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

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

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

Postby admin » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:54 am

Removing Additional Inauthentic Activity from Facebook
by Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy and Oscar Rodriguez, Product Manager
Facebook Newsroom
October 11, 2018

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People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook. It’s why we have a policy banning coordinated inauthentic behavior — networks of accounts or Pages working to mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing. This year, we’ve enforced this policy against many Pages, Groups and accounts created to stir up political debate, including in the US, the Middle East, Russia and the UK. But the bulk of the inauthentic activity we see on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics. And the people behind it are adapting their behavior as our enforcement improves.

One common type of spam has been posts that hawk fraudulent products like fake sunglasses or weight loss “remedies.” But a lot of the spam we see today is different. The people behind it create networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names. They post clickbait posts on these Pages to drive people to websites that are entirely separate from Facebook and seem legitimate, but are actually ad farms. The people behind the activity also post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups, often hundreds of times in a short period, to drum up traffic for their websites. And they often use their fake accounts to generate fake likes and shares. This artificially inflates engagement for their inauthentic Pages and the posts they share, misleading people about their popularity and improving their ranking in News Feed. This activity goes against what people expect on Facebook, and it violates our policies against spam.

Topics like natural disasters or celebrity gossip have been popular ways to generate clickbait. But today, these networks increasingly use sensational political content – regardless of its political slant-– to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site. And like the politically motivated activity we’ve seen, the “news” stories or opinions these accounts and Pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate. This is why it’s so important we look at these actors’ behavior -– such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam -– rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove.

Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior. Given the activity we’ve seen — and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections — we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action. Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons that accounts and Pages coordinate with each other — it’s the bedrock of fundraising campaigns and grassroots organizations. But the difference is that these groups are upfront about who they are, and what they’re up to. As we get better at uncovering this kind of abuse, the people behind it — whether economically or politically motivated — will change their tactics to evade detection. It’s why we continue to invest heavily, including in better technology, to prevent this kind of misuse. Because people will only share on Facebook if they feel safe and trust the connections they make here.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:37 am

Trust Is Collapsing in America: When truth itself feels uncertain, how can a democracy be sustained?
by Uri Friedman
The Atlantic
January 21, 2018

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“In God We Trust,” goes the motto of the United States. In God, and apparently little else.

Only a third of Americans now trust their government “to do what is right”—a decline of 14 percentage points from last year, according to a new report by the communications marketing firm Edelman. Forty-two percent trust the media, relative to 47 percent a year ago. Trust in business and non-governmental organizations, while somewhat higher than trust in government and the media, decreased by 10 and nine percentage points, respectively. Edelman, which for 18 years has been asking people around the world about their level of trust in various institutions, has never before recorded such steep drops in trust in the United States.

“This is the first time that a massive drop in trust has not been linked to a pressing economic issue or catastrophe like [Japan’s 2011] Fukushima nuclear disaster,” Richard Edelman, the head of the firm, noted in announcing the findings. “In fact, it’s the ultimate irony that it’s happening at a time of prosperity, with the stock market and employment rates in the U.S. at record highs.”

“The root cause of this fall,” he added—just days after polling revealed that Americans’ definition of “fake news” depends as much on their politics as the accuracy of the news, and a Republican senator condemned the American president’s Stalinesque attacks on the press and “evidence-based truth,” and a leading think tank warned that America was suffering from “truth decay” as a result of political polarization and social media—is a “lack of objective facts and rational discourse.”

It used to be that what Edelman labels the “informed public”—those aged 25 to 64 who have a college degree, regularly consume news, and are in the top 25 percent of household income for their age group—placed far greater trust in institutions than the U.S. public as a whole. This year, however, the gap all but vanished, with trust in government in particular plummeting 30 percentage points among the informed public. America is now home to the least-trusting informed public of the 28 countries that the firm surveyed, right below South Africa. Distrust is growing most among younger, high-income Americans.

But whereas trust is falling in the United States and a number of other countries with tumultuous politics at the moment, including South Africa, Italy, and Brazil, it’s actually increasing elsewhere, most prominently in China. Eighty-four percent of Chinese respondents said they trusted government—levels the United States hasn’t seen since the early Johnson administration—and 71 percent said they trusted the media. The world’s two most powerful countries, one democratic and the other authoritarian, are moving in opposite directions. In each case, the trajectory is largely being determined by people’s views of government.

Chinese respondents are probably reflecting on the upward mobility and improving quality of life that their political leaders have helped deliver, David Bersoff, the lead researcher for the Edelman report, told me: “I’m looking at my life now and it looks a lot better than it did before, and I can look forward and still see things that would get even better.” When I asked Richard Edelman why survey participants tended to trust technology companies much more than government, he reasoned that it was because those companies “have products that perform for you every day—whether it’s your cell phone or your airline.” Chinese respondents might have been making a similar statement about the government’s performance.

“There’s a lot of chaos and uncertainty in the world, and when there is chaos and uncertainty in the world centralized, authoritative power tends to do better,” Bersoff added. (It’s worth noting that other countries with high trust levels in the report range politically from democratic India to more-or-less democratic Indonesia and Singapore to the undemocratic United Arab Emirates.)

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Percent Change in Trust in Government, Media, Business, and NGOs, 2017 — 2018
2018 EDELMAN TRUST BAROMETER


Why, though, is trust eroding in the United States in the absence of an economic crisis or other kind of catastrophe? What’s changed, according to the Edelman report, is that it’s gotten much harder to discern what is and isn’t true—where the boundaries are between fact, opinion, and misinformation.

“The lifeblood of democracy is a common understanding of the facts and information that we can then use as a basis for negotiation and for compromise,” said Bersoff. “When that goes away, the whole foundation of democracy gets shaken.”

“This is a global, not an American issue,” Edelman told me. “And it’s undermining confidence in all the other institutions because if you don’t have an agreed set of facts, then it’s really hard to judge whether the prime minister is good or bad, or a company is good or bad.” A recent Pew Research Center poll, in fact, found across dozens of countries that satisfaction with the news media was typically highest in countries where trust in government and positive views of the economy were highest, though it didn’t investigate how these factors were related to one another.

America actually falls in the middle of surveyed countries in terms of trust in the media, which emerges from the Edelman poll as the least-trusted institution globally of the four under consideration. (In the United States, the firm finds, Donald Trump voters are over two times more likely than Hillary Clinton voters to distrust the media.) Nearly 70 percent of respondents globally were concerned about “fake news” being used as a weapon and 63 percent said they weren’t sure how to tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods. Most respondents agreed that the media was too focused on attracting large audiences, breaking news, and supporting a particular political ideology rather than informing the public with accurate reporting. While trust in journalism actually increased a bit in Edelman’s survey this year, trust in search and social-media platforms dipped.

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Percent Trust in Media and Change From 2017 to 2018
2018 EDELMAN TRUST BAROMETER


In last year’s survey, the perspective that many respondents expressed was “‘I’m not sure about the future of my job because of robots or globalization. I’m not sure about my community anymore because there are a lot of new people coming in. I’m not sure about my economic future; in fact, it looks fairly dim because I’m downwardly mobile,’” Edelman said. These sentiments found expression in the success of populist politicians in the United States and Europe, who promised a return to past certainties. Now, this year, truth itself seems more uncertain.

“We’re desperately looking for land,” Edelman observed. “We’re flailing, and people can’t quite get a sense of reality.” It’s no way to live, let alone sustain a democracy.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:22 am

Failed Venezuela coup was fake news — designed to fool people in two nations: CNN and the New York Times made major reporting errors in covering the failed coup. Was it laziness or propaganda?
by Dave Lindorff
Salon
May 8, 2019 11:00AM (UTC)
This article was originally published by FAIR.org. Used by permission.

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Image
Opponents to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro stand behind makeshift shields as they face off with Bolivarian National Guards who are loyal to the president, during an attempted military uprising in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

After days of breathless reporting in the U.S. media about public and military support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro collapsing, and about an April 30 coup by presidential poseur Juan Guaidó, we now know the truth: The whole thing was a fraud, staged at the instigation of Washington in hopes that the Venezuelan people and rank-and-file troops would fall for the trick and think an actual coup was underway.

We also know, from an excellent May 2 report by Michael Fox in the Nation, that the U.S. mainstream media and its reporters in country were promoting that dangerous fraud.


Image
CNN: Venezuela's Guaido: Final Phase of Operation Freedom
CNN ran Juan Guaido’s video, in which he falsely claimed to be “in the La Carlota air force base.”


Take CNN. In its reporting on the “uprising” announced by Guaidó on Tuesday, April 30, it ran a video from social media depicting Guaidó, accompanied by opposition leader Leopoldo López, along with some armed men in uniform, said to be military defectors, standing behind them. The video claimed they were on the La Carlota military airfield in eastern Caracas, which Guaidó said had been “liberated.” According to CNN, he was addressing “thousands of supporters” on the scene, urging the rest of the Venezuelan military to join the coup and oust the “usurper” Maduro.

But as Michael Fox and other observers noted, CNN didn’t show those “thousands” of supporters — because there were none. Nor did the cable network explain in its report that Guaidó and López were not actually at the airbase, but rather were standing on a highway overpass outside the base — which was, in fact, never in rebel hands at all.


Guaidó and his “deserting” soldiers quickly left the scene as government troops headed their way, with López later that day holing up in the Chilean and eventually the Spanish embassy, seeking asylum for himself and his family, and with some two dozen soldiers who had deserted in support of Guaidó asking for asylum in the Brazilian embassy.

There are two possibilities here: Either CNN’s U.S.-based editors were lied to by their reporters in Caracas, or they were well aware that their story of the takeover of a military airfield, along with reports of thousands of protesters on the scene in support of Guaidó, was a hoax. It’s not hard to imagine the latter being the truth, because CNN earlier was caught fraudulently reporting that Venezuelan troops had set aid trucks stopped at the Colombian border afire, when in fact the fires had been started by anti-Maduro protesters. Though this truth was proven by other reports and video, CNN never corrected its false story in that case, nor did it discipline its on-the-scene reporters.

Alan MacLeod@AlanRMacLeod
Terrible journalism from @cnn. SIX journalists wrote this! Pressure is clearly falling for Maduro. Juan Guaido has never stood for President. The elections were in May 2018 (maduro got 68%). What happened in January was a coup attempt, not an election.
edition.cnn.com/2019/05/05/ame ...
According to the Ministry of Defense, authorities are currently investigating the deadly crash.
It comes as pressure is mounting on Maduro to step down, following elections in January in which voters chose opposition leader Juan Guaido over him for president.
7:37 AM - 6 May 2019


Alan MacLeod (5/6/19) was one of several on Twitter who noted the absurd errors in CNN‘s May 5 report on Venezuela.

CNN’s standards of accuracy were further discredited by its May 5 claim that

pressure is mounting on Maduro to step down, following elections in January in which voters chose opposition leader Juan Guaidó over him for president.


Six reporters were credited for the story that contained this line, which has almost as many errors: Guaidó was not even a candidate in the May 2018 (not January 2019) presidential elections; Maduro won that race with 68 percent of the vote, a credible total given the opposition’s boycott of the balloting. Guaidó was chosen not by voters but by the National Assembly — which has been suspended by the Venezuelan Supreme Court — and ultimately by the Trump administration. As for “pressure … mounting on Maduro,” that seems like a dubious reading indeed of the post-coup-attempt political terrain.

After much social media ridicule, CNN corrected the line, keeping in the bit about mounting pressure, but acknowledging that Guaidó “declared himself interim president.”

The New York Times hasn’t done any better.
On the day of the fake coup, the Times reported, in an unusual unbylined article (at the end there was a note saying only that reporting was contributed by Isayen Herrera, Nicholas Casey, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Ana Vanessa Herrero, Rick Gladstone and Katie Rogers) headed “Venezuela Crisis: Guaidó Calls for Uprising as Clashes Erupt”:

“Today, brave soldiers, brave patriots, brave men attached to the Constitution have followed our call,” Mr. Guaidó said in a video posted on social media, speaking from Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda Air Base, a military airport in Caracas known as La Carlota.


The “newspaper of record” either made no effort to check its reporters’ “facts,” or went along deliberately with the charade that Washington’s hand-picked “legitimate president” Guaidó was actually speaking from a “liberated” military airfield, when he was really only standing on a highway overpass outside the airfield, which itself was never even contested, remaining in government hands throughout the day.

To compound the journalistic felony, the Times ran a Reuters wire photo showing Guaidó speaking to a street full of supporters, purportedly taken that day, but clearly not depicting where he had made his call for a coup, when he had only the camera to address, though incautious readers might well have assumed that is what the photo showed.

Did editors at the Times’ home office in New York double-check the reporters’ claims before running their incendiary report of the capture of a government military airbase? Why didn’t one of the paper’s many reporters and photographers in Caracas hightail it to the La Carlota base to get a firsthand report and video of the first victory in this so-called coup attempt?

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NYT: Venezuelan Opposition Leader Steps Up Pressure, but Maduro Holds On
UNREST IN VENEZUELA
OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR UPRISING
The Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for the military to rise up against the government of President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday. Fernando Liano / Associated Press
by Nicholas Casey


This New York Times article’s claim (4/30/19) of “a predawn takeover of a military base in the heart of the capital, Caracas,” remains uncorrected.

In another linked story published the same day, this time authored by Nicholas Casey, the Times again reported falsely:

It was the boldest move yet by Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader: At sunrise, he stood flanked by soldiers at an air force base in the heart of the capital, saying rebellion was at hand.


Clearly Casey was either making it up or, more likely, had been too lazy to go (or to dispatch one of his colleagues to go) to the airport to confirm the veracity of Guaidó’s “bold” claim. But this is not just fraudulent reporting, it is dangerous and incendiary propaganda. Its publication could have, and perhaps did, lead hundreds of coup backers to rush to the airport, where they were met by the Venezuelan military, with a number of protesters reportedly being injured in the ensuing confrontation.

Casey, in his article, writes that “by the end of the day,” it was clear that Guaidó had failed to precipitate a successful coup, but he doesn’t say what had been clear much earlier that day: that the airport had never been captured at all, and that Guaidó had not spoken from a liberated airfield, but from a bridge outside the airfield.

In fact, Casey must have known, or should have by day’s end, and well before the Times’ deadline, that his earlier report on Guaidó’s call-to-arms had been based on fake information. Instead, he was still pretending his story was fact-based, and presented as if he had been witness to the events he was reporting on. Even though his article notes that “by day’s end, news spread of another blow to the opposition: Leopoldo López, the political prisoner who heads Mr. Guaidó’s party, had fled into the Chilean Embassy, along with his wife, Lilian Tintori,” he continued with the fiction that an airbase had been captured and that the military was falling apart, writing:

The events also cast a harsh new light into the division within the armed forces, which puts Venezuela in a precarious position as the country’s political crisis deepens. While the highest ranks of the military dig into their support for Mr. Maduro’s government, many rank-and-file soldiers appear willing to defy their commanders and come to the aid of the opposition.


In fact, far from “many” soldiers deserting, it may have been no more than 25 men in uniform who defected in support of Guaidó, and they, as was well known by the time Casey filed his article, had sought asylum in the Brazilian embassy, a devastating sign of his failed call-to-arms, a reality which Casey didn’t bother to mention in his article. (Sitting at home on the evening of April 30 and reading reports in publications like Telesur English and Al Jazeera, I was able to learn about this and about López seeking asylum with his family in the Spanish embassy, so surely Times fact-checkers should have also been able to get that information challenging Casey’s reporting.)

Interestingly, Casey did quote the Maduro administration as stating late Tuesday night in a public TV broadcast that the La Carlota airport had never been threatened or taken over by defecting soldiers. Instead of verifying it as fact, all Casey did was cite Maduro’s denial, hinting that maybe it had not actually been “liberated.”

