Censorship, fake news, perception management

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue May 04, 2021 1:03 pm

If Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Case Is a ‘Non-Issue,’ Why Have Media Gone to Such Lengths to Silence Him?

WHYY: Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal rally on his 67th birthday for his release
WHYY (4/24/21)
Philadelphia public broadcaster WHYY (4/24/21) was one of the few outlets to report on an April 24 rally seeking the release from prison of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The story included important information on Abu-Jamal, who is serving a life sentence for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

It noted that the case has “drawn scrutiny” over claims of police, prosecutorial and judicial bias and misconduct. It cited new evidence released as part of the appeal process, including a note from a key prosecution witness asking the prosecuting attorney for money—the sort of evidence that Johanna Fernandez, a history professor and part of Abu-Jamal’s legal team, notes has in other instances led to a defendant either being set free or getting an immediate new trial.

Along with Fernandez, the piece includes the voices of Abu-Jamal’s brother Keith Cook, and MOVE member Pam Africa, as well as people who traveled from around the country to call attention to Abu-Jamal’s case, his current state of health—he has a number of debilitating conditions, and has just had heart surgery—and to put his story in a context of political prisoners here and around the world.

I confess I was still irked by WHYY using its lead paragraph to frame the story like this:

The case has pitted Abu-Jamal’s supporters, including a long list of national and international celebrities who say he was framed, against police and their supporters, who resent the attention given to a man convicted of murdering a fellow officer.

It bugs me, because those were the themes decades ago when Abu-Jamal was first convicted and sentenced to death (Voices With Vision, 4/27/21). That he was a “cause celebre”—and therefore, wink wink, something something about liberal Hollywood, no need to pay attention—and that the upset of anyone concerned about his deeply flawed trial or his inappropriate sentencing was merely theatrical, because, after all, he was “convicted,” wasn’t he?

Open to lies
Elite media at the time were open to straight-up lies: A 1995 Washington Post story (5/18/95) led with a macabre account from Faulkner’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, about how when her husband’s bloody shirt was held up in court, Abu-Jamal turned around and smiled at her. Except attorney Leonard Weinglass and the court record show that Abu-Jamal wasn’t in court when the shirt was displayed (Extra! Update, 8/95).
FAIR: The Media & Mumia: Were ABC and Vanity Fair Taken for a Ride?
ABC‘s 20/20 (7/11/99) returned to the Mumia Abu-Jamal story with a breathless report of an improbable jailhouse confession (FAIR.org, 8/11/99).
ABC‘s investigative news show 20/20 (12/9/98) employed a number of techniques for their big 1998 piece—stating prosecution claims as fact, even when they were disputed by some of the prosecution’s own witnesses or the forensic record; stressing how a defense witness admitted being intoxicated, while omitting that prosecution witnesses said the same (Extra! Update, 2/99).

At one point, actor and activist Ed Asner is quoted saying, “No ballistic tests were done, which is pretty stupid”—but then host Sam Donaldson’s voiceover cuts him off: “But ballistics test were done,” he says, referring to tests that suggested that the bullet that killed Faulkner might have been the same caliber as Abu-Jamal’s gun. But he didn’t note that tests had not been done to determine whether that gun had fired the bullet, or whether it had been fired at all, or if there were gunpowder residues on Abu-Jamal’s hands.

Producers from People’s Video Network told FAIR at the time (Extra! Update, 2/99) that ABC not only used clips they’d recorded from Abu-Jamal without permission, but they added layers of echo, making him sound, they said, “like a cave-dwelling animal.”

No one was too surprised when it was revealed that in a letter asking permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to interview Abu-Jamal (a request that was denied), 20/20 pointed out that “we are currently working in conjunction with Maureen Faulkner and the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police” (Extra! Update, 2/99).

The main story has been no story
After that, the main story has been non-coverage.

For instance, in 2006, when Abu-Jamal won the right to appeal on three grounds—including a jury purged of Black people, the prosecutor lowering jurors’ sense of responsibility by saying their decision “would not be final,” and the fact that judge Albert Sabo was all kinds of biased—the Philadelphia Daily News told reporter Dave Lindorff that it was a “non-issue” (Extra!, 3–4/06)—although when a judge overturned the death sentence in 2001, the paper (12/19/01) found time to editorialize: “Let Mumia Rot in Darkness.”

The late great media critic Ed Herman (Extra!, 9–10/00) reported how the Philadelphia Inquirer wouldn’t cover rallies and tribunals in support of Abu-Jamal, calling them “stunts,” but when the Fraternal Order of Police bought a full-page ad in the New York Times, that merited a story.

In 2000, when Amnesty International declared that the original trial was “deeply flawed,” the Inky (2/18/00) made it the fifth “news brief” on page 2B.

But if Mumia Abu Jamal’s case is a non-issue that only celebrities care about, why the active silencing?
Extra!: Witness for the Prosecution
NPR‘s Scott Simon (8/19/99) “skillfully provided a brief for the prosecution under the pretense of covering both sides” (Extra!, 11–12/95).
In 1994, NPR cancelled plans for a series of commentaries from Abu-Jamal—who is, after all, a journalist, a former head of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists—after Senator Bob Dole threatened their funding. They said it was because it was a “highly polarized and political controversy”—which they proceeded to say nothing about for the following year (Extra!, 11–12/95).

When Democracy Now! prepared to air commentaries, station KRTI, out of Philadelphia’s Temple University, cancelled the show and all of Pacifica news (Extra! Update, 4/97), with a station VP explaining: “What’s good enough for NPR is good enough for me.”

And when a Vermont college aired a taped commencement address from Abu-Jamal, it led Philadelphia lawmakers to throw together something called the Revictimization Relief Act, allowing crime victims or prosecutors to sue inmates whose behavior behind bars “creates mental anguish” for the victims. Clearly unconstitutional, violating both free speech and due process rights, it was dubbed the Silencing Act by many, who noted that it didn’t just curtail prisoners’ right to speak, but journalists’ and all of our rights to hear them (FAIR.org, 10/22/14).

Media’s response was a shrug: The New York Times ran an AP piece (10/21/14) with the headline “Pennsylvania: Gov Signs Law to Help Protect Crime Victims.”

Elite media would have us believe they are engaged in a serious reckoning with the racism of the US criminal justice system, that they care about over-incarceration and prison conditions. And keeping people behind bars just because powerful people want them there, and not due to the merits of their case? Well, that’s what Other Countries do.

If only there were a case, 40 years’ worth of case, that would allow them to explore those ideals—if not to do justice by Mumia Abu-Jamal (they can’t return what’s been taken from him), then to do some semblance of justice by their own claims of concern.

https://fair.org/home/if-mumia-abu-jama ... lence-him/

Real happy they mentioned Scott Simon, who never misses a chance to double down with liberal reaction. He is an exclamation mark of npr ideology.
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu May 06, 2021 2:12 pm

Shocking Omissions: ‘Capitalism’s Conscience – 200 Years Of The Guardian’ – John Pilger and Jonathan Cook Respond
19th April 2021 Alerts


Long before ‘the propaganda model’ flew off Edward Herman’s keyboard and into ‘Manufacturing Consent’, the book he co-authored with Noam Chomsky, Leo Tolstoy had captured the essence of non-conspiratorial conformity:

‘One man does not assert the truth which he knows, because he feels himself bound to the people with whom he is engaged; another, because the truth might deprive him of the profitable position by which he maintains his family; a third, because he desires to attain reputation and authority, and then use them in the service of mankind; a fourth, because he does not wish to destroy old sacred traditions; a fifth, because he has no desire to offend people; a sixth, because the expression of the truth would arouse persecution, and disturb the excellent social activity to which he has devoted himself.’ (Tolstoy, ‘What Then Must We Do?’, Green Classics, 1991, p.118)

There is nothing special about journalists in this regard – we are all aware, on some level, that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed truth-teller faces various kinds of crucifixion. It is tempting to affect blindness, to protect our ‘reputation and authority’, that we might use them, of course, ‘in the service of mankind’.

Academics are no different. In 2008, Terry Eagleton, formerly Professor of English Literature at Manchester University, wrote:

‘By and large, academic institutions have shifted from being the accusers of corporate capitalism to being its accomplices. They are intellectual Tescos, churning out a commodity known as graduates rather than greengroceries.’ (Eagleton, ‘Death of the intellectual,’ Red Pepper, October 2008)

In 20 years of working on Media Lens, not much has left us disillusioned – we had no great illusions about journalism to begin with! – but we have often been dismayed by the response of the ‘intellectual Tescos’.

In particular, it has been a thing of wonder for us to see how academics who support us privately, and even in public, treat our work in published articles and books. Typically, our 20 years of detailed media analysis simply cease to exist. After openly supporting us for years, one academic – someone we considered a firm ally – wrote a book on our central theme, propaganda. Our work did receive a handful of mentions, all of them relegated to the footnotes. A different academic told us frankly that he had been advised to drop all mentions of Chomsky from his published articles and books – they would not be well-received.

We would be open to the possibility that our work just doesn’t pass muster, but for the fact that academics have a track record, strong as twelve acres of garlic, of filtering out dissident facts and voices. In fact, it’s the world’s worst-kept secret that they do it to ‘play the game’, to stay ‘respectable’, to remain part of ‘mainstream’ debate.

The Guardian – ‘More Than A Business’?

Which brings us to a new collection of essays, ‘Capitalism’s Conscience – 200 Years of the Guardian’, edited by Des Freedman, Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, published tomorrow.

Freedman notes that Guardian editor, Kath Viner, promised that her newspaper would ‘challenge the economic assumptions of the last three decades’, ‘challenge the powerful’ and ‘use clarity and imagination to build hope’. His new book, says Freedman, ‘seeks to examine these claims’. (‘Capitalism’s Conscience – 200 Years of the Guardian’, Des Freedman, ed., Pluto Press, 2021, p.x)

The collection of essays, mostly contributed by media academics, is published by Pluto Press, which has published all three Media Lens books; most recently, ‘Propaganda Blitz’, in 2018 (we have published several solo books with other publishers). Several good reasons for not criticising a book published by one’s own publisher can be found in Tolstoy’s list, but the academic filtering of truth is a key issue that cries out for honest discussion.

Despite our three books, 20 years of work focused heavily on the Guardian, and despite being mentioned and quoted (once) in the book, we were not told about ‘Capitalism’s Conscience’ and were not invited to contribute.

The Guardian’s role is so appalling, so horrific that one is immediately surprised to see that the book contains contributions from some very ‘mainstream’ former and current Guardian journalists, given that it purports to tell the unvarnished truth about the paper.

Chapter 3 was written by Gary Younge, formerly the Guardian’s editor-at-large and still a high-profile contributor. Chapter 4 was written by Victoria Brittain, who worked at the Guardian for more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent and then Associate Foreign Editor. Younge and Brittain are the first two names under Freedman’s promoting the book’s contents on the front cover, which carries an approving comment from Guardian columnist and former Chief Foreign Correspondent, Jonathan Steele.

Freedman himself has a profile page on the Guardian’s website, last contributing in 2018. So does the author of Chapter 12, Tom Mills, who last wrote for the Guardian in January. We remember Mills from the distant past when he was a frequent poster on the Media Lens message board.

If this sounds a bit Guardian-friendly, last week, Freedman tweeted the programme for Goldsmith University’s related, April 23-24 media conference, ‘Liberalism Inc: 200 Years of the Guardian’. Highlights include a keynote speech by former Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, titled:

‘More than a Business: 200 years of a newspaper which put purpose before profit’

On the same day, former Guardian Comment Editor, Becky Gardiner, will chair a discussion on ‘The Guardian and Feminism’.

Particularly given the editor, contributors and publisher, the title of the book is troubling indeed: ‘Capitalism’s Conscience – 200 Years of the Guardian’.

Certainly we have no problem with the claim that the Guardian has been around for 200 years! At the very least, however, the title should read: ‘Capitalism’s “Conscience”? – 200 Years of the Guardian’.

Has the looming collapse of the climate, the annihilation of species, the endless and merciless resource wars and mass-murdering sanctions devastating whole countries, not by now persuaded all of us that capitalism does not, indeed cannot, have a conscience? After Assange, Corbyn, Iraq, Libya and Syria, does anyone believe the corporate Guardian even pretends to act as a ‘conscience’ for anything? Canadian law professor Joel Bakan explains the bottom-line for all corporate executives:

‘The law forbids any motivation for their actions, whether to assist workers, improve the environment, or help consumers save money. They can do these things with their own money, as private citizens. As corporate officials, however, stewards of other people’s money, they have no legal authority to pursue such goals as ends in themselves – only as means to serve the corporations own interests, which generally means to maximise the wealth of its shareholders.

