Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Is the Pentagon Behind the WaPo's Libelous Hit on Independent Journalism?


nationofchange |  The Washington Post article in question, written by Craig Timberg — surely either one of the most credulous and lazy journalists working in a major US news organization (and that’s really an accomplishment!), or a rank propagandist for the US government posing as a journalist at the Post — relied upon only two sources for his dramatic “exposé” purporting to prove that a massive Russian propaganda campaign had surreptitiously attempted to undermine (perhaps successfully!) the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and to throw the race to Donald Trump, at the same time undermining US foreign policy and faith in the US government while elevating the reputation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both sources are falsely described by Timberg as being “two teams of independent researchers.” The assumption we clearly are meant to have is that these organizations have no institutional bias.

In fact, the first of these sources, the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), turns out to be a hoary relic of the Cold War founded in 1955 by Robert Strausz-Hupé, an Austrian emigré and passionate anti-Communist. It has continued its anti-Russian propaganda stance since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 2002 death of its founder and now boasts on its board of trustees jailbait like former Reagan National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, a key player in the Reagan-era Iran Contra scandal who pleaded guilty to four counts of lying to Congress but was pardoned by President Reagan, arch-neocon and Russia-phobe Robert Kagan, a key promoter of the the US invasion or Iraq in 2003, and a whole host of other right-wing anti-Russian fanatics.

At least FRPI is willing to let people know who it is and who is running the joint. In contrast, the other of Timberg’s sources, PropOrNot, an organization with a website, PropOrNot.com, founded only several months ago, remains totally secret, providing no information on its site about its origins, its funding, its leadership or its staff. And yet Timberg confidently claims its information about Russia’s alleged epic propaganda effort was the result of the painstaking analytical work of these “experts.” In fact Timberg says the organization’s executive director, whom he quotes, asked for and received anonymity along with all his staff because they wanted to “avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.”

And the Post’s editors allow him to get away with this gutlessness and lack of transparency. To get the full picture of how credulous and unprofessional — or willfully biased — Timberg’s editors at the Washington Post (often still considered one of the nation’s top “newspapers of record”), were in not vetting his article, read the Intercept’s article Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist from a New, Hidden and Very Shady Group, which devastatingly eviscerates both PropOrNot and the Post.

Suffice to say that besides allowing Timberg to use as the key source of his article and dramatic media blacklist an anonymous and clearly partisan group, PropOrNot, the Post’s editors also never required their supposedly crack “technology reporter” to even attempt to contact a single editor or journalist at any of the named alleged purveyors or “useful idiots” he was accusing of secretly spreading Russian-sourced “false news.” There’s not even a perfunctory: “Efforts to contact the editors at Counterpunch were unsuccessful” in the entire piece. Timberg and the editors of a paper that once gave us the Watergate story that brought down President Richard Nixon clearly didn’t even consider such basics of journalism important!