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On 11/26/2016, Michael wrote:
You made the list of Russian propaganda websites! Congratulations comrade! I say this in jest of course, as the zionist jews have gone off the rails...ran over by the Trump train and real Americans riding along in his train cars.
I find it amusing and ironic that a website that has labeled itself "Your Friendly Neighborhood Propaganda Identification Service, Since 2016!" has made a list of "alleged" fake news and Russian propaganda sites. Since 2016! Wow such a long history of expertise! HA!! (when you read Ha think of it in a Russian sounding voice for effect!)...propornot no doubt a site made by a Hillary lackey or paid troll from Soros. But my best guess is that its some ziojew who's seen their mainscream media "power" wither on the vine this election cycle. That is not "Russian propaganda" either. Niet!! Niet!!! NEIT!!!
I see they have this so-called "YYY" campaign...where they put 3 Y's at the beginning and end of a site...to identify it as "Russian propaganda"...again another Ha! They are copying the alt-right when they started putting(((insert ziopresstitute's name here))) to identify the jews in "Mainscream" media that are the true propagandists and shills and liars.
A quick whois of propornot https://www.whois.net/default.aspx of course they don't want their name public. Oh, the irony. There to tell people what is propaganda, yet cannot give their real name! Again HA!!! Way to stand by your "propaganda" propornot.com...something about don't build houses on sand!
Finally...I must end with this piece of comedy gold...because I nearly spit out my coffee when I read this on their site:
"PropOrNot is a Resource" (ha! talk about a contradiction!)
"We at PropOrNot are assembling tools and information to help identify and neutralize Russian propaganda." (Oi vey!!)
"We are not waiting for an official response, and we need your help! Obtain news from actual reporters, who report to an editor and are professionally accountable for mistakes. We suggest NPR, the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, VICE, etc, and especially your local papers and local TV news channels. Support them by subscribing, if you can!"
Ken, can you believe this? You can't make this up!!! I believe it was the Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff who ended his jokes with "only in America! What a country!" Perhaps with all this comedy on propornot that the owner of the site is really Yakov Smirnoff! But he was actually funny...these ziojews...are not. They are evil and wicked, and God's judgment will soon be upon them. Israel is already in flames.
Be careful out there, Ken, the zios are now fully rabid rats.
Thanks very much for letting me know. I had no idea until hearing from you. I will post your email along with an article on this web site.
You can take it to the bank that Talmudic-inspired Zionist minions are behind this effort as they specialize in working from behind the curtain, with no author attribution to any posted text, no email addresses, and use of proxy servers to hide their identity and location.
I'm amazed at the lack of subtlety and desperation in these people to get you to stop looking at the man behind the curtain and instead urge you to look up at the big screen with The Great Oz and all his approved presstitutes from NPR, the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, etc., etc. In fact, this web site is so far over the top, I wonder if the whole thing is a put on? Can they really be this lame and desperate?
I guess it's a badge of recognition to be included on this list of 200 Russian Propaganda web sites. I feel I should salute all my Propaganda comrades who made the list - Nostrovia!
Ironically, the list does provide a nice compilation of web sites that apparently the Zionists find most annoying in advancing their world takeover agenda, so it gives us Goyim an opportunity to take a look at what these comrades have to say - Nostrovia!
Thanks again Michael.
Warm Regards, Ken
On 12/3/2016, Michael wrote:
You're welcome, Ken! I pray for everyone in the movement against these satanic minions. As I type this, I read an article where they magically found 22,000 votes for Hellary and none for Trump. Statistically speaking...that is impossible...as in zero chance to have a recount and no votes found for Trump.
They have fixed it after the fact. This is the highest of treason. If they (the talmudic satanists and minions) want civil war, they will get it...but the outcome will not be what they expect.