‘Corporate social responsibility is thus illegal – at least when its genuine.’ (Bakan, The Corporation, Constable, 2004, p.37)

If genuine social responsibility is illegal, it makes perfect sense that conscience is a threat to be stifled at every turn. In the 1930s, political analyst Rudolf Rocker wrote:

‘It is certainly dangerous for a state when its citizens have a conscience; what it needs is men without conscience… men in whom the feeling of personal responsibility has been replaced by the automatic impulse to act in the interests of the state.’ (Rudolf Rocker, ‘Culture and Nationalism’, Michael E. Coughlan, 1978, p.197)

This is actually a key propaganda function of the Guardian. Even the suggestion that capitalism might have a conscience is a dangerous distortion of the truth, as is the suggestion that the Guardian might be involved in protecting an ethical dimension of capitalism.

In his introduction, Freedman writes:

‘The Guardian is not a left-wing newspaper. It publishes left-wing columnists, is read by people on the left and has a reputation for identifying with left-wing positions. But it is not a title of the left; it is not affiliated to nor was it borne out of left-wing movements.’ (p.viii)

One can debate the precise meaning of ‘left-wing’, but compare Freedman’s assertion that the Guardian ‘publishes left-wing columnists’ with John Pilger’s response (included, in full, later in this alert):

‘The spaces allotted to independent journalists (myself included) have vanished. The dissent that was tolerated, even celebrated when I arrived in Fleet Street in the 1960s, has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism sheds the last illusions of democracy.

‘This is a seismic shift…’

It is indeed a seismic shift that many of us have witnessed in our lifetimes – forget radically left-wing journalists, even independent journalists have been disappeared from the Guardian and other media. Consider, after all, that superb, self-identifying Tory journalist, Peter Oborne, has recently described how ‘The mainstream British press and media is to all intents and purposes barred to me.’

Freedman continues:

‘It has never been a consistent ally of socialist or anti-imperialist voices and has failed to perform for the left what titles like the Mail and the Telegraph have done for their constituencies on the right.’ (p.viii)

Never been ‘a consistent ally’? In light of the Guardian’s relentless and ongoing support for politically undead war criminal Tony Blair, its lethal propagandising for wars of aggression in Iraq, Libya and Syria, its lead role in undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for power, its betrayal and demonisation of Assange, and so on… it is much more reasonable to view the Guardian as a bitter enemy of even mild left positions that has not only not performed ‘for the left’, but has most enthusiastically performed for established power.

The suggestion that the paper has ‘never been a consistent ally of socialist or anti-imperialist voices’ is a classic fudge aiming to appease the left without overly alienating the Guardian. In fact, it reminds us strongly of the kind of apologetics that regularly appear in the Guardian – the US, we are sometimes told, has not been a ‘consistent ally’ of democracy around the world, and so on.

Freedman continues of the Guardian:

‘Instead it is the home of a vigorous liberalism that consistently outrages voices to its right and, equally regularly, disappoints its critics on the left.’ (p.viii)

There is nothing ‘vigorous’ about the fake, marketised version of ‘liberalism’ peddled by the Guardian. In a 2011 interview, Julian Assange spoke from bitter personal experience:

‘There is a point I want to make about perceived moral institutions, such as the Guardian and New York Times. The Guardian has good people in it. It also has a coterie of people at the top who have other interests. … What drives a paper like the Guardian or New York Times is not their inner moral values. It is simply that they have a market. In the UK, there is a market called “educated liberals”. Educated liberals want to buy a newspaper like the Guardian and therefore an institution arises to fulfil that market. … What is in the newspaper is not a reflection of the values of the people in that institution, it is a reflection of the market demand.’

Consider Freedman’s version of the truth with the Guardian’s treatment of Assange himself, of Corbyn, of ‘Jesus clown’ Russell Brand, of George Galloway, of Hugo Chavez, of Chomsky, of us, of all dissidents. Rocker nailed a truth that has not changed in 100 years:

‘The state welcomes only those forms of cultural activity which help it to maintain its power. It persecutes with implacable hatred any activity which oversteps the limits set by it and calls its existence into question. It is, therefore, as senseless as it is mendacious to speak of a “state culture”; for it is precisely the state which lives in constant warfare with all higher forms of intellectual culture and always tries to avoid the creative will of culture…’ (p.85)

In reality, of course, the Guardian’s ruthless, market-driven propaganda ‘consistently outrages’ voices to the left exactly as it outrages voices to the right. By now, only someone living in a Guardian-inspired fantasy world finds that the Guardian ‘disappoints’ when it attacks dissent and supports even the most cynically brutal wars of aggression.

Whitewashing The Wars Of Aggression

Guardian output online and in print is vast, as is the range of issues covered. But an easy way to test for Guardian bias is to examine its performance on the US-UK’s wars of aggression. This is why we have always focused so much on the Guardian’s performance on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Over the last twenty years, we have shown over and over again how the Guardian, while supposedly opposing the war on Iraq, in fact hit readers with a propaganda blitz that sought to scare up war fever based on completely absurd, self-evidently fabricated US-UK claims on the supposed existence and threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Balance was not permitted – the Guardian simultaneously blanked as non-existent the crucial, highly credible testimony of UN weapons inspectors like Scott Ritter, who insisted his team had left Iraq ‘fundamentally disarmed’ of ‘90-95%’ of its WMD by December 1998, leaving only ‘harmless sludge’ (Scott Ritter and William Rivers Pitt, ‘War On Iraq’, Profile Books, 2002, p.23 and p.29). In their 12,366 articles mentioning Iraq in 2003, the Guardian and Observer mentioned Ritter a total of 17 times. The Guardian simply ignored testimony, literally available from all good bookshops, with the power to make a complete nonsense of its own and all other media discussions of the case for war.

Even more shocking, one might think, even after the great catastrophe in Iraq, the Guardian relentlessly propagandised for war by the same US-UK alliance on Libya and Syria in 2011 and thereafter. A typical example was supplied by senior Guardian columnist, later Comment Editor, Jonathan Freedland, who wrote an article on Libya entitled:

‘Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong.’

A Guardian leader quietly celebrated the results:

‘But it can now reasonably be said that in narrow military terms it worked, and that politically there was some retrospective justification for its advocates as the crowds poured into the streets of Tripoli to welcome the rebel convoys earlier this week.’

A flood of similar and worse pro-‘intervention’ propaganda has issued forth from the Guardian on Syria. There has been relentless, laser-like focus on the crimes, real and imagined, of Assad and Putin. The West, we are to believe, has sinned only by its reluctance to be involved at all! An audacious reversal of the truth. Above all, lifting a page from the playbook of the great Iraq WMD scam, the focus has been on highly questionable claims of chemical weapons attacks.

Clearly anticipating and agitating for war in April 2013, a Guardian editorial observed:

‘Yet this week has also been marked by further claims that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has been doing precisely the thing that Mr Bush said so confidently, but so wrongly, was at imminent risk of being done by Saddam Hussein 10 years ago.’

The editorial continued:

‘… UN member states and security council members also have less basis today for sitting on their hands than they did over Iraq. The UN has been ineffective over Syria, because Russia and China veto UN action. Partly as a consequence, at least 70,000 people have died while the world looks on and wrings its hands. It is not clear in moral terms why those thousands of deaths are not treated as a red line while chemical weapons use is’.

How has ‘Capitalism’s Conscience’ covered the Guardian’s complicity in these wars?

The answer, which is available to anyone in the age of the word-searchable e-book, is that Libya and Syria are both mentioned once, in passing. The West’s attacks on Libya and Syria, much less the Guardian’s role in them, are not mentioned at all. The Saudi-UK war on Yemen is also unmentioned.

As for Iraq, the greatest foreign policy and mass media disaster of our time gets five mentions in passing in the book’s 270 pages. Reference to the Guardian’s propaganda role in the conflict is limited to one mention of unnamed Guardian ‘columnists… who had championed the Iraq War in 2003 and even insisted that there were weapons of mass destruction’ – a total of 19 words. (p.50)

In other words, the Guardian’s very real responsibility for promoting catastrophic crimes that have left millions of human beings dead, injured and displaced, has been completely blanked by a collection of dissident writers published by our supposedly most radical publisher reviewing the Guardian’s performance over the last 200 years. This is outrageous.

The book does find space to note that the paper ‘has led the way in innovative design and formats, was the first British title to set up a reader’s editor, established editions in the US and Australia and now champions a membership model with some one million people who have either signed up to the scheme or made a one-off contribution’ (p.x), and so on.

Freedman concludes his introduction:

‘The Guardian is read by many people on the left but, as with liberal democracy more generally, it does not serve them consistently or adequately in the pursuit of radical social change. This book is an expression not simply of disappointment but of the conviction that we need a very different sort of media if we are to pursue a very different sort of society.’ (p.xiv)

If change begins anywhere, it begins with a rejection of the assertion that the Guardian ‘does not serve’ the left or liberal democracy ‘consistently or adequately in the pursuit of radical social change’. In reality, it consistently attacks the left.

In his chapter on Corbyn and anti-semitism, Justin Schlosberg is strongly critical of the Guardian but observes:

‘Perhaps above all, Corbyn’s political ascendance coincided with that of Donald Trump in the US and other hard right leaders from Modi in India to Bolsonaro in Brazil. Against this backdrop – and especially in the context of Brexit – it is easy to understand how Corbyn’s Labour and those sources defending it came to be perceived by journalists as the left front of populism – tending towards the extreme and intrinsically less credible than their “moderate” political counterparts.’ (p.200)

Guardian hostility to Corbyn was about fear of mild socialism challenging the state-corporate status quo, not fear of populism. Schlosberg concluded:

‘Ironically, in defence of its liberal values against the rise of populism, the Guardian appeared to disregard or undermine what has always been the very cornerstone of its liberalism: the sanctity of facts.’ (p.201)

The idea that ‘the sanctity of facts’ ‘has always been the very cornerstone of its liberalism’ will be welcome reading to the Guardian editors, but mystifying to anyone who reads the paper with a critical mind.

In Chapter 3, Gary Younge claims on Corbyn:

‘A range of studies have since shown that… the Guardian contained both more diverse opinions and more supportive opinions and coverage than virtually any other mainstream outlet.’ (p.52)

That isn’t saying much. Remarkably, in support of his claim, Younge cites two studies: one from November 2015, just two months after Corbyn had been elected; the other from July 2016, ten months after Corbyn had been elected. Younge presumably missed the September 2018 study cited by the late anthropologist and political commentator David Graeber when he tweeted in December 2019:

‘as for the Guardian, we will never forget that during the “Labour #antisemitism controversy”, they beat even the Daily Mail to include the largest percentage of false statements, pretty much every one, mysteriously, an accidental error to Labour’s disadvantage’

Quite an achievement! The book does contain two excellent chapters by Alan MacLeod on the Guardian’s coverage of Latin America, and by Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis on the paper’s coverage of the UK security state. Both are discussed further below.

John Pilger Responds

We asked former Guardian columnist John Pilger for his thoughts on ‘Capitalism’s Conscience’. He responded:

‘Liberal journalism, such as the Guardian’s, was always a loose extension of establishment power. But something has changed since the rise of Blairism. The spaces allotted to independent journalists (myself included) have vanished. The dissent that was tolerated, even celebrated when I arrived in Fleet Street in the 1960s, has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism sheds the last illusions of democracy.

‘This is a seismic shift, with the Guardian and the BBC – far more influential than those on the accredited right — policing the new “groupthink”, as Robert Parry called it, ensuring its politics and hypocrisies, its omissions and fabrications while pursuing the enemies of the new national security state.

‘Journalism students need to study this urgently if they are to understand that the true source of the contrivance known as “fake news” is not merely social media, but a liberal “mainstream” self-anointed with a false respectability that claims to challenge corrupt and warmongering power but, in reality, courts and protects it, and colludes with it.

‘This is the Guardian today. Rid of those journalists it cannot control, the porous borders they once crossed long closed, the Guardian more than ever represents the world view of its hero, Blair, the “mystical” lost leader the paper promoted with evangelical fervour and has since done its best to rehabilitate, a man responsible for human carnage beyond the imagination.

‘To its credit, Des Freedman’s anthology includes a scattering of sharp honesty, especially the chapters by Alan MacLeod, Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard. But the omissions are shocking: notably the Guardian’s “nuanced” (a favourite weasel word) support for the dismemberment of nations: from Yugoslavia to Syria, and for its immoral backing of the current MI6/CIA propaganda war against nuclear-armed powers Russia and China.

‘An example of this is a recent stream of US-sourced “human rights” propaganda from Taiwan, much of it publicly discredited, that beckons war with China. This has yet to match the output of the Guardian’s chief Russiaphobe, Luke Harding, who ensures that all evil leads to Vladimir Putin.

‘We are given scant idea how the people of these hellish places live and think, for they are the modern “other”. That the Chinese, according to Harvard, Pew and numerous other studies, are the most contented human beings on earth is irrelevant, or to quote Harold Pinter, “it didn’t matter, it was of no interest”.

‘It was Harding and two others who claimed in the Guardian that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had held secret talks with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy. Discredited by the former Ecuadorean consul Fidel Narvaez as ‘fake’ (and by those like myself who were subjected to the security screening at the embassy), the story was typical of the decade-long smear campaign against Assange.

