Friday, January 17, 2020

Western Media Coverage Of Russia As An Exercise In Propaganda


The notion of “fake news” has entered our vocabulary as a pejorative term for dissemination of bogus information, usually by social media, sometimes by traditional print and electronic channels which happen to hold positions contradicting the tenets of our conventional wisdom, i.e., liberal democracy. The term has been applied to Russian state owned media such as RT to justify denying such outlets normal journalistic credentials and privileges.
In this essay, I will employ the more traditional term propaganda, which I take to mean the manipulation of information which may or may not be factually true in order to achieve objectives of denigrating rivals for influence and power in the world, and in particular for denigrating Russia and the “Putin regime.”
The working tools of such propaganda are
  • tendentious determination of what constitutes news, which build on the inherent predisposition of journalism to feature the negative and omit the positive from daily reporting while they carry this predisposition to preposterous lengths
  • the abandonment of journalism’s traditional “intermediation,” meaning provision of necessary context to make sense of the facts set out in the body of a news report. In this regard, the propagandistic journalist does not deliver the essential element of paid-for journalism which should distinguish it from free “fake news” on social media and on the internet more broadly
  • silence, meaning underreporting or zero reporting of inconvenient news which contradicts the conventional wisdom or might prompt the reader-viewer to think for himself or herself. As a colleague and comrade in arms, professor Steve Cohen of Princeton and NYU, has said in his latest book War with Russia?: the century old motto of The New York Times “All the news that’s fit to print” has in our day turned into “All the news that fits.”
Demonstrations of the arguments I present here could easily fill a book if not a library shelf. However, I think for purposes of this essay, it suffices to adduce several examples of the three violations of professional journalism giving us a constant stream of propaganda about Russia and its political leadership by offering a few reports drawn from the very cream of our print and electronic media.
In particular, I have chosen as markers the Financial Times and the BBC. The use of propaganda methods in their coverage of Russia is all the more telling and damaging, given that in a great many domains these channels otherwise represent some of the highest quality standards to be found in reporting anywhere today and consequently enjoy the respect of their subscribers and visitors, who little suspect they could be so prejudicial in their coverage of select domains like Russia.
*  *  *
As 2019 drew to a close, many of our media outlets drew attention to two Russia-related anniversaries: the just celebrated thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with the retreat of Soviet armed forces from Eastern Europe that it touched off; and the soon to be celebrated twentieth year of Vladimir Putin’s hold on power in the Kremlin. Both subjects may be fairly called news worthy and so fully correspond to traditional journalistic values. What has been exceptional and unacceptable has come in the second category of violations listed above – lack of context.
Starting in October 2019, the BBC’s Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg did several programs dedicated to the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the Christmas to New Year’s period, the BBC aired one program which consisted of two parts. In the first half, Rosenberg considered the impact of the withdrawal of Russian forces from East Germany on the Russians themselves and interviewed the former chief of those forces, who explained at length how they “came home” to shocking living conditions in the provinces, how they were abandoned to their fate by their own government. The tone of the reporting was sympathetic to Russians’ hardships and it was good that their side of the story from the ground up was given the microphone. What implied criticism there was of the powers that be came from a patriotic source. However, the second half of the program was turned over to a certain Lydia Shevtsova, a very outspoken Putin-hater, formerly with the Carnegie Center Moscow, till she was finally booted out and moved to a more congenial and supportive think tank, Chatham House, in London, where her anti-Russian vitriol is encouraged and disseminated by her co-author, ex-British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood. Among the gem quotations which Shevtsova delivered was the claim that Russia under Putin is a declining power which is capable only of disrupting the world order, a spoiler not capable of any creative or productive contribution. Of course, Shevtsova has a right to her opinions, however the BBC had an obligation to its audience to explain exactly who the lady is and, if they wanted to practice fair play, to offer an alternative interpretation of what Vladimir Putin’s Russia stands for on the global stage today. They did not do either. The result was pure propaganda not news and analysis.
As for violations in the categories one and two above, a very good example arose following the recent publication of a study performed by the Levada Center public opinion polling organization in Moscow during October which showed that “53 per cent of 18-to-24 year-olds wanted to leave the country.” This was written about by many of our news peddlers, including FT. The decision to feature this factoid and use it to support claims that the Putin regime’ is a failure fits well with tendentiousness of our news coverage. Meanwhile, nearly all coverage of that study, including in the Financial Times, offered no contextual information whatsoever, when the context was begging to be told.
The article in FT which carried the Levada Center findings was published on 9 January as “Generation Putin: how young Russians view the only leader they’ve ever known.” The remarks on Levada followed directly on another statement begging for context: “Youth unemployment in Russia is more than three times the rate of the total population, according to 2018 data, compared with just twice the rate in 2000.”
First, as regards those 53% would-be “leavers,” one might ask: and so, why don’t they just leave? Russia today is truly a free country: anyone other than convicted felons who wants a passport can get it, and get it rather quickly. And thanks to the efforts of their remarkably hardworking Ministry of Foreign Affairs, most of the world welcomes Russian travelers without a visa requirement. But for that matter, getting a Schengen visa for the EU is not so complicated either.
However, those 53% are, in fact, not going anywhere. They are just sounding off about their youthful disgruntlement with a world created and run by their parents.
At the same time, as the Financial Times editorial board knows full well, young, middle-aged and even old have been leaving the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Romania and other former Soviet Bloc countries in droves, for the past thirty years up to the present day. That was the subject of an article published in the FT on the next day, 10 January 2020 under a title which speaks for itself: “Shrinking Europe.” The states I mentioned here have seen 25 and 30% loss of their population to citizens voting with their feet and departing the shrinking economies and personal prospects which result directly from deindustrialization and economic colonization by Germany and other founding Member States of the EU since 1991. The issue appears in the news now because, as the FT explains, “Andrej Plenkovic, the Croatian prime minister, has decided to elevate population decline to the top of his agenda as Zagreb assumes the EU’s rotating presidency.” Good for him! Now that the skeleton has finally come out of the EU closet, all the stories about Russia’s demographic crisis can be put in context – by those few who wish to do so.
Second, as regards unemployment in Russia today, I believe that similar ratios of youth unemployment to the general population unemployment can be found most everywhere in Western Europe if not in the world at large. The fact that this ratio has worsened comparatively in Russia since 2000 may be explained by the anomalous situation in Russia prevailing throughout the 1990s in step with the economic collapse that accompanied the transition to a market economy. Precisely the older generations, those over 40, were thrown into the street and their children or grandchildren were the first to be hired by the newly emerging industrial conglomerates, not to mention by Western multinationals settling in. What has happened since 2000 is merely a reversion to more normal distribution of employment and unemployment in the population as the Russian economy stabilizes.
Moreover, it would have been helpful had the author named the current level of youth and general unemployment in Russia. In fact, the general unemployment in Russia stands at something like 5%, so youth unemployment would be 15% by his reckoning. I assure you that there are many EU Member States that would be delighted to have similarly low unemployment rates. Here in Brussels the general rate has been over 20% for ten years or more, while youth unemployment has always been considerably higher.
Dear Reader!
For those who find my examples above too subtle to support my argument for egregious propagandistic treatment of Russia in our media, allow me to introduce violation number three, silence, in a way that should sweep away all objections to my thesis.
I draw your attention to an event that occurred in the past week about which you probably know nothing, or perhaps a wee bit from the odd man out reporting in the Wall Street Journal and a few other outlets. I am talking about the visit of Vladimir Putin to Damascus on Tuesday, 7 January. To their credit, the WSJ carried a short article in their 8 January edition, but went no further than to note this was the second visit by Putin since the Russians joined the fight in support of President Bashar Assad back in September 2015, turning the tide in the civil war his way. That is true, but only represents a tiny slice of what all our journalists, including the WSJ’s could have and possibly did learn from watching Russian state television on the 7th. What our media chose not to report was passed over in silence because it shows the complexity of Russia’s policy in the Middle East that includes but goes well outside the domain of pure geopolitics. This is so not least because of the date chosen for the visit, which happens to be Orthodox Christmas.