The Casey article, still available online, contains a correction at the end, dated May 1:

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified the CNN program on which Mr. Pompeo made his remarks about plans for Mr. Maduro to fly to Cuba. It was The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer, not State of the Union.


But as of this story’s May 7 posting date, no correction has yet been made by the Times concerning the article’s fundamental and far more serious errors of reporting, such as the claim that there had been “a predawn takeover of a military base in the heart of the capital,” or that Guaidó had made his video appeal for a rebellion from that “liberated” airbase.

How does any self-respecting news organization allow such abysmally inaccurate reporting to remain this long online uncorrected? The only possible answer is that Casey, and the other in-country reporters who were said to have contributed to his bylined piece (Isayen Herrera, Ana Vanessa Herrero, Anatoly Kurmanaev and Katie Rogers), were giving the New York Times exactly the propaganda piece that its editors and the coup plotters in Washington wanted.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:51 am

Once Again, Mainstream Media Get It Wrong on Venezuela: Foreign outlets, dutifully supporting Trump administration calls for regime change, reported that a widespread uprising was underway, even though Juan Guaidó’s coup attempt had little support.
by Michael Fox
The Nation
May 2, 2019

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An anti-government protester throws a rock toward security forces inside La Carlota airbase in Caracas on May 1, 2019. (AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos)

Caracas—It began with a tweet.

In it, Venezuela’s self-declared president, Juan Guaidó, stands in front of a line of military vehicles and rows of Venezuelan soldiers in green uniforms. Beside them is opposition leader Leopoldo López, whom they have freed from house arrest, which stemmed from his role in the 2014 guarimba street protests in which dozens of people were killed.

Guaidó, dressed in a black suit and a white shirt, talks to the camera. “Today, the armed forces are clearly with the people,” he says. “The time is now.” He calls on the military to rise up and says they are in the streets. He insinuates that they have taken the Carlota military base in eastern Caracas.

My phone rings and then rings again.

“It looks like there was a coup,” says a friend’s voice. That is what people are thinking across the city. It’s just after 6 a.m., and the sky is still orange from dawn. Neighbors bang pots and pans, the sound rattling through the open window. School is canceled, and the metro is closed. Supporters of President Nicolás Maduro get the word that people are being called to defend Miraflores, the presidential palace, from a potential attack. They begin to make the trek across the city, some by foot, others by bus or car.

A stream of Guaidó supporters flows toward the opposition stronghold of Altamira and the Carlota base, just a few blocks away. But it’s clear that Guaidó has not taken the base; his video was recorded from an overpass nearby.

Hooded protesters hurl rocks and other projectiles toward soldiers loyal to Maduro, who force them back with tear gas. The smoke wafts into the crowds, and people stampede back up the street, screaming and covering their faces.

Estefani Braz stands on a small wall calling for those around her to stay calm. She’s 28, a mother and a graphic designer, with long curly brown hair. “I thought it was over,” she says. “But we’re going to continue fighting and supporting each other because we are going to get out of this.”

Maduro’s ouster seemed within grasp. As if she could almost touch it. But it was just an illusion. Within a few hours, Guaidó and López gave up hope of a military insurrection. López and his wife and daughter requested asylum first in the Chilean embassy and then in the Spanish embassy. Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro granted asylum to the couple of dozen Venezuelan soldiers who joined the opposition.

In a video that went viral over social media, at least a dozen soldiers who appeared in Guaidó’s early-morning call for an uprising said they were “tricked,” ordered there by a commanding officer.

Despite these setbacks, Guaidó led thousands in a march heading west from Altamira, but they were turned back by tear gas from the national guard. Rock-wielding hooded protesters and teams of opposition supporters on motorcycles played cat and mouse with the guard. In a scene reminiscent of the violent 2014 and 2017 protests, the protesters blocked roads and set fire to at least one bus and five motorcycles. Rocks and debris covered the streets. Several dozen protesters were injured, largely from tear gas, according to first-aid providers on the scene. Several guard troops were shot by live rounds from Guaidó’s small rebel force.

On the other side of town, thousands rallied before a stage outside Miraflores, where Chavista leaders spoke. They danced to music from large speakers at a rally that would continue through the night in order to ensure that no one would try to take Miraflores.

What began as a threat of wide-scale military insurrection against the Maduro government ended in disastrous failure for Guaidó and the opposition—yet another in a 20-year string of aborted US-backed attempts to overthrow the Bolivarian process.

Even so, thousands of opposition supporters came out for Guaidó’s May Day march on Wednesday, filling most of Altamira Plaza and surrounding streets.

“I don’t feel defeated,” said Aylen Cejas, a teacher and longtime supporter of the opposition. “Many Venezuelans might say this process is too slow, but sometimes it has to be like that.” But those in the crowd seemed subdued, stung by the previous day’s defeat, their hopes lifted and then crushed once more. Earlier, Guaidó said this rally would be one of the largest in Venezuelan history. It didn’t come close.

Guaidó is now calling for a series of rolling strikes leading up to a large national strike to push for Maduro to step down. It is hard to imagine how these strikes will be carried out, since most of Guaidó’s support comes from the middle to upper classes and the country is already suffering hyperinflation that is making it hard for people to get food. The last major strike by the opposition was long ago, the 2002–03 oil lockout, in which top executives in the state oil company, PDVSA, shut down the industry—and the country—for two months.

Meanwhile, across town, hundreds of thousands marched in support of Maduro.

“We are with Maduro—now more than ever,” said Carmen Mejía, an elderly hairdresser, as she marched the final stretch toward Miraflores. “We Venezuelans only have one president, and that’s Nicolás Maduro, and we need to support him.”

Many in the crowd said it was one of the largest and most vibrant demonstrations in support of the Maduro government, echoing marches from the era of his popular predecessor, Hugo Chávez. This point is key: If this march was any measure, the continuing push to overthrow Maduro has had the opposite effect, consolidating his base despite internal divisions and criticism of his government.

“Guaidó’s stupidity is Chavismo’s best ally, because it has unified people in support of Maduro,” said Gilberto Giménez, the president of the small, pro-Maduro Electoral People’s Movement party.

This is a far cry from the image that continues to be pushed by Washington and the opposition, as well as on social media and the international press. On Wednesday night, just two hours after the end of the Maduro rally, Guaidó told Fox News’ Trish Regan that Maduro’s government was crumbling.

“Today, between 91 and 95 percent of our population wants change. Today Maduro is very weak. He doesn’t even have the support of the armed forces,” Guaidó claimed. This illusion, like his Tuesday morning tweet, has helped distort the reality of events here for the foreign media.

Just one hour after Guaidó’s message, the Venezuelan defense minister tweeted that the military remained loyal to Maduro. The street protesters’ battles outside Carlota made clear that Guaidó did not hold that base and that he had no military support beyond a few dozen soldiers. Yet international outlets continued to report that a widespread military uprising was underway. In a story published that evening, which has now been revised, the BBC asked whether Guaidó controlled a substantial portion of the Venezuelan armed forces.

Venezuelans know the power of media. The pretext for the 2002 coup against Chávez was based on images recorded and manipulated by an opposition media outlet to show metropolitan police firing on unarmed protesters. It was a lie, as uncovered in several investigations, including the documentary Llaguno Bridge: Keys to a Massacre, which I narrated and translated into English 15 years ago.


The impact of these policies is profound. Donald Trump insists on Twitter that all options are still on the table for regime change in Venezuela. The fight for the image of Venezuela depends largely on who controls the story—one often told these days in less than 280 characters, in images and video.

Michael Fox is an independent multimedia journalist based in Brazil and a former editor of the NACLA Report on the Americas. More of his work can be found at his website, http://www.mfox.us.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:24 pm

Chapter 6: The Times, Excerpt From The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden
by Carroll Quigley

Chapter 6: The Times

Beyond the academic field, the Milner Group engaged in journalistic activities that sought to influence public opinion in directions which the Group desired. One of the earliest examples of this, and one of the few occasions on which the Group appeared as a group in the public eye, was in 1905, the year in which Milner returned from Africa. At that time the Group published a volume, The Empire and the Century, consisting of fifty articles on various aspects of the imperial problem. The majority of these articles were written by members of the Milner Group, in spite of the fact that so many of the most important members were still in Africa with Lord Selborne. The volume was issued under the general editorship of Charles S. Goldman, a friend of John Buchan and author of With General French and the Cavalry in South Africa. Among those who wrote articles were W. F. Monypenny, Bernard Holland, John Buchan, Henry Birchenough, R. B. Haldane, Bishop Lang, L. S. Amery, Evelyn Cecil, George Parkin, Edmund Garrett, Geoffrey Dawson, E. B. Sargant (one of the Kindergarten), Lionel Phillips, Valentine Chirol, and Sir Frederick and Lady Lugard.

This volume has many significant articles, several of which have already been mentioned. It was followed by a sequel volume, called The Empire and the Future, in 1916. The latter consisted of a series of lectures delivered at King's College, University of London, in 1915, under the sponsorship of the Royal Colonial Institute. The lectures were by members of the Milner Group who included A. L. Smith, H. A. L. Fisher, Philip Kerr, and George R. Parkin.(1) A somewhat similar series of lectures was given on the British Dominions at the University of Birmingham in 1910-1911 by such men as Alfred Lyttelton, Henry Birchenough, and William Hely-Hutchinson. These were published by Sir William Ashley in a volume called The British Dominions.

These efforts, however, were too weak, too public, and did not reach the proper persons. Accordingly, the real efforts of the Milner Group were directed into more fruitful and anonymous activities such as The Times and The Round Table.

The Milner Group did not own The Times before 1922, but clearly controlled it at least as far back as 1912. Even before this last date, members of the innermost circle of the Milner Group were swarming about the great newspaper. In fact, it would appear that The Times had been controlled by the Cecil Bloc since 1884 and was taken over by the Milner Group in the same way in which All Souls was taken over, quietly and without a struggle. The midwife of this process apparently was George E. Buckle (1854-1935), graduate of New College in 1876, member of All Souls since 1877, and editor of The Times from 1884 to 1912. (2) The chief members of the Milner Group who were associated with The Times have already been mentioned. Amery was connected with the paper from 1899 to 1909. During this period he edited and largely wrote the Times History of the South African War. Lord Esher was offered a directorship in 1908. Grigg was a staff writer in 1903-1905, and head of the Imperial Department in 1908-1913. B. K. Long was head of the Dominion Department in 1913-1921 and of the Foreign Department in 1920-1921. Monypenny was assistant editor both before and after the Boer War (1894-1899, 1903-1908) and on the board of directors after the paper was incorporated (1908-1912). Dawson was the paper's chief correspondent in South Africa in the Selborne period (1905-1910), while Basil Williams was the reporter covering the National Convention there (1908-1909). When it became clear in 1911 that Buckle must soon retire, Dawson was brought into the office in a rather vague capacity and, a year later, was made editor. The appointment was suggested and urged by Buckle.(3) Dawson held the position from 1912 to 1941, except for the three years 1919-1922. This interval is of some significance, for it revealed to the Milner Group that they could not continue to control The Times without ownership. The Cecil Bloc had controlled The Times from 1884 to 1912 without ownership, and the Milner Group had done the same in the period 1912-1919, but, in this last year, Dawson quarreled with Lord Northcliffe (who was chief proprietor from 1908-1922) and left the editor's chair. As soon as the Milner Group, through the Astors, acquired the chief proprietorship of the paper in 1922, Dawson was restored to his post and held it for the next twenty years. Undoubtedly the skillful stroke which acquired the ownership of The Times from the Harmsworth estate in 1922 was engineered by Brand. During the interval of three years during which Dawson was not editor, Northcliffe entrusted the position to one of The Time's famous foreign correspondents, H. W. Stead.

Dawson was succeeded as editor in 1944 by R. M. Barrington-Ward, whose brother was a Fellow of All Souls and son-in-law of A. L. Smith. Laurence Rushbrook Williams, who functions in many capacities in Indian affairs after his fellowship in All Souls (1914- 1921), also joined the editorial staff in 1944. Douglas Jay, who graduated from New College in 1930 and was a Fellow of All Souls in 1930-1937, was on the staff of The Times in 1929-1933 and of the Economist in 1933-1937. He became a Labour M.P. in 1946, after having performed the unheard-of feat of going directly from All Souls to the city desk of the Labour Party's Daily Herald (1937-1941). Another interesting figure on The Times staff in the more recent period was Charles R. S. Harris, who was a Fellow of All Souls for fifteen years (1921-1936), after graduating from Corpus Christi. He was leader-writer of The Times for ten years (1925-1935) and, during part of the same period, was on the staff of the Economist (1932-1935) and editor of The Nineteenth Century and After (1930-1935). He left all three positions in 1935 to go for four years to the Argentine to be general manager of the Buenos Aires Great Southern and Western Railways. During the Second World War he joined the Ministry of Economic Warfare for a year, the Foreign Office for two years, and the Finance Department of the War Office for a year (1942-1943). Then he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel with the military government in occupied Sicily, and ended up the war as a member of the Allied Control Commission in Italy. Harris's written works cover a range of subjects that would be regarded as extreme anywhere outside the Milner Group. A recognized authority on Duns Scotus, he wrote two volumes on this philosopher as well as the chapter on "Philosophy" in The Legacy of the Middle Ages, but in 1935 he wrote Germany's Foreign Indebtedness for the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Harris's literary versatility, as well as the large number of members of All Souls who drifted over to the staff on The Times, unquestionably can be explained by the activities of Lord Brand. Brand not only brought these persons from All Souls to The Times, but also brought the Astors to The Times. Brand and Lord Astor were together at New College at the outbreak of the Boer War. They married sisters, daughters of Chiswell Dabney Langhorne of Virginia. Brand was apparently the one who brought Astor into the Milner Group in 1917, although there had been a movement in this direction considerably earlier. Astor was a Conservative M.P. from 1910 to 1919, leaving the Lower House to take his father's seat in the House of Lords. His place in Commons has been held since 1919 by his wife, Nancy Astor (1919-1945), and by his son Michael Langhorne Astor (1945- ). In 1918 Astor became parliamentary secretary to Lloyd George; later he held the same position with the Ministry of Food (1918-1919) and the Ministry of Health (1919-1921). He was British delegate to the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1931, chairman of the League Committee on Nutrition (1936-1937), and chairman of the council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (since 1935). With help from various people, he wrote three books on agricultural problems: Land and Life (1932), The Planning of Agriculture (1933), and British Agriculture (1938). Both of his sons graduated from New College, and both have been Members of Parliament, the older in the period 1935-1945, and the younger since 1945. The older was secretary to Lord Lytton on the League of Nations Commission of Enquiry into the Manchurian Episode (1932) and was parliamentary private secretary to Sir Samuel Hoare when he was First Lord of the Admiralty and Home Secretary (1936-1939).

Lord Astor's chief importance in regard to The Times is that he and his brother became chief proprietors in 1922 by buying out the Harmsworth interest. As a result, the brother, Colonel John Jacob Astor, has been chairman of the board of The Times Publishing Company since 1922, and Brand was a director on the board for many years before 1944. Colonel Astor, who matriculated at New College in 1937, at the age of fifty-one, was military aide to the Viceroy of India (Lord Hardinge) in 1911-1914, was a Member of Parliament from 1922 to 1945, and is a director of both Hambros' and Barclay's Banks.

This connection between the Milner Group and The Times was of the greatest importance in the period up to 1945, especially in the period just before the Munich crisis. However, the chief center of gravity of the Milner Group was never in The Times. It is true that Lord Astor became one of the more important figures in the Milner Group after Milner's death in 1925, but the center of gravity of the Group as a whole was elsewhere: before 1920, in the Round Table Group; and after 1920, in All Souls. Lord Astor was of great importance in the later period, especially after 1930, but was of no significance in the earlier period — an indication of his relatively recent arrival in the Group.