‘The campaign was one of the lowest points in British journalism. While collecting the kudos, circulation, profit and book and Hollywood deals for Assange’s work, the Guardian played a pivotal role. Although Mark Curtis touches on the latter years, young journalists need to know the whole disgraceful saga and its significance in crushing those who challenge power from outside the liberal fence and refuse to join the “club”.

‘The principal Guardian ringmaster was Alan Rusbridger, who was editor in chief for 20 years. (Rusbridger also oversaw the Observer, the Guardian’s sister paper, which during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 ran a rabid pro-war campaign that included fabrications about WMD for which its reporter, David Rose, later personally apologised – unlike his editors).

‘Rusbridger has lately re-invented himself as a media moralist. “Only those with the highest professional and ethical standards,” he wrote in 2019, “will rise above the oceans of mediocrity and malignity and survive.” While Rusbridger rises above the oceans to promote his new book on the ethics of “proper news”, Julian Assange, the truth telling journalist betrayed by the Guardian, remains in solitary confinement in Belmarsh prison.

‘Much of Freedman’s anthology is the work of media academics, whose takeover of the training of journalists is relatively recent – well, it’s within my own career. Some have done fine work, including Freedman himself. But the question begs: how have they and their colleagues changed the media for the better when so much of it has become an echo chamber of rapacious, mendacious power? The craft of journalism deserves better.’ (Email to Media Lens, 9 March 2021)

Jonathan Cook Responds

We also asked former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook to comment on the book:

‘With a few notable exceptions, the critical horizons of many of the contributors seem sadly limited for a book supposedly critically appraising the Guardian. Most rightly argue that the left should not trust the paper to advance its causes, and that throughout its long history the paper has hewn closely to variations of free-market liberalism. But the book makes little effort to explain why that is the case, even in its section supposedly dealing directly with this issue: on what the book refers to as “political economy”. Only one contributor refers to the corporate nature of the media, when dealing with press regulation, and even then there is the implication that the Guardian stands outside that system.

‘The chapter on political economy charts the Guardian’s efforts to remain profitable and competitive against billionaire-owned rivals but fails to make clear the impact that necessarily has on the paper’s ideological positions. There is no real effort to examine how the Guardian, like other corporate media, dare not regularly upset advertisers, given its economic dependency on their money. The book lacks a discussion of the inevitable conflict between the Guardian’s commercial needs and its professed commitment to the environment.

‘Nor does the book draw any meaningful conclusions from the fact that in the digital age the Guardian has chosen to chase after larger and wealthier liberal US audiences than can be found in the UK. It would seem relevant in considering the Guardian’s ever-greater focus on cultural issues and fashionable identity politics as an alternative to class politics and labour issues.

‘Similarly, the book offers no platform for whistleblowers who could have given a harsher insight into how the paper is run, or the obstacles placed in the way of reporters trying to break with the Guardian’s ideological framing of issues or its top-down editorial approach. Gary Younge provides some clues but his focus is narrow, he enjoyed an unusually independent position within the editorial team, and his continuing relationship with the paper means he is unlikely to speak as freely as he might otherwise.

‘Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis name some of the national security writers pushed out of the paper in recent years. Were any approached by the book’s editor to explain their experiences?

‘In my own specialist field, Ghada Karmi offers a fine perspective on the general failures in reporting fairly on Israel-Palestine, the role of the lobby and the tendency to prioritise Jewish and Israeli voices over Palestinian ones. But her assumption appears to be that the Guardian’s failure to offer Palestinians a proper hearing reflects a mix of the following: historical ignorance of the Palestinian case and a romanticised view of Israel; the greater weight and centrality of the Israel lobby than the Palestinian lobby in UK society; and fears of being accused of antisemitism.

‘What this account of the Guardian’s failure misses is Israel’s crucial place in advancing western foreign policy goals in the Middle East. The paper’s siding with the west’s major geopolitical interests in the Middle East is not a one-off, after all, as Alan MacLeod’s chapter on the Guardian’s even more woeful coverage of Latin American makes clear. There is a pattern of failure here that needs unpacking. Had it been done, it would have been much easier to explain the Guardian’s leading role in the corporate media’s campaign to put Israel – couched in terms of a supposed Labour antisemitism crisis – at the heart of assessing Jeremy Corbyn’s suitability for being prime minister.

‘Again, it would have helped this section to have included a whistleblower, an insider familiar with the limitations of the Guardian’s Israel-Palestine coverage. I and others – including Nafeez Ahmed, Antony Loewenstein and, more recently, Nathan Robinson – have all been at the sharp end of the Guardian’s strict policing of its Israel-Palestine coverage. Nowhere are our experiences given a voice in a book claiming to deal with the Guardian critically.’ (Jonathan Cook, email to Media Lens, 6 April 2021)


The rarely discussed truth is that academia plays a crucial role in reinforcing ‘mainstream’ journalism’s filtering of truth, ensuring that discussion extends, as Chomsky says, ‘this far and no further’. Media academics consistently exclude the most critical media activists in much the same way as corporate journalists.

It is obvious to us, for example, that John Pilger and Jonathan Cook have long been the UK’s most powerful and qualified critics of the Guardian. Who can doubt that their inclusion would have massively strengthened ‘Capitalism’s Conscience’ and increased sales? Their exclusion invites a simple question: what other priorities were being served?

Did the editor and some of the contributors pull their punches, wittingly or otherwise, in order to seem less ‘extreme’, more ‘reasonable’? Were they hoping not to burn bridges, so that publication in the Guardian might remain an option? Perhaps even that the book might be reviewed favourably by the paper itself? There is a pressing need for truly critical and honest appraisals of the Guardian’s record as a guardian of power. This book, barring a couple of welcome exceptions, is not it.


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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat May 15, 2021 1:56 pm

Corporate Media Oppose Afghan Control of Afghanistan

New York Times depiction of US troops returning from Afghanistan. (photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

When President Joe Biden announced the “withdrawal” of US troops from Afghanistan after almost 20 years of occupying the country in violation of international law, corporate media not only misled their audiences on what the US is actually planning to do in Afghanistan, but also somehow made it seem as if withdrawing from the longest overseas war in US history would be premature (FAIR.org, 9/11/19).

Establishment reporting over the future of Afghanistan after Biden’s announcement also demonstrated the imperialist mindset of corporate journalists, who presented Afghans controlling their own country as an unacceptable outcome.

By ‘all,’ we mean ‘some’
AP: US to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11
AP‘s headline (4/13/21) is belied by the accompanying article, which acknowledges that the admitted number of US troops in Afghanistan does not include “special operations forces conducting covert or counterterrorism missions.”
Initial reporting on the supposed “withdrawal” from the country cast Biden’s decision as a reckless and hasty one, made against the wisdom of his military advisers. Headlines failed to accurately characterize Biden’s decision as reneging on a previous official agreement reached with the Taliban to fully withdraw all US troops by May 1 of this year.

The Associated Press’s headline “US to Withdraw All Troops From Afghanistan by September 11” (4/13/21) was deeply misleading, even as the accompanying article contradicted the headline by revealing that the US understates its actual military presence in Afghanistan, and intends to leave covert forces in the country after September:

American troop totals in Afghanistan have been understated by US administrations for years. Officials have quietly acknowledged that there are hundreds more in Afghanistan than the official 2,500 number, and likely would include special operations forces conducting covert or counterterrorism missions, often working with intelligence agency personnel.

In other words, the US isn’t actually withdrawing from Afghanistan, as Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic (4/16/21) pointed out. Biden’s announcement is actually a violation of the May 1 deadline agreed upon by the Trump administration, delaying the (partial) withdrawal for another four months. It also risks prolonging the occupation, due to the Biden administration threatening retaliation against the Taliban for any attacks on US soldiers—attacks the Taliban has already threatened to carry out, since the troop presence violates the negotiated agreement with the US.

Others have pointed out that it’s more accurate to say that rather than ending the US’s supposed “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, the US is privatizing it, since the Pentagon employs more than seven contractors for every soldier officially stated to be in Afghanistan. This is an increase from the ratio of one contractor per soldier a decade ago (Covert Action Magazine, 4/15/21).

Not following orders
CNN: How Biden went his own way on Afghanistan withdrawal
CNN (4/14/21) seemed to question the idea of a civilian president “going against the recommendations of his top generals.”
CNN’s “How Biden Went His Own Way on Afghanistan Withdrawal” (4/14/21) reported that “President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan over the advice of some of his senior-most advisers in the Pentagon and State Department.” Reporters Jim Sciutto, Kevin Liptak and Kylie Atwood said he settled on the reportedly “absolute” deadline of September 11—the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks—because he “promised voters he would end the country’s longest war, even if that meant going against the recommendations of his top generals.”

CNN concluded with an ominous reference by Michael Evanoff, the former assistant secretary for diplomatic security:

What we can hope is that if Taliban rule eventually takes over the country, that Kabul will not fall violently like Saigon did in April 1975. However, I have a sinking feeling that within two years US diplomats could be scrambling from the roof of our embassy onto helicopter skids pulling us out of harm’s way. I hope to God not, but it is definitely not out of the realm of possibility when we pull our military out.

It’s worth remembering that the US exit from Vietnam came after years of large-scale killing failed to keep an unpopular government in power there—a context that should discourage media from indulging this kind of historical self-pity.
NYT: Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11
The New York Times (4/13/21) claims that the US occupation of Afghanistan has been “devoted to nation-building, democratization and securing rights for women”—though the nation it has built is not a democracy and has few rights for women.
Like CNN, the New York Times’ report “Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by September 11” (4/13/21), by Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, began with a marked deference to the views of the US national security apparatus over those of the elected commander in chief:

President Biden will withdraw American combat troops from Afghanistan by September 11, declaring an end to the nation’s longest war and overruling warnings from his military advisers that the departure could prompt a resurgence of the same terrorist threats that sent hundreds of thousands of troops into combat over the past 20 years.

In rejecting the Pentagon’s push to remain until Afghan security forces can assert themselves against the Taliban, Mr. Biden forcibly stamped his views on a policy he has long debated but never controlled. Now, after years of arguing against an extended American military presence in Afghanistan, the president is doing things his way, with the deadline set for the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The Times then misled readers by falsely asserting that the illegal invasion of the country was “launched with widespread international support” before becoming the “same long, bloody, unpopular slog that forced the British to withdraw from Afghanistan in the 19th century and the Soviet Union to retreat in the 20th.” The biggest poll of international opinion around the time of the invasion was conducted by Gallup International in 37 countries, and aside from the US, Israel and India, a majority of people in every other country favored extradition and prosecution of suspects instead of US military aggression (Global Policy Forum, 11/21/01).

This was also the approach the Taliban favored when it made repeated overtures to surrender Osama bin Laden for trial to the US, both before and after the 9/11 attacks, which the US rejected in favor of enacting vengeance upon an entire nation rather than the suspects responsible for the attack. (Fifteen of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.)

The Times then promoted the familiar pretense that the US invasion had morphed into a humanitarian mission:

The war then evolved, and expanded, from a counterterrorism mission to one devoted to nation-building, democratization and securing rights for women. But the inability to create effective local security forces allowed the Taliban to stage a comeback, prompting a significant surge of foreign troops back into the country starting in 2009, an effort that amounted to a second invasion.

This account reversed cause and effect by blaming the Taliban for the US’s prolonged occupation, when it was actually the US occupation that was responsible for the Taliban’s resurgence. As I pointed out earlier (FAIR.org, 12/26/19), the Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers (12/9/19) had already confirmed that US officials had been extensively lying to their citizens for years, asserting benevolent intentions while propping up a despised and corrupt government, and purchasing the loyalty of warlords viewed as “cruel despots” by many Afghans.

I also pointed out (FAIR.org, 6/12/20) that the US was actually responsible for the Taliban’s rise when the US intervened in a civil war by supporting Osama bin Laden and the reactionary Mujahedin extremists against the the indigenous Afghan Communist Taraki government—which had made advances towards ostensible US goals like educating girls—six months before the US baited the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan in 1979 (FAIR.org, 3/21/14).

The Taliban resurfaced when the US rejected their agreement with the Afghan government to give up their weapons and last stronghold in exchange for amnesty. Instead, the US military engaged in prosecuting, torturing and killing suspected former Taliban members who had fled to Pakistan, or had stopped fighting and returned to civilian life (New York Times, 12/7/01; Intercept, 8/22/17).

Yet the Times report framed the US’s rejection of the peace agreement reached by the Taliban and the Afghan government as “nation-building,” and described an illegal invasion opposed by most of the world as a “near masterpiece of planning and war-fighting.”

Geostrategy, not humanitarianism
WaPo: Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021
The Washington Post (4/13/21) reported that withdrawing troops from Afghanistan would allow for “increasing military competition with China”—a good thing, apparently.
The Washington Post’s “Biden Will Withdraw All US Forces From Afghanistan by September 11, 2021” (4/13/21) also perpetuated the false narrative of a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, but tellingly reported on Biden’s decision as motivated by geostrategic rather than humanitarian interests. The Post‘s Missy Ryan and Karen DeYoung reported that the US intends to reallocate resources towards heightened aggression toward China (falsely characterized as a mutual “military competition”) in Washington’s New Cold War (FAIR.org, 5/15/20, 4/8/21):

The decision highlights the tradeoffs the Biden administration is willing to make to shift the US global focus from the counterinsurgency campaigns that dominated the post–9/11 world to current priorities, including increasing military competition with China.

