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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/15/17

Cold War 2.0: The New Yorker and the "New" Cold-War Propaganda

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   13 comments, In Series: Reactive Mismeasures
Message Thomas Riggins

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This is the second part (of 5) of a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on a recent article posing as journalism in the March 6, 2017, issue of The New Yorker. I hope to demonstrate that this article is basically a totally mendacious concoction of cold-war US propaganda constructed out of unsubstantiated opinions expressed by US government officials and various journalists and others who are hostile to the current Russian government. There are a few paragraphs exempt from this characterization and they are duly noted. I have put a link to the article itself so that my commentary can be compared, paragraph by paragraph, to the original. However, the commentary can be read on its own. I contend it expresses the real meaning of the original paragraph and my evaluation of that meaning. The original is there for anyone to check to see if I have distorted rather than clarified what the paragraph's actual meaning is. It is my position that this article is junk journalism that misrepresents the objective reality it purports to describe and that my commentary points out the misrepresentations and attempts to correct them. I hold that no self-respecting journalist would write an article such as this New Yorker piece and palm it off on the public. My commentary is also an object lesson on how to distinguish between reportage that at least attempts to be unbiased and obvious nonobjective propaganda. You will know more about Trump, Putin and the New Cold War from the commentary than you will ever know from the original article.

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War - The New Yorker

Active measures were used by both sides throughout the Cold War. In the nineteen-sixties, ... Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, ...

Section 2. "Cold War 2.0" -- This section has nineteen paragraphs:

1. Obama is said not to have reacted right away after being informed of the Russian "intrusion" as he did not want to seem to be "partisan." The authors now speak as if the hacking is a "fact" when all they have established is an unproven assertion.

2. An unnamed member of Clinton's inner circle grouses that Obama did not make a big deal over Russia's "attack" on the United States. If he had then a majority of the people would have "sat up and taken notice." [This may have helped Clinton.] Unproven assertions have evolved into an "attack." The unnamed source goes on the say, however, he thinks we can not "lay blame for the results of this election at anybody's feet" but even so Obama should have treated the intrusion as "a five-alarm fire." [Many Clintonites are still trying, however, to blame their loss on the FBI and Putin rather than HRC's inept campaign.]

3. Benjamin Rhodes, of Obama's circle, defends how the so-called hacking was handled -- all they could do was expose WikiLeaks and the Russians; they could not stop the the publication "of the e-mails or the fake news." The authors fail to remind us that none of the e-mails or information released by WikiLeaks was shown to be inaccurate or untrue. There was no "fake news" coming from WikiLeaks and the link between the Russian government, WikiLeaks, and "fake news" has yet to be established. This New Yorker article apparently has no respect for journalistic standards.

4. At the G-20 Summit last September Obama told Putin to "cut out" the hacking and interference in our elections, otherwise "serious consequences" would result. Putin ignored the threat and the accusations but did remind Obama that the US has a record of meddling in the internal affairs of Russia.

5. In October, we are informed, "evidence of Russian meddling mounted" -- but evidently the "evidence" did not mount to the level of proof as the administration only stated that "it was confident" the DNC had been hacked by the Russians. Can you imagine FDR telling the American people he was "confident" the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? Anyway, downloading information and revealing it, whoever did it, is not "hacking" in the strong sense of breaking into a system to tamper with it and alter it. This word is just tossed about to create a negative opinion (fake news if you like) rather than factually inform anyone.

6. An unnamed "national security official" reports there was no evidence the Russians "crossed the line" from "covert influence" to "adversely affecting the vote count." This was before the election and Clinton was leading. She actually "won" the election -- it was the Electoral College that put Trump in office. [It seems difficult to know what did or did not affect the vote count before the vote count, but it seems it was not the Russians!]

7. Obama nixed Kerry's idea to start an independent investigation of Russian election tampering, according to "two senior officials." "This would have gotten the ball rolling," as one aide said, as Trump would hesitate to shut it down. It would be harder to set up under Trump.

8. We are here told that all sorts of talk was going on during the transition period from Obama to Trump and that there were all sorts of contacts and potential compromising behaviors between Trump's people and the Russians. To what did this amount? "No conclusive evidence" regarding Trump. Nothing that showed any aiding or abetting the [alleged] "interference" with the election. A senior Obama administration official (unnamed) said he was unaware of any "clear information of collusion." Nevertheless, this story is kept alive by the mass media and the Democrats.

9. Here we are told "evidence" of a "wide-scale" Russian "operation" has resulted in multiple investigations. The "evidence" is classified. Three weeks after the election Sen. Wyden (D. Oregon) of the Intelligence Committee asked FBI Director Comey if he would release the classified information with the proof of Russian tampering to the American people. Comey said, "I can't talk about it." The authors conclude, "Wyden's questioning had served its purpose." Well, since Obama could have ordered this "evidence" made public, and didn't, the purpose must have been just to keep this apparent conspiracy theory alive. It's been going on for months now and the public knows virtually nothing about what really happened -- just speculation and assumptions, and this article doesn't add anything to this speculation except poor journalism.

10. About the classified material, Sen Wyden remarked that he was worried about using the "classified" designation more for political reasons than for national security. Sen. Warner (D. Virginia) reviewed the classified material and appears to be convinced by it. Unfortunately, the rest of us still have to take it on faith that the government really has proof. My objection to this article, and type of journalism, is that it ignores the real story -- the keeping of the proof, or lack thereof, from the American people and instead implies that the government's position is correct anyway. How does this differ from state-controlled propaganda?

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Thomas Riggins, PhD CUNY, is a retired university lecturer in philosophy and ancient history and the former book review editor for Political Affairs magazine.

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