The Times has recently published the first three volumes of a four-volume history of itself. Although no indication is given as to the authorship of these volumes, the acknowledgments show that the authors worked closely with All Souls and the Milner Group. For example, Harold Temperley and Keith Feiling read the proofs of the first two volumes, while E. L. Woodward read those of the third volume.

While members of the Milner Group thus went into The Times to control it, relatively few persons ever came into the Milner Group from The Times. The only two who readily come to mind are Sir Arthur Willert and Lady Lugard. (4)

Arthur Willert (Sir Arthur since 1919) entered Balliol in 1901 but did not take a degree until 1928. From 1906 to 1910 he was on the staff of The Times in Paris, Berlin, and Washington, and was then chief Times correspondent in Washington for ten years (1910-1920). During this period he was also secretary to the British War Mission in Washington (1917-1918) and Washington representative of the Ministry of Information. This brought him to the attention of the Milner Group, probably through Brand, and in 1921 he joined the Foreign Office as head of the News Department. During the next fifteen years he was a member of the British delegations to the Washington Conference of 1922, to the London Economic Conference of 1924, to the London Naval Conference of 1930, to the World Disarmament Conference of 1932-1934, and to the League of Nations in 1929-1934. He retired from the Foreign Office in 1935, but returned to an active life for the duration of the Second World War as head of the southern region for the Ministry of Information (1939-1945). In 1937, in cooperation with H. V. Hodson (then editor of The Round Table) and B. K. Long (of the Kindergarten), he wrote a book called The Empire in the World. He had previously written Aspects of British Foreign Policy (1928) and The Frontiers of England (1935).

The second person to come into the Milner Group from The Times was Lady Lugard (the former Flora Shaw), who was probably a member of the Rhodes secret society on The Times and appears to have been passing from The Times to the Milner Group, when she was really passing from the society to the Milner Group. She and her husband are of great significance in the latter organization, although neither was a member of the innermost circle.

Frederick Lugard (Sir Frederick after 1901 and Lord Lugard after 1928) was a regular British army officer who served in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and Burma in 1879-1887. In 1888 he led a successful expedition against slave-traders on Lake Nyasa, and was subsequently employed by the British East African Company, the Royal Niger Company, and British West Charterland in leading expeditions into the interior of Africa (1889- 1897). In 1897 he was appointed by the Salisbury government to be Her Majesty's Commissioner in the hinterland of Nigeria and Lagos and commandant of the West African Frontier Force, which he organized. Subsequently he was High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria (1900-1906) and Governor of Hong Kong (1907-1912), as well as Governor, and later Governor-General, of Nigeria (1912-1919). He wrote Our East African Empire (1893) and The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa (1922), and also numerous articles (including one on West Africa in The Empire and the Century). He was one of the chief assistants of Lord Lothian and Lord Hailey in planning the African Survey in 1934- 1937, was British member of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations from 1922 to 1936, was one of the more influential figures in the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and is generally regarded as the inventor of the British system of "indirect rule" in colonial areas.

Flora Shaw, who married Sir Frederick Lugard in 1902, when he was forty-four and she was fifty, was made head of the Colonial Department of The Times in 1890, at the suggestion of Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert, the Permanent Under Secretary of the Colonial Office. Sir Robert, whose grandmother was a Wyndham and whose grandfather was Earl of Carnarvon, was a Fellow of All Souls from 1854 to 1905. He was thus elected the year following Lord Salisbury's election. He began his political career as private secretary to Gladstone and was Permanent Under Secretary for twenty-one years (1871-1892, 1900). He was subsequently Agent General for Tasmania (1893-1896), High Sheriff of London, chairman of the Tariff Commission, and adviser to the Sultan of Johore, all under the Salisbury-Balfour governments.

When Miss Shaw was recommended to The Times as head of the Colonial Department, she was already a close friend of Moberly Bell, manager of The Times, and was an agent and close friend of Stead and Cecil Rhodes. The story of how she came to work for The Times, as told in that paper's official history, is simplicity itself: Bell wanted someone to head the Colonial Department, so he wrote to Sir Robert Herbert and was given the name of Flora Shawl Accordingly, Bell wrote, "as a complete stranger," to Miss Shaw and asked her "as an inexperienced writer for a specimen column." She wrote a sample article on Egyptian finance, which pleased Bell so greatly that she was given the position of head of the Colonial Department. That is the story as it appears in volume III of The History of The Times, published in 1947. Shortly afterward appeared the biography of Flora Shaw, written by the daughter of Moberly Bell and based on his private papers. The story that emerges from this volume is quite different. It goes somewhat as follows:

Flora Shaw, like most members of that part of the Cecil Bloc which shifted over to the Milner Group, was a disciple of John Ruskin and an ardent worker among the depressed masses of London's slums. Through Ruskin, she came to write for W. T. Stead of the Pall Mall Gazette in 1886, and three years later, through Stead, she met Cecil Rhodes. In the meantime, in 1888, she went to Egypt as correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette and there became a close friend of Moberly Bell, The Times correspondent in that country. Bell had been employed in this capacity in Egypt since 1865 and had become a close friend of Evelyn Baring (Lord Cromer), the British agent in Egypt. He had also become an expert on Egyptian finance and published a pamphlet on that subject in 1887. Miss Shaw's friendship with the Bell family was so close that she was practically a member of it, and Bell's children knew her, then and later, as "Aunt Flora."

In 1890, when Bell was transferred to Printing House Square as manager of The Times, Baring tried to persuade The Times to name Miss Shaw as Egyptian correspondent in Bell's place. This was not done. Instead, Miss Shaw returned to London and was introduced by Bell to Buckle. When Buckle told Miss Shaw that he wanted a head for the Colonial Department of the paper, she suggested that he consult with Sir Robert Herbert. From that point on, the account in The History of The Times is accurate. But it is clear, to anyone who has the information just mentioned, that the recommendation by Sir Robert Herbert, the test article on Egyptian finance, and probably the article itself, had been arranged previously between Moberly Bell and "Aunt Flora."

None of these early relationships of Miss Shaw with Bell, Buckle, and Herbert are mentioned in The History of The Times, and apparently they are not to be found in the records at Printing House Square. They are, however, a significant indication of the methods of the Milner Group. It is not clear what was the purpose of this elaborate scheme. Miss Moberly Bell apparently believes that it was to deceive Buckle. It is much more likely that it was to deceive the chief owners of The Times, John Walter III and his son, Arthur F. Walter.

Miss Shaw, when she came to The Times, was an open champion of Lord Salisbury and an active supporter of a vigorous imperial policy, especially in South Africa. She was in the confidence of the Colonial Office and of Rhodes to a degree that cannot be exaggerated. She met Rhodes, on Stead's recommendation, in 1889, at a time when Stead was one of Rhodes's closest confidants. In 1892, Miss Shaw was sent to South Africa by Moberly Bell, with instructions to set up two lines of communication from that area to herself. One of these was to be known to The Times and would handle routine matters; the second was to be known only to herself and was to bring confidential material to her private address. The expenses of both of these avenues would be paid for by The Times, but the expenses of the secret avenue would not appear on the records at Printing House Square. (5)

From this date onward, Miss Shaw was in secret communication with Cecil Rhodes. This communication was so close that she was informed by Rhodes of the plot which led up to the Jameson Raid, months before the raid took place. She was notified by Rhodes of the approximate date on which the raid would occur, two weeks before it did occur. She even suggested on several occasions that the plans be executed more rapidly, and on one occasion suggested a specific date for the event.

In her news articles, Miss Shaw embraced the cause of the British in the Transvaal even to the extent of exaggerating and falsifying their hardships under Boer rule. (6) It was The Times that published as an exclusive feature the famous (and fraudulent) "women and children" letter, dated 20 December 1895, which pretended to be an appeal for help from the persecuted British in the Transvaal to Dr. Jameson's waiting forces, but which had really been concocted by Dr. Jameson himself on 20 November and sent to Miss Shaw a month later. This letter was published by The Times as soon as news of the Jameson' Raid was known, as a justification of the act. The Times continued to defend and justify the raid and Jameson. After this became a rather delicate policy — that is, after the raid failed and had to be disavowed — The Times was saved from the necessity of reversing itself by the "Kruger telegram" sent by the German Kaiser to congratulate the Boers on their successful suppression of the raiders. This "Kruger telegram" was played up by The Times with such vigor that Jameson was largely eclipsed and the incident assumed the dimensions of an international crisis. As the official History of The Times puts it, "The Times was carried so far by indignation against the outrageous interference of the Kaiser in the affairs of the British Empire that it was able to overlook the criminality of Jameson's act." A little later, the same account says, "On January 7, Rhodes' resignation from the Premiership was announced, while the Editor found it more convenient to devote his leading article to the familiar topic of German interference rather than to the consequences of the Raid." (7)

All of this was being done on direct instructions from Rhodes, and with the knowledge and approval of the management of The Times. In fact, Miss Shaw was the intermediary between Rhodes, The Times, and the Colonial Office (Joseph Chamberlain). Until the end of November 1895, her instructions from Rhodes came to her through his agent in London, Dr. Rutherfoord Harris, but, when the good Dr. Harris and Alfred Beit returned to South Africa in order to be on hand for the anticipated excitement, the former gave Miss Shaw the secret code of the British South Africa Company and the cable address TELEMONES LONDON, so that communications from Rhodes to Miss Shaw could be sent directly. Dr. Harris had already informed Rhodes by a cable of 4 November 1895:

"If you can telegraph course you wish Times to adopt now with regard to Transvaal Flora will act."


On 10 December 1895, Miss Shaw cabled Rhodes:
"Can you advise when will you commence the plans, we wish to send at earliest opportunity sealed instructions representative of the Lond Times European Capitals; it is most important using their influence in your favor."


The use of the word "we" in this message disposes once and for all of Miss Shaw's later defense that all her acts were done on her own private responsibility and not in her capacity as a department head of The Times. In answer to this request, Rhodes replied the next day: "We do think about new year."

This answer made The Times' s manager "very depressed," so the next day (12 December) Miss Shaw sent the following cable to Rhodes:

"Delay dangerous sympathy now complete but will depend very much upon action before European powers given time enter a protest which as European situation considered serious might paralyze government."


Five days after this came another cable, which said in part:

"Chamberlain sound in case of interference European powers but have special reason to believe wishes you must do it immediately."


To these very incriminating messages might be added two of several wires from Rhodes to Miss Shaw. One of 30 December 1895, after Rhodes knew that the Jameson Raid had begun and after Miss Shaw had been so informed by secret code, stated:

"Inform Chamberlain that I shall get through all right if he supports me, but he must not send cable like he sent high commissioner in South Africa. Today the crux is, I will win and South Africa will belong to England."


And the following day, when the outcome of the raid was doubtful because of the failure of the English in the Transvaal to rise against the Boers — a failure resulting from that the fact that they were not as ill-treated as Miss Shaw, through The times, had been telling the world for months — Rhodes cabled:

"Unless you can make Chamberlain instruct the high commissioner to proceed at once to Johannesburg the whole position is lost. High commissioner would receive splendid reception and still turn position to England advantage but must be instructed by cable immediately. The instructions must be specific as he is weak and will take no responsibility." (8)


When we realize that the anticipated uprising of the English in the Transvaal had been financed and armed with munitions from the funds of the British South Africa Company, it is clear that we must wait until Hitler's coup in Austria in March 1938 to find a parallel to Rhodes's and Jameson's attempted coup in South Africa forty- two years earlier.

The Jameson Raid, if the full story could ever be told, would give the finest possible example of the machinations of Rhodes 's secret society. Another example, almost as good, would be the completely untold story of how the society covered up these activities in the face of the investigation of the Parliamentary Select Committee. The dangers from this investigation were so great that even Lord Rothschild was pressed into service as a messenger. It was obvious from the beginning that the star witness before the committee would be Cecil Rhodes and that the chief danger would be the incrimination of Joseph Chamberlain, who clearly knew of the plot. Milner, Garrett, Stead, and Esher discussed possible defenses and reached no conclusion, since Stead wanted to admit that Chamberlain was implicated in plans for a raid but not plans for the raid. By this, Stead meant that Chamberlain and Rhodes had seen the possibility of an uprising in the Transvaal and, solely as a precautionary measure, had made the preparations for Jameson's force so that it would be available to go to Johannesburg to restore order. The others refused to accept this strategy and insisted on the advantages of a general and blanket denial. This difference of opinion probably arose from the fact that Stead did not know that the prospective rebels in Johannesburg were armed and financed by Rhodes, were led by Rhodes's brother and Abe Bailey, and had written the"women and children" message, in collaboration with Jameson, weeks before. These facts, if revealed to the committee, would make it impossible to distinguish between "the raid" and "a raid." The event of 31 December 1895, which the committee was investigating, was the former and not the latter merely because the plotters in Johannesburg failed to revolt on schedule. This is clear from Edward Cook's statement, in his biography of Garrett, that Garrett expected to receive news of a revolution in Johannesburg at any moment on 30 December 1895. (9)

The difficulty which the initiates in London had in preparing a defense for the Select Committee was complicated by the fact that they were not able to reach Rhodes, who was en route from South Africa with Garrett. As soon as the boat docked, Brett (Lord Esher) sent "Natty" Rothschild from London with a message from Chamberlain to Rhodes. When Rothschild returned, Brett called in Stead, and they discussed the projected defense. Stead had already seen Rhodes and given his advice. (10) The following day (5 February 1896), Brett saw Rhodes and found that he was prepared to confess everything. Brett tried to dissuade him. As he wrote in his Journal, "I pointed out to him that there was one consideration which appeared to have escaped him, that was the position of Mr. Chamberlain, the Secretary of State. Chamberlain was obviously anxious to help and it would not do to embarrass him or to tie his hands. It appeared to me to be prudent to endeavour to ascertain how Chamberlain would receive a confidence of this kind. I said I would try to find out. On leaving me he said, 'Wish we could get our secret society.'" Brett went to Chamberlain, who refused to receive Rhodes's confession, lest he have to order the law officers to take proceedings against Rhodes as against Jameson. Accordingly, the view of the majority, a general denial, was adopted and proved successful, thanks to the leniency of the members of the Select Committee. Brett recognized this leniency. He wrote to Stead on 19 February 1897: "I came up with Milner from Windsor this morning. He has a heavy job; and has to start de novo. The committee will leave few of the old gang on their legs. Alas. Rhodes was a pitiful object. Harcourt very sorry for him; too sorry to press his question home. Why did Rhodes try to shuffle after all we had told him?" (11)

It is clear that the Select Committee made no real effort to uncover the real relationships between the conspirators, The Times, and the Salisbury government. When witnesses refused to produce documents or to answer questions, the committee did not insist, and whole fields of inquiry were excluded from examination by the committee.

One of these fields, and probably the most important one, was the internal policies and administration of The Times itself. As a result, when Campbell-Bannerman, an opposition leader, asked if it were usual practice for The Times correspondents to be used to propagate certain policies in foreign countries as well as to obtain information, Miss Shaw answered that she had been excused from answering questions about the internal administration of The Times. We now know, as a result of the publication of the official History of The Times, that all Miss Shaw's acts were done in consultation with the manager, Moberly Bell.(12) The vital telegrams to Rhodes, signed by Miss Shaw, were really drafted by Bell. As The History of The Times puts it, "Bell had taken the risk of allowing Miss Shaw to commit The Times to the support of Rhodes in a conspiracy that was bound to lead to controversy at home, if it succeeded, and likely to lead to prosecution if it failed. The conspiracy had failed; the prosecution had resulted. Bell's only salvation lay in Miss Shaw's willingness to take personal responsibility for the telegrams and in her ability to convince the Committee accordingly." And, as the evidence of the same source shows, in order to convince the committee it was necessary for Miss Shaw to commit perjury, even though the representatives of both parties on the Committee of Enquiry (except Labouchere) were making every effort to conceal the real facts while still providing the public with a good show.