Biden’s fake withdrawal announcement provoked a flurry of concern trolling in corporate media, ranging from nakedly self-serving worries that leaving Afghanistan “costs more than staying,” and that the Biden administration shouldn’t count on a “windfall of freed-up money for other defense priorities” (Foreign Policy, 4/26/21), to the longstanding trope of “liberating women” designed to sucker left-leaning audiences into supporting US imperialism (FAIR.org, 4/9/21).

Corporate media echoed the West’s familiar White Man’s Burden propaganda when it reported on the real possibility of deteriorating women’s rights if the Taliban were to take over Afghanistan after NATO troops withdraw. Foreign Policy (5/3/21) warned about the “grim picture for the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan,” while Fox News (5/4/21), CNN (5/4/21) and the Associated Press (5/4/21) all cited US intelligence agencies’ assertions that “gains” in women’s rights under US occupation would be eroded if Western troops leave. As FAIR (4/9/21) reported, before the Taliban took over, half of the university students were women, as were 40% of the country’s doctors, 70% of its teachers and 30% of its civil servants, whereas now only 37% of adolescent girls can read, and fewer than 20% of teachers are female in half of the country’s provinces.

Human rights lawyer Daniel Kovalik (RT, 10/9/20) pointed out the absurdity of believing that the US cares about protecting foreign women when it can’t even protect its own female soldiers from sexual harassment and rape. The US military has a history of abusing and sexually assaulting women in virtually every country it has a presence, and setting up prostitution systems near US military bases abroad. It’s why, Kovalik noted, the main legal instrument purporting to advance women’s rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), makes it clear in the preamble

that the eradication of…colonialism, neo-colonialism, aggression, foreign occupation and domination and interference in the internal affairs of States is essential to the full enjoyment of the rights of men and women.

This may be why the US refused to ratify this Convention.

Falling under Afghan control
Whatever one thinks of the Taliban, as Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone (3/26/21) pointed out, reports from corporate media warning about the possibility of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan are really warnings about Afghanistan falling under the control of the people who live there. The US has always tolerated or actively supported governments that run counter to its supposedly humanitarian ideals, as the US already supports death squad governments in places like Colombia and Honduras, apartheid in Israel/Palestine, and misogynistic feudalism in Saudi Arabia, whose sponsorship of the extremist Wahhabi strain of Islam sparked Al-Qaeda and ISIS (FAIR.org, 12/23/20).

Respecting the sovereignty of other nations, no matter how much one might disapprove of certain aspects of their self-governance, is a core principle of international law enshrined in the UN Charter. It does not imply an endorsement of other governments. It is actually the position of most countries in the world—including China, whose professed noninterference policy has kept it from militarily intervening in Afghanistan, despite Beijing’s fears of terrorism spilling over into its neighboring Xinjiang province and destabilizing its Belt and Road Initiative (MintPress News, 5/1/21). Johnstone (4/11/21) also notes that consistently applying the US’s imperialist logic of permanently occupying Afghanistan because the Taliban is politically unacceptable would require the US to invade, and occupy, every country in the world that doesn’t uphold its purported values.

It’s certainly possible that women’s conditions could worsen if the Taliban were to regain power, but leaving Afghans to govern themselves is not an endorsement of the Taliban. Corporate media presume the US’s right to permanently control the affairs of other countries when they echo fears of the Taliban coming back to power, which is really a fear of Afghans governing themselves outside US control in a key geostrategic position bordering Iran and China’s Xinjiang province. However, if the US had respected international law and norms earlier on, there would be no worries of the Taliban being in control of Afghanistan to begin with.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed May 19, 2021 2:05 pm

Israel/Palestine Coverage Presents False Equivalency Between Occupied and Occupier

WSJ: Israel Strikes Hamas Targets After Rockets Fired at Jerusalem
The Wall Street Journal headline (5/10/21) presents the Gaza violence as a clear-cut case of aggression and retaliation.
Media coverage of heightened violence in Israel/Palestine has misrepresented events in the Israeli government’s favor by suggesting that Israel is acting defensively, presenting a false equivalency between occupier and occupied, and burying information necessary to understand the scale of Israeli brutality.

Corporate media have presented Israel’s killing spree as defensive, as a reaction to supposed Palestinian aggression. A Financial Times headline (5/10/21) read, “Hamas Rocket Attacks Provoke Israeli Retaliation in Gaza.” The New York Times’ description (5/12/21) was, “Hamas launched long-range rockets at Jerusalem on Monday evening, prompting Israel to respond with airstrikes.” An article in Newsweek (5/12/21) had it that “Hamas rained down rockets on Israeli civilian targets, and the Israeli military responded with surgical air strikes against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza.” A CNN headline (5/12/21) said, “At Least 35 Killed in Gaza as Israel Ramps Up Airstrikes in Response to Rocket Attacks.”

The Wall Street Journal (5/12/21) ran the headline, “Hamas Attack on Israel Aims to Capitalize on Palestinian Frustration,” which makes it sound as if Israel were simply minding its own business and Hamas lashed out for no reason. The Journal reinforced this impression by describing Israel’s bombing of Gaza as merely a “response” to and a “counterstrike” against the rockets from Palestinian resistance factions.

Imagine for a moment that the entire history of Israel/Palestine began on May 10. Even then, Hamas’ rocket fire was a follow through on its promise (Ynet, 5/10/21) to fire rockets in “response” to and “retaliation” against Israel if the latter didn’t remove its forces from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah, where Israel has been attempting to force Palestinians from their homes and repressing the resultant protests, and from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which Israel had just raided during Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month (Jacobin, 5/14/21).

More to the point is that Israel, and its forerunners in the Zionist movement, have been carrying out a war against Palestinians for over 100 years, so Israeli self-defense against Palestinians is a logical impossibility (Electronic Intifada, 7/26/18). As an occupying power, Israel does not have a legal right to claim self-defense against the people it occupies (Truthout, 5/14/21). Israel has been subjecting Gaza to a military siege for 12–14 years, depending on the metric one uses to determine the starting point, which has left the territory effectively unlivable (Jacobin, 3/31/20); a siege is an act of war, so the party enforcing it cannot claim to be acting defensively in response to anything that happened subsequent to the start of the blockade.

‘Both sides’ narrative
NBC: Over 70 killed as Israel, Palestinians exchange worst violence in years — and prepare for more
NBC News (5/12/21): “Both sides appear to be preparing for more violence.”
Similarly, media have had a long-running tendency to amplify the view that violence across historic Palestine should be understood as roughly equivalent fighting on “both sides.” This remains a commonplace feature of the coverage, exemplified by NBC headline (5/12/21), “Over 70 Killed as Israel, Palestinians Exchange Worst Violence in Years.”

A Washington Post editorial (5/11/21) was headlined “New Israeli/Palestinian Fighting Serves Political Agendas on Both Sides.” It said that “the worst conflict in years has erupted between the two peoples, with Palestinian missiles raining down on Israeli cities and airstrikes rocking the Gaza Strip.”

A David Ignatius article in the Post (5/13/21) was headlined, “The Vicious Cycle Gets Worse for the Israelis and Palestinians.” The author wrote that Israelis and Palestinians “both” are “swept up yet again by the cycle of violence.”

The word “clash” is frequently employed to avoid acknowledging that violence is overwhelmingly inflicted by one side on the other, as in headlines like Reuters‘ “Israeli Police, Palestinians Clash at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa, Scores Injured” (5/8/21). The headline gives no clue that 97% of the injuries were being suffered by Palestinians.

The fatal flaw in the “both sides” narrative is that only the Israeli side has ethnically cleansed and turned millions on the Palestinians’ side into refugees by preventing them from exercising their right to return to their homes. Israel is the only side subjecting anyone to apartheid and military occupation. It is only the Palestinian side—including those living inside of what is presently called Israel—that has been made to live as second-class citizens in their own land. That’s to say nothing of the lopsided scale of the death, injury and damage to infrastructure that Palestinians have experienced as compared to Israelis, both during the present offensive and in the longer term.
Amnesty International: End brutal repression of Palestinians protesting forced displacement in occupied East Jerusalem
Amnesty International (5/10/21) declared unequivocally that “Israeli security forces have used repeated, unwarranted and excessive force against Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem.”
The “both sides” approach, however, permeates the coverage. The New York Times (5/12/21) relied on a bogus symmetry between oppressor and oppressed, with Jerusalem bureau chief Patrick Kingsley writing:

For weeks, ethnic tensions had been rising in Jerusalem, the center of the conflict. In April, far-right Jews marched through the city center, chanting “Death to Arabs,” and mobs of both Jews and Arabs attacked each other.

In contrast, Amnesty International (5/10/21) documented:

“Evidence gathered by Amnesty International reveals a chilling pattern of Israeli forces using abusive and wanton force against largely peaceful Palestinian protesters in recent days. Some of those injured in the violence in East Jerusalem include bystanders or worshipers making Ramadan prayers,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The latest violence brings into sharp focus Israel’s sustained campaign to expand illegal Israeli settlements and step up forced evictions of Palestinian residents—such as those in Sheikh Jarrah—to make way for Israeli settlers. These forced evictions are part of a continuing pattern in Sheikh Jarrah, they flagrantly violate international law and would amount to war crimes.”

Eyewitness testimonies—as well as videos and photographs taken by Amnesty International’s researchers on the ground in East Jerusalem—show how Israeli forces have repeatedly deployed disproportionate and unlawful force to disperse protesters during violent raids on Al-Aqsa mosque and carried out unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah.

The Wall Street Journal (5/12/21) presented the Israeli police as neutral peace keepers, obscuring power differentials between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel:

Israel is also facing an internal conflict, as pro-Palestinian Arab residents clashed with their Jewish neighbors in mixed towns, prompting the government to bring in border police troops to quell riots.

The reality is that Israeli police have violently assailed Palestinian demonstrators across Israel. That the Palestinians arrestees have been denied legal rights and necessary medical treatment is also omitted.

Another Journal (5/12/21) article referred to “Palestinian anger over what they see as years of efforts to push them out of Jerusalem and limit their access to land they claim, as well as infringing on their basic rights.” Yet these views are not simply a matter of “what [Palestinians] see as” discrimination. As Human Rights Watch (5/11/21) noted:

Nearly all Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem hold a conditional, revocable residency status, while Jewish Israelis in the same area are citizens with secure status. Palestinians live in densely populated enclaves that receive a fraction of the resources given to settlements and effectively cannot obtain building permits, while neighboring Israeli settlements built on expropriated Palestinian land flourish.

Israeli officials have intentionally created this discriminatory system under which Jewish Israelis thrive at the expense of Palestinians. The government’s plan for the Jerusalem municipality, including both the west and occupied east parts of the city, sets the goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city” and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain. This intent to dominate underlies Israel’s crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Presenting as debatable the indisputable fact that Palestinians in Jerusalem are denied “their basic rights” is a form of “both sides-ism,” taking incontrovertible factual information about the status of Palestinians in Jerusalem and reducing it to merely one of multiple possible narratives.

Important facts left out
I looked at Gaza coverage during the first four days of Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket fire, focusing on the databases of the five US newspapers with the highest circulation: The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Crucial aspects of what is happening in Gaza have been severely underreported.

For instance, Israel closed Kerem Shalom Crossing on May 10, “blocking the entrance of humanitarian aid and fuel destined for Gaza’s power plant” (Gisha, 5/12/21). Kerem Shalom is also Gaza’s main commercial crossing, which means that the closure will further devastate Gaza’s economy, already in ruin thanks to the Israeli siege. Between May 10 and May 13, the five newspapers published a combined 114 articles that refer to Gaza. Only two pointed out that Israel has tightened the siege during the bombing campaign. The New York Times (5/10/21) ran an article that noted that Israel “shut a key crossing between Gaza and Israel,” but said nothing about the consequences of doing so.
WaPo: Israel’s military assault on Gaza threatens to worsen the pandemic in the enclave
In the first four days of the assault on Gaza, this Washington Post article (5/13/21) was the only report in a major US newspaper that mentioned that the Israeli government had blocked humanitarian aid, including Covid vaccines, from entering the occupied territory.
A Washington Post report (5/13/21) quoted Sasha Muench, Palestinian territories director for the US-based humanitarian group Mercy Corps:

At the moment, no goods or people can enter Gaza because the border crossings are closed. This means no medical supplies, including vaccines, can enter…. In addition, no fuel to run the generators can enter, and Gaza authorities are warning of increased blackouts, including at hospitals, and potentially having no electricity in Gaza at all within a few days.

The latter is the only one of the 114 articles that mentioned that Israel has been blocking the entrance of humanitarian aid even more so than before it began this round of violence against Gaza.