Yes, I heard that on the Alex Jones show. I wouldn't be too worried. What we are witnessing since the election is the depth of panic which the Leftist, communist arm of Zionism is feeling and they're just lashing out with infantile, irrational and desperate attempts to recapture the public's attention since the MSM is now toast and the rise of alternative media news sites on the internet has taken the lead. It you take the time to look at the alexa.com traffic on each of those 200 web sites listed by PropOrNot.com, you will notice that most of them have increased traffic by a factor of two or three times in the past few months. Here's the traffic bump I noticed with my site:
The Alex Jones show is now getting more daily traffic than CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, Wall St Journal, Washington Post, etc., etc. This is a BIG change. The Zionist-controlled MSM is no longer the dominant source of news. They destroyed what little credibility they had with this election. When is the last time you bought a newspaper to read? Who goes to CNN's web site to get the news?
No one is listening to the big media outlets who were so obviously in bed with Hillary (an horrendous image in itself) and doing nothing but demonizing Trump both before and after the election. The Zio MSM has probably lost 80% of their audience in the past year because of their unprecedented display of corruption and bias in backing Hillary. You can't get it back after the public dumps you. I stopped listening to Amy Goodman around 2005 or 2006 because I just couldn't stand to continue to listen to her gatekeeper BS day after day. I stopped watching TV in 2009 when they tuned off the analog transmitters. We haven't missed it at all. Who needs it? A Wasteland of stupidity and vulgarity.
You can find articles like these for every major MSM newspaper in America:
The ZioNerds who put up web sites like Propornot have no desire to fight anybody in a civil war. They don't think that way. They're parasites by nature and want to gain dominance through stealth, deception, and usury debt. Zionists prefer to con the Goyim into doing their fighting for them - and have the US taxpayer, of course, shell out from their pockets the 3.5 Billion yearly military "aid" to help Israel's IDF goons brutalize dirt poor, defenseless Palestinians, while American veterans sleep under bridges and our infrastructure is crumbling.
The tide is turning though, and the publication of this lengthy list of "Russian propaganda" web sites makes it abundantly clear that more and more people are coming to recognize just who is behind the propaganda campaigns to agitate for 'regime change' wars in the Middle East and who is trying to subvert, undermine and destroy the Bill of Rights foundation of America in order to bring in their JWO.
As was demonstrated with the Trump win - against all expectations - a sleeping giant has awoken in America and it's the determination of the America People to overcome the evildoers of Zion and its World Conquerors takeover agenda.
Russians spread “fake news,” says “experts”—you don’t need to know who they are (Washington Post, 11/24/16).
The Washington Post (11/24/16) last week published a front-page blockbuster that quickly went viral: Russia-promoted “fake news” had infiltrated the newsfeeds of 213 million Americans during the election, muddying the waters in a disinformation scheme to benefit Donald Trump. Craig Timberg’s story was based on a “report” from an anonymous group (or simply a person, it’s unclear) calling itself PropOrNot that blacklisted over 200 websites as agents or assets of the Russian state.
The obvious implication was that an elaborate Russian psyop had fooled the public into voting for Trump based on a torrent of misleading and false information posing as news. Everyone from Bloomberg’s Sahil Kupar to CNN’s to Robert Reich to Anne Navarro to MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid tweeted out the story in breathless tones. Center for American Progress and Clinton advocate Neera Tanden even did her best Ron Paul YouTube commenter impression, exclaiming, “Wake up people.”
But the story didn’t stand up to the most basic scrutiny. Follow-up reporting cast major doubt on the Washington Post’s core claims and underlying logic, the two primary complaints being 1) the “research group” responsible for the meat of the story, PropOrNot, is an anonymous group of partisans (if more than one person is involved) who tweet like high schoolers, and 2) the list of supposed Russian media assets, because its criteria for Russian “fake news” encompasses “useful idiots,” includes entirely well-within-the-mainstream progressive and libertarian websites such as Truth-Out, Consortium News, TruthDig and Antiwar.com (several of whom are now considering lawsuits against PropOrNot for libel).
PropOrNot says their criteria for “Russian propaganda” is “behavioral” and “motivation-agnostic,” so even those who publish views that simply coincide with the Russian government’s, regardless of intent or actual links to Russia, are per se Kremlin assets—an absurd metric that casts a net so wide as to render the concept meaningless.
Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton of The Intercept (11/26/16) called PropOrNot “amateur peddlers of primitive, shallow propagandistic clichés” who were “engaging in extremely dubious McCarthyite tactics about a wide range of critics and dissenters.” Fortune magazine’s Matthew Ingram (11/25/16) insisted the report had the “beginnings of a conspiracy theory, rather than a scientific analysis,” while AlterNet’s Max Blumenthal (11/26/16) lamented that “insiders have latched onto a McCarthyite campaign that calls for government investigations of a wide array of alternative media outlets.”
The vast majority of reporters would have needed to see something a lot more concrete than a half-assed theoretical paper from such a dicey source before denouncing 200 news organizations as traitors.
Almost everyone outside of the Washington Post who critically examined the list concluded it was at best shoddy and ill-considered, and at worst a deliberate attempt to encourage a chilling effect on Russia-related reporting. That a group of Cold Warrior hacks would publish such a blacklist is not a surprise; that one of the most established names in American news would uncritically parrot it was. Its reporting, writing-up and referencing is a prime example of how fake real news on real fake news spreads without question.
USA Today (11/25/16), Gizmodo (11/25/16), PBS (11/25/16), The Daily Beast (11/25/16), Slate (11/25/16), AP (11/25/16) The Verge (11/25/16) and NPR (11/25/16) all uncritically wrote up the Post’s most incendiary claims with little or minimal pushback. Gizmodo was so giddy its original headline had to be changed from “Research Confirms That Russia Played a Major Role in Spreading Fake News” to “Research Suggests That Russia Played a Major Role in Spreading Fake News,” presumably after some polite commenters pointed out that the research “confirmed” nothing of the sort.
“Um ‘stories planted or promoted by the Russian disinformation campaign were viewed 213 million times,’” New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman (11/24/16) tweeted out to the tune of 2,800 retweets. But the report didn’t show this at all. There was no methodology provided, nor was there any consideration by Weisman that that “213 million” figure of Russian “fake news” included, for example, the third-most popular news site in the United States, the Drudge Report.
Drudge not only has no funding or backing from Putin, but predates his administration by several years. But because Drudge occasionally publishes stories that make the US look bad in relation to Russia, and because PropOrNot’s “useful idiots” criterion is “motivation-agnostic,” its entire footprint has become a “Russian disinformation campaign.” Did Weisman know this? Did he care?
As reports debunking or discrediting The List came out, the story continued to spread. Joy Ann Reid (Daily Beast, 11/27/16) alluded to the PropOrNot story to bolster her claim that there was an “alarming consensus of experts” that Russia interfered in the US election by “pumping of fake news and propaganda into the country’s digital bloodstream,” despite no such consensus existing. On Monday, Business Insider (11/28/16) insisted that PropOrNot’s “methods uncover some connections that merit consideration,” while citing only two examples and ignoring all of the major objections advanced by Greenwald, Taibbi et al. Rachel Maddow’s popular blog (MSNBC,11/28/16) added another breathless write-up hours later, repeating the catchy talking point that “it was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign.”
Despite respected media critics taking the report to task, the Post’s spurious claims are being cemented as conventional wisdom, all the while the writer of the story and his editor refuse to answer direct criticism or reveal who this anonymous person or persons is. What are their motives? Who are their funders? Why is “useful idiot” being propped up by a major news outlet as a useful distinction? Why weren’t those on the blacklist asked to comment? Despite numerous inquiries by The Intercept, Rolling Stone and The Nation (11/28/16), all these questions remain unanswered.
One would think reports on “fake news” would themselves be held to the highest possible editorial standards, if not out of some instinctual desire to avoid high doses of irony and cognitive dissonance, at least to shield against charges of blatant hypocrisy. But increasingly, as the moral panic surrounding “fake news” reaches fever pitch, the standards of skepticism and sourcing employed by some of our most trusted news sources have inversely sunk to tabloid levels.
Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst for FAIR.org.You can follow him on Twitter at @AdamJohnsonNYC.
In recent decades, the production of propaganda has boomed, but its quality has plummeted. If current trends continue, dire consequences may ensue that could undermine the ability of propaganda to hold together our complex society.
Propaganda has brought us so many good things: support for US entry into World War I, approval of interning Japanese residents during World War II, and more recently, the Iraq War, which liberated a nation from a tyrant as the first step toward bringing freedom and democracy to other oppressed Middle Eastern countries.
Good propaganda is like Muzak: pleasant, background noise that calms our frazzled nerves and lulls us into a sense of relaxation while waiting for an airline flight or a root canal. It helps us sort a complicated and changing world into friends and not-friends.
As the demand for propaganda has risen, though, quality has collapsed. Let’s look at a case study: a site that uses our name, but whose propaganda efforts failed even measured by today’s watered-down standards.
This “PropOrNot” attempted to link two of the hottest topics in the current propaganda world: fake news and Russian influence. The goal was to discredit “alternative” websites catering toward readers who think they are too good for propaganda. They began with a great idea and idealistic aspirations, but all was for nought due to incompetent execution.
Propaganda should aim for parsimony and elegance. Instead, PropOrNot made a series of critical blunders:
• It simultaneously attacked a huge number of targets at once.
• To be sure, it’s boring and routine, but it’s important for propagandists to make their views sound authoritative by putting them in the mouths of “independent” experts. PropOrNot instead cut corners, ascribing its views to anonymous volunteers.
• PropOrNot also kept its methodology secret, but then negated the benefits of this move by dropping hints that could be interpreted negatively by uncharitable observers.
• It openly expressed enthusiasm for government repression, instead of following tried and true approaches involving gradual consensus-building and the use of proxies.
• Unhelpful branding choices – it’s one thing to admire the efficacy of McCarthyite blacklisting and the dehumanization of Jews, but openly referencing them in language and iconography? It’s unclear what PropOrNot was thinking here.
• Descent into megalomania – when weaker targets sued for mercy, PropOrNot publicly gloated and announced that they would be removed from their List. Of course, the point of their project was not to “analyze Russian spy operations” but the respectable and time-honored one of chilling political discourse. Bragging about it should however have been postponed until after the initiative had succeeded.
Let’s consider each of these in detail:
Too Many Targets
PropOrNot would have had better luck if it had put together a more or less plausible list of actual Russia-sympathetic sites and then slipped in one or two sites that it was hoping to discredit.
However, it cast its net too wide. Although it did include a few actual Russian government-run websites (e.g. RT.com, Pravda.ru) on its list, PropOrNot also targeted:
While this wide range of targets produced a spectacular initial press release, the variety of sites named as “useful idiots” for the Russians caused the whole project to come off as unhinged (see for example here, here, here, and here). The targeted websites, which absent PropOrNot’s clumsiness might have been maneuvered into internecine struggles, instead largely closed ranks against what they melodramatically termed a “new McCarthyism.”
Relying on the Authority of a Black Box
Skilled propagandists enlist credentialed “experts” to promote their narratives. This is extremely easy to do in America, where a human being can often be had for a pittance.
In what looks in retrospect like simple cheapness, PropOrNot claimed that its views had expert authority, but it then refused to produce either the experts or a clear description of their methodology.
Additional messaging merely made matters worse. PropOrNot tried to supplement its faceless “contributors” with real-life entities that it called “allies,” but many of these complained. One, Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, tweeted that “No-one I’ve spoken to listed as ‘allies’ on their site had even heard of them before the WP piece,” and later pushed back further, calling PropOrNot a “pretty amateur attempt” whose work should not have been featured “on any news site of any note.”
When challenged on their anonymity, PropOrNot claimed that Russians agents were everywhere and they were terrified of retaliation. If most Americans believed that Putin was Emperor Palpatine and could strike at them anytime and anywhere, PropOrNot’s narrative might have carried conviction. Instead, they came off as cartoonish and disingenuous.
