The Washington Post is promoting a murky group's calls for a government crackdown on political dissent under the pretense of crushing Russian influence in the alternative media. In a widely circulated Thanksgiving Day column, the WAPO gave legitimacy to a chilling effort to stifle critics of U.S. foreign policy as well as foes of Hillary Clinton. The story included an advance copy of what can only be referred to as a neo-McCarthyist blacklist of alternative media outlets that have been singled out for political persecution and harassment.
Included on the list of 200 + websites tabbed out as megaphones for Putin's propaganda is our very own OpEdNews. The blacklist was provided to the WAPO by a shadowy entity that calls itself PropOrNot which the paper identifies as "a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds" although the WAPO goes to great lengths to provide few actual details.
According to the WAPO piece entitled "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say":
Another group, called PropOrNot, a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds, planned to release its own findings Friday showing the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.- Advertisement -
The researchers used Internet analytics tools to trace the origins of particular tweets and mapped the connections among social-media accounts that consistently delivered synchronized messages. Identifying website codes sometimes revealed common ownership. In other cases, exact phrases or sentences were echoed by sites and social-media accounts in rapid succession, signaling membership in connected networks controlled by a single entity.
PropOrNot's monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.
Some players in this online echo chamber were knowingly part of the propaganda campaign, the researchers concluded, while others were "useful idiots" -- a term born of the Cold War to describe people or institutions that unknowingly assisted Soviet Union propaganda efforts.- Advertisement -
The list indeed has many sites that feature dubious content and traffic in conspiracy theories but OEN is lumped in without any explanation as to why it would be included. There are also many libertarian and conservative websites listed including the hugely popular Drudge Report, Infowars, Zero Hedge, Antiwar.com, Lew Rockwell.com and the Ron Paul Institute.
In addition to OpEdNews, other progressive websites that have been critical of U.S. foreign policy -- especially in regard to the 2014 overthrow of the legitimate government in Ukraine by American backed neo-Nazi elements -- were included. Most notably, Robert Parry's outstanding Consortium News, the personal website of frequent OEN columnist Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, RINF.com, Truthdig.com, the Black Agenda Report, ThisCantBeHappening.net and Information Clearinghouse among others. Wikileaks is also on the list which comes as no surprise given the shrill accusations from Democrats that the whistleblower organization was acting on Putin's behalf to swing the election to Donald Trump.
Following an acrimonious election season which still isn't over, many liberals and progressives have cheered the establishment's attack on "fake news" and the so-called "alt-right" but soon may find themselves hoisted upon their own petards. To groups like PropOrNot it matters little whether one is a right-winger or a left-winger because ANY deviation from the official state media propaganda machine is strictly taboo.
That a diverse collection of writers such as the OEN community is being officially targeted as agents of a foreign power should scare the hell out of regular contributors. This radical escalation in the war on dissent should also serve as a call to arms that there are more important matters than partisan politics and hewing to dogmatic ideology. The Washington Post's promotion of a return to the dark days of McCarthyism represents an existential threat to not only liberal and progressive ideals but to free speech itself.
"The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy," said the executive director of PropOrNot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers. "It was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump's campaign. .".". It worked."
While blaming the Russians for Trump's election has become a knee-jerk response for the establishment types, it's inexplicable that OpEdNews would be included on the list because let's face it, OEN hasn't exactly been a bastion of pro-Trump sentiment. However, OEN has consistently been a critic of interventionist foreign policy and especially when it comes to Ukraine. It's pretty damned hard to find honest reporting on Ukraine but many at OEN have done their part to circumvent the lies that are routinely spewed out by Big Media.