Fake News On Russia And Other Official Enemies: New York Times, 1917–2017

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By Edward S. Herman for Black Agenda Report – It has been amusing to watch the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets express their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news.” These publications take it as an obvious truth that what they provide is straightforward, unbiased, fact-based reporting. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of their own varied forms of fake news, often by disseminating false or misleading information supplied to them by the national security state, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power An important form of mainstream media fake news is that which is presented while suppressing information that calls the preferred news into question. This was the case with “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down,” the title of a January 18, 1988, Times editorial referring to a propaganda claim of five years earlier that the editors had swallowed and never looked into any further. The lie—that the Soviets knew that Korean airliner 007, which they shot down on August 31, 1983, was a civilian plane—was eventually uncovered by congressman Lee Hamilton, not by the Times. Mainstream media fake news is especially likely where a party line is quickly formed on a topic, with any deviations therefore immediately dismissed as naïve, unpatriotic, or simply wrong.

Freedom Rider: Putin, Trump And Manafort

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By Margaret Kimberley for Black Agenda Report – The American propaganda campaign being waged against the Russian Federation and its president Vladimir Putin has reached a stage of perverse perfection. It is virtually impossible to put forth a dissenting opinion that will be accepted or considered worthy of consideration. The Democrats are leading the charge to silence and censor and they are getting buy-in from people who otherwise consider themselves to be progressive. This columnist has been interviewed on Radio Sputnik on two occasions. That fact should not be at all noteworthy but in the current atmosphere of Russophobia being pushed by the corporate media and Democratic politicians, it is a risky statement to make. Sputnik International is a Russian government entity, just as the BBC is “state run media” on behalf of the British government and the CBC for Canada. But anyone and anything connected to Russia gets the double standard treatment and is targeted for attack. Marcus Ferrell was until recently a campaign staffer for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. He resigned after the Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed that he had been a guest on the program By Any Means Necessary which is hosted by Sputnik. Ferrell didn’t discuss Russia at all.

Media Still Excluding Palestinian Voices In Reports On BDS

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By Michael F. Brown for The Electronic Antifada – What the AP says is important because its reports typically appear in hundreds of publications around the world. Witte described BDS as “founded in 2005 to protest Israel’s actions toward Palestinians by boycotting Israeli products and companies.” He did not provide any detail about what specific Israeli actions BDS supporters are protesting. Consequently, readers did not hear that the nonviolent movement is calling for an end to Israeli military occupation and settlement building that is against international law, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel who face systematic discrimination and implementing the internationally recognized right of return for Palestinian refugees. Instead, Hogan, a Republican, was allowed to misrepresent the movement, saying, “Boycotts based on religion, national origin, ethnicity or place of residence are discriminatory, and contracting with businesses that practice discrimination would make the state a passive participant in private sector commercial discrimination.” Witte’s report failed to mention that the BDS National Committee – the campaign’s Palestine-based steering group – is very explicit about rejecting all forms of racism and religious bigotry, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

NYT Laments ‘Forever Wars’ Its Editorials Helped Create

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By Adam Johnson for FAIR – Corporate media have a long history of lamenting wars they themselves helped sell the American public, but it’s rare so many wars and so much hypocrisy are distilled into one editorial. On Monday, the New York Times (10/22/17) lamented the expansion of America’s “forever wars” overseas, without once noting that every war mentioned is one the editorial board has itself endorsed, while failing to oppose any of the “engagements” touched on in the editorial. The Times began by noting the sheer scope of US military reach: The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories…. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere. An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as “unknown.” The Pentagon provided no further explanation.

The North Korea Neither Trump Nor Western Media Wants The World To See

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By Eva Bartlett for Mint Press News – PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK) is one of the least understood and most lied about countries on Earth. In Western corporate media renditions, most news about the country is alarmist (of “the North Koreans want to kill you” type), fake (“all men have to have the same haircut,” a story originating from Washington itself), or about the North’s military. Accounts of the nation’s military prowess and threat generally ignore (as noted here) the presence of the 28,500 U.S. troops occupying South Korea, their 38 military installations, and more recently their Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea — “a U.S. radar system opposed by the Korean people, in the North and South, as well as China.” On September 19, 2017, in the forum of the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea. This is not the first time threats against the DPRK have been issued. Colin Powell in 1995 threatened to turn North Korea into “a charcoal briquette” and in 2013 reiterated that threat to “destroy” the country. Not broadcast in corporate media is the fact that America had already annihilated North Korea, destroying the capital city, Pyongyang, and cities around the country, with 635,000 tons of bombs, including 32,557 tons of Napalm — indeed turning the North into a ‘charcoal briquette’.

Why Do Media Keep Saying Iran Has Nuclear Weapons Program?