Before leaving the discussion of Miss Shaw and the Jameson Raid, it might be fitting to introduce testimony from a somewhat unreliable witness, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, a member by breeding and education of this social group and a relative of the Wyndhams, but a psychopathic anti-imperialist who spent his life praising and imitating the Arabs and criticizing Britain's conduct in India, Egypt, and Ireland. In his diaries, under the date 25 April 1896, he says: "[George Wyndham] has been seeing much of Jameson, whom he likes, and of the gang that have been running the Transvaal business, about a dozen of them, with Buckle, The Times editor, and Miss Flora Shaw, who, he told me confidentially, is really the prime mover in the whole thing, and who takes the lead in all their private meetings, a very clever middle-aged woman. "(13) A somewhat similar conclusion was reached by W. T. Stead in a pamphlet called Joseph Chamberlain: Conspirator or Statesman, which he published from the office of The Review of Reviews in 1900. Stead was convinced that Miss Shaw was the intermediary among Rhodes, The Times, and the Colonial Office. And Stead was Rhodes's closest confidant in England.

As a result of this publicity, Miss Shaw's value to The Times was undoubtedly reduced, and she gave up her position after her marriage in 1902. In the meantime, however, she had been in correspondence with Milner as early as 1899, and in December 1901 made a trip to South Africa for The Times, during which she had long interviews with Milner, Monypenny, and the members of the Kindergarten. After her resignation, she continued to review books for The Times Literary Supplement, wrote an article on tropical dependencies for The Empire and the Century, wrote two chapters for Amery's History of the South African War, and wrote a biographical sketch of Cecil Rhodes for the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

A third member of this same type was Valentine Chirol (Sir Valentine after 1912). Educated at the Sorbonne, he was a clerk in the Foreign Office for four years (1872- 1 876) and then traveled about the world, but chiefly in the Near East, for sixteen years (1876-1892). In 1892 he was made The Times correspondent in Berlin, and for the next four years filled the role of a second British ambassador, with free access to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin and functioning as a channel of unofficial communication between the government in London and that in Berlin. After 1895 he became increasingly anti- German, like all members of the Cecil Bloc and the Milner Group, and was chiefly responsible for the great storm whipped up over the "Kruger telegram." In this last connection he even went so far as to announce in The Times that the Germans were really using the Jameson episode as part of a long-range project to drive Britain out of South Africa and that the next step in that process was to be the dispatch in the immediate future of a German expeditionary force to Delagoa Bay in Portuguese Angola. As a result of this attitude, Chirol found the doors of the Foreign Ministry closed to him and, after another unfruitful year in Berlin, was brought to London to take charge of the Foreign Department of The Times. He held this post for fifteen years (1897-1912), during which he was one of the most influential figures in the formation of British foreign and imperial policy. The policy he supported was the policy that was carried out, and included support for the Boer War, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the Entente Cordiale, the agreement of 1907 with Russia, the Morley-Minto Reforms in India, and the increasing resistance to Germany. When he retired in 1912, he was knighted by Asquith for his important contributions to the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909 and was made a member of the Royal Commission on Public Services in India (1912-1914). He remained in India during most of the First World War, and, indeed, made seventeen visits to that country in his life. In 1916 he was one of the five chief advisers to Lionel Curtis in the preparatory work for the Government of India Act of 1919 (the other four being Lord Chelmsford, Meston, Marris, and Hailey). Later Chirol wrote articles for The Round Table and was a member of the British delegation at the Paris Peace Conference.

Chirol was replaced as head of the Foreign Department during his long absences from London by Leopold Amery. It was expected that Amery would be Chirol's successor in the post, but Amery entered upon a political career in 1910, so the position was given briefly to Dudley Disraeli graham, graham, a former classmate of many of the Kindergarten at New College, was a foreign correspondent of The Times for ten years (1897-1907) and Chirol's assistant for five (1907-1912), before he became Chirol's successor in the Foreign Department and Grigg's successor in the Imperial Department, thus combining the two. He resigned from The Times in 1914 to become editor of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Australia, and was subsequently a very important figure in Australian newspaper life.

This account, by no means complete, shows clearly that the Milner Group controlled The Times, indirectly from 1912 if not earlier, and directly from 1922. The importance of this control should be obvious. The Times, although of a very limited circulation (only about 35,000 at the beginning of the century, 50,000 at the outbreak of the First World War, and 187,000 in 1936), was the most influential paper in England. The reason for this influence is not generally recognized, although the existence of the condition itself is widely known. The influence depended upon the close relationship between the paper and the Foreign Office. This relationship, as we are trying to show, was the result of the Milner Group's influence in both.

This influence was not exercised by acting directly on public opinion, since the Milner Group never intended to influence events by acting through any instruments of mass propaganda, but rather hoped to work on the opinions of the small group of "important people," who in turn could influence wider and wider circles of persons. This was the basis on which the Milner Group itself was constructed; it was the theory behind the Rhodes Scholarships; it was the theory behind "The Round Table and the Royal Institute of International Affairs; it was the theory behind the efforts to control All Souls, New College, and Balliol and, through these three, to control Oxford University; and it was the theory behind The Times. No effort was made to win a large circulation for The Times, for, in order to obtain such a circulation, it would have been necessary to make changes in the tone of the paper that would have reduced its influence with the elite, to which it had been so long directed. The theory of "the elite" was accepted by the Milner Group and by The Times, as it was by Rhodes. The historian of The Times recognizes this and, after describing the departure from Printing House Square of Bell, Chirol, and Buckle, says, "It is a valid criticism of the 'Olaf Gang' that they had not realized that they were in the habit of valuing news according to the demands and interests of a governing class too narrowly defined for the twentieth century." It was on this issue that the "Old Gang" disputed with Northcliffe in the period 1908-1912 and that Dawson disputed with Northcliffe in 1919. Although the new owner protested to all who would listen, in 1908 and later, that he would not try to make The Times into a popular paper, he was, as The History of The Times shows, incapable of judging the merits of a newspaper by any other standard than the size of its circulation. After he was replaced as chief proprietor by Astor, and Dawson re-occupied the editor's chair, the old point of view was reestablished. The Times was to be a paper for the people who are influential, and not for the masses. The Times was influential, but the degree of its influence would never be realized by anyone who examined only the paper itself. The greater part of its influence arose from its position as one of several branches of a single group, the Milner Group. By the interaction of these various branches on one another, under the pretense that each branch was an autonomous power, the influence of each branch was increased through a process of mutual reinforcement. The unanimity among the various branches was believed by the outside world to be the result of the influence of a single Truth, while really it was the result of the existence of a single group. Thus, a statesman (a member of the Group) announces a policy. About the same time, the Royal Institute of International Affairs publishes a study on the subject, and an Oxford don, a Fellow of All Souls (and a member of the Group) also publishes a volume on the subject (probably through a publishing house, like G. Bell and Sons or Faber and Faber, allied to the Group). The statesman's policy is subjected to critical analysis and final approval in a "leader" in The Times, while the two books are reviewed (in a single review) in The Times Literary Supplement. Both the "leader" and the review are anonymous but are written by members of the Group. And finally, at about the same time, an anonymous article in The Round Table strongly advocates the same policy. The cumulative effect of such tactics as this, even if each tactical move influences only a small number of important people, is bound to be great. If necessary, the strategy can be carried further, by arranging for the secretary to the Rhodes Trustees to go to America for a series of "informal discussions" with former Rhodes Scholars, while a prominent retired statesman (possibly a former Viceroy of India) is persuaded to say a few words at the unveiling of a plaque in All Souls or New College in honor of some deceased Warden. By a curious coincidence, both the "informal discussions" in America and the unveiling speech at Oxford touch on the same topical subject.

An analogous procedure in reverse could be used for policies or books which the Group did not approve. A cutting editorial or an unfriendly book review, followed by a suffocating blanket of silence and neglect, was the best that such an offering could expect from the instruments of the Milner Group. This is not easy to demonstrate because of the policy of anonymity followed by writers and reviewers in The Times, The Round Table, and The Times Literary Supplement, but enough cases have been found to justify this statement. When J. A. Farrer's book England under Edward VII was published in 1922 and maintained that the British press, especially The Times, was responsible for bad Anglo-German feeling before 1909, The Times Literary Supplement gave it to J. W. Headlam-Morley to review. And when Baron von Eckardstein, who was in the German Embassy in London at the time of the Boer War, published his memoirs in 1920, the same journal gave the book to Chirol to review, even though Chirol was an interested party and was dealt with in a critical fashion in several passages in the book itself. Both of these reviews were anonymous.

There is no effort here to contend that the Milner Group ever falsified or even concealed evidence (although this charge could be made against The Times). Rather it propagated its point of view by interpretation and selection of evidence. In this fashion it directed policy in ways that were sometimes disastrous. The Group as a whole was made up of intelligent men who believed sincerely, and usually intensely, in what they advocated, and who knew that their writings were intended for a small minority as intelligent as themselves. In such conditions there could be no value in distorting or concealing evidence. To do so would discredit the instruments they controlled. By giving the facts as they stood, and as completely as could be done in consistency with the interpretation desired, a picture could be construed that would remain convincing for a long time.

This is what was done by The Times. Even today, the official historian of The Times is unable to see that the policy of that paper was anti-German from 1895 to 1914 and as such contributed to the worsening of Anglo-German relations and thus to the First World War. This charge has been made by German and American students, some of them of the greatest diligence and integrity, such as Professors Sidney B. Fay, William L. Langer, Oron J. Hale, and others. The recent History of The Times devotes considerable space and obviously spent long hours of research in refuting these charges, and fails to see that it has not succeeded. With the usual honesty and industry of the Milner Group, the historian gives the evidence that will convict him, without seeing that his interpretation will not hold water. He confesses that the various correspondents of The Times in Berlin played up all anti-English actions and statements and played down all pro-English ones; that they quoted obscure and locally discredited papers in order to do this; that all The Times foreign correspondents in Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and elsewhere were anti-German, and that these were the ones who were kept on the staff and promoted to better positions; that the one member of the staff who was recognized as being fair to Germany (and who was unquestionably the most able man in the whole Times organization), Donald Mackenzie Wallace, was removed as head of the Foreign Department and shunted off to be editor of the supplementary volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica (which was controlled by The Times); and that The Times frequently printed untrue or distorted information on Germany. All of this is admitted and excused as the work of honest, if hasty, journalists, and the crowning proof that The Times was not guilty as charged is implied to be the fact that the Germans did ultimately get into a war with Britain, thus proving at one stroke that they were a bad lot and that the attitude of The Times staff toward them was justified by the event.

It did not occur to the historian of The Times that there exists another explanation of Anglo-German relations, namely that in 1895 there were two Germanies — the one admiring Britain and the other hating Britain — and that Britain, by her cold-blooded and calculated assault on the Boers in 1895 and 1899, gave the second (and worse) Germany the opportunity to criticize and attack Britain and gave it the arguments with which to justify a German effort to build up naval defenses. The Times, by quoting these attacks and actions representative of the real attitude and actual intentions of all Germans, misled the British people and abandoned the good Germans to a hopeless minority position, where to be progressive, peaceful, or Anglophile was to be a traitor to Germany itself. Chirol's alienation of Baron von Eckardstein (one of the "good" Germans, married to an English lady), in a conversation in February 1900,(14) shows exactly how The Times attitude was contributing to consolidate and alienate the Germans by the mere fact of insisting that they were consolidated and alienated — and doing this to a man who loved England and hated the reactionary elements in Germany more than Chirol ever did.  
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Mon May 24, 2021 2:16 am

Part 1 of 2

Meet the Riot Squad: Right-Wing Reporters Whose Viral Videos Are Used to Smear BLM
by The Intercept
May 13, 2021



In the year since George Floyd’s murder, conservative news outlets have endlessly hyped distorted stories about violence at Black Lives Matter protests. Key videos they used come from a tight-knit group of eight young journalists: Brendan Gutenschwager, Drew Hernandez, Elijah Schaffer, Kalen D’Almeida, Jorge Ventura, Julio Rosas, Richie McGinniss, and Shelby Talcott.

This informal club of right-wing reporters roam from city to city, feeding the conservative media's hunger for images of destruction and violence on the margins of left-wing protests.

The impact of their work is hard to overstate. Even as they remain relatively unknown, Riot Squad members have produced many of the most viral videos of Black Lives Matter protests over the past year. And those images have helped create the false impression, relentlessly driven home by Fox News and Republican politicians, that the nationwide wave of protests that erupted after George Floyd was killed was nothing but an excuse for mindless rioting.

But the broader picture is that Black Lives Matter protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful. According to the researchers, there was no looting, arson, or violence of any kind at 94 percent of the protests associated with Black Lives Matter. And in many cases in which there was violence, it was inflicted on protesters, either by the police or right-wing vigilantes.

It’s been a year since the horrifying cellphone video of George Floyd’s murder drove millions of Americans to the streets to demand justice. But it’s important to keep in mind that the conservative media has been working almost non-stop to undercut the movement for Black lives, by spreading the lie that the nation’s main problem is the protesters, not the police.

*********************

MEET THE RIOT SQUAD: RIGHT-WING REPORTERS WHOSE VIRAL VIDEOS ARE USED TO SMEAR BLM
In the year since George Floyd’s murder, conservative news outlets have endlessly hyped distorted stories about violence at Black Lives Matter protests. Key videos they used come from a tight-knit group of eight young journalists.
by Robert Mackey and Travis Mannon
May 13 2021, 8:38 a.m.
Video by Robert Mackey and Travis Mannon.

THE SOUND OF glass breaking, on Inauguration Day in Portland, Oregon, was music to the ears of Julio Rosas, a young video journalist.

That’s because Rosas, who works for the right-wing website Townhall, specializes in shooting viral video of mayhem at left-wing protests. On this day, black-clad, anti-capitalist protesters were attacking a Democratic Party office, and Rosas managed to record them from close range without being spotted.

Within minutes of the vandalism, by a handful of activists who broke off from a small #J20 march, Rosas posted his video on Twitter, where it racked up over 1 million views.

Image
Julio Rosas
@Julio_Rosas11
On the ground in Portland, Ore. for @townhallcom. A group of Antifa marchers just attacked the city's Democratic Party office. They broke windows and spray painted the building.
Some of them had a hard time breaking the windows.
4:57 PM Jan 20, 2021


With his tweet, Rosas had also beaten his friend and rival, Jorge Ventura of the conservative Daily Caller, by six minutes.

Image
Jorge Ventura Media
@VenturaReport
The Democratic Party of Oregon building was vandalized moments go by an Antifa group in Portland Oregon. The group gathered at Revolution Hall and blocked roads off as they made their way towards the building.
5:03 PM Jan 20, 2021


Ventura, who went undercover to infiltrate the protest movement in Portland last summer, got less dramatic footage of this incident, but his 15-second clip, which showed that there were more people photographing the destruction in Portland than taking part in it, was still seen by more than 100,000 people.

When Rosas joined Laura Ingraham on Fox News that night, giving national attention to what would have been, before the era of viral video, just a local news story, Ventura held the camera for the live shot.

We know that because a third member of the conservative protest paparazzi that descended on Portland that day, Newsmax contributor James Klüg, gave viewers of his video blog a behind-the-scenes look at how the viral video-to-Fox News pipeline works.

On the air, Ingraham attributed the destruction to “antifa thugs,” using the right-wing shorthand that lumps everyone with left-of-center politics into one undifferentiated mass. Rosas, who was standing in front of a Circle-A — a symbol for anarchism, not anti-fascism — that had been spray-painted beside the ruined front door of the Democratic Party office, made no effort to correct her.

