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New Bid to Destroy Alternative News Sources

By       Message Caitlin Johnstone       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   7 comments

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The frenzied, hysterical Russia narrative being promoted day in and day out by western mass media has had two of its major stories ripped to shreds in the last three days.

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A report seeded throughout the mainstream media by anonymous intelligence officials back in September claimed that US government workers in Cuba had suffered concussion-like brain damage after hearing strange noises in homes and hotels with the most likely culprit being "sophisticated microwaves or another type of electromagnetic weapon" from Russia. A recording of one such highly sophisticated attack was analyzed by scientists and turned out to be the mating call of the male indies short-tailed cricket. Neurologists and other brain specialists have challenged the claim that any US government workers suffered any neurological damage of any kind, saying test results on the alleged victims were misinterpreted. The actual story, when stripped of hyperventilating Russia panic, is that some government workers heard some crickets in Cuba.

Another report which dominated news headlines all of yesterday claimed that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (the same Paul Manafort who the Guardian falsely claimed met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy) had shared polling data with a Russian associate and asked him to pass it along to Oleg Deripaska, who is often labeled a "Russian oligarch" by western media. The polling data was mostly public already, and the rest was just more polling information shared in the spring of 2016, but Deripaska's involvement had Russiagaters burning the midnight oil with breathless excitement. Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall went so far as to publish an article titled "The 'Collusion' Debate Ended Last Night", substantiating his click-generating headline with the claim that "What's crystal clear is that the transfer to Kilimnik came with explicit instructions to give the information to Deripaska. And that's enough."

Except Manafort didn't give any explicit instructions to share the polling data with Deripaska, but with two Ukrainian oligarchs (who are denying it). The New York Times was forced to print this embarrassing correction to the story it broke, adding in the process that Manafort's motivation was likely not collusion, but money.

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These are just the latest in a long, ongoing pattern of terrible mass media debacles as reporters eager to demonstrate their unquestioning fealty to the US-centralized empire fall all over themselves to report any story that makes Russia look bad without practicing due diligence. The only voices who have been questioning the establishment Russia narrative that is being fed to mass media outlets by secretive government agencies have been those which the mass media refuses to platform. Alternative media outlets are the only major platforms for dissent from the authorized narratives of the plutocrat-owned political/media class.

Imagine, then, how disastrous it would be if these last strongholds of skepticism and holding power to account were removed from the media landscape. Well, that's exactly what a shady organization called NewsGuard is trying to do, with some success already.

A new report by journalist Whitney Webb for MintPress News details how NewsGuard is working to hide and demonetize alternative media outlets like MintPress, marketing itself directly to tech companies, social media platforms, libraries and schools. NewsGuard is led by some of the most virulently pro-imperialist individuals in America, and its agenda to shore up narrative control for the ruling power establishment is clear.


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The product which NewsGuard markets to the general public is a browser plugin which advises online media consumers whether a news media outlet is trustworthy or untrustworthy based on a formula with a very pro-establishment bias which sees outlets like Fox News and the US propaganda outlet Voice of America getting trustworthy ratings while outlets like RT get very low ratings for trustworthiness. This plugin dominates the bulk of what comes up when you start researching NewsGuard, but circulating a plugin which individual internet users can voluntarily download to help their rulers control their minds is not one of the more nefarious agendas being pursued by this company. The full MintPress article gives a thorough breakdown of the yucky things NewsGuard has its fingers in, but here's a summary of five of its more disturbing revelations:

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1. The company has created a service called BrandGuard, billed as a "brand safety tool aimed at helping advertisers keep their brands off of unreliable news and information sites while giving them the assurance they need to support thousands of Green-rated [i.e., Newsguard-approved] news and information sites, big and small." Popularizing the use of this service will attack the advertising revenue of unapproved alternative media outlets which run ads. NewsGuard is aggressively marketing this service to "ad tech firms, leading agencies, and major advertisers".

2. NewsGuard's advisory board reads like the fellowships list of a neocon think tank, and indeed one of its CEOs, Louis Gordon Crovitz, is a Council on Foreign Relations member who has worked with the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation. Members of the advisory board include George W Bush's Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, deep intelligence community insider Michael Hayden, and the Obama administration's Richard Stengel, who once publicly supported the need for domestic propaganda in the US. All of these men have appeared in influential think tanks geared toward putting a public smiley face on sociopathic warmongering agendas.


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Caitlin Johnstone is a brave journalist, political junkie, relentless feminist, champion of the 99 percent. And a powerful counter-propaganda tactician. Rogue journalist, poet, illustrator, utopia prepper, and proudly 100 percent reader-funded through Patreon (more...)
 

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4 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments  Post Comment


Daniel Geery

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Thank you Caitlin, as always. Much appreciated.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 10, 2019 at 5:05:19 PM

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Lois Gagnon

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The desperation of the ruling elites is glaring in this clumsy attempt at censorship. It's as bad if not worse than PropOrNot.


What makes it scary is those afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome in many cases have chosen to side with the establishment press because he attacked them. Big mistake.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 10, 2019 at 9:43:01 PM

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Kenneth Johnson

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This may not seem related, but I believe it is.

For some time now (locally) the pending Los Angeles Teachers strike has been building up and is now (likely) imminent.

Local TV interviewed people on the street and found many were not aware of the situation, even though they had children in school.

The point is - I'm sure most people are keeping close watch on the Beltway Circus.

IMO, Trump will likely win a second term, since it seems unlikely the spinmasters and opposing candidates will be able to counter his 'leadership abilities' - those unseen by his relentless enemies.

So, he's insane. What else you got?

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 10, 2019 at 11:41:09 PM

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Trump may be insane, but any so called leader that comes out of this insane system will also be insane. Our only option is to dump the system.

Submitted on Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 2:57:57 PM

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Devil's Advocate

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We're getting too many slimeballs wanting to "protect" us all from "fake news". There's a reason why this is happening.

Too many people have either lost site of or never learned what constitutes truth or propaganda.

Submitted on Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 11:31:02 PM

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"Mother puss bucket!"

[TV commercial]

Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?

Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?

Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre or ghost?'

If you've been slimed, call Ghostbusters.

Submitted on Saturday, Jan 12, 2019 at 12:44:32 AM

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I would hope by now, people intending to install this plug-in "just to see what it does" would be aware that it's likely to also come with tracking and data mining protocols, in order to report all sorts of "activity" back to a number of different interests.

So, while you're watching it do something you pretty much knew it was going to do, the surveillance and profiling will be going on in the background.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 14, 2019 at 5:17:29 PM

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