Wednesday 1st of February 2023

the lies of the western media....

We are urged at every turn to dismiss everything Vladimir Putin says as upside down to the truth. Those of us who keep our heads, while all about us others are losing theirs and blaming it on us, risk dismissal when we take the Russian president seriously.

Never mind. It is time simply to dismiss those who dismiss.


By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News


In his long interviews with Oliver Stone five years ago, Putin observed that it is impossible to work with the Americans because everything is held hostage by their election cycles. So true. Too bad so many among us are not capable of listening to the Russian leader on this point and learning from it something about how our post-democratic system malfunctions. 

Domestic politics — what plays in Peoria and all that — determines foreign policy. This was Putin’s point. And when electoral politics determines foreign policy, foreign policy becomes presentation, which is to say unserious, because all the good people of Peoria ever get from Washington pols are unserious presentations of events and policies that have little to do with reality.

America has started wars because of what political candidates think will play in Peoria at election time. Countless lives have been sacrificed to the cause of this or that political candidate or party. 

As the late Robert Parry and Gary Sick established, there is ample reason to suspect that the Reagan campaign conspired with Iran during the 1980 presidential campaign to delay the release of American hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran until after the Nov. 4 elections.

Whatever happened between Reagan’s people and the clerics governing Iran, the Great Communicator went on to present himself as the strongman savior of the hostages, who were released on Jan. 20, 1981, the day Reagan was inaugurated after trouncing Jimmy Carter at the polls. 

Now we have the Ukraine case, and we need not bother with “ample reason.” It is open-and-shut evident at this point that we witness two wars as the Armed Forces of Ukraine face off with the Russian military. There is the presented war, the meta-war, you might say, and there is the waged war, the war taking place on the ground, nothing meta about it.

The Biden administration has been committed from the first to fighting the presented war, the war of appearances, because maintaining public support for this dreadful folly is essential to keeping it going. And with the midterm elections near, the administration and the clerks in the liberal press serving it are pressing the presented war with the vigor of D–Day generals.

“Stay with us, all you wavers of blue-and-yellow flags. Forget about inflation and what you have to pay for a gallon of gas or a box of Wheaties. We are getting this done. The tide has turned. The good, courageous, self-sacrificing Ukrainians are winning against those looting, war-crime committing, village-destroying, brutal — they are ever and always brutal — Russian forces. Don’t lose heart. Support us on Nov. 8 as we support Ukraine.”

This is the pitch, the presentation.

Parenthetically, I do not think this rubbish will make a whit’s difference when those Americans foolish enough to go to the polls next week. But the White House and the Democratic field have to put this across because Republicans are hammering them daily about the irrationality of their profligate commitment to a proxy war that simply cannot be won on the ground. 


Front-Lines Coverage Ban 

The presented war has been at variance with the waged war more or less since the Russian intervention began on Feb. 24. This is why Western correspondents, in any case apparently short on guts and integrity, are pleased enough to conform to the Kyiv regime’s ban on coverage from the front lines. By and large, these correspondents report the presented war.

But the gap between the presented war and the waged war now appears to be widening more dramatically.

On one hand, the Ukrainians’ celebrated counteroffensives, launched in August, appear to be exhausted with no significant gains achieved. You also have Russia’s call-up of as many as 300,000 reservists and the appointment of Sergei Surovkin, a no-nonsense general who led Russia’s campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, as the overall commander of the Ukraine operation.

On the other hand you have … you have the midterm elections. Since the summer, as the Democrats’ prospects on Nov. 8 grow ever dimmer, those prosecuting the presented war have grown ever more incautious in their departures from the waged war.

I could be wrong, but this latest phase in the presented war began on Oct. 12, the midterms a month away, when The New York Times quoted Lloyd Austin saying Ukraine’s offensives will continue well into the winter and that Russia’s recent attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure have fortified the West’s unified resolve to continue supporting the Kyiv regime.

“I expect that Ukraine will continue to do everything it can throughout the winter to regain its territory and to be effective on the battlefield,” the U.S. defense secretary said after a meeting of NATO officials in Brussels, “and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that they have what’s required to be effective.”

Austin’s comments seem to me to mark an important point of departure from reality. Neither of the above-quoted assertions is true according to all available evidence. Ukraine’s counteroffensives, after its forces pushed through an open door in the northeast, have nothing to show for themselves and are in for a debilitating winter. The West’s resolve, no secret to anyone — even the Times — looks increasingly wobbly.

But here’s the thing about the presented war: What is said in its cause does not have to be factual or in any way true; it simply has to be said over and over again.