“The antifa groups here, they do not like Biden just as much they don’t like Trump,” he said. “They just hate America in general.” (In fact, Rose City Antifa, the Portland group that helped revive the Nazi-era concept of anti-fascism in the United States, released a statement making clear that this attack on the Democratic office was not the work of anti-fascists but rather of anarchists and anti-capitalists. “While many of the people involved may consider themselves antifascists in ideology,” the activists said, “we narrowly define antifascism as actions taken to oppose the insurgent right-wing.”)

As a reporter focused on protest movements, I’ve been studying video of chaotic events at demonstrations for more than a decade, since I live-blogged Iran’s disputed election and then covered the Arab Spring and Occupy protests, from the United States to Brazil. And one thing I’ve learned is that, whether a clip was posted online by a witness in Cairo or Kenosha, it always helps to know who shot the video, and why.

Over the past year, as I researched viral clips of contested incidents at protests against racist policing and far-right movements, I found that I was coming across the names of the same handful of videographers again and again. At protests in Minneapolis, Dallas, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Louisville, Philadelphia, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, I discovered that many of the most viral clips were shot by a handful of field reporters for right-wing sites or freelancers with conservative politics.

Rosas and Ventura are not household names, but it’s important to understand their reporting, because they are members of an informal club of right-wing video journalists who roam from city to city, feeding the conservative media’s hunger for images of destruction and violence on the margins of left-wing protests.

In the year since George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin was documented in horrifying detail on the cellphone of a 17-year-old witness, Darnella Frazier, right-wing news outlets and politicians have been desperate to draw attention away from those unbearable images by focusing instead on viral videos of unrest at racial justice protests. That’s been a boon for the careers of conservative video journalists like Rosas, Ventura, and a half-dozen of their friends, who jokingly call themselves the #RiotSquad in Instagram selfies and podcast banter.

The impact of their work is hard to overstate. Even as they remain relatively unknown, this tight-knit group has produced many of the most viral videos of Black Lives Matter protests over the past year. And those images have helped create the false impression, relentlessly driven home by Fox News and Republican politicians, that the nationwide wave of protests that erupted after George Floyd was killed was nothing but an excuse for mindless rioting.

Image
Last July, Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary, screened video of violence at protests in Portland, Ore., to justify federal intervention in the city. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

That’s not to say that rioting never happens; it clearly does. And even if you believe that “a riot is the language of the unheard,” it is undeniable that looting and arson did scar some communities where anger over racist policing spiraled out of control.

But the broader picture is that Black Lives Matter protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful.

Conservatives like to mock anyone who says that, usually by pointing to isolated images of chaos, like those recorded by the Riot Squad, or by cherry-picking misleading data. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, recently cited data showing that more than 500 racial justice protests turned violent in the United States last year. But Johnson failed to let readers of his Wall Street Journal opinion piece know that the same researchers — from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project — counted nearly 10,000 more Black Lives Matter protests that were entirely peaceful. According to the researchers, there was no looting, arson, or violence of any kind at 94 percent of the protests associated with Black Lives Matter. And in many cases in which there was violence, it was inflicted on protesters, either by the police or right-wing vigilantes.

Image
A screenshot of data on 2020 protests in the United States from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

ACLED
Bringing clarity to crisis
Key Trends: 2020
THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
Sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in May, the latest wave of protests associated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement accounts for 47% of all demonstrations in the US last year.2
• ACLED records more than 10,330 demonstrations associated with the BLM movement across more than 2,730 locations in all 50 states and Washington, DC
• States with the most events: California (1,151); New York (615); Florida (487); Illinois (430); Texas (425)
• The vast majority of these events — 94% — involved no violent or destructive activity
• Nevertheless, over 9% of all BLM-linked demonstrations — or nearly one in 10 events — were met with intervention by police or other authorities, compared to just 4% of right-wing demonstrations3
• When responding to BLM-linked demonstrations, authorities used force4 more than 51% of the time, compared to just 33% for right-wing demonstrations
• For more on disparate law enforcement response to different protests, see this report


That’s the wide-angle view of reality missed by conservatives obsessively viewing close-up images of violence, like those shot by the Riot Squad and played on a loop on Fox News and other outlets even further to the right.

“Since the George Floyd protests, conservative media outlets including Fox News (particularly Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity), One America News, Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV, and right-wing YouTubers have been covering Black Lives Matter and other left-wing protests daily, specifically highlighting instances of violence, fighting, and property damage,” media scholar Joan Donovan observed in the MIT Technology Review last summer. “This coverage has come to dominate the right-wing narrative in a new way, flipping the script to suggest that Black protesters — demonstrating because they fear police violence — are themselves a threat to white people.”

“By using riot porn to incite fear in white people,” Donovan added, “the right-wing media ecosystem converts the real pain experienced by Black Americans into fodder for deranged, paranoid fantasies that white vigilantes must take up the functions of the police.”

To understand how this works — and how a group of just eight young journalists have had such an outsize impact on what millions of Americans know about the protests against police violence and systemic racism — it’s useful to take a closer look at some of the most-watched clips posted online in the past year.

The Man Who Threatened Protesters With a Machete

The first and most obvious way that some of the Riot Squad journalists distort reality is through selective, misleading edits of the footage they shoot.

At a protest in Dallas five days after George Floyd was killed, a core member of the Riot Squad, Elijah Schaffer of Beck’s BlazeTV, posted a brief clip that showed the brutal beating of a white man by a group of mainly Black protesters.

Image
ELIJAHSCHAFFER
@ElijahSchaffer
BREAKING: man critically injured at Dallas riots
It appears he attempted to defend a shop with a large sword
Looters ran at him, then he charged rioters
They then beat him with a skateboard and stoned him with medium sized rocks
I called an Ambulance and it's on the way
7:52 PM May 30, 2020


The graphic, disturbing footage was viewed more than 35 million times on Twitter.

What Schaffer knew, but concealed from viewers of his edited clip, was that the man he described as an innocent victim of the mob had, moments earlier, threatened protesters with a machete.

Video recorded by another witness showed that the protesters responded by hurling stones at the man, who then shrieked and charged at them, swinging the blade wildly and cutting one of them, before the others disarmed him and took bloody revenge.



Yoel Measho, a filmmaker who took part in the protest, posted that video of the man’s wild charge on Snapchat, along with a second clip of a protester displaying the machete as protest medics gave the man first aid. (Measho later shared both clips with The Intercept.)



After the other videos began to circulate, Schaffer made the rest of his footage available to broadcasters, which showed that he had recorded but edited out the man’s aggressive behavior.

A Dallas police spokesperson told me the day after the incident that the man had indeed confronted protesters with the machete before being assaulted. The owners of the nearby bar the man reportedly set out to defend confirmed in a phone interview that the business was not looted by the protesters or anyone else. (On a conservative podcast the following month, a man who said he was the victim of the beating confirmed that he did initiate the conflict by confronting the protesters with a carbon steel machete “shaped like an old Roman gladius,” which he had mentioned on Twitter before the incident.)

Among those misled by Schaffer’s edit was then-President Donald Trump, who boosted it on Twitter and then echoed false claims that the man had died, as federal agents were unleashed on peaceful protesters outside the White House.

“Innocent people have been savagely beaten,” Trump told reporters, “like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying in the street.” (On the night of the attack, Schaffer had passed on the false rumor that the man had died.)

In the months that followed, Schaffer’s misleading clip was used again and again to smear Black Lives Matter. Johnson showed the video at a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security Committee he chaired last summer, presenting it as evidence of what he called “the reality” that protests against racist policing “unleash anarchy.” The clip was also included in a video prepared by Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal team, and then screened by Trump’s lawyers at his impeachment trial, as part of a misleading montage of protest violence, much of it recorded by Riot Squad videographers, which they falsely accused Democratic officials of having encouraged.

A Post-Election Skirmish in Washington

At the first post-election rally of Trump dead-enders in Washington in November, another Riot Squad videographer, Schaffer’s friend and former roommate Kalen D’Almeida, used the same technique to mislead millions of viewers.

The viral clip D’Almeida posted on Twitter (where it was viewed over 3 million times before he deleted it) and Instagram (as the second clip in this slideshow) showed an older white Trump supporter being punched in the face from behind by a young, Black counterprotester.

The video, which lingered on the man’s bloody face, was quickly retweeted by Andy Ngo and shared by Trump, with the comment: “Human Radical Left garbage did this.”

That video was then edited into an attack ad against Democrats that Trump screened for his fans at a rally in Georgia on December 5, much to D’Almeida’s delight.

Image
Kalen From Scriberr
@FromKalen
Technically I'm in the video as well
Trump's campaign used my footage for the Georgia rally!
8:11 PM Dec 5, 2020


But footage of the same clash recorded by Ventura showed that D’Almeida had edited his clip to hide the fact that the Trump supporter had started the fight, by first violently shoving one anti-Trump protester to the ground and then pushing and threatening to punch several others.

Image
Jorge Ventura Media
@VenturaReport
BREAKING -- Multiple Trump supporters assaulted by pro-BLM supporters in Washington D.C. One of the supporters assaulted was brutally knocked out. The scene is chaotic right now @MillionMAGAMarch
2:42 PM Nov 14, 2020


When D’Almeida later posted more of his own footage of the incident, it became clear that he had also recorded the start of the confrontation but chose to edit that out to make the white man look like an innocent victim of the Black protester.

Image
Kalen From Scriberr
@FromKalen
Washington DC: 16:07 this violent altercation occurred between multiple individuals at Connecticut.
4:24 PM Nov 14, 2020


Like the beating in Dallas that Elijah Schaffer witnessed, the punch that felled the Trump supporter in front of D’Almeida was obviously a vicious blow. But through selective, misleading editing, D’Almeida contributed in the same way to the sense of innocent victimhood and white resentment nurtured day and night by conservative media outlets and right-wing politicians like Trump.

Three months earlier, D’Almeida had posted a meme on Instagram mocking the mainstream media for supposedly distorting protest coverage. The meme, which uses two panels from a comic strip by the right-wing Colombian cartoonist Jhon Alexander Guerra, shows a TV news reporter telling a cameraperson not to film while a protester is throwing a rock at a police officer. When the police officer then chases the protester with his nightstick raised, the reporter tells the cameraperson to start shooting, because “now it’s news.”

Image
A screenshot of a meme adopted from panels by the right-wing, anti-feminist Colombian cartoonist Jhon Alexander Guerra, which was shared by Kalen D’Almeida on Instagram last August.
[Press BBC] Don't take the picture yet, wait
Perfect!!, Now its news!


Magnifying Two Incidents on the Streets of Portland

It was no accident that Rosas and Ventura chose to spend Inauguration Day this year in Portland. The liberal city’s strong anti-fascist protest culture, in a metro area surrounded by ultraconservative exurbs, has for years provided right-wing video journalists with a steady stream of skirmishes to record and exaggerate.

In July, for instance, Ventura and the Riot Squad’s Drew Hernandez, a right-wing YouTuber, both recorded an angry confrontation between Portland police officers and a Black, female protester who objected to being shoved forcefully by three officers.

Image
Drew Hernandez
@DrewHLive
BLM PROTESTER TO PORTLAND COP: "I hope someone kills your whole f*cken family"
3:18 AM Jul 12, 2020


“God damn it! I’m disabled, I can’t walk any faster!” the woman could be heard saying in the viral clip Hernandez recorded.

“Go!” one officer replied.

“I hope someone kills your whole fucking family,” the enraged woman responded. “I hope they kill you too. I hope someone burns down your whole precinct with all y’all inside. Can’t wait to see it.”

Hernandez’s clip was immediately boosted on Twitter by Ngo and even screened for the White House press corps by press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in a montage of Portland unrest intended to justify federal intervention in the city. (The montage also included video shot by Ventura and his boss, Richie McGinniss.)

Image
Jorge Ventura Media
@VenturaReport
Kayleigh McEnany White House Press Secretary just played two videos from my reporting on the ground in #Portland
@RichieMcGinniss reporting was also featured in today's briefing!
11:16 AM Jul 24, 2020


The White House, however, edited the Hernandez clip for McEnany’s presentation, removing the start of the confrontation to conceal from reporters that the protester’s comments were in reaction to having been roughly treated.

The following month, D’Almeida recorded a shocking act of violence on a Portland street, five blocks from the main protest site.

Typically dressed in black to blend in, D’Almeida describes himself on Instagram as an “Undercover Exposé Artist,” making no secret that his aim in filming protests against police brutality is to capture footage that can be used to discredit anti-fascists or Black Lives Matter activists.

While he began that effort in Seattle, D’Almeida finally hit the jackpot in August, when he recorded, on both his cellphone and body camera, graphic video of a white man being kicked in the face and knocked out by a Black man who provided security at Portland protests.

Image
Kalen From Scriberr
@FromKalen
Portland: A man accused of trying to run over protesters crashed his vehicle. BLM & Antifa militants then pull him from the car and violently assault him.
11:15 PM Aug 16, 2020


Hernandez and Ventura were also on hand to capture gruesome video of the aftermath, as the injured man, who was accused by his attacker of trying to run people down with his truck, lay unconscious and bleeding.

The video of the victim shared by Hernandez, with a caption attributing the violence to “BLM militants,” went even more viral.

Image
Drew Hernandez
@DrewHLive
BREAKING: After causing a white man to crash his truck in downtown Portland, BLM militants then beat the man and knock him unconscious
911 has been called
10:37 PM Aug 16, 2020


The incident got so much attention on Fox News that the culprit, Marquise Love, who was later jailed for the assault, became a symbol of Black Lives Matter for many of the network’s viewers.

That this brutal attack had not taken place during a protest, but after one, and at another location, where a long series of confusing, overlapping arguments among people drinking and smoking outside a nearby 7-Eleven escalated to violence was not something D’Almeida tried to explain to viewers of his video.

Hernandez later tried to connect the attack to the protests by claiming that the victim, Adam Haner, had been assaulted for coming to the defense of a trans woman who was assaulted by “Black Lives Matter protesters.” In fact, a careful review of raw footage posted online later by Hernandez shows that the incident started after Love, the self-appointed security guard, left the site of a protest and encountered Haner drinking beer outside the 7-Eleven. The two men eventually took opposite sides in a nasty personal dispute there that had nothing to do with politics or the demonstrations.

What Hernandez left out of the narrative he shared with Fox News is that his footage shows that the dispute between Love and the trans woman at the 7-Eleven only escalated after that person took out a baton and threatened the security guard with it.

Right-Wing Vigilantes in Kenosha

Last August, all eight Riot Squad videographers converged on Kenosha, Wisconsin, to cover protests that gave way to arson and destruction following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

The unrest also prompted members of a libertarian militia to take to the streets.

Almost everything we know about how one member of that militia, Kyle Rittenhouse, ended up killing two men in Kenosha that week comes from the Riot Squad reporters, who were there to document violence by anti-police protesters but instead recorded video of a pro-police vigilante shooting demonstrators.

On the second night of protests in Kenosha, Ventura and Schaffer, who was disguised in a Black Lives Matter shirt, came across protesters arguing with a libertarian militia guarding a gas station.

Both recorded a tense political debate between a young, Black protester and a heavily armed militia leader wearing a tactical vest with an embroidered patch showing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and the slogan “Cowabunga It Is,” a reference to a Reddit meme.

Image
Jorge Ventura Media
@VenturaReport
"F*** you, you ain't with us" woman yells at armed man who is attempting to stop the mob from looting and vandalizing #Kenosha businesses
11:03 PM Aug 24, 2020


“That attempted murder of that citizen was wrong,” the white militia member said of the shooting of Blake. “And I’m all for protests, but you can’t be destroying your neighbor’s houses and businesses,” he added.

“This shit, the fucking value of property, has nothing to do with the value of life,” the protester shouted at him. “If you value this shit more than you value people, you’re not with us! Fuck you! You’re not with us!”

In his Periscope livestream from the same location, Schaffer gushed over the vigilantes.

