U.S. investigative agencies have been unable to find any credit-card charges or hotel records indicating his whereabouts” given that the hotel records and credit cards were all in Snowden’s name. The whole story is false.

Actual journalists — ones who are careful with and care about facts — fully recognized the baselessness of this key accusation. The New York Times’ reporter Charlie Savage, recipient of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, wrote a devastating denunciation last month of Epstein’s book in the New York Review of Books, featuring the issue of the check-in date discrepancy in indicting Epstein’s conspiracy theories as hollow:

It is unfortunate that Epstein builds his imagined scenarios upon allegations that may not be real facts.

For example, Epstein gives sinister significance to the “fact” that Snowden arrived in Hong Kong eleven days before he checked into the hotel where he met the journalists, leaving his activities during that period a mystery. Snowden has insisted that he was in that hotel the whole time, waiting for the journalists to arrive. In one of his columns written in 2014, Epstein first claimed that there was an eleven-day mystery gap, citing his conversation with an unnamed hotel security guard. I am aware of no independent verification of this allegation. So as things stand, this “fact” appears to be vaporous.


In subsequent correspondence between Epstein and Savage, the New York Times reporter repeatedly points to the lack of any persuasive or substantive basis for Epstein’s Missing Eleven Days claim, while noting how central this claim has become to the accusatory herd that has assembled around this theory:

I remain unaware of any other place in the public record except Epstein’s work where this June 1 claim independently appears, ranging from numerous other news articles about Snowden’s time in Hong Kong to a September 2016 report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which — seeking to counter the premiere of Oliver Stone’s movie — scoured the government’s investigative file for material to portray Snowden as a liar.

Perhaps someday the Mira’s records will emerge into public view and we will have more solid information to evaluate this question. Either way, my central point remains unchanged: Epstein treated the check-in claim as a factual anchor for his insinuations about what Snowden might have been doing earlier, but at the time he wrote his book (and still today) the evidence for this claim was insufficient to establish it as a proven fact. This is part of a recurring pattern with his methodology.


Those Mira records have indeed now “emerged into public view,” and they prove what was clear all along: this whole theory was invented from whole cloth. As Savage argued: “wherever one falls in the spectrum of views about Edward Snowden’s actions, Edward Jay Epstein’s book about him is not credible because it indulges in speculation, treats questionable claims as established facts, and contains numerous inaccuracies about surveillance.”

Unfortunately, large parts of the U.S. media do not adhere to the basic standards of journalism Savage applied to these claims. Here, for instance, is Epstein spinning his tale on the podcast of Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes, who concluded the published podcast with people literally applauding Epstein:

https://soundcloud.com/the_intercept/ed ... ays#t=0:00

All of that was totally false. But as a result of this type of uncritical treatment, this utter fiction for which there was never any evidence — that Snowden checked into the Mira 11 days after he claims, thus leaving almost two weeks of unaccounted-for time in Hong Kong — was laundered over and over in service of casting Snowden as a liar and a traitor.

THIS LIE ABOUT the Missing Eleven Days was repeated so often, in so many venues, that chronicling them all is impossible. Flagging some of the most flagrant, typical offenders will thus have to suffice.

One of the most aggressive disseminators of this lie is the Yahoo News reporter Michael B. Kelley, formerly of Business Insider, who has spent years repeating and mainstreaming this Missing Eleven Days fable.

So how about those 11 missing days in Hong Kong? http://t.co/5xf3LyzQ5K https://t.co/eIahZ1qmja

— Michael B Kelley (@MichaelBKelley) September 29, 2015


On July 20, 2014, Kelley wrote an article for Business Insider under the headline “There’s An 11-Day Hole In Snowden’s Story About Hong Kong.” It began this way:

Edward Snowden says that he wanted the U.S. to know where he was after he arrived in Hong Kong.

But U.S. authorities still don’t know what he did for the first 11 days after his arrival.


Kelley then added this sentence, in which he called a total falsehood a fact that had been “confirmed”: “But Edward Jay Epstein of The Wall Street Journal went to Hong Kong and confirmed that Snowden didn’t check into the Mira Hotel until June 1.” Illustrating the slimy insinuations constantly attached to this falsehood, Kelley ended his article this way:

“To answer the question in three words: I don’t know where he was for these 11 days,” Epstein said in an interview. “It’s very important because if we knew where he was, then we’d know who he went to see in Hong Kong.”