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By Adam Johnson for FAIR – The problem with all of these excerpts: Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. It has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons. Over 30 countries have civilian nuclear programs; only a handful—including, of course, the US and Israel—have nuclear weapons programs. One is used to power cities, one is used to level them. If you are skeptical, just refer to a 2007 assessment by all 16 US intelligences agencies (yes, those 16 US intelligence agencies), which found Iran had “halted” its nuclear weapons program. Or look at the same National Intelligence Estimate in 2012, which concluded again that there “is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.” Or we can listen to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which concurred with the US intelligence assessment (Haaretz, 3/18/12). The “Iran Deal,” formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is built on curbing Iran’s civilian nuclear program, out of fear—fair or not—that it could one day morph into a nuclear weapons program. But at present, there is no evidence, much less a consensus, that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program. JCPOA cannot be used as per se evidence such a program exists today; indeed, it is specifically designed to prevent such a program from developing down the road.

Catalan Referendum: Attacks On Journalists, Biased Coverage

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By Staff of RSF – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled that media personnel were among the victims of police charges against civilians during the illegal independence referendum organized by the regional government in Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, on 1 October. According to figures provided by the Catalan government, around 850 people were injured as a result of the disproportionate use of force by police who had been deployed by the Spanish government. Those injured included press photographers and reporters who were covering the voting. The most serious incidents occurred in and around the Ramón Lull School in downtown Barcelona, which served as a polling station. Several photographers were hit or injured in crushes, as the photo-journalist Juan Carlos Mohr reported on Twitter. Xabi Barrena, a reporter for the Catalan daily El Periódico de Catalunya, was among the journalists attacked by Spanish riot police. He was struck by a police baton while using his mobile phone to film police charges inside the school. When he was on the ground, the police also kicked him. Sofia Cabanes, a reporter for the digital daily NacióDigital in Terres de l’Ebre who also freelances for the Spanish news agency EFE, was filming a police charge in Sant Carles de la Ràpita, near Tarragona when a member of the Spanish Civil Guard (a gendarmerie-style force) struck her arm with his baton, knocking her mobile phone to the ground. When she tried to pick it up, one of the policemen deliberately stamped on her hand.

Why Won't US Media Tell Truth About What's Happening In Venezuela?

Violent opposition groups incinerated over 50 tons of food stored in a government warehouse in Anzoategui in late June. | Photo: AVN

By Justin Podur for AlterNet – Earlier this week, Donald Trump stood before the U.N. and called for the restoration of “political freedoms” to a South American nation in the thoes of an economic crisis. The country in question was Venezuela, but he could have just as easily been describing Argentina, whose right-wing government imprisoned indigenous politician Milagro Sala, has run inflation into the double digits and is in the process of re-imposing the sort of austerity policies that triggered a popular revolt and debt default in 2001. The description also fits Brazil, where President Michel Temer has been caught on tape discussing bribes, his former cabinet member’s apartment recently raided to the tune of 51 million reais ($16 million). Temer, who assumed office only after leading the impeachment of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, has also run an aggressive program of austerity, dissolving the programs that lifted tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty and into the middle class. In both countries, right-wing forces have taken power and undermined fragile democratic norms with the objective of reversing the modest redistribution of wealth achieved under left-wing administrations over the past 15 years. Backed by a United States government with a long history of subverting leftist movements in the region, and a mainstream media that’s all too eager to carry its water, the right is now attempting the same feat in Venezuela.

Corporate Media Analysts’ Indifference To US Journalists Facing 70 Years in Prison

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By Adam Johnson for FaIR – For over two years, many in corporate media have been trumpeting the looming threat to a free press posed by Donald Trump. “Would President Trump Kill Freedom of the Press?” Slate (3/14/16) wondered in the midst of the primaries; after the election, the New York Times (1/13/17) warned of “Donald Trump’s Dangerous Attacks on the Press,” and the Atlantic (2/20/17) declared it “ A Dangerous Time for the Press and the Presidency.” Reporter Aaron Cantu’s press credentials. It’s strange, then, that the attack on the press that kicked off the Trump administration—the arrest and subsequent threatening of two journalists with 70 years in prison—has been met with total silence from most of these same outlets. Aaron Cantú, Santa Fe Reporter staff writer and editor at the New Inquiry (and a contributor to FAIR.org), and professional photographer Alexei Wood are both facing decades in prisonfor the act of covering the January 20 unrest in DC—charged with felony rioting for little more than being in the proximity of window-breaking and brick-throwing. (Prosecutors initially brought and then dropped felony charges against six other reporters, though how their cases differ from Cantú and Wood’s is unclear.)

In Month After Charlottesville, Papers Spent As Much Time Condemning Anti-Nazis As Nazis

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By Adam Johnson for FAIR – Since the Charlottesville attack a month ago, a review of commentary in the six top broadsheet newspapers—the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, San Jose Mercury News and Washington Post—found virtually equal amounts of condemnation of fascists and anti-fascist protesters. Between August 12 and September 12, these papers ran 28 op-eds or editorials condemning the anti-fascist movement known as antifa, or calling on politicians to do so, and 27 condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists, or calling on politicians—namely Donald Trump—to do so. For the purposes of this survey, commentary that drew a comparison between antifa and neo-Nazis, but devoted the bulk of its argument to condemning antifa, was categorized as anti-antifa. There were no op-eds or editorials framed as condemnations of “both sides” that spent as much or more time condemning or criticizing neo-Nazis. The “both sides” frame—which was employed by Donald Trump in the wake of the attack, and endorsed by white supremacist David Duke—was almost always used a vehicle to highlight and denounce antifa, with a “to be sure” line about neo-Nazis thrown in for good measure. A breakdown of the op-eds and editorials can be found here.

More Misleading Russia-Gate Propaganda

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By Robert Parry for Consortium News – On Tuesday, for instance, the Times published a front-page article designed to advance the Russia-gate narrative, stating: “A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.” Wow, that sounds pretty devastating! The Times is finally tying together the loose and scattered threads of the Russia-influencing-the-U.S.-election story. Here you have a supposed business deal in which Putin was to help Trump both make money and get elected. That is surely how a casual reader or a Russia-gate true believer would read it – and was meant to read it. But the lede is misleading. The reality, as you would find out if you read further into the story, is that the boast from Felix Sater that somehow the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow would demonstrate Trump’s international business prowess and thus help his election was meaningless. What the incident really shows is that the Trump organization had little or no pull in Russia as Putin’s government apparently didn’t lift a finger to salvage this stillborn building project.

Inflating The Russian Threat

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

By Jonathan Marshall for Consortium News – Readers of the New York Times have more to sweat about than hot summer weather in the Big Apple. The paper’s chief military correspondent, Michael Gordon — co-author of the infamous 2002 story about Saddam Hussein’s “quest for A-bomb parts” — has all but warned that war in Europe could break out at any minute with the mighty Russian army. Gordon and Schmitt added that this latest and greatest example of “Mr. Putin’s saber-rattling,” represents “the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that so much offensive power has been concentrated in a single command.”“Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer,” he reported last month with Eric Schmitt. Sounding like speechwriters for Sen. John McCain, they called the long-planned military exercises with Belarus — known as “Zapad” (Russian for “west”) — “one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War.”

Net Neutrality Reduced To Mogul Vs. Mogul In Corporate Media’s Shallow Coverage

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By John O’Day for FAIR – A common refrain in popular news media is that net neutrality is just too boring and esoteric for ordinary people to be interested in. “Oh my god that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen,” John Oliver (HBO, 6/1/14) once exclaimed after showing his audience a short clip from a government hearing on the subject. “That is even boring by C-SPAN standards.” Net neutrality is the principle that internet data should be transmitted without discrimination. Absent net neutrality rules, internet service providers (ISPs) are free to act as gatekeepers, controlling which data users have access to and at what speed. Oliver proved himself wrong. His 2014 segment, which explained net neutrality and successfully implored the public to support the FCC’s proposed reclassification of ISPs as “common carriers” under the Telecommunications Act, so that they could be regulated as public utilities, has been viewed over 13 million times on YouTube. 3.7 million people sent comments to the FCC that year.

Federal Bank Regulator Drops A Bombshell As Corporate Media Snoozes

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens for Wall Street On Parade – Last Monday, Thomas Hoenig, the Vice Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), sent a stunning letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. The letter contained information that should have become front page news at every business wire service and the leading business newspapers. But with the exception of Reuters, major corporate media like the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, the Business section of the New York Times and Washington Post ignored the bombshell story, according to our search at Google News. What the fearless Hoenig told the Senate Banking Committee was effectively this: the biggest Wall Street banks have been lying to the American people that overly stringent capital rules by their regulators are constraining their ability to lend to consumers and businesses. What’s really behind their inability to make more loans is the documented fact that the 10 largest banks in the country “will distribute, in aggregate, 99 percent of their net income on an annualized basis,” by paying out dividends to shareholders and buying back excessive amounts of their own stock.

Talking About A Revolution

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By Jim Naureckas for Other Words – Saving people and the planet means upending virtually every kind of business — starting with the media. It’s long been clear that if we want to avoid catastrophic climate disruption on a scale that threatens human civilization, we need to leave vast amounts of fossil fuels in the ground. Environmental writer Bill McKibben pointed out the math in a crucial 2012 article for Rolling Stone: To avoid disaster, 80 percent of the carbon already discovered by private and state-owned energy companies has to be left alone — to be treated as useless rock. The problem is, the energy companies are some of the richest, most powerful entities on Earth. Corporations are designed to act like organisms with a single goal: maximizing profits. And the fossil fuel industry’s future profits — roughly 80 percent of them — depend on extracting that carbon and burning it, climate and civilization be damned. They’ve been using and will continue to use their vast influence to thwart any effort to avert that disaster. Does humanity have the collective power to tell the current owners of carbon deposits that they don’t have the right to take them out of the ground and sell them as fuel? That the companies simply don’t own those assets anymore?