Image
ELIJAH SCHAFFER
@ElijahSchaffer
Kenosha Riots Night 2
pscp.tv
8:06 PM Aug 24, 2020


“What do you think about vigilantism where the police are not able to protect businesses, so citizens are coming in, and they’re protecting businesses themselves?” Schaffer asked a bystander.

“I feel a hundred percent,” the man replied.

“I’m with it too. I’m jiving with it,” Schaffer agreed. “I like that shit. That shit’s tight. Hell, yeah. These people are like God, right here. They’re protectors.”

Two blocks away, Ventura and Schaffer joined Rosas in front of a burning office furniture store, which provided the perfect backdrop for all three to record dispatches from the scene.

In his stand-up report, Rosas credited the “armed citizens” for stopping the ransacking of a car dealership and threw in a dig at the MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi, who had been accused by conservatives of downplaying arson while reporting from Minneapolis on the first George Floyd protests.

“What’s up everybody, so right now we’re still here in Kenosha,” Rosas said. “Riots are still going on right now where the curfew is still technically in effect, but as you can see, a lot of the people are still out and about. Obviously a burning building behind me, or, as Ali Velshi would say, not an unruly protest.”

When it was Schaffer’s turn to use the same burning building as a backdrop, he let viewers in on the secret that he was just pretending to sympathize with the protesters in order to expose them.

“My name’s Elijah Schaffer, reporting for BlazeTV, undercover, here in Kenosha,” he signed off. “Thank you again so much for watching. Have a great rest of the night and may God bless the United States of America.”

Within days, that stand-up was featured in a BlazeTV commercial for Schaffer’s show. “America’s streets have become a war zone,” a narrator intoned in the ad, “and Elijah Schaffer is right in the middle of it.” The ad copy promised that Schaffer would bring subscribers “what the mainstream media won’t show you”: endless images of fire and property damage, along with the young conservative’s “thought-provoking perspective.”

As he reported on racial justice protests last summer, Schaffer’s commentary on the movement against police brutality became increasingly unhinged. “Ultimately,” Schaffer tweeted in September, “I believe BLM, if left unchecked, would eventually produce genocidal outcomes.”

The next night, Schaffer and the Daily Caller’s head of video, Richie McGinniss, both interviewed a 17-year-old who had joined the militia: Rittenhouse.

Image
Richie McG
@RichieMcGinniss
In interviewed the alleged shooter before the violence started.
Full video coming soon:
9:25 AM Aug 26, 2020 from Kenosha, WI


As that night wore on, protesters eventually tired of being policed by vigilantes and let the militia know. As tensions between the two groups escalated, video shot by Rosas and the Daily Caller’s Shelby Talcott showed the three men Rittenhouse would shoot that night — Gaige Grosskreutz, Joseph Rosenbaum, and Anthony Huber — in the middle of the heated dispute.

Image
Julio Rosas @Julio-Rosas11 Aug 25, 2020
Replying to @Julio_Rosas11
What it's like to be by the armored police vehicles in Kenosha:
Julio Rosas
@Julio_Rosas11
Rioters are getting into confrontations with armed citizens who are out here to prevent looting and destruction to businesses.
9:17 PM Aug 25, 2020


Image
Shelby Talcott @ShelbyTalcott Aug 25, 2020
Replying to @ShelbyTalcott
Took a nice lil hit earlier
Shelby Talcott
@ShelbyTalcott
Fights are breaking out between protesters, many of whom have guns
9:14 PM Aug 25, 2020
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Mon May 24, 2021 3:28 am

Part 2 of 2

After Schaffer interviewed Rittenhouse, he went to a nearby car dealership that was being vandalized. Moments later, Rittenhouse ran into that car lot, pursued by Rosenbaum, a protester enraged by the teenage vigilante’s presence.

Video recorded by a protest livestreamer showed that McGinniss, who was following Rittenhouse when the chase began, was running just behind Rosenbaum with his iPhone pointed at the two men when Rittenhouse turned and fired four shots, striking the protester from point-blank range.

Because McGinniss was just a few feet behind Rosenbaum when Rittenhouse opened fire and appeared to be filming, the fact that he released no video of the shooting that night led some observers to wonder if he, or the Daily Caller, might have decided to suppress or delete footage that could be used to convict the young right-wing vigilante.

Hernandez captured the shooting from across the lot and then continued filming as he moved in closer.

Image
Drew Hernandez
@DrewHLive
BREAKING: RIOTER HAS BEEN SHOT IN THE HEAD
9:56 PM Aug 25, 2020


While McGinniss ripped off his Black Lives Matter T-shirt and tried to stop Rosenbaum’s bleeding with it, Rittenhouse ran past Hernandez, calling a friend instead of 911.

Close-up images of the scramble to save Rosenbaum, recorded by Hernandez and Schaffer, showed that McGinniss’s cellphone, which was in his left hand as he administered first aid with his right, was in record mode at the time.

The phone’s engaged red record button, the presence of a white shutter button on the screen’s lower right, and the red block around the time code at the top are three signs that an iPhone is recording, and all are visible on McGinniss’s phone in the video recorded by Schaffer and Hernandez.

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A screenshot from Drew Hernandez’s video of Richie McGinniss holding his cellphone in his left hand while trying to give first aid to Joseph Rosenbaum, less than a minute after he was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse.

Image
A screenshot of Drew Hernandez’s video appears to show the red time code numbers at the top of Richie McGinniss’s cellphone as he gives first aid to Joseph Rosenbaum.

That fueled speculation that McGinniss might have withheld incriminating visual evidence to shield Rittenhouse, who quickly became a hero to many of the Daily Caller’s far-right readers and was defended by the site’s founder, Tucker Carlson.

McGinniss, however, told The Intercept that while he thought he had recorded video of the shooting, he discovered later that he had accidentally hit the wrong button on his iPhone and it did not start recording until after the shots were fired.

As Rittenhouse ran from the lot, Talcott filmed protesters shouting that he had shot someone. Moments later, Rittenhouse tripped and fell in front of Rosas, who recorded the teen vigilante shooting at the men who tried to disarm him.

Rosas, who is in the Marine Reserves, quickly took cover, but another young video journalist, Brendan Gutenschwager, ran past him and got the clearest images of Rittenhouse shooting Huber, who died of his wounds, and Grosskreutz, who was badly injured but survived.



As Rittenhouse rose to his feet, with Huber sprawled on the street in front of him and Grosskreutz retreating, Gutenschwager could be seen just behind the gunman, filming from the sidewalk.

Image
After shooting Anthony Huber, foreground, and Gaige Grosskreutz, left, Kyle Rittenhouse kneeled in the street in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 25, 2020, as Brendan Gutenschwager, right, recorded the scene on video from the sidewalk behind him. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Within 10 minutes of the first shooting, Hernandez and Schaffer both posted their video of the fatally wounded Rosenbaum on Twitter, along with captions that maligned the victim. Hernandez described Rosenbaum as a “rioter,” while Schaffer made the false claim that the man had been shot “while looting a car shop.”

On his BlazeTV show later that week, Schaffer continued to attack the victims, falsely accusing them of committing crimes and praising the right-wing vigilante for killing them.

“I really don’t have sympathy for them. I just do not. They were rioters, they were vandalizing the place. And, do crimes, get rekt, that’s what I have to say,” Schaffer told his viewers. “I think them attacking Kyle Rittenhouse, with a skateboard, a pistol, and trying to jump him is what makes them deserve to be shot. I think Kyle’s been memed into history.”

“Kyle is a hero in my eyes,” Schaffer added. “Next time commies come up on a patriot like that, watch out.”

Gutenschwager is the only Riot Squad videographer who is not either employed by a conservative news site or openly right-wing. But before he started filming protests, Gutenschwager traveled the country as something of a Donald Trump groupie, attending at least 24 Trump rallies before the 2018 midterms and describing them as “exhilarating” on his video blog.

Gutenschwager’s footage of left-wing protesters behaving badly has earned him invitations from Ingraham to appear on Fox News, but he promises fans of his Twitter feed who provide financial support that they can rely on him to report “the unbiased truth from the ground.” He also sells his footage through the news agency Storyful, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., but licenses video from social media video to broadcasters across the political spectrum.

Even so, Gutenschwager’s video of mayhem at left-wing protests is frequently used by right-wing outlets and meme creators to smear demonstrators.

For instance, when Gutenschwager got viral video of a left-wing protester being set on fire by a Molotov cocktail in Portland last summer, it quickly turned into a right-wing meme mocking the protester’s pain and was retweeted by Trump’s social media caddy, Dan Scavino.

Image
Brendan Gutenschwager
@BGOnTheScene
A man just got lit on fire. Chaotic night in Portland already #PortlandRiots #Portland
10:18 PM Sep 5, 2020 from Portland, OR


Image
Dan Scavino
@DanScavino
Peaceful protesters in SE Portland this evening...
Dan Scavino @DanScavino
twitter.com/TeamTrump/stat...
11:20 PM Sep 5, 2020


Who Rented the U-Haul in Louisville?

When the Riot Squad rolled in to Louisville, Kentucky, in September to cover protests over the decision to not charge the police officer who shot Breonna Taylor with killing her, Gutenschwager was alongside Talcott and Rosas.

All three recorded a scene that quickly became the focus of huge attention on the right: protesters picking up banners and shields from a rented U-Haul truck.

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Brendan Gutenschwager
@BGOnTheScene
Unloading the riot shields from the Uhaul #Louisville #BreonnaTaylor
11:03 AM Sept 23, 2020 from Louisville, KY


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Shelby Talcott @ShelbyTalcott Sep 23, 2020
Replying to @ShelbyTalcott
The Crowd just exited the blocked off potion of downtown and have taken over an intersection. Cars are being told to turn around.
The charges are a Class D felony in KY. 1-5 year sentence max, I'm told by a lawyer:
Shelby Talcott
@ShelbyTalcott
A parked U-Haul was waiting for the crowd up the street. It contains supplies such as signs, shields, water etc. I'm not sure how people knew what it contained. Police are up ahead
11:03 AM Sep 23, 2020


Image
Julio Rosas @Julio_Rosas11 Sep 23, 2020
Replying to @Julio_Rosas11
As the BLM crowd chanted, "If we didn't get it, burn it down!" they have marched outside the barricaded zone in Louisville and have shut down traffic in an intersection.
Julio Rosas
@Julio_Rosas11
While the BLM crowd was marching in Louisville, a U Haul truck pulled up with shields and supplies for the group to use.
11:05 AM Sep 23, 2020


The fact that left-wing protesters prepare to demonstrate should hardly be surprising, but the Riot Squad video of the U-Haul reignited baseless right-wing conspiracy theories that Black Lives Matter protesters must be secretly employed by George Soros.

As the three video clips racked up more than 11 million total views on Twitter and flooded conservative networks, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ingraham all demanded to know who had rented the truck — as if only a billionaire could afford a U-Haul.

“Video Evidence Does Not Lie”

Speaking to Glenn Beck after Rittenhouse killed two protesters in Kenosha, Schaffer scoffed at the notion that the Riot Squad’s reporting was biased and complained that Twitter, in its breaking news section, had featured reports from national newspapers whose writers did not witness the shootings instead of the conservative video journalists who did.

“The people who were there, I would say this: Even if you don’t like their commentary, video evidence does not lie,” Schaffer said. Referring by name to Ventura, Rosas, Talcott, McGinniss, D’Almeida, and Hernandez, Schaffer told Beck that this group of people was “just eager to show America what is actually happening.”

Schaffer, who was caught distorting video of the news event he witnessed in Dallas, was not the ideal spokesperson for the argument that the personal politics of a video journalist should be ignored. But it is true that several of the Riot Squad reporters are not as overtly partisan as Schaffer, D’Almeida, or Hernandez.

McGinniss, who appeared in a reality show about the 2016 election as an undecided voter, worked for the far-right pundit Mark Levin but says he campaigned for Obama in 2008. Talcott denounced the January 6 attack on the Capitol as a riot, and wrote on Instagram last June that she had witnessed “incredible scenes of moving, peaceful protests as well as violent anarchy” while “reporting on a historic #BlackLivesMatter milestone.” Then again, she also spoke at the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference this year, in conversation with Rosas.

And while Gutenschwager once complained of anti-Trump comments in an official New York University publication after he dropped out of the school, his video of the Proud Boys burning a Black Lives Matter banner they stole from the Asbury United Methodist Church was even featured in an impassioned denunciation of the attack on the Black church from Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

But Joan Donovan, the media researcher, argues that the way footage of violence and disorder at left-wing protests is used by right-wing news outlets, and consumed by conservative viewers, is more important than the personal views of the journalists who hold the cameras.

By focusing on sensational, graphic images of violence on the margins of protests and entirely ignoring peaceful demonstrators, even members of the Riot Squad who are not as far right as Schaffer have contributed to a political project: the right-wing media’s campaign to portray racial justice protests as anarchic and dangerous.

What’s more, as Donovan wrote last summer, viewing what she calls “riot porn” often “enrages and traumatizes” those who watch it. Being bombarded with viral videos of violence at left-wing protests might even have motivated some reactionaries to take to the streets, either in anti-anti-fascist fight clubs, like the Proud Boys, or armed militia groups, like the one Rittenhouse joined in Kenosha.

“Fed into a media ecosystem with an established bias toward highlighting violence and rioting, the videos have mobilized white militia and vigilante groups to take up arms against Black Lives Matter and ‘antifa’ protesters,” Donovan wrote. “This feedback circuit has created a self-fulfilling cycle where white vigilantes feel justified in menacing and physically attacking racial justice protesters — and inspire others to do the same.”

Rittenhouse’s legal team made a similar argument in a strange promotional video laying out his claim to have acted in self-defense. The video suggested that his thinking was influenced by episodes of violence at left-wing protests that he’d seen on video.

“Did Kyle Rittenhouse have reason to believe his life was in danger?” the video’s narrator asks at a key moment. That question is answered with a montage of viral videos of violence from earlier in the summer, including D’Almeida’s video of the man being kicked in the face in Portland, Hernandez’s video of a Black woman tackling a white woman just before that incident, and Schaffer’s video of the man being pummeled in Dallas.

The sequence ends with video of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer who was gunned down by an avowed anti-fascist, Michael Reinoehl, in Portland. But the suggestion that Danielson’s murder might have contributed to Rittenhouse’s fear of left-wing violence is clearly false, since that killing, the first by a self-described anti-fascist in 27 years, took place on August 29, four days after Rittenhouse shot the three protesters in Kenosha, killing two of them.

In other words, even when the Riot Squad videographers accurately record unrest they witness, their selective focus on unrest after police shootings helps conservative outlets demonize Black Lives Matter protesters.

For a textbook example of how this works, look at how the Riot Squad covered a racial justice protest in Philadelphia last October, a week before the election.

Leaving a Peaceful Protest to Film Looting Across Town

Protests erupted in West Philadelphia after a bystander filmed the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man whose family said he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

That night, after the police clashed with protesters in the neighborhood, there was some vandalism and looting, which Wallace’s family forcefully condemned.

The next night, Schaffer, Rosas, Ventura, Talcott, and McGinniss were all on hand to film protesters rallying peacefully at a park in West Philadelphia and then march to a police station. They filmed a tense face-off between protesters and a line of officers outside the station, but since there was no violence, only one of their clips got any traction on social media: video of a woman screaming a racial epithet at the police.

Later that night, there were minor skirmishes in West Philadelphia, but by then the Riot Squad had left the protest and driven across the city to cover a more telegenic scene: the mass looting of a shopping center 10 miles away.

Image
Jorge Ventura Media
@VenturaReport
BREAKING -- Hundreds of looters break into stores on a strip mall on Aramingo Avenue in #Philadelphia
7:04 PM Oct 27, 2020


As Talcott and Rosas filmed inside a ransacked Five Below discount store there, looters could be heard telling Schaffer to stop recording them and then seen punching him in the mouth.