Strangely, no one seems to know — even though Snowden says he made it obvious.


Snowden did exactly this: “made it obvious” where he was in Hong Kong by checking into the Mira under his own name and using his own credit cards — precisely to prevent smear artists from retroactively insinuating that he must be a spy given his untraceable activities. Yet none of that stopped Epstein or Kelley from making the claim anyway.

Kelley, during his time at Business Insider, spent years claiming that Snowden lied about these eleven days. He was rewarded with a new job working for Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff. Kelley continued to spread this lie under the banner of Yahoo News.

periodic reminder: It is still not publicly known how Snowden spent his time in Hong Kong from May 20-June 1, 2013 https://t.co/8NqBPFeZBq

— Michael B Kelley (@MichaelBKelley) November 23, 2016


Cool. So now can we talk about the initial missing 11 days in Hong Kong & the huge trove docs not given to journos? https://t.co/7LCf83hzsU

— Michael B Kelley (@MichaelBKelley) May 27, 2016


Nice to see @Snowden active, though it makes me wonder about those lost 11 days in Hong Kong http://t.co/8NqBPFeZBq

— Michael B Kelley (@MichaelBKelley) October 12, 2015


One thing we probably won't learn at the 'Citzenfour' premiere: How Snowden spent his first 11 days in Hong Kong http://t.co/8NqBPFeZBq

— Michael B Kelley (@MichaelBKelley) October 10, 2014


Snowden says he didn't cover his tracks in Hong Kong. But no one knows where he was for the first 11 days. http://t.co/DJLglvFmbG

— Business Insider (@businessinsider) July 20, 2014


On September 13, 2016, Yahoo News published what it called a “Fact Check”, written by Kelley, of Oliver Stone’s film “Snowden.” In its headline, Yahoo purported that the article documents “5 key parts of Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ biopic that don’t match reality.” Yahoo continued: “As with many Stone movies that are based on real events, the director took multiple liberties with the known facts. Here are five significant inaccuracies in ‘Snowden.'”

The second purported “inaccuracy” was titled “‘3 weeks’ at the Mira Hotel.” Citing Epstein, Kelley wrote: “Snowden didn’t check into the Mira Hotel until June 1, despite having arrived in the Chinese special-administrative region on May 20.″ He then drew this conclusion: “If Snowden didn’t check into the Mira until June 1, he initially visited someone else in Hong Kong. Albert Ho, one of Snowden’s Hong Kong lawyers, referred to the unidentified person as Snowden’s ‘carer.’ This person’s crucial role in Snowden’s escape has never been explained.”

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In sum, Kelley’s editors at both Business Insider and Yahoo News allowed him to repeatedly label as “confirmed” and “fact” and “known” a claim that was, in fact, a complete falsehood. He then used that fiction as the basis to construct an elaborate conspiracy that he has spent years pushing.

Then there’s Slate, which also purported to fact-check Stone’s film in the form of a column by its national security columnist Fred Kaplan, who also peddled this fable. “This much is definitely known,” proclaims Kaplan: Snowden “flew to Hong Kong on May 20 after telling his bosses that he needed to undergo tests for epilepsy, and on June 2 checked in at the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong.” Kaplan began the review by announcing that “Stone’s Snowden is a bad movie, stuffed with myth,” but it is Kaplan’s own column which is guilty of that.

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Then we have the Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss and former NSA employee John Schindler, who has recently become a favorite of liberals for his frenzied conspiracies about Russia. Here is how this duo took this utter lie, presented it as fact, and then used it to imply that Snowden was a Russian agent:

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#Snowden hung out 1st in Hong Kong, ie China, post-defection. 10 days of missing time. Where exactly was he? Just putting that out there…

— John Schindler (@20committee) June 12, 2015


On June 11, 2016, Schindler wrote an article headlined “Edward Snowden is a Russian Agent.” He featured this Missing Eleven Days lie from the start: “Snowden left his job in Hawaii with the National Security Agency in May 2013 and appeared at Hong Kong’s Mira Hotel on June 1,” Schindler asserted. He continued: “significant questions remain. Where was Snowden from 21 to 31 May 2013? His whereabouts in that period are unknown.” In June, 2015, the former NSA operative similarly wrote in the Interpreter:

Where was Snowden during the last ten days of May 2013, after he left Hawaii but before he checked into Hong Kong’s Mira Hotel on June 1? It smacks of naïveté to think Beijing did not expect something in return for giving Snowden sanctuary en route to Moscow.