On the evening of the 6th, that is to say on Christmas eve, by the Russian Orthodox calendar, Russian state television broadcast live coverage of the Christmas service in the Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow officiated by Patriarch Kirill, with prime minister Medvedev present on behalf of the Government. Then it cut to the service in St. Petersburg, where Vladimir Putin sat in the congregation, as is his custom. The commentator mentioned in passing that the Patriarch’s father, a parish priest, just happened to be the one who baptized Vladimir Putin as a child where they all lived, in the Northern Capital.
The next coverage of Putin on state television was from Damascus on the 7th, where he obviously arrived on a night flight from Petersburg. I did not see video coverage, perhaps because the journalist pool was very limited for security reasons. But still photos and reports on state television informed us that Putin had not merely held talks with President Assad on the Russian military base outside the capital, but had strolled together with him down the streets of Damascus, had visited the main church in the (still existing) Christian quarter of the city, had presented to the Patriarch of Antioch an icon of the Virgin and had also gone on to visit the city’s oldest and largest mosque.
What you have here is precisely the second line of justification for Russian presence in Syria alongside military/geopolitical reasons: resuming Russia’s 19th century role as protector of the Orthodox population in the Holy Land and the broader Middle East. A similar role was exercised back then by France on behalf of the Catholic populations, but that since has been totally negated by rampant secularism and multiculturalism in Western Europe.
It also has to be said that Putin’s visit to Damascus was back-to-back with other very high visibility political statements: his visit to Istanbul on the 8th for the official opening of the TurkSteam gas pipeline and for lengthy talks with President Erdogan that ended in a joint statement calling for a truce in the Libyan civil war for which Russia and Turkey support opposing sides; and his visit on the 9th to Russian naval exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean that included the launch of Russia’s latest hypersonic missiles, the reality of which U.S. and other Western experts have yet to acknowledge.
With this I rest my case on the unfortunate propagandistic behavior of our media which deprive the broad Western public of any chance to make sense of the most dangerous military and political standoff of our age.
*  *  *
Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2017.

