Earlier today, president Obama started a witch hunt based on Russia hacking claims.
In the second Russia-related story of the day, Yves Smith, author of Naked Capitalism, considers a lawsuit against the Washington Post for an extremely sloppy article on “Fake News”, primarily about Russia that mentioned her website.
The article listed Naked Capitalism, Zero Hedge, and 200 other sites for “spreading fake news”. Included in the list were Counterpunch, the Drudge Report, Truthdig, and Truth-out.
I failed to make the grade and almost feel slighted.
Please consider Washington Post on the ‘Fake News’ Hot Seat.
The Washington Post—whose coverage of Watergate four decades ago angered the powers that be, toppled a president, and defined courageous journalism—has unleashed a hornet’s nest of a different sort, one unlikely to earn a Pulitzer Prize.
The story, by Post technology reporter Craig Timberg and published Nov. 24, purported to reveal how “sophisticated” Russian propagandists had spread fake news through hundreds of web sites to destabilize American democracy, thwart Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump to the White House.
So far the story—which has attracted millions of page views and more than 14,000 comments—has provoked lawsuit threats from at least two of the web sites, notably the widely respected financial blog Naked Capitalism, which fired off a legal letter demanding a retraction and apology even though the Post story does not specifically mention Naked Capitalism or any of the other allegedly Russian-influenced websites.
“I thought it was completely ridiculous that the Post would put this sorry piece of trash on the front page,” Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine, told The Daily Beast in a typically vehement slam.
“The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting,” was the headline on Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi’s takedown.
The critics panned the Post story’s heavy reliance on the judgments of unnamed “researchers” for PropOrNot.com, a shadowy website launched three months ago ostensibly to expose “Russian influence operations targeted at US audiences, distinguish between propaganda and commercial ‘clickbait’, and help identify propaganda and push back.”
Naked Capitalism’s editor “Yves Smith,” the pen name of investment advisor Susan Webber who launched the blog in 2006, has so far not threatened to sue PropOrNot, whose so-called “blacklist” went online a few days after the group launched its Twitter feed on Nov. 5.
“I really don’t want to discuss our possible litigation strategy,” Webber told The Daily Beast, when asked why she was focusing her legal firepower on the Post and not PropOrNot. “The real damage here was done by the Washington Post’s amplification of a group that had no background…that was non-existent before it announced itself on Twitter.”
She added: “That does not mean that we were not significantly harmed by PropOrNot, the originator of this false tale, but I had chosen not to respond to them when I first saw their site, which was several days before the Post story ran, because they had no traffic. There’s no point in calling attention to a site that has no traffic.”
Amid the storm of condemnation and an open letter from Naked Capitalism’s attorney demanding a retraction and apology, the paper appended a highly unusual editor’s note to the online version, attempting to distance the Post from PropOrNot.
Astonishingly, considering the Post’s respectful treatment of PropOrNot and the story’s front-page play, the editor’s note argued that the paper “does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so.”
That surprising assertion seemed to conflict with a statement the paper issued the previous week, as the criticisms were gaining traction, that “The Post reviewed [PropOrNot’s] findings, and our questions about them were answered satisfactorily during the course of multiple interviews…We granted PropOrNot anonymity in this case because of a credible fear of reprisal.”
Paul Craig Roberts, meanwhile, told The Daily Beast that he’s ready to join a potential lawsuit against the newspaper.
“Why don’t we just get all 200 of us to sue,” Roberts said, “so we can get all of Bezos’s billions?”
Mish Blast of Washington Post
For those wanting background to this article, please see my report Washington Post Thoroughly Discredits Itself With McCarthy-Style Smear Campaign Against ZeroHedge, Naked Capitalism, Truth-Out 200+ Others
The Washington Post stepped well over the line of questionable reporting today, venturing deep into a McCarthy-style smear campaign against hundreds of allegedly “fake news” sites accused of being under control of, or influenced by Russia.
Ironically, the Washington Post headline, Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread ‘Fake News’ During Election, Experts Say reads like it a “fake news” supermarket tabloid.
The article, written By Craig Timberg, is even worse. It cites anonymous researchers, who propose a Russian fake news team may have delivered the election to Donald Trump.
The article asks Could better Internet security have prevented Trump’s win?
ZeroHedge was on The List at PropOrNot along with many other names you will recognize including that bastion of perpetual right-wing, Republican propaganda, Naked Capitalism (Hint – that was sarcasm).
The Washington Post article is nothing more than a McCarthy-style smear campaign against sites that are anti-Hillary, anti-war, or pro-Russia.
No evidence was provided. The authors of “the list” remain anonymous, purportedly out of fear of Russian hackers, who have ZeroHedge and others under their control.
Don’t worry, it’s not McCarthyism. They are merely calling for “formal investigations by the US governments” because they “strongly suspect individuals violated the Espionage Act, the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and other related laws“.Most of the Fake News Comes from Respected Sources
Check out this pair of Tweets by Newsweek author Kurt Eichenwald:
NBC’s Fake News King Brian Williams Launches Crusade Against “Fake News”
Recall that NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams was fired for perpetuating fiction. He was picked up as the breaking news anchor for MSNBC.
Rolling Fiction? Now, Williams is on a tirade against Fake News.
Clinton fan manufactured fake news that MSNBC personalities spread to discredit WikiLeaks docs
Glenn Greenwald tweeted …
Witch Hunt Begins
And so the witch hunt officially begins, not against the Washington Post, MSNBC, or NBC, but with Russia.
The person most upset at Russia is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, an ardent supporter of Hillary.
Graham says “I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia,” Mr Graham said. “I want [Russian president Vladimir] Putin personally to pay a price.”
For my coverage of Obama’s witch hunt, including damning quotes by Lindsey Graham in praise of Hillary, please see Hillary Backer, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Heads Obama’s Witch Hunt on Russia.
Graham blames Russia for Hillary’s loss.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock