After the shock of Election Night 2016, the Washington Post ran a story that egregiously violated traditional standards of journalistic due diligence and basic human decency. Like most major newspapers, it is staffed primarily by dishonest people. They became unhinged with the realization that they lacked credibility and even worse, elicited hostility from an enormous segment of the US population. They felt bad.
It was clearly emotion rather than reason that impelled Craig Timberg to write a bogus story: “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.” Who were these experts? He didn’t care and neither did his editors. The “bipartisan experts” are an anonymous website called PropOrNot. They claim to be working in teams conducting multi-disciplinary analysis.
However, a perusal of the website turns up enough content to require about a weekend’s worth of effort on the part of a single Hillary fanatic. It’s not done in a remotely profession fashion, right down to the juvenile tweets to insult the people whom it has libeled as sources of Russian disinformation:
The article references “The List” posted by PropOrNot of 200 websites as examples of Russian propaganda. Everything from American Renaissance to the Ron Paul Institute made the cut. Special enmity seems to be reserved for Zero Hedge. Basically, if Zero Hedge featured your content, you’re a Russian-induced problem. The methodology is truly idiotic.
Paul Craig Roberts might be operating under the delusion that he’s a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and editor for The Wall Street Journal, but actually he’s a “useful idiot” of Russia. Why? An article is cited in which he explains the dangerous folly of deploying US troops to the Baltics, and argues that the Cold War strategy of seeking a reduction in tension would be wiser.
The problem with PropOrNot is that it was taken seriously by many. An editor’s note attached to the article later on stating that the Post “does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings” makes no difference to them. Moreover, there are lots of people out there who desperately want to believe, facts be damned. It would be wrong to interpret the whole episode merely as a sad joke, because it’s been used to justify mass censorship of alternative media.
As PropOrNot gleefully tweeted out, Facebook recently shut down the accounts of many of its libel targets. Some 800 were eliminated in a mass pre-election purge. Some of these were outlets with millions of followers who are now essentially put out of business without the ability to connect with their audiences through the social media platform.
— PropOrNot ID Service 🇺🇸 (@propornot) October 12, 2018
No rationale is provided by Facebook beyond a collection of canards cited, with zero justification provided. PropOrNot has announced that its campaign will now move on to getting the websites themselves taken down. This is a very real possibility.
What if serious people, with substantial influence and enormous financial resources, use the same approach as these clowns to pursue their objectives? What if they’ve got a track record of getting the horrific things they want, such as getting the US to invade Iraq on behalf of Israel? Well, that would be The Alliance for Securing Democracy.
After the ball got rolling, The Alliance for Securing Democracy was established in July of last year to take the same approach as PropOrNot, but burnished with esteemed establishment credentials and supported by lavish funding. Advised by the likes of Bill Kristol and John Podesta, it’s run day to day by former State Department official Laura Rosenberger. They’ve been lauded for a “bipartisan approach” of bringing together a collection of Teams Red and Blue all-stars dedicated to opposing free discourse, disastrous Zionist aggression, and sharing a hatred for Trump and his voting base.
The centerpiece of the propaganda is called Hamilton 68. It purports to be tracking and analyzing 600 Twitter accounts “participating in Russian influence campaigns.” Both the identity of accounts and how specifically they were identified it refuses to disclose. There’s really no proof provided that they’re even tracking 600 Twitter accounts.
Let’s say that they are actually tracking accounts and made them public. They’d probably have to contend with a class-action lawsuit for defamation which they’d be unable to defend with credible evidence, considering what’s disclosed on the website. They offer a long and detailed statement on methodology that explains nothing about what they’re actually doing. In that regard, they share the laughable fabrication of “trust our secret sauce of expert analysis and super-advanced techniques” touted by PropOrNot.
Of course, lots of big mainstream outlets from CNN to the NYT praise the endeavor and have cited its ridiculous assertions. They’re all predictable. Controversy over Bret Kavanaugh? Russian influence. Kneeling players in the NFL causing racial tensions? Well, duh. People in high places believe this stuff. Senator Ben Sasse tweeted it at Richard Spencer last year to the acclaim of the MSM. Anything can be attributed to the Russians, and the bipartisan experts at Hamilton 68 can manufacture the proof simply by saying that they’re detecting “inauthentic behavior.”
This week's ASD newsletter highlights efforts by platforms to counter U.S. actors engaging in inauthentic social media behavior, the introduction of bipartisan legislation to secure electoral infrastructure, China's cyber escalation, and more…https://t.co/TbtJdMRVJt
— Securing Democracy (@SecureDemocracy) October 15, 2018
There’s an endgame to what they’re doing. One objective is clearly to make sure that there’s never a repeat of the 2016 election by removing dissenting opinions and free discussion from the internet. This is initially taking the form of a coordinated crackdown by private sector monopolies, because it would be difficult to get legislation through Congress while Trump is in the White House.
Unfortunately, this might be all it takes if Trump fails to take unilateral action through agencies like the FCC. He seems to not fully appreciate the role that the alternative media plays in getting votes for himself and enough Republicans to hold both houses.
Free Speech! This is considered a fundamental right by the red-blooded White Americans whom he desperately requires to come out to the polls in droves. It would be a popular rallying cry, particularly when people are terrified of even putting one of his bumper stickers on their cars. If he drops the ball on this one, there could be an enormous price to pay.