But if she believes it then it's true.


Disingenuous

FAT-WA

PUTTING THE FAT IN FATWA 

Monstrous 40-STONE ISIS fanatic dubbed ‘Jabba the Jihadi’ is arrested sparking stream of internet memes

Seven Times the GAO Found the Obama Administration Violated Federal Law

Seven Times the GAO Found the Obama Administration Violated Federal Law


Democrats and journalists were excited Thursday when the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a legal opinion that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had violated the Impoundment Control Act by withholding congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine last summer.
The non-binding opinion was disputed by the OMB, which released a memo last month arguing that the “programmatic” delay sought to fulfill, not oppose, congressional intent.
The GAO decision, which had been requested by Democrat Senator Chris van Hollen of Maryland, disagreed, concluding that the delay had been for “policy reasons,” not “programmatic delay.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cited the decision in her morning press conference — though she had trouble pronouncing the word “impoundment” — and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) likewise trumpeted the GAO decision as a vindication of the House impeachment.
Breitbart TV
CLICK TO PLAY
Pompeo: We’re Having to Clean Up Obama Administration's 'Mess' in Iran
Though the GAO works for Congress, it is not the finder of fact in impeachment cases. Moreover, it is not even clear that the Impoundment Control Act is constitution.
Nevertheless, if a mere GAO finding is sufficient to justify impeachment, then President Barack Obama ought to have been impeached at least seven times over for each of the following cases in which the GAO found that the Obama administration had violated federal law.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Secret Service (USSS) were found to have violated section 503 of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, and the Antideficiency Act, in 2009 after the Secret Service reported that it had overspent on candidate protection in 2008 by $5,100,000, and used money from another program to cover the shortfall. DHS failed to notify Congress 15 days in advance of the “reprogramming.”
  • The Department of the Treasury was found to have violated the Antideficiency Act in 2014 when it used the voluntary services of four individuals. “Treasury did not appoint any of the individuals to federal employment, nor did any individual qualify as a student who may, under certain circumstances, perform voluntary service,” the GAO found, adding that there was no emergency that might have justified using the individuals to perform several months of work without receiving pay.
  • The Department of Defense was found to have violated the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 and the Antideficiency Act in the infamous Bowe Bergdahl swap, when President Barack Obama traded five high-level Taliban detainees for a U.S. Army deserter. The administration transferred the five Taliban from Guantanamo Bay without notifying relevant congressional committees 30 days in advance, as required by law. Republicans complained; Democrats were silent.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development was found to have violated the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, and the Antideficiency Act in 2014 when the deputy secretary of the department sent an email to “friends and colleagues” asking them to lobby the Senate in favor of a bill appropriating money to the department, and against amendments offered by Republican Senators.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency was found to have violated “publicity or propaganda and anti-lobbying provisions” in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act and the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act in 2015 by using some of the department’s social media accounts in rule-making for the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulations (which have since been repealed under the Trump administration).
  • Two officials in the Department of Housing and Urban Development were found in 2016 to have violated Section 713 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act by attempting to prevent a regional director within the agency from being interviewed by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (Notably, the GAO reversed its earlier decision that the department’s general counsel had not violated the law once it was presented with more evidence.)
  • The Federal Maritime Commission was found to have violated Section 711 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, as well as the Antideficiency Act, in 2016 when it failed to notify the relevant Senate and House committees that it had spent more than $5,000 to furnish and redecorate the office of its former director in 2010. (The total amount spent was $12,084 over three years, as noted by the GAO in a footnote reference to an inspector general’s report on the excessive expenditures.)
Needless to say, Obama was never impeached.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Democrat cover up...this is where Hillary's minions colluded with Ukraine

Top Democrat warns FBI against giving GOP records from ex-DNC consultant


A top Democratic senator discouraged the Justice Department and FBI from complying with a Republican demand for information about a former Democratic National Committee contractor.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden warned that complying with the records request related to Alexandra Chalupa, who is alleged to have sought dirt from Ukraine to undermine then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election, would have dangerous consequences. As Chalupa conducted research on Paul Manafort, who did lobbying work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs and later became Trump's campaign manager, the Ukrainian American activist began receiving notifications from Yahoo security that claimed she was the victim of a "state-sponsored" cyberattack.
“The Senators’ request will have a chilling effect on the victims of nation state cyberattacks, and would discourage them from seeking law enforcement assistance, thereby jeopardizing our national security, limiting our ability to respond to sophisticated cyberattacks, and undermining the civil liberties of American citizens,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday.
Chalupa said she developed a network of sources in Washington and Kyiv, and met with Ukrainian Embassy officials during the 2016 campaign about her research focused on the nexus between Manafort, Trump, and Russia, according to a 2017 Politico article. Chalupa has denied being an opposition researcher for the DNC, telling CNN in 2017 that "the DNC never asked me to go to the Ukrainian Embassy to collect information." Manafort, who is now serving a seven-year prison sentence for after federal convictions on bank and tax fraud, resigned as Trump's campaign chairman in August 2016, as reports emerged about his work on behalf of pro-Russia Ukrainian officials.

The symbiosis of the Democrat Party and Planned Parenthood


'It is a matter of life and death'

Video of 3-year-old boy blessing food at preschool goes viral



'You're about to have a blessed day because of this little guy'

Finally. The Feds — including ICE — appear to be investigating Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Finally. The Feds — including ICE — appear to be investigating Rep. Ilhan Omar.

At least three departments are reviewing what could be the worst-ever crime spree by an elected US official



On Oct. 30, I reported that the Department of Justice had assigned an FBI Special Agent in Charge, or SAC, to review Rep. Ilhan Omar's apparent, astonishing spree of felonies from 2009 to 2017.

Minnesota state Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R) had previously filed a complaint on the matter with the Minnesota District of the Department of Justice. That office — headed by U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald, a 2018 Donald Trump appointee — directed the FBI to review the complaint. An FBI SAC formally met with Rep. Drazkowski, and others, in mid-October to receive a prepared file of evidence and related information.
I can confirm that the FBI has taken additional steps since this October meeting.
***
In October, the FBI SAC stated that the wide range of criminal activity suggested by the evidence against Rep. Omar may lead the FBI to expand the review to other federal departments. In such situations, the SAC continued, the FBI often acts as a hub — sharing evidence, or coordinating a joint investigation, with several other investigative agencies.

Indeed, this has since occurred.
At least the following two federal agencies were contacted by the FBI with information regarding Rep. Omar. The FBI then placed the October meeting attendees in touch with selected investigators within these two agencies:

1. Department of Education Inspector General 

This is related to evidence suggesting that Rep. Omar's 2009 marriage to a UK citizen may have been an attempt to facilitate federal student loan fraud, or other fraud involving higher education.
● Shortly after Omar's 2009 marriage, the new couple moved to Fargo, North Dakota. Omar enrolled at North Dakota State University in August 2009. Her husband enrolled the following year.
Omar received a degree in June 2011. According to Omar herself, she and her husband then permanently separated in June 2011. The marriage's start and end coincide with the start and end dates of Omar's NDSU enrollment.
Incredibly — according to address records, and a statement from Omar herself — she was also still living with her first husband, and their two kids, throughout this second marriage.
● In 2017, Omar finally filed for divorce. Under penalty of perjury, she submitted a nine-question form to the court attesting to having lost all contact with her NDSU husband in June 2011.
Dozens of verified social media posts, photos, and even a 2016 interview with the NDSU husband indicate otherwise. It appears Omar perjured herself eight times answering those nine questions.
(Click here for analysis of an additional court document Omar submitted, which suggests the likely motive for Omar taking such a risk. Each instance of perjury in Minnesota can receive a sentence of five years.)

2. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

● This is related to evidence suggesting a breathtaking number of possible immigration-related felonies. As I stated in an introductory passage within my July 18 article:
The [following] answers to those questions about [Rep. Omar's 2009 marriage] appear to give probable cause to investigate Omar for eight instances of perjury, immigration fraud, marriage fraud, up to eight years of state and federal tax fraud, two years of federal student loan fraud, and even bigamy.

To be clear: The facts describe perhaps the most extensive spree of illegal misconduct committed by a House member in American history.
The involvement of ICE with a possible criminal investigation could hardly be of greater political import to Omar.
For several years, Omar has vigorously supported the abolishment of ICE. Her 2020 re-election platform — featured on her campaign site, and pictured below — targets ICE agents with vicious rhetoric that simply must be read by interested parties.
States Omar's site: "Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an unreformable organization that has become increasingly militarizedbrutal, and unaccountable."

Since August 2016, the remarkable story of Rep. Ilhan Omar's past has produced scarce political, law enforcement, or media activity. A near-perfect inversion of the Trump/"Russian collusion" yarn, with which it is inseparable.
Consider how the Trump investigation was initiated, as former FBI Director James Comey tells it. (Recent statements from Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham suggest disagreement.) Comey treated an unverifiable claim, from a foreign diplomat, of a drunken remark by a low-level Trump staffer as predicate for spying on a presidential campaign.
Comey never did find stronger evidence. Yet the Democratic Party and supportive media hardly paused, for three years, covering this investigation.
Concurrently — in August 2016 — Minnesota reporters Scott Johnson and Preya Samsundar were publishing extensive, verified, still-unchallengedevidence implicating Rep. Omar in multiple felonies. Their exponentially more substantial evidence was ignored by the Democratic Party and supportive media. Their evidence was even ignored by law enforcement, per an extraordinary public dismissal shortly before Omar's 2016 election to the Minnesota House of Representatives.
FBI guidelines require only "'articulable factual basis' of possible criminal activity" to open an investigation. By September 2016, Johnson and Samsundar had objectively breached that threshold. Picture Comey applying his "Crossfire Hurricane" standards to their work — perhaps Omar's trial reaches the sentencing phase before the November election.
I followed up on Johnson and Samsundar's investigation in early 2018. A year later, the proportions of the verifiable case against Omar resemble that against a Batman villain. A comical number of likely felonies, all backed by gobsmacking evidence: Certified state and federal documents; certified UK government documents; archived state public school records; archived U.S. and UK address records; verifiably unmanipulated digital photographs; corroborating statements from Omar herself; corroborating statements from Omar's ex-husband himself; several years of social media posts from Omar's verified accounts; and several years of suddenly deletedsocial media posts from Omar's verified accounts.
And that's before we reach the good stuff.
Click here for what sure appears to be smoking-gun evidence. The only man on Earth with the same name and birthdate as Omar's ex-husband — appears to have been raised in the London home of Ilhan's verifiable sister. And has the same three family names.
Yet media continued to approach the developing story of Omar's background with zero rigor.
Literally zero.
Their distortions were provably deliberate, and their intentions blinking-red evident. Simply, Ilhan Omar's "identity" struck the Democratic Party and supportive media as being a best-case vehicle for selling progressivism. Omar's character? Worst-case. But they preferred the fantasy — they printed it, over and over, along with that other one sparked by drunken hearsay. The rule of law and the safety of Jews were roadblocks.
The Democratic Party and the media have not changed. Consider the coverage of the House Democrats' articles of impeachment, which do not even allege that the president committed a crime. However — much of the Obama-era, politically infected law enforcement leadership is indeed fired and gone. We have cause to believe many career federal investigators are honorable and were glad to see them go.
Rep. Omar now appears to be receiving the scrutiny her "articulable facts" have deserved since August 2016; perhaps a criminal investigation is open.