Turning the Tables

On Sunday the Times published a long piece by Andrew Kramer under the headline, “With Western Weapons, Ukraine Is Turning the Tables in an Artillery War.” The subhead was even bolder: “In the southern Kherson region, Ukraine now has the advantage in range and precision guidance of artillery, rockets and drones, erasing what had been a critical Russian asset.”

Wow, I said over my fourth morning coffee. Turning the tables, erasing Russia’s superiority in artillery: This is a lot of turning and erasing.

Kramer’s report rests on interviews with a Ukrainian lieutenant, a first lieutenant, a major, and a Polish consultant sitting in Gdansk — all of them, fair to say, troops in the presented war. They are full of ballsy, let-me-at-’em remarks: “We can reach them and they cannot reach us,” “One shot, one kill,” “It will be Stalingrad in winter for them.” Which tell us precisely nothing.

Kramer’s assessments, all nothing more than echoes of the above-noted sources, are in this same line:

“There is no mistaking the shifting fortunes on the southern front….

Ukraine now has artillery superiority in the area….

This firepower has tipped the balance in the south…”

These statements are absolutely perpendicular to what one reads from sources other than Kramer’s — and he should be ashamed to present them as reliable.

Here’s a doozy from the first lieutenant: “We hear a lot of rumors they are abandoning the first lines of defense.”

Kramer seems accurate here: The first lieutenant is almost certainly hearing a lot of rumors to this effect. But that’s it. I read a lot of reports that Russian forces, having evacuated many residents of Kherson, are sending in engineering brigades that are assiduously fortifying the city in preparation for whatever defense may be necessary in coming months.

I tell you, it has got to the point that when I read Kramer’s pieces I need a safe place where they have cookies, board games and fluffy blankets — and no mainstream dailies, no NPR and no BBC. His work is the presented war as it is fought, ever more fantastically, as the midterm elections approach.

Alexander Mercouris, the London-based podcaster, spends an hour each evening analyzing the state of things on the ground in Ukraine, using all available sources with the due caution this work requires. 

These sources are many-sided: Western mainstream, Western independent, Russian mainstream, Russian independent, Ukrainian of all kinds, other sources entirely. He is to be credited for the exceptional granularity of his reports and his often nuanced political analysis — as, for instance, his recent take on the collapse of the Ostpolitik tradition in German politics. 

Mercouris astutely points out that the Russians are little concerned with the presented war and prosecute the waged war according to substantive, tactical and strategic considerations alone — not what any given move will look like when Western media get their hands on it.

In his view, Ukrainian forces have nearly shot their bolt, the Western powers are running out of weapons to send them, Russian forces are beginning gradually to advance once again, and the buildup of Russian troops and matériel — anyone who looks can see — may portend one or another kind of major assault, possibly a knockout blow, in coming months.

While I have not reported directly on any of the questions raised here, the preponderance of the evidence presented leaves me to conclude reports such as Mercouris’ are far more accurate than what Western media offer and that these media trade primarily in the propaganda of which the presented war is made.

It will be interesting to see what happens to American media’s reportage from Ukraine once the midterm elections are over and there is nothing more for the Democrats to win or lose. At a certain point the realities of the waged war will be too large and imposing to distort, obfuscate, or leave unreported. 

In the case of Russiagate, when the Times and all the media that ape it had finished all their lying and disinformation and the house of cards collapsed, they tiptoed quietly out the side door. I see no chance of this in the Ukraine case. American media helped to make up Russiagate out of whole cloth. The Ukraine conflict is too real for all that. 

In my expectation, the administration and these media will, post-elections, wage the presented war with less intensity, possibly bringing it at least slightly more in line with the waged war. They will have to think of something as, gradually but almost certainly, reality catches up to them and they cannot make a war disappear.


Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.  His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.







strategic bullshit works in bamboozling a complacent media….


your truth has been erased……...




propping propaganda.....

Amid the Ukraine conflict, Western countries are waging an information war not only against Russia but also the entire international community, Vassily Nebenzia, the nation's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a presentation at the UN of the RT documentary ‘Journalists Under Fire,’ the top diplomat noted that Russia had found itself under massive media pressure after it launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February.

Nebenzia noted that Western coverage of the conflict is typified by “a huge number of ‘fakes’ about the activities of the [Russian] military, as well as about the goals, objectives and motives” of its campaign in Ukraine.

“It’s no secret that the West has launched a real information war against us, which affects not only the residents of Russia and Ukraine but also people around the world,” he reiterated.