This factually false claim was so laundered and sanctioned by journalists and editors who were either malicious or reckless that it ended up getting repeated as fact even by those who meant well. In Gizmodo, for instance, Adam Clark Estes urged readers to see CitizenFour, but criticized the film for what he regarded as important omissions, such as: “Where exactly was Snowden for the 11 days before he checked into the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong?”

Upon release earlier this year of Epstein’s book — which was overwhelmingly denounced by reviewers as filled with unproven conspiracy theories — this claim about Snowden’s Missing Eleven Days was repeated as fact over and over. This mixed review of Epstein’s book in the San Francisco Chronicle was typical:

On May 18 [Snowden] flew to Hong Kong, where he hid at a still-unknown location for 11 days before meeting the journalists at the Mira Hotel. Epstein emphasizes how carefully Snowden arranged things, as if “pulling strings.” He insinuates there may have been a hidden hand.


The lie traveled internationally, as highlighted by this sentence in one of the few favorable reviews of Epstein’s book, from Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de S.Paulo, written by Igor Gielow: “The fact that [Snowden] had disappeared for 11 days in Hong Kong, carrying secrets before divulging some of them to the press, remains a mystery.” Note that Snowden’s 11-day disappearance is now “a fact.”

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All of this culminated with this falsehood being embraced by George W. Bush’s chief of the NSA and CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden. In an unsurprisingly gushing review of Epstein’s book, Hayden cites Epstein asking: “where was Snowden during those unaccounted-for first 11 days in Hong Kong”?

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WHERE “SNOWDEN WAS” during this time is exactly where he said, from the start, that he was: at the Mira Hotel (the only exception to his unbroken stay at the Mira was the very first day when Snowden arrived in Hong Kong, having made no advanced hotel reservations before leaving the U.S. so as to not alert authorities, and thus grabbed the first hotel he found online: the Icon Hotel. After staying there the first night, he moved to the Mira on May 21 and remained there for the next 21 days).

Yet again we find that the same U.S. media that loves to decry Fake News and mock “the Arab World” and “Russian-state media” and InfoWars for wallowing in baseless conspiracy theories routinely peddle their own as long as the targets are the right ones. The Economist, for instance, hailed Epstein’s screed as “a meticulous and devastating account.” This episode once again shows how easily and how often mainstream media outlets in the U.S. circulate and affirm complete fictions using the most authoritative tones, and how the journalists and editors responsible for it never pay any price for doing so.

For three years, we watched as this lie was launched, then took root, then spread until it became unquestionable truth, notwithstanding the fact that it lacked any basis all along, as the NYT’s Savage noted. Now that the documents have emerged proving it to be a lie, the next steps are obvious for any media outlet with integrity: retractions and accountability for those who spread such false and toxic claims so recklessly. But that qualifier — “media outlet with integrity” — is a significant one, and for that reason, it is just as likely that they will allow their falsehoods, and those who spread them, to fester, unmolested by corrective action.

UPDATE: Three quick updates to this story:

1) I should have known that MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid, never one to be excluded from disseminating wild conspiracy theories, publicly endorsed the Missing Eleven Days tale:

Ahem… Snowden Won't Talk About His Time In Hong Kong — And Now We Know Why http://t.co/TthVSLrjkN via @BI_Defense

— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 1, 2014


2) Only two of the commentators who spread this false claim have thus far commented: former NSA employee Schindler, who responded by blocking me on Twitter and then suggesting that both myself and the Intercept are controlled by Putin; and

2) Kelley, who implied that the documents may be forged because the name of the reservationist at the Mira that appears on the booking form is the same as an Asian actress (it’s also a name shared by dozens of other women, at least, in Hong Kong), only to delete those tweets, finally blaming the Wall Street Journal for the multiple tweets and articles he wrote over the years accusing Snowden of lying about his whereabouts and using that to strongly imply that he was working with the Russians and/or Chinese.


3) The New York Times’ Charlie Savage confirmed the authenticity of the documents by interviewing the barrister in Hong Kong who obtained them, Robert Tibbo, and adds more thoughts here about what this all means for the conspiracists who spread this fiction.
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