On May 12, the Israeli human rights group Gisha noted that Israel is “banning all access to Gaza’s sea space, a cynical and punitive measure that harms fishermen’s livelihoods and food supply,” and that this move is a form of collective punishment that is illegal under international law. Restricting Palestinians’ food access is particularly egregious, given that 68.5% of Gaza residents are already food insecure.

Collectively, the five newspapers ran 88 articles that mentioned Gaza between May 12 and 13. Just one mentioned anything about Israel barring access to the sea, a New York Times piece (5/10/21) that said Israel “barred fishermen from [Gaza] from going to sea,” but did not point out that there is already a major problem with food access in the Strip that Israel’s move is sure to worsen. In fact, zero of the 88 articles mention that there is widespread food insecurity in the territory that Israel is incinerating.

Thus, the enthusiastic cheers for attacks on Palestinians, coming from, say, the New York Times’ Bret Stephens (5/13/21), are not the only form of media misdeeds against Palestinians. It’s the inversion of attacker and attacked, or the flattening of distinctions between the two. It’s the burying of information that clarifies the scope of Israeli criminality. Such approaches can confuse the public about the differences between those who fight for liberation and those who fight to snuff it out.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat May 22, 2021 12:45 pm

Carola Chavez

May 21 , 2021 , 9:40 am .

Trapped with social media (Photo: Glenn Harvey)

A few days ago, Delcy Rodríguez denounced how social networks are used to create, not only opinion matrices, but post-truths, which are nothing other than lies that are imposed and that people swallow almost with pleasure. And not only the people, but the institutions that for political convenience choose to use these lies as evidence to fatten files against our country, for example.

All this of the networks is so new, so fast, that we do not have time to crumble them thoroughly before ending up tangled. That we know they belong to the richest men in the world, right. That we know the CIA has its hands in it, too. That we know that our data, our conversations, not only public, but direct, are not private. We know that we expose ourselves, yes, and we expose ourselves almost without knowing why we do it. Click, click, tweet.

We caught the idiotic virality that the networks impose and we ended up forwarding that sobering photo of a porn actress with glasses whose legend says that it is a girl who came out of misery in (insert here the third world nationality that corresponds to her) and that now She is the head of NASA's astrophysics department ... and everyone moved, but more than moved, feeling incapable cockroaches, because look how she could and we couldn't, because, as García Márquez says (and here we forward the image of the writer along with the dubious quote of all calligraphic and sinuous typography) "Wanting is power . "

Few things go viral as much as outrage, and as with the photo of the porn actress, or García Márquez's quote, there is no verification, they are just outraged and nothing else, and outrage, incidentally, produces many interactions, and That's why we are on the networks, right? To have interactions, comments, so that they know that we exist beyond this normality that is called real life and that it does not represent us as we want, but as we are, and the truth is that we normalito and ordinary ... even boring we are, and worse: we are imperfect and that does not give likes .

Then the networks of lies turn us into "posers", into the impossible characters that we dream of being. Perfect beings who eat gourmet wonders that they cook themselves while their fiery partner fondles them passionately, because they lack nothing, they have everything left over, even the ability to keep the fire of the pot and the fire of passion on without being burned. burns nothing.

That's when we are not a synthesis of Che Guevara, with Uncle Ho, with Lenin and Marx, but with a powdered curler wig and an implacable, instantaneous judge's hammer - because everything in the networks is instantaneous or the train will leave you behind. present -... a kind of hounds of revolutionary impurity, the main Kapital sin that neither forget nor forgive, retweet, retweet, retweet, outraged forever , disenchanted perhaps, always perfect ... fault and defect trackers, retweet, retweet , retweet.


While post-truth swallows us to the point that we end up inventing characters that we are not, in real life, complex and wonderful, to point out a couple of things, the CLAPs are stuck street by street, throughout the country, serving their communities, far beyond the food basket, inventing and overcoming difficulties. Publishing this and nothing happens is the same, as nothing happens if we have the enormous work of little ants that the companions of La Cayapa Heroica have been doing, who heroically fall in cayapa on the hospitals to repair whatever damaged things they find, not to stop That they give them likes , not to go viral, but to be useful in the fight against the blockade.

A tweet from one of us mispronouncing a word is virality guaranteed by ourselves and three days in the trends. One of the Heroic Cayapa repairing dozens of devices in a hospital: 34 retweets and oblivion.

We get caught up in social media alone and with dedication. Yes, they can be used to communicate things, but by their very nature, the important, the real, the possible will tend to get lost in that stormy more of perfect poses and virtual outrages. That we have so many things to say and they do not go beyond ourselves. Then things will have to be said differently.

Note that the enemy is very efficient using the nets against us. They even use them as evidence for the International Criminal Court. That they promote and sponsor youtubers, tiktokers, tweeters and instagramers who do not seem to be doing political work and what they do - if not, see the "tourism" videos of one called Alex Tienda. They put their neoliberal doctrine with petroleum jelly in our kids and not so bad. And all cute, all fabulous, all entertaining, interesting, attractive.

And we? Well, it's up to us, to begin with, not to be afraid to be ourselves, to say things by speaking as we speak, walking as we walk, dressing as we dress, dancing as we dance, without that epic consignment stiffness that turns everything into yawning, without the rigor mortis of that purism that accepts no one - because no one is perfect, damn it! -. Let us communicate naturally, because it is naturalness that brings us closer together, that touches the grain, that makes us recognize ourselves as equals. Ask Chávez.

We have to loosen the bow and fight in that uneven and adverse field of the networks creating attractive, ingenious, sticky and finally viral content. That people invent, without fear of being wrong, without fear of being subjected to virtual scorn, the audacity to find new ways of doing things. Let's not become old blesseds of the revolution.

Let's desecrate the revolution, because those of us who make it are people, not saints. Let us be irreverent and bold when communicating, when creating. Bolívar and Chávez were. Let's be what we are: normal and ordinary human beings, but capable of defeating the most powerful empire in history while continuing to dance with tropical flavor.

We will win!

https://misionverdad.com/opinion/desenr ... -y-avanzar

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:36 pm


The Notorious London Spy School Churning out Many of the World’s top Journalists
June 9, 2021 Alan MacLeod Bellingcat, Department of War Studies, King's College London, London, Media Bias
By Alan Macleod – Jun 4, 2021

The fact that the very department that trains high state officials and agents of secretive three letter agencies is also the place that produces many of the journalists we rely on to stand up to those officials and keep them in check is seriously problematic.

LONDON — In a previous investigation, MintPress News explored how one university department, the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, functions as a school for spooks. Its teaching posts are filled with current or former NATO officials, army officers and intelligence operatives to churn out the next generation of spies and intelligence officers. However, we can now reveal an even more troubling product the department produces: journalists. An inordinate number of the world’s most influential reporters, producers and presenters, representing many of the most well-known and respected outlets — including The New York Times, CNN and the BBC — learned their craft in the classrooms of this London department, raising serious questions about the links between the fourth estate and the national security state.

National security school
Increasingly, it appears, intelligence agencies the world over are beginning to appreciate agents with a strong academic background. A 2009 study published by the CIA described how beneficial it is to “use universities as a means of intelligence training,” writing that, “exposure to an academic environment, such as the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, can add several elements that may be harder to provide within the government system.”

The paper, written by two King’s College staffers, boasted that the department’s faculty has “extensive and well-rounded intelligence experience.” This was no exaggeration. Current Department of War Studies educators include the former Secretary General of NATO, former U.K. Minister of Defense, and military officers from the U.K, U.S. and other NATO countries. “I deeply appreciate the work that you do to train and to educate our future national security leaders, many of whom are in this audience,” said then-U.S. Secretary of Defense (and former CIA Director) Leon Panetta in a speech at the department in 2013.

King’s College London also admits to having a number of ongoing contracts with the British state, including with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but refuses to divulge the details of those agreements.

American connections
Although a British university, King’s College markets itself heavily to American students. There are currently 1,265 Americans enrolled, making up about 4% of the student body. Many graduates of the Department of War Studies go on to attain powerful positions in major American media outlets. Andrew Carey, CNN’s Bureau Chief in Jerusalem, for example, completed a master’s there in 2012. Carey’s coverage of the latest Israeli attack on Gaza has presented the apartheid state as “responding” to Hamas rocket attacks, rather than being the instigator of violence. A leaked internal memo Carey sent to his staff last month at the height of the bombardment instructed them to always include the fact that the Gazan Ministry of Health is overseen by Hamas, lest readers begin to believe the well-documented Palestinian casualty figures brought on by days of bombing. “We need to be transparent about the fact that the Ministry of Health in Gaza is run by Hamas. Consequently, when we cite latest casualty numbers and attribute to the health ministry in Gaza, we need to include the fact that it is Hamas run,” read his instructions.

Carey leaked memo
King’s College alumnus turned CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Andrew Carey instructed reporters on how to cover Israel’s latest assault on Gaza
Once publicized, his comments elicited considerable pushback. “This is a page straight out of Israel’s playbook. It serves to justify the attack on civilians and medical facilities,” commentedAl-Jazeera Senior Presenter and Producer Dena Takruri.

The New York Times, the United States’ most influential newspaper, has also employed Department of War Studies alumni. Christiaan Triebert (M.A., 2016), for example, is a journalist on their visual investigations team. He even won a Pulitzer Prize for “Revelations about Russia and Vladimir Putin’s aggressive actions in countries including Syria and Europe.” Hiring students from the school for spooks to bash Russia appears to be a common Times tactic, as it also employed Lincoln Pigman between 2016 and 2018 at its Moscow bureau.

Josh Smith, senior correspondent for influential news agency Reuters and formerly its correspondent in Afghanistan, also graduated from the department in question, as did The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Ford.

Arguably the most influential media figure from the university, however, is Ruaridh Arrow. Arrow was a producer at many of the U.K.’s largest news channels, including Channel 4, Sky News and the BBC, where he was world duty editor and senior producer on Newsnight, the network’s flagship political show. In 2019, Arrow left the BBC to become an executive producer at NBC News.

The British invasion
Unsurprisingly for a university based in London, the primary journalistic destination for Department of War Studies graduates is the United Kingdom. Indeed, the BBC, the country’s powerful state broadcaster, is full of War Studies alumni. Arif Ansari, head of news at the BBC Asian Network, completed a masters analyzing the Syrian Civil War in 2017 and was soon selected for a leadership development scheme, placing him in charge of a team of 25 journalists who curate news primarily geared toward the substantial Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in Great Britain.

Many BBC employees begin studying at King’s years after their careers have already taken off, and balance their professional lives with pursuing new qualifications. Ahmed Zaki, Senior Broadcast Journalist at BBC Global News, began his master’s six years after he started at the BBC. Meanwhile, Ian MacWilliam — who spent ten years at BBC World Service, the country’s official news broadcast worldwide, specializing in sensitive regions like Russia, Afghanistan and Central Asia — decided to study at King’s more than 30 years after completing his first degree.

Another influential War Studies alumnus at the World Service is Aliaume Leroy, producer for its Africa Eye program. Well-known BBC News presenter Sophie Long also graduated from the department, working for Reuters and ITN before joining the state broadcaster.

“It’s an open secret that King’s College London Department of War Studies operates as the finishing school for Anglo-American securocrats. So it’s maybe not a surprise that graduates of its various military and intelligence courses also enter into a world of corporate journalism that exists to launder the messaging of these same ‘security’ agencies,” Matt Kennard — an investigative journalist for Declassified U.K. who has previously exposed the university’s connections to the British state — told MintPress. “It is, however, a real and present danger to democracy. The university imprimatur gives the department’s research the patina of independence while it works, in reality, as the unofficial research arm of the U.K. Ministry of Defence,” he added.

Neri Zilber
Israeli writer and King’s College alumnus Neri Zilber has bylines in many of the media’s most important outlets
The Department of War Studies also trains many international journalists and commentators, including Nicholas Stuart of the Canberra Times (Australia); Pakistani writer Ayesha Siddiqa, whose work can be found in The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, The Hindu and many other outlets; and Israeli writer Neri Zilber, a contributor to The Daily Beast, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and Politico.

What’s it all about?
Why are so many influential figures in our media being hothoused in a department well known for its connections to state power, for its faculty being active or former military or government officials, and for producing spies and operatives for various three-letter agencies? The point of this is not to allege that these journalists are all secretly card-carrying spooks: they are not. Rather, it is to highlight the alarmingly close links between the national security state and the fourth estate we rely on to be a check on their power and to hold them accountable.

Journalists trained in this sort of environment are far more likely to see the world in the same manner as their professors do. And perhaps they would be less likely to challenge state power when the officials they are scrutinizing were their classmates or teachers.

These sorts of questions abound when such a phenomenon exists: Why are so many journalists choosing to study at this particular department, and why do so many go on to be so influential? Are they being vetted by security agencies, with or without their knowledge? How independent are they? Will they just repeat British and American state talking points, as the Department of War Studies’ publications do?

On the question of vetting, the BBC admitted that, at least until the 1990s, it conspired with domestic spying agency MI5 to make sure that people with left-wing and/or anti-war leanings, or views critical of British foreign policy and empire were secretly blocked from being hired. When pressed on whether this policy is still ongoing, the broadcaster refused to comment, citing “security issues” — a response that is unlikely to reassure skeptics.