He went on to compare Western media coverage with actual Ukrainian bombings of civilian infrastructure. “Just as Western weapons are now targeting cities in the Donbass and the liberated territories, Western propaganda is firing ‘information shells’ at its own citizens,” he claimed.

According to Nebenzia, the media onslaught is harmful to ordinary people, who “are losing touch with reality, become distressed and confused” when being overwhelmed with an endless barrage of falsehoods. They also lose the ability to think critically, he claimed.

After Russia launched its military operation against Ukraine, Western countries unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on Russian media abroad, with the European Union banning RT and Sputnik channels. Moscow has repeatedly criticized the move, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claiming that it has shown the world the true worth of so-called Western values.










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occluding the truth.....


By Patrick Lawrence / Original to ScheerPost


1. Everything you will read in this commentary is disinformation.

2. To say that this commentary contains disinformation is disinformation.

3. To say statements calling this commentary disinformation are disinformation is disinformation.

Th­is is what our public discourse has come to. This is what we have done to it. We Americans have made a nonsense of ourselves. You want to talk about America’s late-imperial decline? This is the warp and weft of it as we shred our social fabric. This is what our troubled republic sounds like, an indecipherable cacophony amid which anything we say can be turned to mean other than what we mean.

We don’t talk to one another anymore, sharing opinions or perspectives. When we come across anyone who thinks differently than we do we simply call him or her a disseminator of disinformation, a liar, and nothing more need be said. 

I do not share these thoughts simply because it is difficult to live in a nation that has destroyed its agora in the ancient Greek, its public space, or because anyone expressing a dissenting view on this or that question is vulnerable to censorship, suppression, or some other form of ostracism, or because it is lonely amid the creeping atomization and isolation this freakish “disinformation” war visits upon us.

There is a larger matter at issue, a more insidious matter. This is a matter that faces us with what I judge to be the most dangerous threat of all those we now confront.

The New York Times published a piece on Oct. 20 under the headline, “How Disinformation Splintered and Became More Intractable.” In it, Steven Lee Myers, formerly of the Times’s Moscow bureau, and Sheera Frenkel, a technology reporter in the San Francisco bureau, made the point very plain, although hardly did they intend to do so: Those flinging around all these charges of disinformation with notable vigor and conviction are crusaders in the cause of a dangerous form of liberal absolutism.

Much has been written about disinformation these past few years, of course. I have read nothing to date that so exposes the malign design that is implicit in the war against it. This war rests squarely on the cynical use of disinformation in the service of power as it intrudes ever more stealthily into our lives and rights.

We have heard talk of “liberal authoritarianism” and even “liberal totalitarianism,” which I consider excessive for its extreme connotations, over the past half-dozen years. My own coinage since 2016, when Russiagate was all the rage and we still had Hillary Clinton to kick around, is “apple-pie authoritarianism.” To one or another extent, these terms seem in line with de Tocqueville’s “soft despotism” as he explained the phenomenon 190 years ago in the second volume of Democracy in America.

But for all the famous French traveler foresaw, I don’t think he anticipated what is going on around us now. I do not use the term “liberal absolutism” lightly.

Absolutists are those who assert their authority to make the law, to enforce the law, and—key point here—to hold themselves above the law, “the state of exception” as the scholars put it. This is why we associate the term most commonly with the age of monarchies. Those claiming to wage a war against disinformation are absolutists in a very similar meaning. They assert the right to determine what is true and what is not and to force the public to abide by their determination—this while holding their version of what is true and what is not entirely beyond scrutiny or question.

There are many things to say about the Times piece just mentioned, but let us start with the headline. Disinformation has splintered and therefore spread, an observation that places the government-supervised Times in a position to judge it from a presumed position of authority. Presumption of this kind is an attribute of absolutism. And disinformation in the Times’s definition is “more intractable”—harder to fight and extinguish.

We are left with a key question. Who is doing the tracting, so to say—who is self-assigned to wage the war?

This is a question so important that nobody claiming to wage war against disinformation ever dares ask it or offer an answer. And it is vital we pose and answer this question if we are ever to counter the liberal absolutism that lies behind the disinformation war that corrupts our polity.  Caitlin Johnstone, the sassy Australian observer of American affairs, addressed this matter as directly as anyone has in a piece she published October 22:

This fatal logical flaw in the burgeoning business of “fact checking” and “counter-disinformation” is self-evident at a glance, and it becomes even more glaring once you notice that all the major players involved in instituting and normalizing these practices have ties to status quo power.