Unnecessary Candor On Methodology:
PropOrNot refused to disclose its methodology. There were some disadvantages and some advantages to this move. The advantages were however negated by PropOrNot’s inability to keep its mouth shut.
PropOrNot needlessly explained:
We have used a combination of manual and automated analysis […] to initially identify (“red-flag”) the following as Russian propaganda outlets. We then confirmed our initial assessment by applying whatever criteria we did not originally employ during the red-flag process, and we reevaluate our findings as needed.
Here PropOrNot, while using commendably bureaucratic language, was almost touchingly forthright. It said it used “automated” analysis and then supplemented its “initial assessment” with other “criteria,” “reevaluat[ing]” its results at will. In other words, it chose which sites to put on its List by fiat. And why not? But it’s not the sort of thing you should tell people.
PropOrNot didn’t stop there, but added:
For purposes of this definition it does not matter whether the sites listed here are being knowingly directed and paid by Russian intelligence officers, or whether they even knew they were echoing Russian propaganda at any particular point: If they meet [our] criteria, they are at the very least acting as bona-fide “useful idiots” of the Russian intelligence services, and are worthy of further scrutiny.
All PR professionals know that you should avoid saying things that can be repurposed negatively. PropOrNot ignored this rule, and thereby handed a gift to its enemies; one pair of journalists proceeded to characterize their methodology in the following undoubtedly unfair way:
In other words, the website conflates criticism of Western governments and their actions and policies with Russian propaganda. News sites that do not uncritically echo a pro-NATO perspective are accused of being mouthpieces for the Kremlin, even if only unwitting ones.
Advocating State Action Prematurely:
In its explanation of why its project was not “just McCarthyism,” PropOrNot proclaimed
[…] we are calling for formal investigations by the US government, because we think the American people have the right to know when foreign governments are trying to mess with them.
PropOrNot protested that it was “not accusing anyone of lawbreaking, treason, or ‘being a member of the Communist Party.’” It however stipulated:
We strongly suspect that some of the individuals involved have violated the Espionage Act, the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and other related laws, but determining that is up to the FBI and the DOJ.
The problem PropOrNot ran into here is that Americans are irrationally proud of slogans like “free speech” and “freedom of the press.” These legacy belief systems pose a considerable communications challenge to the successful propagandist. When, with obviously benevolent intentions, PropOrNot spoke of FBI and DOJ investigations of targeted sites, ignorant readers predictably responded with knee-jerk reactions to the effect that blacklisting is contrary to what America should stand for. Opposition to PropOrNot therefore mobilized in ways that a more deft rollout could have avoided.
Unhelpful Branding Choices
PropOrNot noticed that anti-Semitic sites sometimes dehumanize individuals of Jewish origin by bracketing their names in triple parentheses. Evidently impressed by the efficacy of this practice, PropOrNot advocated mimicking it: it encouraged its followers to dehumanize accused Russian propagandists by bracketing their names in triple Y’s (the “YYYCampaignYYY“).
The idea of “responding” to white supremacists by using their techniques on real enemies of the State did not sound fun or cool to anyone outside of PropOrNot. Even journalists who uncritically repeated PropOrNot’s claims did not start using the YYYs.
Meanwhile, PropOrNot referred to its 200 target websites as being “on the List,” and then went on to speak continually, in reverential tones, of “the List.” Any branding consultant would have told them not to go there, mainly because it just sounds menacing, but also given the obvious risk that audiences would start to view their efforts as McCarthyite blacklisting.
PropOrNot claimed that its goal was to ferret out a propaganda operation, “ultimately run” by Russian intelligence agency (the FSB); it said that many of the “agents” of this operation “know for whom they are working” while others are “useful idiots.”