“While it strikes me as very interesting that a single academic institution could play such a major role in the recruitment of pro-establishment activist intellectuals and delivery of the same to the media, it is not so surprising,” Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State’s School of Media and Communication and an expert in collusion between government and media, told MintPress, adding:

Elite institutions in the past and doubtless still today have been major playgrounds for intelligence services. The history of the modern nation-state generally, not just the USA, seems to suggest that national unity — and therefore elite safety — is regarded by elites as achievable only through careful management and often suppression or diversion of dissent. Far more resources are typically committed to this than many citizens, drilled in the propaganda of democracy, realize or care to concede.

RELATED CONTENT: Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat Participated in Covert UK Foreign Office-Funded Programs to “Weaken Russia,” Leaked Docs Reveal

The Bellingcat Boys
While the journalists cataloged above are not spooks, some other Department of War Studies figures working in journalism could possibly be described as such, particularly those around the influential and increasingly notorious investigative website Bellingcat.

Cameron Colquhoun, for instance, spent almost a decade at GCHQ, Britain’s version of the NSA, where he was a senior analyst running cyber and counter-terrorism operations. He holds qualifications from both King’s College London and the State Department. This background is not disclosed in his Bellingcat profile, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world.

Bellingcat’s senior investigator Nick Waters spent four years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. After that, he joined the Department of War Studies and Bellingcat.

For the longest time, Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgings dismissed charges that his organization was funded by the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — a CIA cutoutorganization — as a ridiculous “conspiracy.” Yet by 2017, he was admitting that it was true. A year later, Higgins joined the Department of War Studies as a visiting research associate. Between 2016 and 2019 he was also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, the brains behind the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Higgins appears to have used the university department as a recruiting ground, commissioning other War Studies graduates, such as Jacob Beeders and the aforementioned Christiaan Triebert and Aliaume Leroy, to write for his site.

Bellingcat is held in very high regard by the CIA. “I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love [Bellingcat],” said Marc Polymeropoulos, the agency’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia. Other officers explained that Bellingcat could be used to outsource and legitimize anti-Russia talking points. “The greatest value of Bellingcat is that we can then go to the Russians and say ‘there you go’ [when they ask for evidence],” added former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman.

A recent MintPress investigation explored how Bellingcat acts to launder national security state talking points into the mainstream under the guise of being neutral investigative journalists themselves.

Newly leaked documents show how Bellingcat, Reuters and the BBC were covertly cooperating with the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to undermine the Kremlin and promote regime change in Moscow. This included training journalists and promoting explicitly anti-Russian media across Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the FCO noted, Bellingcat had been “somewhat discredited,” as it constantly spread disinformation and was willing to produce reports for anyone with money.

Nevertheless, a new European Parliament proposal published last month recommends hiring Bellingcat to assist in producing reports that would lay the groundwork for sanctioning Russia, for throwing it out of international bodies, and to “assist Russia’s transformation into a democracy.” In other words, to overthrow the government of Vladimir Putin.

An academic journalistic nexus
The Department of War Studies is also part of this pro-NATO, anti-Russia group. Quite apart from being staffed by soldiers, spooks and government officials, it puts out influential reports advising Western governments on foreign and defense policy. For instance, a study entitled “The future strategic direction of NATO” advises that member states must increase their military budgets and allow American nuclear weapons to be stored in their countries, thereby “shar[ing] the burden.” It also recommended that NATO must redouble its commitment to opposing Russia while warning that it needed urgently to form a “coherent policy” on the Chinese threat.

Other War Studies reports claim that Russia is carrying out “information-psychological warfare” through its state channels RT and Sputnik, and counsel that the West must use its technical means to prevent its citizens from consuming this foreign propaganda.

King’s College London academics have also proven crucial in keeping dissident publisher Julian Assange imprisoned. A psychiatrist who has worked with the War Studies department testified in court that the Australian was suffering only “moderate” depression and that his suicide risk was “manageable,” concluding that extraditing him to the United States “would not be unjust.” As Matt Kennard’s investigation found, the U.K. Ministry of Defence had provided £2.2 million ($3.1 million) in funding to the institute where he worked (although the psychiatrist in question claimed his work was not directly funded by the MoD).

King’s College London markets the War Studies department to both graduates and undergraduates as a stepping stone towards a career in journalism. In its “career prospects” section for its master’s course in war studies, it tells interested students that “graduates go on to work for NGOs, the FCO, the MoD, the Home Office, NATO, the UN or pursue careers in journalism, finance, academia, the diplomatic services, the armed forces and more.”

Likewise, undergraduates are told that:

You will gain an in-depth and sophisticated understanding of war and international relations, both as subjects worthy of study and as intellectual preparation for the widest possible range of career choices, including in government, journalism, research, and humanitarian and international organisations.

Courses such as “New Wars, New Media, New Journalism” fuse together journalism and intelligence and are overseen by War Studies academics.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the department has taught many influential politicians, including foreign heads of state and members of the British parliament. But at least there is considerable overlap between the fields of defense policy and politics. The fact that the very department that trains high state officials and agents of secretive three letter agencies is also the place that produces many of the journalists we rely on to stand up to those officials and keep them in check is seriously problematic.

An unhealthy respect for authority
Unfortunately, rather than challenging power, many modern media outlets amplify its message uncritically. State officials and intelligence officers are among the least trustworthy sources, journalistically speaking. Yet many of the biggest stories in recent years have been based on nothing except the hearsay of officials who would not even put their names to their claims.

The level of credulity modern journalists have for the powerful was summed up by former CNNWhite House Correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who last month stated that:

As an American journalist, you never expect:

1.- Your own govt to lie to you, repeatedly
2.- Your own govt to hide information the public has a right to know
3.- Your own govt to spy on your communications

Unfortunately, credulity stretches into outright collaboration with intelligence in some cases. Leaked emails show that the Los Angeles Times’ national security reporter Ken Dilanian sent his articles directly to the CIA to be edited before they were published. Far from hurting his career, however, Dilanian is now a correspondent covering national security issues for NBC News.

Boyd-Barrett said that governments are dependent on “the assistance of a penetrated, colluding and docile mainstream media which of late — and in the context of massive confusion over Internet disinformation campaigns, real and alleged — appear ever more problematic guardians of the public right to know.”

In recent years, the national security state has increased its influence over social media giants as well. In 2018, Facebook and the Atlantic Council entered a partnership whereby the Silicon Valley giant partially outsourced curation of its 2.8 billion users’ news feeds to the Council’s Digital Forensics Lab, supposedly to help stop the spread of fake news online. The result, however, has been the promotion of “trustworthy” corporate media outlets like Fox News and CNN and the penalization of independent and alternative sources, which have seen their traffic decrease precipitously. Earlier this year, Facebook also hired former NATO press officer and current Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Ben Nimmo to be its chief of intelligence. Reddit’s Director of Policy is also a former Atlantic Council official.

Meanwhile, in 2019, a senior Twitter executive for the Middle East region was unmasked as an active duty officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, its unit dedicated to psychological operations and online warfare. The most notable thing about this event was the almost complete lack of attention it received from the mainstream press. Coming at a time when foreign interference online was perhaps the number one story dominating the news cycle, only one major outlet, Newsweek, even mentioned it. Furthermore, the reporter who covered the story left his job just weeks later, citing stifling top-down censorship and a culture of deference to national security interests.

The purpose of this article is not to accuse any of those mentioned of being intelligence agency plants (although at least one person did actually work as an intel officer). The point is rather to highlight that we now have a media landscape where many of the West’s most influential journalists are being trained by exactly the same people in the same department as the next generation of national security operatives.

It is hardly a good look for a healthy, open democracy that so many spies, government officials, and journalists trusted to hold them accountable on our behalf are all being shot out of the very same cannon. Learning side by side has helped to create a situation where the fourth estate has become overwhelmingly deferential to the so-called deep state, where anonymous official’s words are taken as gospel. The Department of War Studies is just one part of this wider phenomenon.

Featured image: The Maughan Library Gate at Kings College London, UK. David JC | Alamy

(MintPress News)

https://orinocotribune.com/the-notoriou ... urnalists/

I have noticed for quite a while that the commentators on BBC America are very often even more vitriolic in pushing the ruling class view than their NPR counterparts. Even the many NPR reporters sporting British accents from 'enemy of democracy' states display this trait. Which does not let chauvinistic humanitarian imperialists like Scott Simon off the hook, they still get the gulag.
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:37 am


Jessica Ashooh: The Taming of Reddit and the National Security State Plant Tabbed to Do It
June 14, 2021 Alan MacLeod Atlantic Council, Jessica Ashooh, Reddit, Social Media, Syria, UAE, US
By Alan Macleod – Jun 11, 2021

How and why did a hawkish young mandarin hothoused at elite universities and in the halls of state power end up an executive at an anarchic messageboard site with an anti-establishment reputation?

SAN FRANCISCO — Reddit is one of the world’s most influential news and social media platforms. The website attracted over 1.2 billion visits in April 2021 alone, making it the United States’ eighth most visited site, ahead of other leviathans like Twitter, Instagram and eBay. Now majority-owned by a much larger corporate publishing empire, Reddit is also far ahead of more established news sites, garnering three times the numbers of Fox News and five times those of The New York Times.

That is why it was so surprising that so little was made of the company’s decision to appoint foreign policy hawk Jessica Ashooh to the position of Director of Policy in 2017, at which time it was also the eight most visited site in the U.S. Ashooh, who had been a Middle East foreign policy wonk at NATO’s think tank the Atlantic Council, was appointed at around the same time that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee was demanding more control over the popular website, on the grounds that it was being used to spread disinformation. In her role as Director of Policy, she oversees all government relations and public policy for the company, in addition to managing content, product and advertising. Yet a Google search for “Jessica Ashooh Reddit” filtered between late 2016 and early 2017 (after she was appointed) elicits zero relevant results, meaning not one media outlet even mentioned the questionable appointment.

This is all the more hair-raising, given her resume as a high state official — all of which raises serious questions about the extent of collaboration between Silicon Valley and the national security state.

A hawk’s talons on Syria
The Atlantic Council is the de-facto brains of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and takes funding from the military alliance, as well as from the U.S. government, the U.S. military, Middle Eastern dictatorships, other Western governments, big tech companies, and weapons manufacturers. Its board of directors has been and continues to be a who’s who of high U.S. statespeople like Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, as well as senior military commanders such as retired generals Wesley Clark, David Petraeus, H.R. McMaster, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the late Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, and Admiral James Stavridis. At least seven former CIA directors are also on the board. As such, the council chooses to represent both political wings of the national security state.

Ashooh’s LinkedIn resume epitomizes the troubling relantionship between think tanks and big tech

Between 2015 and 2017, Ashooh was Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Strategy Task Force, working directly with and under Madeline Albright and Stephen Hadley. This is particularly noteworthy, given both these individuals’ roles in the region. As Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Albright oversaw the Iraq sanctions and the Oil for Food Program, denounced as “genocide” by the successive United Nations diplomats charged with carrying them out. In an infamous interview with 60 Minutes, Albright casually brushed off a question about her role in the killing of half a million children, stating “the price is worth it.” Meanwhile, Hadley was deputy or senior national security advisor to the government of George W. Bush throughout the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, surely the greatest crimes against humanity thus far in the 21st century.

Ashooh appears to be as hawkish as her bosses. Her particular area of expertise is the war in Syria, regarding which she has been among the most belligerent voices, constantly calling for more American intervention to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. In a 2015 interview with Al Jazeera, she praised the U.K. government’s decision to bomb the country, claiming that the British public was “coming around” to the idea of war. A shocked interviewer asked “how will the British airstrikes [on] Syria…make the British public any safer?” Ashooh replied that it was “generally a positive decision” because “it goes a long way in improving international consensus on the way forward on Syria,” although she lamented that there wouldn’t be “much improvement in the situation without ground troops.” There will be “no political solution without a military element,” she predicted, essentially making the pitch for war.

Ashooh has also constantly praised and supported Syria’s opposition forces. In 2016, she saidthat she was very happy that “fighters on the ground from a number of key factions” were uniting against the “Assad regime.” She condemned Russia for claiming these opposition forces were members of terrorist groups like Al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam or ISIS, insisting that these were “moderate” rebels.

Of course, the idea that there was still any measurable distance between “moderate” rebels and outright militant jihadists by 2016 was hard to maintain. Even The Washington Post by this time was admitting as much, noting that so-called moderates were now so “intermingled” with al-Nusra that it was difficult to tell them apart.