The idea that someone needs to be in charge of deciding what’s true and false on behalf of the rank-and-file citizenry is becoming more and more widely accepted, and it’s plainly irrational. In practice it’s nothing other than a call to propagandize the public more aggressively. You might agree with their propaganda. The propagandists might believe they are being totally impartial and objective. But as long as they have any oligarchic or state backing, directly or indirectly, they are necessarily administering propaganda on behalf of the powerful.

Myers and Frenkel propose to hide these realities from us. Passive-aggressively, as is so often The Times’s wont, their piece assiduously obscures the question of authority in the matter of disinformation so that we may never ask it. There is a disinformation problem, it grows worse, and good people are fighting it: This is The Times’s storybook version of what is going on.

What is going on, to get straight to it, is a war mainstream media such as The Times and the governing powers they serve never before had to wage. The rising influence of independent media as digital platforms have become available to them is at bottom a challenge to an information monopoly that has endured since the emergence of corporate-owned mass media a century or so ago.

What is at issue, this is to say, is the efficacy of diverse perspectives in a free society. This holds whether the topic is war, the Pentagon budget, the CIA’s illegalities, Russia, vaccines, Hunter Biden’s corruptions —anything having to do with the power of the national security state. The disinformation war is nothing more than an effort to extinguish all views on such topics other than those approved by our liberal absolutists.

“Despite years of efforts by the media, by academics and even by social media companies themselves to address the problem, it is arguably more pervasive and widespread today,” Myers and Frenkel write. A little further on: “Today, however, there are dozens of new platforms, including some that pride themselves on not moderating—censoring, as they put it—untrue statements in the name of free speech.”

See what I mean? The heart of the matter is the proliferation of new publications using digital technologies. This is a bad thing. There must not be so many publications with all their outside-the-orthodoxy perspectives. Making things worse, some of them don’t assign themselves the authority to “moderate” content. And in this connection, I love the “censoring, as they put it.”

The last bit is the most important. Media, meaning mainstream media, along with academic people and wholly unqualified techies are here to tell you something is untrue, and the right to free speech is reduced to a dodge, an impediment that gets in the way of those determining the truth.

My neck snapped when I got to the sixth paragraph of the Times piece, where Myers and Frenkel quoted none other than Nina Jankowicz. This tells us a great deal of what we need to know about the disinformation war and what The Times is up to as it soldiers forth waging it.  

Jankowicz once ran the Russia and Belarus operations at the National Democratic Institute, a close cousin of the coup-cultivating National Endowment for Democracy. She went on to work for the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv. She proved a tireless liar as she dedicated herself to the wall of disinformation that sustained the Russiagate farrago for four years.

Nice. Readers will recognize Jankowicz as the blink-and-you-missed-it head of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board until that operation collapsed in a matter of weeks earlier this year amid a shrill chorus of protests that it was an American version of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. I will always remember Jankowicz for her wonderful thought at the time of her appointment: “Just think of me as the Mary Poppins of disinformation.”

Disinterested source No. 1, let us call Ms. Jankowicz. I will think of you always, Nina, in just this way. 

I wondered as I read along why someone on the Times’s national desk didn’t have the presence of mind to tell Myers and Frenkel to drop the Jankowicz quotation, as she transparently gives away the disinformation war as a propaganda ploy to control what we read, view, and indeed think. Did I have this wrong.

The next quotation is from Jared Holt of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. And what is the ISD? It is a London-based operation dedicated to hunting down all sorts of malevolent doings: “conspiracy theories,” “extremism,” “counternarratives,” “fake news,” “echo chambers,” and of course, the big one, disinformation. Its primary funders include every government in the Anglosphere, numerous others in the European Union, Google, Microsoft, George Soros, and Pierre Omidyar—these last being heavy into the “regime change” game. The Times, of course, mentions none of this.

Let us call our Jared and the ISD disinterested source No. 2.

No. 3 in the impartial sources line is the one that caused my jaw to drop to the edge of my desk, my neck having already snapped. Myers and Frenkel had the brass to trot out an operation called NewsGuard to this effect:

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has become a primary battleground in today’s fight against disinformation. A report last month by NewsGuard, an organization that tracks the problem online, showed that nearly 20 percent of videos presented as search results on TikTok contained false or misleading information on topics such as school shootings and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“An organization that tracks the problem online”: I always love The Times’s thumbnail identifiers when they are used to occlude the truth about a source from its readers.