However, when asked about the inclusion of the liberal site TruthDig on its list, PropOrNot gave a twofold response. On the one hand, it defended itself by citing four TruthDig articles it said were suspicious (two critical of US policy toward Russia, two criticizing claims about Russian influence over the recent election). At the same time, it announced cheerfully:
If truthdig.com were to reach out to us, though, we would probably have a constructive conversation with them that would result in their removal!
Good propaganda should be internally consistent. In the mental universe PropOrNot was trying to create, either TruthDig was or was not a Russian intelligence asset. If it was not, it should not have been on the List. If it was, then it should stay on the List, “constructive conversations” or no.
When PropOrNot made getting off the List conditional on targeted websites “reaching out” and having “constructive conversations,” PropOrNot started to look less like impartial “analysts” and more like eager would-be arbiters of what could be said and not said. This impression was only exacerbated when PropOrNot started celebrating early victories:
After productive conversations with several website operators, in which it became clear that they shared the same concerns we do and were interested in constructively moving forward, we removed them [from the List].
At the risk of repeating advice that every propagandist should know: never, never emphasize your ability to coerce others to do as you dictate.
The Bottom Line
PropOrNot made so many errors that it is astonishing that they got off the ground at all. This case study has been largely critical, but we would also like to give credit where credit is due. And in fact, PropOrNot managed to overcome some of the deficiencies in their content by leveraging their top notch social engineering abilities: the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg based an “expose” primarily on their work, and Slate, USA Today, NPR, PBS, the Daily Beast, and Rachel Maddow’s blog all echoed their conclusions uncritically.
We encourage PropOrNot to build on their promising start by treating this incident not as a failure, but as a learning experience. PropOrNot should analyze what aspects of their messaging were ineffective, and try to round out their skills into a more complete package. While we would be happy to give them pointers, other options are available as well. For example, they clearly respect Russian propagandists – why not ask the Kremlin for assistance?
After publishing a McCarthyistic “black list” that smears some 200 Web sites as “Russian propagandists,” The Washington Post refuses to apologize — and other mainstream media outlets pile on, writes Norman Solomon.
By Norman Solomon
We still don’t have any sort of apology or retraction from the Washington Post for promoting “The List” — the highly dangerous blacklist that got a huge boost from the newspaper’s fawning coverage on Nov. 24. The project of smearing 200 websites with one broad brush wouldn’t have gotten far without the avid complicity of high-profile media outlets, starting with the Post.
On Thursday — a week after the Post published its front-page news article hyping the blacklist that was put out by a group of unidentified people called PropOrNot — I sent a petition statement to the newspaper’s executive editor Martin Baron.
The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)
“Smearing is not reporting,” the RootsAction petition says. “The Washington Post’s recent descent into McCarthyism — promoting anonymous and shoddy claims that a vast range of some 200 websites are all accomplices or tools of the Russian government — violates basic journalistic standards and does real harm to democratic discourse in our country. We urge the Washington Post to prominently retract the article and apologize for publishing it.”
After mentioning that 6,000 people had signed the petition (the number has doubled since then), my email to Baron added: “If you skim through the comments that many of the signers added to the petition online, I think you might find them to be of interest. I wonder if you see a basis for dialogue on the issues raised by critics of the Post piece in question.”
The reply came from the newspaper’s vice president for public relations, Kristine Coratti Kelly, who thanked me “for reaching out to us” before presenting the Post’s response, quoted here in full:
“The Post reported on the work of four separate sets of researchers, as well as independent experts, who have examined Russian attempts to influence American democracy. PropOrNot was one. The Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list of organizations that it said had — wittingly or unwittingly — published or echoed Russian propaganda. The Post reviewed PropOrNot’s findings and our questions about them were answered satisfactorily during the course of multiple interviews.”
Full of Holes
But that damage-control response was as full of holes as the news story it tried to defend.
Russian President Vladimir Putin after the military parade on Red Square, May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from: http://en.kremlin.ru)
For one thing, PropOrNot wasn’t just another source for the Post’s story. As The New Yorker noted in a devastating article on Dec. 1, the story “prominently cited the PropOrNot research.” The Post’s account “had the force of revelation, thanks in large part to the apparent scientific authority of PropOrNot’s work: the group released a 32-page report detailing its methodology, and named names with its list of 200 suspect news outlets…. But a close look at the report showed that it was a mess.”