Nevertheless, the New Hampshire native took to the pages of The New York Times to demandthat the U.S. arm the opposition. Of course, it was already doing so, the CIA spending $1 billion per year fielding rebel mercenary armies in the conflict — with one in every 15 dollars the agency spent going to this endeavor. All of this Ashooh surely knew, yet she maintained that the West must continue to “jack up the price” of Russia defending Assad. “As long as [Assad] remains in power and remains the figurehead of the Syrian government…this conflict won’t end,” she said, laying out her regime-change-or-bust position. Just weeks before unexpectedly taking over at Reddit, Ashooh seemed to still be in full foreign-policy-hawk mode, condemning Obama in the pages of The Washington Post for his apparent softness on Syria and demandingthat Trump “restore U.S. credibility” by “order[ing] targeted, punitive strikes against the Assad regime.”

Ashooh attends British Polo Day at Abu Dhabi’s Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club. Photo | Ahlan

Dirty war, dirty warrior
Ashooh is actually even more involved in the Syrian conflict than one might realize from her hawkish opinions alone. Between 2011 and 2015, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, in her own words, “[p]rovid[ing] senior decision makers with policy analysis and strategic advice, with a particular focus on Syria.”

At that time the UAE was using its enormous financial clout to arm and fund a myriad of jihadist groups attempting to overthow the secular strongman Assad and establish some kind of Islamic state. Far from a conspiracy theory, this comes straight from the horse’s mouth, as then-Vice President Joe Biden revealed in a Q&A session in 2014. The future president frankly stated:

The Saudis, the Emiratis, what were they doing?…They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. “

Under pressure, he later apologized for his loose lips.

MintPress News asked the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on precisely what Ashooh’s role was, but they failed to respond.

Ashooh is pictured during her time as a “consultant” in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo | Academyalumn

Ashooh herself appears to have been a relatively major player in the Syrian Civil War. In her previously mentioned Washington Post article, she notes that her boss was a former Emirati Air Force General and that she was flown to Istanbul in 2013 to attend an emergency meeting with leaders of the Syrian opposition, as well as ambassadors from unnamed Arab and Western states, in order to plan a response to a reported chemical weapons attack and to help the U.S. “coordinate with the Syrian opposition.”

At the same time as she was advising the nation on Middle Eastern affairs, the UAE was widely accused of flying ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders into Yemen to help them intensify the Saudi-led onslaught on the impoverished nation and of smuggling U.S.-made weaponry — including small arms, TOW missiles and Oshkosh fighting vehicles — to the jihadist groups. While Ashooh’s writing is careful to maintain a distinction between the “moderate” rebels she supports and the fundamentalist radicals she does not, it certainly is noteworthy that the entities she worked for consistently seem to end up in league with the most regressive forces in the region. MintPress also reached out to Reddit for comment on why they appointed Ashooh, given her past history, and on the wider phenomenon of government penetration of social media. The company initially promised to issue a response to the inquiry but has not followed through with it.

Opposing some dictatorships, supporting others
Regime change is on the table for more than just one Middle Eastern nation. In a 2017 paper for the Center for the National Interest — a think tank established by former Republican President Richard Nixon and the “Godfather of Neoconservatism,” Irving Kristol — Ashooh explores the different options for forcing regime change in Iran, but concludes that overthrowing the “odious regime” is an impossible task right now, and criticizes the idea as a quixotic dream.

Nevertheless, she is far from an Iran dove. An Atlantic Council report she co-wrote insists that “Iranian interference in the Arab world must be deterred,” and that “America’s friends and partners must be reassured that the U.S. opposes Iranian hegemony and will work with them to prevent it.”

Ashooh’s commitment to fighting against Middle Eastern dictatorships might seem more principled if she did not appear so enamored of the least democratic one of them all. In 2016, she accompanied Albright and Hadley to Saudi Arabia and praised the monarchy’s dynamic leadership on the economy and its nurturing of a new generation. “It was really really exciting to see that level of energy and the level of government support for these young people who were interested in shaping their own futures…it was just wonderful,” she said. In an articleabout her experience for business news website Market Watch, she waxed lyrical about how forward-thinking the Saudi government is and how the country has become “a hub for the dynamic and positive change that is swelling up throughout the region.” Presumably, this excludes Yemen, a nation they were bombing relentlessly. In a 2020 interview, Ashooh revealed that her dream job would be U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. One of her earliest comments on her public Reddit page (made before she began working there) is deflecting the Kingdom from criticism of its dreadful treatment of women.

Jessica Ashooh Reddit profile
Ashooh’s Reddit account, which doesn’t identify her real identity, uses the moniker, arabscarab
As part of the Atlantic Council, Ashooh was tasked with envisaging a new Middle East for the 21st century. Given her output, it seems that she advocates for a transition towards a more privatized, free-market economic setup, not completely unlike the shock therapy tried in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. “We have to “encourage states to make the reforms that move economies from state-based to ones that support entrepreneurship, because the age of state-based economies is over,” she said at a talk at New York University in 2015, adding:

You’ve got to move to support entrepreneurship in the region and let people take advantage of the natural industrial tendencies of people in the Middle East. My God, if you’ve ever been to a Turkish bazaar or a market in Cairo you know that these countries are perfectly capable of having functioning market economies. But the state has gotten in the way.

Ashooh’s LinkedIn profile also notes that in 2010, she worked as an advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Planning “on a variety of strategic and economic development issues,” but does not go into any more detail about what those issues were. A further biography merely states that her consultancy agency “provid[ed] strategic and management consulting services to the Ministry of Planning of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq.” Unsurprisingly, the organization has links to the U.S. military; the agency’s lead partner being a former Army captain.

Think Tankie
Ashooh comes from a relatively prominent New Hampshire family of Lebanese descent, the most notable of which is probably her uncle Richard. Richard Ashooh was Donald Trump’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and a former executive at weapons manufacturer BAE Systems. Unlike her uncle, Jessica appears to lean more Democratic, having donated money to a number of local politicians, as well as to anti-Trump Republican groups aimed at convincing them to vote blue, such as Right Side PAC and the now infamous Lincoln Project. However, she also appears to have great respect for many Republicans, having written her doctoral thesis at Oxford University on the Middle East policy of the George W. Bush administration. She also stated that the person she would have most liked to have met was 41st President George Bush Senior, describing him as possessing “incredible amounts of strategy, finesse and restraint.” Thus, her political views appear to be exactly in the center of the neoliberal “blob” in Washington.

Ashooh also worked for the right-wing think tank the CATO Institute and is a Term Member of the more Democratic-aligned Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR’s term member program is intended to, in its own words, “cultivate the next generation of foreign policy leaders.”

Surveillance Valley
How and why, then, did a hawkish young mandarin hothoused at elite universities and in the halls of state power end up an executive at an anarchic messageboard site with an anti-establishment reputation? Virtually everyone else in senior roles at Reddit has relevant backgrounds in marketing or tech, having worked with comparable companies such as Yelp, Expedia and Snapchat.

Tom Secker — a journalist, podcaster and researcher who runs SpyCulture.com, an online archive about government involvement in the entertainment industry — was deeply skeptical. “That someone whose entire career has been in international relations and foreign affairs is now the senior policy wonk at Reddit is simply bizarre. Given her ties to the CFR, Atlantic Council and the like, it’s downright suspicious,” Secker told MintPress.

Underneath the surface, however, the Atlantic Council has been rapidly expanding its influence and control over big social media companies. In 2018, it announced that it would be partnering with Facebook to promote trustworthy sources and derank, demote and even delete low quality or fake news, thus effectively curating what the platform’s 2.85 billion worldwide users see in their news feeds. But the effect of recent algorithmic changes has been to throttle alternative media traffic in favor of establishment sources such as CNN, Fox News and The New York Times. Even such more mainstream liberal sites as Mother Jones have seen their numbers crater. Facebook later admitted that they were directly targeting Mother Jones because of its left-leaning content, raising the question that if such a middle-of-the-road liberal outlet was being penalized, wasn’t the collapse in traffic to more radical publications surely deliberate? Given the Atlantic Council’s funding and the identities of those on its board, their control over social media is tantamount to state censorship on a global level.

Earlier this year, Facebook also hired NATO press officer Ben Nimmo to be its intelligence chief, in another move that dismayed free-speech advocates. In the past, Nimmo has identified a Welsh pensioner and an internationally known Ukranian pianist as Russian bots, raising more questions about the suitability of the Atlantic Council to be an arbiter of truth online.

The Facebook-Atlantic Council link mirrors that of Microsoft with NewsGuard, a new piece of software purportedly trying to fight fake news by placing either green shields or red warning logos, corresponding to an outlet’s credibility, beside all links in its browser, Microsoft Edge — this credibility being decided entirely by NewsGuard itself. Newsguard pushed Microsoft to install the software on all its products as standard. Again, however, NewsGuard’s system rated establishment websites like Fox News and CNN as trustworthy but independent media as suspect. And again, a glance at its advisory board makes it clear that this is a state operation. Those in key positions included George W. Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security and former NSA and CIA Director General Michael Hayden; ex-White House Communications Director Don Baer; and former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Worse still, NewsGuard is also linked to a PR agency employed in whitewashing the Saudi government’s human-rights record and its role in the carnage in Yemen.

Twitter, too, has some extremely troubling links with state power. In 2019 Gordon MacMillan, a senior Twitter executive responsible for the Middle East region, was outed as an active duty officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online operations and psychological warfare. Far from causing a scandal, only one major U.S. outlet even mentionedthe story, and the journalist in question resigned from the profession weeks later, claiming the existence of a network of top-down state censors who quash stories that threaten the power and prestige of the national security state. To this day, MacMillan remains in his post at Twitter, strongly suggesting the social media company knew of his role before he was hired.

Over the past few years, Twitter, Reddit and Facebook have announced the deletion of hundreds of thousands of accounts linked to sources in Russia, Iran, China and other enemy states, often on the recommendation of Western governments or state-sponsored intelligence organizations. However, they never seem willing or able to find any manipulation of their platforms by Western governments. Thus, the upshot of this has been to slowly dissuade critics of Western foreign policy from using their services.

“The mainstream media-politik establishment has managed to get a hold over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — shadow-banning and downrating posts considered ‘Russian propaganda’ or whatever other excuse they use to marginalize perspectives and content outside of the mainstream,” Secker told MintPress. “Audiences for this sort of content are increasingly pissed off and alienated by the major social media sites.”

Increasingly, unwelcome political voices are either brushed off by centrist pundits as repeating Russian talking points or smeared as being amplified by Kremlin-based bot farms. The popularity of movements on the left like Black Lives Matter or the Bernie Sanders’ campaignwere written off as partially linked to Russia, while others suggested that the January 6 insurrection in Washington was essentially a Russian operation.

The irony is that many of the wildest accusations against Putin that have fed this climate of suspicion began life in Atlantic Council documents. For example, the organization has published a series of studies that suggest that virtually every European political party challenging the neoliberal status quo in some way — from Labour and UKIP in the U.K. to Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece and PODEMOS and Vox in Spain — are secretly controlled by Russia, functioning as the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horses,” in its words.

The Atlantic Council is also deeply intertwined with a U.K. government-funded organization called the Integrity Initiative, something that purports to be a group defending democracy from disinformation. However, in practice, it appears to be doing the opposite: planting disinformation about politicians’ supposed links to Russia in order to undermine them. The Integrity Initiative is a government-backed cluster of journalists who operate in unison to conduct propaganda blitzes on unsuspecting publics. In 2018, it launched a successful operation to prevent Colonel Pedro Baños being appointed Spain’s head of national security. Considering Baños too soft on Russia for the Atlantic Council and other hawks’ liking, the initiative sprung into action, creating a storm of protest that led to another individual being chosen.

Reddit actually played a key role in a 2019 propaganda blitz against anti-war Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A few days before the U.K.’s general election, Corbyn promoted documents leaked on the platform that showed that Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson was negotiating with American companies, putting much of the country’s National Health Service up for sale. With just days to go before polls opened, it could have proved a game changer. Reddit quickly came to Johnson’s rescue, however, asserting that the documents were part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The story in the pliant British press switched from “Boris Johnson is selling off the NHS” to “Corbyn promotes Russian disinfo,” thus greasing the skids for an easy victory for the hardline anti-Russia Conservative Party, an outcome the hawks at the Atlantic Council were no doubt relieved by, given Corbyn’s open skepticism about war, empire and nuclear weapons. The veracity of the documents was not challenged.

For a while…
Founded in 2005, Reddit has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most influential websites. However, it began life as an anarchistic messageboard whose culture was profoundly libertarian and anti-establishment. For years, the company’s administrators took a near free speech absolutist position. Aaron Swartz, Reddit’s co-founder, was an open source hacktivist and even attempted to download and publish the entirety of academic publisher Jstor’s library. When authorities got wind of what he was doing, they threatened him with 40 years in prison, an action that caused him to take his own life in 2013.

Reddit’s own position on free information and free speech was often so extreme it caused huge controversy. The site became the internet’s largest source of child pornography. It was only after CNN began reporting on it to a nationwide audience that things began to change. Other, grossly offensive communities like /r/BeatingWomen and /r/CoonTown were also protected.

Nevertheless, the culture established by anarchistic tech bros remained for some years, with the site resembling darker corners of the internet like 4Chan and 8Chan as much as more family-friendly mainstream social media like Facebook.