Image
Shelby Talcott @Shelby Talcott Oct 27, 2020
Replying to @ShelbyTalcott
This standoff remains tense but not violent in this area -- both sides holding. I've seen police take away one individual, but didn't see what prompted the arrest.
Shelby Talcott
@ShelbyTalcott
Mass looting across the river and @ElijahSchaffer just got beaten up for filming. This is inside the Five Below store. Police are in the same parking lot near the Walmart, but there seems to be too many looters
6:45 PM Oct 27, 2020


Image
Julio Rosas @Julio_Rosas11 Oct 27, 2020
Replying to @Julio_Rosas11
The BLM crowd marched as close as they could to the Philadelphia Police 18th District. Police in riot gear stopped them from getting closer.
Julio Rosas
@Julio_Rosas11
Stores being looted in Philadelphia while police are guarding the Walmart that was looted earlier.
6:42 PM Oct 27, 2020


That video of Schaffer being assaulted was viewed over 1 million times, as was a clip in which he wrongly identified his assailants as “Black Lives Matter protesters.”

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ELIJAH SCHAFFER @ElijahSchaffer Oct 27, 2020
BREAKING: I was jumped by BLM rioters while they were looting ore than a dozen stores,
Including Wal-Matt, T-Mobile, & 5-below
Though in pain, I didn't stop reporting because
Americans need to see what the corporate media refuses to show
ELIJAH SCHAFFER
@ElijahSchaffer
PHILADELPHIA: This is the footage I was recording when BLM assaulted me.
Other journalists were filming but I was the only white person in the store
I do believe I was targeted for being white as they accused me of being a white supremacist
& did not attack people of color
7:47 PM Oct 27, 2020


“What happened,” Schaffer told viewers, “is I just went into the Five Below to see what was going on with some of the looting, and I was jumped by the Black Lives Matter protesters, who immediately started punching and kicking me.”

In fact, as Talcott later acknowledged in an interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the videographers had to drive 30 minutes away from the protest by Wallace’s neighbors, in West Philadelphia, to film at the retail center in another part of the city, where there were no protesters, only looters taking advantage of the overwhelmed police force.

But the viral video of the attack on Schaffer struck a nerve with conservative viewers and helped make the looting in one part of the city, not the peaceful protest in another, the focus of days of misleading, politicized coverage on Fox.

Following Schaffer’s lead, Carlson even referred to the looters in Philadelphia as “more than a thousand BLM activists — Joe Biden voters.”

Embedded With the Pro-Trump Thugs

While their work is mainly used to undermine left-wing protesters, Kenosha isn’t the only place Riot Squad videographers have captured images of right-wing political violence.

After a pro-Trump rally in Washington in December, D’Almeida, Gutenschawger, and Talcott recorded a mob of Proud Boys ripping Black Lives Matter banners from Black churches and trashing or burning them.

Image
Kalen From Scriberr
@FromKalen
This happened right in front of me.
Scriberr News @ScriberrNews
Saturday Dec. 13th, Proud Boys in Washington, DC tore down a Black Lives Matter from the front of Metropolitan African Methodist Church during a late night march through the city.
4:27 AM Dec 14, 2020


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Brendan Gutenschwater
@BGOnTheScene
Proud Boys tear down another Black Lives Matter board from the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church #DC #MarchForTrump #DefendDC @ProudBoys
8:53 PM Dec 12, 2020 from Washington, DC


Image
Shelby Talcott @ShelbyTalcott Dec 12, 2020
Replying to @ShelbyTalcott
Proud Boys sitting outside of Harry's cheer as more members come down the street with a large BLM banner.
Shelby Talcott
@ShelbyTalcott
The Proud Boys and Trump supporters burn the BLM banner while chanting and cheering in downtown DC:
6:55 PM Dec 12, 2020


And on January 6, Gutenschwager’s viral video of Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola using a stolen police riot shield to break a window and gain entry into the Capitol was one of the iconic images of the day. It was later used to indict Pezzola, and it was screened by the House managers at Trump’s impeachment trial.

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Brendan Gutenschwater
@BGOnTheScene
Trump supporters break into the U.S. Capitol Building after storming the police line here in Washington #DC #Trump #DC Rally #BreakingNews
12:39 PM Jan 6, 2020 from Washington, DC


Nearby, Hernandez filmed Trump supporters described as “patriots” attacking the police.

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Drew Hernandez
@DrewHLive
DC: Patriots storm the capital of the USA #Tatumreport
11:49 AM Jan 6, 2021


Schaffer tweeted viral footage of police lines being breached and then followed people he called “revolutionaries” into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

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ELIJAH SCHAFFER
@ElijahSchaffer
IMPORTANT: this is exact moment the siege of the Capitol building began as the two men in front ripped down a preliminary barrier & rushed officers who were behind a 2nd barrier
They then encouraged others to follow their lead. Officers appeared to be taken completely off guard
4:46 PM Jan 6, 2021


Image
ELIJAH SCHAFFER
@ElijahSchaffer
IMPORTANT: This is a video I captured inside on of the offices of Nancy Pelosi after dozens of alleged Trump supporters occupied it
It seems that staff left in such a hurry that they forgot to lock the doors because there were not signs of forced entry
Some vandalized it
12:44 PM Jan 7, 2020


Rosas showed Trump cultists battering the doors of the Capitol and then trashing the camera equipment of television crews trying to report on the raid.

Image
Julio Rosas @Julio_Rosas11
Rioter uses a metal barricade to try to break open a Capitol building door.
Julio Rosas
@Julio_Rosas11
Rioters just mobbed camera crews and destroyed their equipment.
2:58 PM Jan 6, 2021


McGinniss ended up scoring a viral hit with a friendly interview of a Trump supporter smoking a joint under the Capitol dome.

Image
Richie McG @RichieMcGinniss Jan 6, 2021
Replying to @RichieMcGinniss
Once the doors were secured, we were pushed back into The Capitol Dome
Richie McG
@RichieMcGinniss
A man lit up a doobie under the Capitol Dome
4:18 PM Jan 6, 2021 from United States Capitol Rotunda


Still, on Fox News and elsewhere inside the conservative media bubble, all this video evidence of right-wing violence was not used to vilify the rioters the way that clips of far less significant events at left-wing protests were last summer.

Left-Wing Activists Target Riot Squad Video Journalists

While the Riot Squad video journalists are still mostly unknown to people who are not addicted to Fox News, some of their faces have become familiar to left-wing activists. That’s led to the violent suppression of their reporting on more than one occasion in recent months.

At an anti-eviction protest in Detroit in April, several activists tried to stop Gutenschwager from filming, blocking his lens and ordering him to leave. As Gutenschwager objected, one of them, a man wearing a pin with an anti-fascist symbol on it, replied: “Get out of here you fucking Nazi.”

Image
Brendan Gutenschwater
@BGOnTheScene
Just got assaulted attempting to cover an anti-eviction march in Detroit this afternoon. A member of the protest 'security' ran up, grabbed my camera and forced me against a building #Detroit #DetroitProtests
12:05 PM Apr 10, 2021 from Detroit, MI


When Gutenschwager asked what he had done, another activist, who was livestreaming the protest himself, replied: “Dude, you were in the Capitol!”

Image
Brendan Gutenschwager
@BGOnTheScene
Just got assaulted attempting to cover an anti-eviction march in Detroit this afternoon. A member of the protest 'security' ran up, grabbed my camera and forced me against a building #Detroit #DetroitProtests
12:05 PM Apr 10, 2021 from Detroit, MI


Moments later, an activist photographer got in Gutenschwager’s face and told him: “You’re not fucking welcome here.”

Image
Brendan Gutenschwater @BGOnTheScene Apr 10, 2021
Replying to @BGOnTheScene
A man wearing an Antifa pin committed the first assault during the march. Camera stopped a few times while he attempted to steal it. Eventually, others in the group urged him aside to release me from against the building. #Detroit #Antifa #DetroitProtests
Brendan Gutenschwater
@BGOnTheScene
"You're not f***ing welcome here." A man wearing a Press patch then accosts me and tries to force me to leave, as the crowd marched through Greektown in Detroit @Detroit @DetroitProtests
12:25 PM Apr 10, 2021 from Detroit, MI


The left-wing livestreamer then made it plain to his own viewers that he knew Gutenschwager’s work by referring to him, imprecisely, by his Twitter handle. “So this is BGOonTheScene. He’s not welcome here,” the man said, as he filmed Gutenschwager from close range. “He’s not welcome here and he continues to be here, ’cause this guy was in the Capitol building on the 6th.”

According to Gutenschwager, he was then slammed into a barrier by another man, who put him in a chokehold, bloodied his mouth, and hurled his camera over a fence.

Image
Brendan Gutenschwater @BGOnTheScene Apr 10, 2021
Replying to @BGOnTheScene
Was able to capture a brief portion showing the original purpose of today's demonstration, an anti-eviction march. The crowd chanted "Black homes are under attack, tell me what do we do, rise up fight back." #Detroit #DetroitProtests
Brendan Gutenschwager
@BGOnTheScene
A man rammed me against a concrete fence and barricade, bloodying my mouth and elbow as well as putting me in a chokehold while stealing my camera. That was then thrown over a fence, which I eventually was able to retrieve and continue recording #Detroit
12:45 PM Apr 10, 2021 from Detroit, MI


After he retrieved his camera, Gutenschwager was threatened by the activist photographer, who accused him of selling footage to Breitbart that could be used to identify protesters, opening them up to harassment.

There have been similarly troubling scenes at right-wing rallies, where Proud Boys and other militant right-wingers have attacked video journalists they suspect of being left-wing activists.

Image
Zane Sparling @PDXzane Sep 26, 2020
Replying to @PDXzane
Proud Boys waiting in line for Honey Buckets in Portland
Zane Sparling
@PDXzane
Man pushes live-streamer to the ground and kicks him in the face at Proud Boys is rally in Portland
12:58 PM Sep 26, 2020


At a Proud Boys rally in Portland last September, an armed man even told the videographer Ford Fischer, who is suspected by some on the left of harboring right-wing sympathies, “We know that you’re antifa.”

Image
Ford Fischer @FordFischer Sep 26, 2020
Replying to @FordFischer
"Kyle's life matters" says one sign borrowing the Black Lives Matter style/font
Ford Fischer
@FordFischer
Ok, I hate that I have to do this, but here an explainer of what just happened to those who saw some people come up on me earlier.
"We know that you're antifa" claimed armed security for the event, demanding I leave.
2:13 PM Sep 26, 2020 from Portland, OR


Fischer, who was overheard in another videographer’s recording telling the right-wing security guards who wanted him to leave, “I’m, like, very friendly with a lot of people here,” tweeted that he was eventually saved by the Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio, who “told them I’m independent and to leave me alone.”

Kalen D’Almeida’s Cover Gets Blown

In this hyperpartisan environment, activists on both the right and the left fear that video will be used against them and are increasingly trying to insist that their events should be documented only by like-minded videographers.

That’s one of the main reasons that so much of the video of the right-wing raid on the Capitol was recorded by people who at least seemed to the participants to be on their side.

Two months before the attack on Gutenschwager, right-wing protesters in Huntington Beach, California, even tried to stop D’Almeida from filming their rally, accusing him of being “antifa” because he was dressed in black and wearing a mask.

The confused face-off amused left-wing activists monitoring a right-wing livestream of the rally in support of Tito Ortiz, a former MMA fighter-turned-city council member who has been leading local conservative resistance to mask-wearing and racial justice protests.

Image
Borrachinha Depot
@FullContactMTWF
At the Tito Ortiz protest, a conservative journalist got accused of being Antifa by other conservatives
9:01 AM Feb 11, 2021


“You’re filming us, and you’re trying to dox us, so why are you doing that? You’re not welcome here,” a rally organizer with a bullhorn told D’Almeida. “How about you leave. We don’t want lying journalists like you. Get out of here, scum.”

D’Almeida, who had spent months posing as a supporter of left-wing protests in order to undermine them, tried to signal to this crowd that he was on their side. “Does anyone want to look me up right now?” he said. “My name’s Kalen D’Almeida, I’m a reporter. I’ve been retweeted by Donald Trump.”

When one right-wing protester asked who D’Almeida worked for, he named the news site he founded with two graduates of a Christian college outside Los Angeles. “Scriberr News,” D’Almeida said. “We’re out of Fountain Valley, we’re nonpartisan.”

“Nonpartisan? What does that mean?” the man with the bullhorn asked skeptically.

In April, D’Almeida ran into more serious trouble when he was recognized by people on the left who are familiar with his work while livestreaming a Black Lives Matter march for Daunte Wright in Los Angeles.

Image
Chad Loder
@chadloder
Right-wing propagandist and Proud Boy simp Kalen D'Almeida tried to infiltrate the Daunte Wright protest in Los Angeles tonight. Looks like it did not go well for him.
11:13 PM Apr 15, 2021


After one protester snatched D’Almedia’s cellphone, video from a left-wing livestreamer showed that other marchers surrounded him and jeered at him to leave. “Nazis go home! Nazis fuck off!” protesters chanted as D’Almeida was surrounded. “Get the fuck out of here you piece of shit!”

D’Almeida was then punched and briefly knocked out, before a female protester intervened. Another undercover right-wing videographer, Tomas Morales, showed that before the woman sent D’Almeida on his way, she scolded him for undermining the protest movement.

“Listen, people are fighting for their fucking lives, this is not a joke. Leave us the fuck alone! Look at my face. I saved you this time,” the woman told D’Almeida.

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Tomas Morales
@TomasMorales_iv
Aftermath footage of @FromKalen getting knocked out by BLM/Antifa in Hollywood.
A protestor yells in his face & slaps him (look closely) "I saved you this time"
Police were close to the situation.
2:59 AM Apr 16, 2021


As he rose uneasily to his feet and tried to get his bearings, the woman pushed D’Almeida away. “Get the fuck out of here,” she told him. “’Cause this is your last chance. You’re lucky. Get out of here.”

One left-wing activist suggested later that D’Almeida had brought the attack on himself by acting more like an undercover political operative looking for dirt on the protesters than a truly nonpartisan journalist. “Don’t be a fucking fascist and this shit wouldn’t happen, Kalen,” the activist tweeted at D’Almeida. “Fascism is an extremely poor life choice.”

The next day, left-wing activists in Portland assaulted a well-regarded local video journalist — apparently for failing to accede to demands to “protect” protesters who wanted to conceal their identities from right-wing enemies. In Oakland that night, a left-wing blogger reported that he was harassed by protesters for just having a camera, and witnessed assaults on two other photographers.

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Mitch O'Farrell Hates Freedom
@desertborder
Jfc man Oakland black bloc is way too touchy about cameras. Like, I get it, but if people are operating in good faith then maybe try talking to them first before just kicking their ass? Fash propagandists are a different story of course but if it's a friendly journo...
LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH @LCRWnews
Replying to @LCRWnews
Well I lost 'em. I dunno maybe I should just go home. Yeah fuck this. I saw two people get assaulted not for getting in peoples faces and filming but for just having fucking cameras in their hands... while they just *let* And for fucking what?

9:32 PM Apr 16, 2021


Violence against journalists, even ones operating in bad faith, is inexcusable. Unfortunately, videographers like D’Almeida have contributed to an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust, making assaults on journalists more frequent. And this has also made the work of scrupulous and fair reporting on the politics that plays out on our streets much harder, and more dangerous.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Wed Jun 23, 2021 10:29 pm

A Court Ruled Rachel Maddow's Viewers Know She Offers Exaggeration and Opinion, Not Facts
"Maddow’s show is different than a typical news segment where anchors inform viewers about the daily news," an Obama-appointed judge ruled.

by Glenn Greenwald
Jun 22, 2021

Image
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on her program that a court ruled is understood even by her own viewers to offer exaggeration and opinion, not facts

MSNBC's top-rated host Rachel Maddow devoted a segment in 2019 to accusing the right-wing cable outlet One America News (OAN) of being a paid propaganda outlet for the Kremlin. Discussing a Daily Beast article which noted that one OAN reporter was a "Russian national” who was simultaneously writing copy for the Russian-owned outlet Sputnik on a freelance contract, Maddow escalated the allegation greatly into a broad claim about OAN's real identity and purpose: “in this case,” she announced, “the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda."