NewsGuard has been around since the mid–Russiagate years and purports to do what its name implies: It assigns itself the task of identifying misinformation, disinformation, and “fake news.” It advises $4.95-a-month subscribers—public institutions, libraries, universities, individuals—of offending publications. Here is what The Times wants to slip past readers: NewsGuard counts the State Department and the Pentagon as “partners.” Its advisory board includes Michael Hayden, a retired general and formerly director of the CIA and the NSA, Tom Ridge, the first secretary of Homeland Security, and Anders Rasmussen, a former secretary-general of NATO.

I have a direct interest when it comes to NewsGuard. Earlier this year it assigned Consortium News a red-alert rating—meaning it is a dangerous publication—on the grounds that it spread various bits of disinformation. Chief among these are Consortium columns noting that the U.S. cultivated the 2014 coup in Kyiv and the presence of neo–Nazi ideologues in Ukraine’s political and military institutions.

I wrote some of the columns at issue and, of course, stand by them. There is plentiful evidence supporting every assertion in them, as Joe Lauria, Consortium’s editor, patiently laid out to NewsGuard’s interrogator. This did not matter. NewsGuard applied the condemning classification, and it remains.

There is an important lesson here. What is true or false is not actually at issue in the disinformation war. What contravenes the liberal absolutists’ orthodoxies is at issue. Alternative views of the war in Ukraine, “election denialism,” “undermining trust in the democratic system”—these are to be countered as disinformation. It is, altogether, a term with no meaning. 

The Times has its own curious list of condemnations. To “portray Big Tech as beholden to the government, the deep state or the liberal elite”: This is demonstrably true, but uh-uh. The Times cites a Pew study that found one in 10 posts on internet sites surveyed made “derisive allegations” about LGBTQ issues. No: We cannot have this.

It is vital at this point in this creeping, creepy campaign that we hold to what I call the Skokie Position. Readers will recall that in 1978 the American Civil Liberties Union supported the right of American neo–Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, which had a large Jewish population, despite the marchers’ odious views. This was what it meant back when people understood how to defend free speech.

It is the same for us now. I do not know what derisive allegations against LGBTQ people someone made on a digital website. I do not know what tasteless things Kanye West—who figures among the condemnable in the Myers–Frenkel story—said about Jews or Black Lives Matter. I most certainly support their right to say whatever it is they said.

Myers and Frenkel want us to understand the disinformation war as one waged against right-wing websites such as QAnon, Donald Trump and his followers, and assorted others gathered under the term “conservative.” This is neat, even halfway clever as an organizing principle. We liberals must band together in the disinformation war because it is the great, unwashed other side that has us under attack: This is the thesis running all the way through the Myers–Frenkel piece.

Neat, clever to an extent, and cynical times 10, in my read. This is not about Republicans or Democrats, the right wing in American politics against what no longer even passes for a left. It is about absolutism appearing in America’s political culture to an extent I start to think is unprecedented.

In this connection, Lee Fang and Ken Klipperstein published a piece Monday in The Intercept that leaves little doubt about the danger we face in  the disinformation war. In “Truth Cops,” they reveal “years of internal DHS [Department of Homeland Security] memos, emails, and documents” demonstrating the frightening extent to which the federal government is working directly, as in very directly, with Big Tech to control what is published on digital platforms. This is the avenue on which the DHS has chosen to travel now that its Governance Board has bombed: Always best to get it done through the private sector. 

Given the extent publishing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter now collaborate directly with DHS and other federal agencies, as Fang and Klipperstein detail it, we can no longer entertain any claims that there is no official censorship in America. What these two writers reveal is illegal, a clear breach of the First Amendment. And let us watch as Myers, a seasoned correspondent now leading the Times’s disinformation coverage, reports this major development — if, indeed, he does.  

In the where-are-we-headed department, Diana Johnstone, the noted Europeanist, mailed me an item the other day from a German reporter named Ulrich Hayden. It is here, in an automated translation from German. Diana’s note atop the piece reads, “Bundestag decides Russians are guilty of everything.” It seems that denying or “trivializing”—meaning what?—war crimes or genocides, including what are considered Russia’s in Ukraine, is now punishable as “incitement of the people.” Hayden reported that the Bundestag passed this legislation in an evening session “without any prior announcement.”

The Germans, like many others, get these things done by law, openly. Americans, dwelling in the land of the free, get them done unofficially, less visibly, and through the private sector, not least by way of our media. 

I like the masthead motto of NachDenkSeiten, where Ulrich Hayden’s piece appeared. It is “For everyone who still has their own thoughts.” It is clean, sturdy, and cannot be turned upside down as “disinformation.” In a time when liberal absolutists spread disinformation in the name of fighting disinformation, it focuses the mind on what is truly being fought over.







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