Ashooh’s arrival in 2017 coincided with a new era in the site’s history. Gone were the days of protecting communities that would bring in bad publicity. Her team quickly brought in a new content policy and began to delete communities that violated it. Last year, she oversaw the banning of over 2,000 communities in a single day, including /r/The_Donald, the main Donald Trump subreddit, and /r/ChapoTrapHouse, the most active left-wing community. These decisions have helped the money flow in; since 2017 revenue has more than tripled.

However, what has been lost across the internet is the liberatory potential of these technologies. In the 1990s and 2000s, many predicted that the internet would usher in a new era of egalitarianism and genuine democracy, helping even to reduce barriers and tensions between nations. For a while, the new medium allowed political actors to challenge the status quo and gain huge followings quickly. Alternative media was easily outperforming legacy media, and challenging the status quo when it came to news. Seeing that, the reaction since 2016 has been swift, as the elite have moved to retighten their grip over the means of communication. Ashooh’s jump from national security state official to Reddit Director of Policy is just one more point of reference on that chart.

Featured image: Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

(MintPress News)

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Jul 01, 2021 1:05 pm

Bloomberg: Here Is How We Make The U.S. Look Great
In October 2019 the Global Health Security Index published a report about global preparedness for epidemics and pandemics.

It led to this graphic with was flogged by various news sites and the World Economic Forum. The U.S. and Britain were claimed to be the leaders in pandemic preparedness.


Then came the pandemic and Britain and the U.S. turned out to be leaders in cumulative deaths per million people.


One might think that the above discrepancy would have led to some humility and restraint in those who create such rankings.

But no:


The Bloomberg tweet is somewhat unexplainable. It was evidently much better to be in China, Vietnam or New Zealand during the pandemic than to be in the U.S. - at least if one wanted to be free to travel within the country, stay employed and alive. So what explains that nonsense ranking in the tweet?

Evidently the Bloomberg authors who came up with this have put their fingers on the scale:

Now, the ability to essentially turn back the clock and return to pre-pandemic times is taking on an even greater significance.
Central to that is an economy’s openness to the world, and that’s why we’ve introduced a new element—Reopening Progress—to Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking. Two new metrics capture the ease of moving in and out of a place and how much air travel has recovered, alongside our 10 other measures tracking mortality rates to infection counts, freedom of movement to economic growth.

This pivot has ushered in dramatic changes to the ranks. The U.S. is now No. 1, ...

"We added two arbitrary criteria with little relevance that now let the U.S. look great. U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A."

Their methodology shows that they mix discretionary criteria that change from month to month with others that cover the last eighteen month. The ranking in total death per capita is one of twelve criteria in their ranking but so is the number of currently open flight routes to foreign countries. These criteria are given equal weight!

The ranking in a forecast for GDP growth in 2021 is included but not the 2020 drop in GDP that the pandemic has caused in the first place. A country with a steep drop in its 2020 GDP that is now recovering will thus look better, and will be ranked higher, than one that had no 2020 GDP drop at all.

Long story short: The ranking is utter bullshit.

Posted by b on June 30, 2021 at 13:48 UTC | Permalink

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat Jul 03, 2021 1:45 pm

US Censorship Is Increasingly Official
Press TV: This Website Has Been Seized
The US government boasting of its censorship of Press TV.
The Biden administration made headlines last week as it moved to shut down the websites of 33 foreign media outlets, including ones based in Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and Palestine. Officials justified the decision by claiming the organizations were agents of “disinformation.”

The most notable of these is probably English-language Iranian state broadcaster Press TV. Visitors to PressTV.com are now met with the seal of the Department of Justice and the FBI, and a message notifying them that the domain “has been seized by the United States government.” (The site has since migrated to an Iranian-based domain, PressTV.ir.)

This is far from the first time Press TV has been targeted. Eighteen months ago, Google deleted the Iranian channel’s YouTube account; earlier this year, Facebook did the same, banning its page, which had over 4 million followers. In 2019, the US also arrested American Press TV presenter Marzieh Hashemi, holding her without charge for over a week. Hashemi, a Muslim, said her headscarf was forcibly removed, and she was offered only pork to eat.

Western outlets covering the new seizures did not frame them as an attack on the First Amendment (Washington Post, 6/23/21; CNN, 6/23/21; Fox News, 6/23/21), many preferring instead to discuss the shortcomings of the Iranian media landscape. Slate (6/24/21), for example, reminded readers that Iran “blocks foreign social media sites, censors critical foreign outlets and jails reporters.” While this may be perfectly true, Slate suggested it was possible for the Biden administration to make a “clear distinction” between when Iran does it and when the US carries out similar actions; “disinformation and election interference are serious problems,” it helpfully noted.

Nosediving press freedom

Decrying the state of press freedoms in official enemy states is a favorite pastime of corporate media (FAIR.org, 11/1/06, 5/20/19, 10/20/19). It is a point of pride in the US that freedom of speech is written into the Constitution. Increasingly, however, if we want to find direct government censorship of speech, we don’t have to travel far.
NYT: Trump Targets Anti-Semitism and Israeli Boycotts on College Campuses
Donald Trump’s claim that his anti-BDS order “targets antisemitism” was presented as fact in the New York Times headline (12/10/19); the perspective of “critics” that it was “an attack on free speech” was treated as an allegation in the subhead.
Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, freedom of the press nosedived. Reporters working for foreign outlets like RT America were forced to register as “foreign agents,” under a 1938 law passed to counter Nazi propaganda. The channel was subsequently taken off the air in Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, critics or opponents of US foreign policy have been constantly penalized and often pulled off major social media platforms (FAIR.org, 4/16/19). The Trump administration also attempted to force the sale of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to an American company, and to halt Huawei’s spread as 5G network provider of choice to the globe.

Internally, Trump demanded the NFL fire star quarterback Colin Kaepernick for peacefully protesting during the national anthem. He also directly interfered in the university curriculum; his Department of Education ordered the universities of Duke and North Carolina at Chapel Hill to rewrite their Middle Eastern Studies programs, as they were overly “positive” towards Islam and did not promote US national security goals.

Trump also issued an order all but outlawing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Since the Civil Rights era, boycotts have been understood to be protected speech under the First Amendment. Nevertheless, since 2015, 35 US states have approved laws penalizing BDS. Effectively, anyone wanting to take public money in any form must sign a pledge to never boycott the state of Israel.

Last year, journalist Abby Martin (herself a target of social media censorship) was blocked from giving a lecture at Georgia Southern University because she refused to sign those First Amendment rights away. Public school staff have been fired for the same thing.

Perhaps most worryingly, Trump’s base is on board with tearing up the First Amendment. A 2018 poll found that 43% of Republicans agreed that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”

State censorship by states
News 5 Cleveland: Proposed law making cell phone video of cops a crime moves forward by Ohio legislators
A proposed Ohio law could outlaw videos like the one that led to Derek Chauvin’s conviction for murdering George Floyd (News 5 Cleveland, 6/24/21).
Even after Trump’s defeat, the GOP is still pushing through regulations limiting speech across America. A new Ohio law making filming police illegal is currently rapidly advancing (News 5 Cleveland, 6/24/21). Critics note that the bill would outlaw recording crimes like the murder of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, laws banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory—a paradigm that examines structural racism in US institutions—have been passed or are being considered in at least 21 states (US News, 6/23/21). This has been egged on by the conservative press, who have turned the school of thought into an ideological fixation, mentioning it nearly 1,300 times in the past three and a half months (Media Matters, 6/15/21).

These bans on Critical Race Theory are mirrored by new “Don’t Say Gay” laws, which forbid the teaching of LGBT history in K-12 schools, or give parents the opportunity to pull children from classes mentioning key historical events like the Stonewall Riots. A swath of red states have either passed or are currently considering such legislation (New Republic, 6/28/21).

In another worrying move for free speech advocates, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has just signed a bill requiring both university students and their professors to register their ideological views with the state (Salon, 6/23/21), supposedly in a bid to promote “intellectual diversity” on campus. Staff fear the results will be used to purge or deny employment to those deemed insufficiently conservative.

DeSantis is also currently overseeing a huge rewrite of the state’s school curriculum, in an effort to ensure that children are definitively instructed that “communism is evil,” in his own words (WBNS, 6/22/21). Children will be provided with “first-person accounts of victims of other nations’ governing philosophies who can compare those philosophies with those of the United States.” DeSantis presents the move as providing children with facts rather than “trying to indoctrinate them with ideology.”

Long before Trump
NATO's bombing of RTS
The offices of Radio TV Serbia after being deliberately targeted by US bombers.
The attempts to muzzle the press did not start with Trump, however. President Obama oversaw a war on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, and ensured that Julian Assange has spent the best part of a decade in hiding or in prison. Assange’s most notable journalistic action was to release the Iraq War Logs and the Collateral Murder video, which showed US pilots massacring civilians—including two Reuters journalists—in cold blood.

Outright attacking media outlets is a common tactic for the US military. During the Kosovo War, the US deliberately targeted the buildings of Serbian state broadcaster RTS, killing 16 people (FAIR.org, 8/2/00). Four years later, it conducted airstrikes on the offices of Abu Dhabi TV and Al Jazeera in Baghdad at the same time as American tanks shelled the Hotel Palestine. On the incident, Reporters Without Borders, stated: “We can only conclude that the US Army deliberately and without warning targeted journalists” (FAIR.org, 4/10/03). This was far from the only military attack on Al Jazeera during the invasion. The Bush administration even had the network’s journalist Sami al-Hajj kidnapped, holding him inside the notorious Guantánamo Bay prison camp for six years without charge.

Although many still like to hold up the United States as a bastion of free speech uninhibited by government censorship, in this new era, the idea is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. While corporate media like to highlight the many press freedom shortcomings of hostile foreign nations, the censorship worries start much closer to home.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Jul 13, 2021 1:16 pm

Fake Social Media Operation from Abroad Catalyzes Cuba Incident

The blockade perpetrated by the United States against Cuba for decades with the rejection of all the countries of the world except Israel is genocide and should be the target of the wrath of all Cubans and of all international institutions in this conflict. | Photo: Twitter/@JulianMaciasT

Published 12 July 2021

The renowned Spanish analyst Julián Macías Tovar has broken down the intense campaign articulated in digital social networks against the Cuban Revolution in the last few days. It was launched from abroad and has had as its referent the Argentinean Agus Antonelli, a right-wing political operator who has participated in several operations against leftist processes in Latin America.

The operation made intensive use of robots, algorithms, and accounts recently created for the occasion, intending to make chorus to the messages issued by the referents of the manipulative campaign.

The first account that used the HT #SOSCuba related to the COVID situation in the country was one located in Spain. It posted more than a thousand tweets on July 10 and 11, with automation of 5 retweets per second.

The researcher points out as one of the referents of the operation the Argentinean Agustín Antonetti, who is part of the right-wing Fundación Libertad. Antonetti has been an active participant in the campaigns of hoaxes and bots in social networks against left-wing processes in Latin America, among them against the Bolivian Evo Morales and the Mexican Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as previous investigations revealed, from the sanction that Facebook applied to numerous accounts for political operations in the networks.

Tovar points out in his meticulous investigation that campaigns were carried out for artists to participate with a tweet with the HT #SOSCuba, due to the deaths caused by COVID and lack of medical resources. The striking thing is that if you analyze these responses, almost all come from newly created accounts or have a maximum age of one year. More than 1,500 of the accounts that participated in the operation with the hashtag #SOSCuba were created between July 10 and 11.

The international media then took it upon themselves to make visible the campaign articulated with the artists.

On Sunday, July 11, with hundreds of thousands of tweets and the participation of many artists' accounts, the hashtag became a global trend in several countries. At that time, the first demonstration in San Antonio de Los Baños was published in the United States by the account of one named Yusnaby with thousands of RTs. As Tovar points out: "Curiously Yusnaby (US Navy) is the account that comes out by far the most in my threads because it is one of the patterns of automated fake accounts that spread hoaxes and hate campaigns. If you search for my @ + Yusnaby, you will find infinite ones."

"What is happening in Cuba?

I analyzed the more than two million tweets using the HT #SOSCuba that started asking for humanitarian aid given increasing COVID deaths with the participation of artists and thousands of newly created accounts and bots and ended in mobilizations in the streets."

The network analyst reveals that when analyzing the campaign's hashtag, the most noticeable thing is the repetition of exact tweets, which denotes the existence of automated patterns with hundreds of thousands of tweets and a similar number of followers due to the computerized system of gaining followers.

Another evident element of the operation is the massive use of matrix accounts, with very common matrices in other international campaigns such as the coup d'état in Bolivia or the active presence of Latin American right-wing spokespersons such as Tertsch, Cabal, and Tuto Quiroga.

Tovar also denounces the use of manipulated images or events in other countries and the articulation of the network operation with various right-wing media in the continent.

The investigation confirms the denunciation of Cuban authorities that this is a concerted operation in the digital public space, to which "considerable resources are dedicated, it is not something improvised. It is something very well designed, structures and agencies of the United States with laboratories dedicated to create these conditions and achieve their objectives."

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Fak ... -0013.html
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