“The List” arrived to fame and notoriety via an article in The Washington Post (WaPo) a few days ago. The article was titled “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say“:
The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.
With that opening paragraph, WaPo apparently attempted to co-opt the increasing discussion of fake news by publishing a lengthy blacklist of such sites. PropOrNot, the site with “The List,” instantly became a top site on the internet, as pictured here in the spike at Alexa where sites are ranked in rough order of popularity.
Immediately after the WaPo article came out, a definitive piece at The Intercept by Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald noted a little “fake news” in the WaPo piece itself:
More troubling still, PropOrNot listed numerous organizations on its website as “allied” with it, yet many of these claimed “allies” told The Intercept, and complained on social media, they have nothing to do with the group and had never even heard of it before the Post published its story.
The article in The Intercept noted the variety of sites being blacklisted out of the paradigm:
The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute.
The entire blacklist is published below for posterity. Some of these sites like LibertyWritersNews.com are nearly pure fake news click bait for profit. Others like OpEdNews.com are loaded with different views and include some very good scholarly articles with information not covered by the mainstream press.
Most of the blacklist constitutes sites everywhere in between. But “The List” does not include the many long-time Democratic and Republican sites that push a partisan narrative that is built on misleading readers for election purposes.
WHAT SOME BLACKLISTED SITES ARE SAYING
Here are a few paragraphs with responses from some of the alleged “fake news” sites. Any good journalist would have asked a few of the better sites from the long blacklist for a comment or rebuttal. WaPo did not do that.
A Media Blacklist, Courtesy of WaPo: Now I’m Afraid for Our Democracy
So: Clinton lost because Russia wanted Trump to win because Trump will favor Russia so Russia created fake news which influenced over 62 million Americans to overlook Trump’s flaws and vote for him. Got it.
Proof? Stuff on Facebook. Main source of that proof? A group of unknown origin, financing, and makeup (“an independent team of concerned American citizens”) called PropOrNot, i.e., propaganda or not. The group also “strongly suspects that some of the individuals involved have violated the Espionage Act, the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and other related laws.”
We’re Under Attack
Over Thanksgiving weekend, the Washington Post legitimated a thin, amateurish site whose principals have libeled not only Naked Capitalism but also Ron Paul’s institute, former Reagan Administration officials David Stockman and Paul Craig Roberts, well-respected progressive stalwarts, such as Counterpunch, Truthout, TruthDig, and Black Agenda Report, as supposed Russian propaganda outlets with foreign “coordinators.” Moreover, with no supporting evidence whatsoever, this site called for everyone on its list to be investigated by the FBI and DoJ for Espionage Act violations. The common denominator for all these websites seems to be skepticism about the failed Clinton coronation.
Real Independent News & Film (RINF)
The Lying Washington Post Gets Exposed, And All Major U.S. ‘News’ Media Refuse to Report It
One thing that U.S. ‘news’media refuse to report is the uniform rot of the U.S. ‘news’media — even when it’s only a single one (and not themselves) of those ‘news’media that’s being exposed. They all protect each other — and not only protect the aristocracy that controls both of the political Parties and thus the U.S. government itself and which also both finances and advertises in (pays) those ‘news’media — all of which are fake: ‘news’ managed by the U.S. aristocracy.
Black Agenda Report
Fascism with a Democratic Party Face
The establishment corporate Democratic and Republican brand of fascism is far more racially, sexually and culturally inclusive, but just as ruthless. And, at this moment in history, the corporate Democratic fascists are the more aggressively warlike brand.
The Free Thought Project
If You Question the Establishment You Are Guilty of Espionage, Says Corporate Media — Because Russia
Once again, we have literally unverifiable ‘information’ coughed up by unknown entities, who employed unknown methods to produce a blacklist of media sites — which incidentally includes a disparate mishmash from Ron Paul and Chris Hedges, to the Drudge Report and Lew Rockwell — that the public should deem verboten because they said so. That, and because Russia. (emphasis in original)
Journalists Decry Washington Post Story on Source That ‘Blacklisted’ Truthdig and Other Outlets
Only the Post’s journalists know their own motives, but by running stories like this without proper vetting–and without including comment from blacklisted sources–they leave the rest of us to read between the lines. What we see spells trouble for press freedom at a crucial moment.
“THE LIST” IN ITS ENTIRELY (text continues below)
WEB LINE NEWS
So far, Web Line News has not made any blacklist probably because this site is too small. A regular theme of reporting here is to look at propaganda or fake news out there — it comes from all directions: Republican, Democratic, “non-partisan,” conservative, liberal, mainstream, independent, alternative, domestic, foreign, social media, you name it. We are awash is misleading information. Deception is just about everywhere and nobody is immune from scrutiny. When the major facts themselves are false, an article is discredited.
PROPER ANALYSIS OF SOURCES
When dealing with propaganda or fake news, the first thing a journalist needs to do is either rebut the content or explain why it is unsupported. Often, an article is self-discrediting: it contradicts itself so significantly that we need look no further to throw it in the trash. A good journalist should point out internal inconsistencies when they occur. There is no easier way to discredit a bad piece.
Only after an article has been reviewed, then the journalist may try to explain the poor quality by looking at motives of players involved. If this pattern of low quality is repeated at a specific source frequently enough, then and only then may the overall source be deemed “propaganda” or “fake.”
FULLY PREDICTABLE BACKLASH
The more the “mainstream media” complains about so-called fake news sites, the more publicity those sites receive. As the mainstream media has been stunningly pro-Democratic Party in the last few months, the blackashes from these blacklists are fully foreseeable:
- Mainstream media is driving curious people to these sites. Negative publicity is better than no publicity. They are advertising for these sites.
- Alternative and independent sites are responding or reacting to this assault on freedom of speech and upon their own sites personally by tending to fall into the arms of the welcoming Republican establishment. Funny how that happens.
The people who run mainstream media have decades of experience and teams of editors and experts to consider the effects of their publications. They should know the effect they are causing. But they do it anyway.
The propaganda and fake news epidemic is a serious problem but the solution will not come from biased sources creating blacklists.