In response, OAN sued Maddow, MSNBC, and its parent corporation Comcast, Inc. for defamation, alleging that it was demonstrably false that the network, in Maddow's words, “literally is paid Russian propaganda." In an oddly overlooked ruling, an Obama-appointed federal judge, Cynthia Bashant, dismissed the lawsuit on the ground that even Maddow's own audience understands that her show consists of exaggeration, hyperbole, and pure opinion, and therefore would not assume that such outlandish accusations are factually true even when she uses the language of certainty and truth when presenting them (“literally is paid Russian propaganda").

In concluding that Maddow's statement would be understood even by her own viewers as non-factual, the judge emphasized that what Maddow does in general is not present news but rather hyperbole and exploitation of actual news to serve her liberal activism:

On one hand, a viewer who watches news channels tunes in for facts and the goings-on of the world. MSNBC indeed produces news, but this point must be juxtaposed with the fact that Maddow made the allegedly defamatory statement on her own talk show news segment where she is invited and encouraged to share her opinions with her viewers. Maddow does not keep her political views a secret, and therefore, audiences could expect her to use subjective language that comports with her political opinions.

Thus, Maddow’s show is different than a typical news segment where anchors inform viewers about the daily news.
The point of Maddow’s show is for her to provide the news but also to offer her opinions as to that news. Therefore, the Court finds that the medium of the alleged defamatory statement makes it more likely that a reasonable viewer would not conclude that the contested statement implies an assertion of objective fact.


The judge's observations about the specific segment at issue — in which Maddow accused a competitor of being “literally paid Russian propaganda" — was even more damning. Maddow's own viewers, ruled the court, not only expect but desire that she will not provide the news in factual form but will exaggerate and even distort reality in order to shape her opinion-driven analysis (emphasis added):

Viewers expect her to do so, as it is indeed her show, and viewers watch the segment with the understanding that it will contain Maddow’s “personal and subjective views” about the news. See id. Thus, the Court finds that as a part of the totality of the circumstances, the broad context weighs in favor of a finding that the alleged defamatory statement is Maddow’s opinion and exaggeration of the Daily Beast article, and that reasonable viewers would not take the statement as factual. . . .

Here, Maddow had inserted her own colorful commentary into and throughout the segment, laughing, expressing her dismay (i.e., saying “I mean, what?”) and calling the segment a “sparkly story” and one we must “take in stride.” For her to exaggerate the facts and call OAN Russian propaganda was consistent with her tone up to that point, and the Court finds a reasonable viewer would not take the statement as factual given this context. The context of Maddow’s statement shows reasonable viewers would consider the contested statement to be her opinion. A reasonable viewer would not actually think OAN is paid Russian propaganda, instead, he or she would follow the facts of the Daily Beast article; that OAN and Sputnik share a reporter and both pay this reporter to write articles. Anything beyond this is Maddow’s opinion or her exaggeration of the facts.


In sum, ruled the court, Rachel Maddow is among those “speakers whose statements cannot reasonably be interpreted as allegations of fact.” Despite Maddow's use of the word "literally” to accuse OAN of being a "paid Russian propaganda” outlet, the court dismissed the lawsuit on the ground that, given Maddow's conduct and her audience's awareness of who she is and what she does, “the Court finds that the contested statement is an opinion that cannot serve as the basis for a defamation claim."

What makes this particularly notable and ironic is that a similar argument was made a year later by lawyers for Fox News when defending a segment that appeared on the program of its highest-rated program, Tucker Carlson Tonight. That was part of a lawsuit brought by the former model Karen McDougal, who claimed Carlson slandered her by saying she “extorted” former President Trump by demanding payments in exchange for her silence about an extramarital affair she claimed to have with him.

McDougal's lawsuit was dismissed in September, 2020, by Trump-appointed judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, based on arguments made by Fox's lawyers that were virtually identical to those made by MSNBC's lawyers when defending Maddow.
In particular, the court accepted Fox's arguments that when Carlson used the word “extortion,” he meant it in a colloquial and dramatic sense, and that his viewers would have understood that he was not literally accusing her of a crime but rather offering his own subjective characterizations and opinions, particularly since viewers understand that Carlson offers political commentary:

Fox News first argues that, viewed in context, Mr. Carlson cannot be understood to have been stating facts, but instead that he was delivering an opinion using hyperbole for effect. See Def. Br. at 12-15. Fox News cites to a litany of cases which hold that accusing a person of “extortion” or “blackmail” simply is “rhetorical hyperbole,” incapable of being defamatory. . . .

In particular, accusations of “extortion,” “blackmail,” and related crimes, such as the statements Mr. Carlson made here, are often construed as merely rhetorical hyperbole when they are not accompanied by additional specifics of the actions purportedly constituting the crime. . . . Such accusations of crimes also are unlikely to be defamatory when, as here, they are made in connection with debates on a matter of public or political importance. . . . The context in which the offending statements were made here make it abundantly clear that Mr. Carlson was not accusing Ms. McDougal of actually committing a crime. As a result, his statements are not actionable.


When discussing Carlson's show generally and how viewers understand it, the court used language extremely similar to that invoked to protect Maddow from defamation lawsuits: namely, that Fox viewers understand that Carlson is, in addition to presenting news, offering his own subjective analysis of it:

In light of this precedent and the context of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the Court finds that Mr. Carlson’s invocation of “extortion” against Ms. McDougal is nonactionable hyperbole, intended to frame the debate in the guest commentator segment that followed Mr. Carlson’s soliloquy. As Defendant notes, Mr. Carlson himself aims to “challenge[] political correctness and media bias.” Def. Br. at 14. This “general tenor” of the show should then inform a viewer that he is not “stating actual facts” about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in “exaggeration” and “non-literal commentary.”

Fox News has convincingly argued that Mr. Carlson was motivated to speak about a timely political cause and that, in this context, it is clear that his charge of “extortion” should not be interpreted as an accusation of an actual crime. Plaintiff’s interpretation of Mr. Carlson’s accusations is strained and, the Court finds, not reasonable when the entire segment is viewed in context. It is true that Mr. Carlson added color to his unsubstantiated rhetorical claim of extortion when he narrated that Ms. McDougal “approached” Mr. Trump and threatened his career and family. See Am. Compl. ¶ 10. But this overheated rhetoric is precisely the kind of pitched commentary that one expects when tuning in to talk shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight, with pundits debating the latest political controversies.


This is worth noting because of how often, and how dishonestly, this court case regarding Carlson is cited to claim that even Fox itself admits that its host is a liar who cannot be trusted. This court ruling has become a very common argument used by liberals to claim that even Fox acknowledges that Carlson lies. Indeed, Maddow's own colleague Chris Hayes — whose MSNBC program is broadcast at the same time as Carlson's and routinely attracts less than 1/3 of the Fox host's audience — has repeatedly cited this court case to argue that even Fox admits Carlson is a liar, without bothering to note that his companies’ lawyers made exactly the same claims about his mentor, Rachel Maddow, to defend her from a defamation lawsuit:

Twitter avatar for @chrislhayes
Chris Hayes
@chrislhayes
Similar to Fox News’ defense in court of Tucker Carlson: these people are obviously bullshit artists who no one should trust.

Kyle Cheney @kyledcheney
JUST IN: Chief of staff MEADOWS tells a court that Trump didn't mean it when he said he was ordering the declassification of all Russia-probe documents.
Trump was just referring to his delegation of declassification authority to AG Barr, Meadows says. https://t.co/jBAjKXWEAc
October 20th 2020
568 Retweets2,106 Likes


This claim — even Fox admits that Carlson is a liar who cannot be believed! — has become such a common trope among liberals that it is impossible to count how many times I have heard it. And that is because the liberal sector of the corporate media blared this claim in headlines over and over after the lawsuit against Fox was dismissed.

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-- You Literally Can't Believe the Facts Tucker Carlson Tells You. So Say Fox's Lawyers, by David Folkenflik, 9/29/20, NPR

-- Fox News won a court case by 'persuasively' arguing that no 'reasonable viewer' takes Tucker Carlson seriously, by Sonam Sheth, 9/25/20, Washington Post

-- Judge Rules Tucker Carlson is Not a Credible Source of News, by Elliot Hannon, 9/25/20, The Slatest

-- Sidney Powell's Tucker Carlson-esque defense: 'Reasonable people' wouldn't take her wild voter-fraud claims as fact, Except lots of Trump supporters clearly did, by Aaron Blake, 3/23/21, The Washington Post


It is virtually impossible to find similar headlines about Maddow even though the judicial rationale justifying dismissal of the lawsuit against her was virtually identical to the one used in Carlson's case. Indeed, lawyers for MSNBC and Fox cited most of the same legal precedent to defend their stars and to insist that their statements could not be actionable as defamation because viewers understood it as opinion rather than fact.

I personally agree with the rationale cited in both cases: it becomes dangerous when defamation claims are used to punish or otherwise forbid the expression of political opinion. And of course it is the job of lawyers to mount every possible argument when defending a client, which is why both MSNBC and Fox's lawyers essentially insisted that viewers of these programs understand that they are not being presented with objective truth and neutral news but political and subjective commentary. That is what made these widespread attempts to weaponize the ruling in Carlson's case so preposterous.

Indeed, it was Maddow's statement — that OAN is "literally paid Russian propaganda”— that seems far more actionable than Carlson's obviously figurative assertion that McDougal was "extorting” Trump. Falsely accusing people of being paid Kremlin agents has a long and ugly history in the U.S., having destroyed reputations and careers, yet this smear has once again become utterly commonplace in Democratic Party politics (a protracted and ugly feud among liberal commentators was initiated earlier this month when The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur baselessly and falsely claimed that journalist Aaron Maté was "paid by the Russians”).

But whatever else is true, those who want to claim that this court ruling proves Carlson is a lying propagandist who cannot be trusted have no way out of applying the same claim to Maddow. In both cases, it would be unfair and irrational to use these court rulings to suggest that, given that the arguments made were standard ones lawyers advance to defend a defamation defendant. Ironically, those most guilty of being unreliable liars and propagandists are those in the media and even Maddow's own MSNBC colleagues who repeatedly cite this court ruling to delegitimize Carlson without ever mentioning that Maddow’s lawyers successfully used the same arguments in her defense.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Mon Oct 25, 2021 11:54 am

In Just 21 Days, Facebook Led New India User to Porn, Fake News
by Saritha Rai
Bloomberg
Sat, October 23, 2021, 4:36 PM·6 min read

(Bloomberg) -- In February 2019, Facebook Inc. set up a test account in India to determine how its own algorithms affect what people see in one of its fastest growing and most important overseas markets. The results stunned the company’s own staff.

Within three weeks, the new user’s feed turned into a maelstrom of fake news and incendiary images. There were graphic photos of beheadings, doctored images of India air strikes against Pakistan and jingoistic scenes of violence. One group for “things that make you laugh” included fake news of 300 terrorists who died in a bombing in Pakistan.

“I’ve seen more images of dead people in the past 3 weeks than I’ve seen in my entire life total,” one staffer wrote, according to a 46-page research note that’s among the trove of documents released by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

The test proved telling because it was designed to focus exclusively on Facebook’s role in recommending content. The trial account used the profile of a 21-year-old woman living in the western India city of Jaipur and hailing from Hyderabad. The user only followed pages or groups recommended by Facebook or encountered through those recommendations. The experience was termed an “integrity nightmare,” by the author of the research note.

While Haugen’s disclosures have painted a damning picture of Facebook’s role in spreading harmful content in the U.S., the India experiment suggests that the company’s influence globally could be even worse. Most of the money Facebook spends on content moderation is focused on English-language media in countries like the U.S.

But the company’s growth largely comes from countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil, where it has struggled to hire people with the language skills to impose even basic oversight. The challenge is particularly acute in India, a country of 1.3 billion people with 22 official languages. Facebook has tended to outsource oversight for content on its platform to contractors from companies like Accenture.

"We’ve invested significantly in technology to find hate speech in various languages, including Hindi and Bengali,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “As a result, we’ve reduced the amount of hate speech that people see by half this year. Today, it’s down to 0.05 percent. Hate speech against marginalized groups, including Muslims, is on the rise globally. So we are improving enforcement and are committed to updating our policies as hate speech evolves online."

The new user test account was created on Feb. 4, 2019 during a research team’s trip to India, according to the report. Facebook is a “pretty empty place” without friends, the researchers wrote, with only the company’s Watch and Live tabs suggesting things to look at.

“The quality of this content is... not ideal,” the report said. When the video service Watch doesn’t know what a user wants, “it seems to recommend a bunch of softcore porn,” followed by a frowning emoticon.

The experiment began to turn dark on Feb. 11, as the test user started to explore content recommended by Facebook, including posts that were popular across the social network. She began with benign sites, including the official page of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and BBC News India.

Then on Feb. 14, a terror attack in Pulwama in the politically sensitive Kashmir state killed 40 Indian security personnel and injured dozens more. The Indian government attributed the strike to a Pakistan terrorist group. Soon the tester’s feed turned into a barrage of anti-Pakistan hate speech, including images of a beheading and a graphic showing preparations to incinerate a group of Pakistanis.

There were also nationalist messages, exaggerated claims about India’s air strikes in Pakistan, fake photos of bomb explosions and a doctored photo that purported to show a newly-married army man killed in the attack who’d been preparing to return to his family.


Many of the hate-filled posts were in Hindi, the country’s national language, escaping the regular content moderation controls at the social network. In India, people use a dozen or more regional variations of Hindi alone. Many people use a blend of English and Indian languages, making it almost impossible for an algorithm to sift through the colloquial jumble. A human content moderator would need to speak several languages to sieve out toxic content.

“After 12 days, 12 planes attacked Pakistan,” one post exulted. Another, again in Hindi, claimed as “Hot News” the death of 300 terrorists in a bomb explosion in Pakistan. The name of the group sharing the news was “Laughing and things that make you laugh.” Some posts containing fake photos of a napalm bomb claimed to be India’s air attack on Pakistan reveled, “300 dogs died. Now say long live India, death to Pakistan.”

The report -- entitled “An Indian test user’s descent into a sea of polarizing, nationalist messages” -- makes clear how little control Facebook has in one of its most important markets.
The Menlo Park, California-based technology giant has anointed India as a key growth market, and used it as a test bed for new products. Last year, Facebook spent nearly $6 billion on a partnership with Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia, who leads the Reliance conglomerate. “This exploratory effort of one hypothetical test account inspired deeper, more rigorous analysis of our recommendation systems, and contributed to product changes to improve them,” the Facebook spokeswoman said. “Our work on curbing hate speech continues and we have further strengthened our hate classifiers, to include four Indian languages."

But the company has also repeatedly tangled with the Indian government over its practices there. New regulations require that Facebook and other social media companies identify individuals responsible for their online content -- making them accountable to the government. Facebook and Twitter Inc. have fought back against the rules. On Facebook’s WhatsApp platform, viral fake messages circulated about child kidnapping gangs, leading to dozens of lynchings across the country beginning in the summer of 2017, further enraging users, the courts and the government.

The Facebook report ends by acknowledging its own recommendations led the test user account to become “filled with polarizing and graphic content, hate speech and misinformation.” It sounded a hopeful note that the experience “can serve as a starting point for conversations around understanding and mitigating integrity harms” from its recommendations in markets beyond the U.S.

“Could we as a company have an extra responsibility for preventing integrity harms that result from recommended content?,” the tester asked.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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