Contrary to the PR message from the Post vice president, PropOrNot did not merely say that the sites on its list had “published or echoed Russian propaganda.” Without a word of the slightest doubt or skepticism in the entire story, the Post summarized PropOrNot’s characterization of all the websites on its list as falling into two categories: “Some players in this online echo chamber were knowingly part of the propaganda campaign, the researchers concluded, while others were ‘useful idiots’ — a term born of the Cold War to describe people or institutions that unknowingly assisted Soviet Union propaganda efforts.”
As The New Yorker pointed out, PropOrNot’s criteria for incriminating content were broad enough to include “nearly every news outlet in the world, including the Post itself.” Yet “The List” is not a random list by any means — it’s a targeted mish-mash, naming websites that are not within shouting distance of the U.S. corporate and foreign policy establishment.
And so the list includes a few overtly Russian-funded outlets; some other sites generally aligned with Kremlin outlooks; many pro-Trump sites, often unacquainted with what it means to be factual and sometimes overtly racist; and other websites that are quite different — solid, factual, reasonable — but too progressive or too anti-capitalist or too libertarian or too right-wing or just plain too independent-minded for the evident tastes of whoever is behind PropOrNot.
As The New Yorker’s writer Adrian Chen put it: “To PropOrNot, simply exhibiting a pattern of beliefs outside the political mainstream is enough to risk being labeled a Russian propagandist.” And he concluded: “Despite the impressive-looking diagrams and figures in its report, PropOrNot’s findings rest largely on innuendo and conspiracy thinking.”
As for the Post vice president’s defensive phrasing that “the Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list,” the fact is that the Post unequivocally promoted PropOrNot, driving web traffic to its site and adding a hotlink to the anonymous group’s 32-page report soon after the newspaper’s story first appeared. As I mentioned in my reply to her: “Unfortunately, it’s kind of like a newspaper saying that it didn’t name any of the people on the Red Channels blacklist in 1950 while promoting it in news coverage, so no problem.”
As much as the Post news management might want to weasel out of the comparison, the parallels to the advent of the McCarthy Era are chilling. For instance, the Red Channels list, with 151 names on it, was successful as a weapon against dissent and free speech in large part because, early on, so many media outlets of the day actively aided and abetted blacklisting, as the Post has done for “The List.”
Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisconsin, who led the “Red Scare” hearings of the 1950s.
Consider how the Post story described the personnel of PropOrNot in favorable terms even while hiding all of their identities and thus shielding them from any scrutiny — calling them “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”
FAIR’s media analyst Adam Johnson cited enthusiastic responses to the bogus story from journalists like Bloomberg’s Sahil Kupar and MSNBC’s Joy Reid — and such outlets as USA Today, Gizmodo, the PBS NewsHour, The Daily Beast, Slate, AP, The Verge and NPR, which “all uncritically wrote up the Post’s most incendiary claims with little or minimal pushback.” On the MSNBC site, the Rachel Maddow Show’s blog “added another breathless write-up hours later, repeating the catchy talking point that ‘it was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign.’”
With so many people understandably upset about Trump’s victory, there’s an evident attraction to blaming the Kremlin, a convenient scapegoat for Hillary Clinton’s loss. But the Post’s blacklisting story and the media’s amplification of it — and the overall political environment that it helps to create — are all building blocks for a reactionary order, threatening the First Amendment and a range of civil liberties.
When liberals have green-lighted a witch-hunt, right wingers have been pleased to run with it. President Harry Truman issued an executive order in March 1947 to establish “loyalty” investigations in every agency of the federal government. Joe McCarthy and the era named after him were soon to follow.
In media and government, the journalists and officials who enable blacklisting are cravenly siding with conformity instead of democracy.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of the online activist group RootsAction.org. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
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