When CNN began circulating the rumors that Russia would retaliate against recent sanctions from the United States by closing an American School in Moscow and a U.S. embassy vacation house, Russia’s foreign ministry was quick to call the mainstream media out for broadcasting “fake news.”
“You should not write that ‘Moscow denied…. Or Moscow will not…’ Write as it is: ‘The CNN TV channel and other Western media have again spread false information citing official American sources,'” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.
While mainstream media outlets like CNN cited anonymous U.S. officials who reportedly claimed that the Anglo American School of Moscow would be closed by Russia to retaliate against the U.S., the school announced that it will open after winter break as scheduled, following Zakharova’s post.
The article from CNN boasted the title, “White House announces retaliation against Russia: Sanctions, ejecting diplomats.” It opened with a summary of the sanctions imposed by President Obama, which include expelling 35 Russian diplomats and shutting down two Russian compounds.
“Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government. These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The irony of the matter comes from the fact that by reporting false information and justifying it by using vague, anonymous U.S. officials as sources, CNN is helping to further erode the public’s faith in both the media and the U.S. government.
“It’s a lie,” Zakharova wrote. “It appears the White House has completely lost its mind and is now coming up with sanctions against their own children.”
The cause of the highly disgruntled tone can be deduced to agitation stemmed from the hypocrisy of the “fake news” narrative being directed at Russia, and propagated by western mainstream media outlets.
“And the fake news machine continues,” Forbes Contributor Kenneth Rapoza wrote. “Only this time, its from some fast and furious typing by CNN reporters regarding Russian retaliatory sanctions against the U.S.”
The “fake news” narrative imposed on the public by the mainstream media stems from that claims that Russia has been deliberately endorsing, funding and distributing news articles that are false and intended to mislead the American public into distrusting their governmental institutions and elected officials.
This notion has been extorted by branding practically every major alternative media outlet as a fake news site, attempting to shun any dissenting journalist who possesses the integrity to stray from the official narrative if that narrative is misleading, and worthy of contradiction.
The agenda to eliminate alleged disinformation was popularized by the Washington Post, which based its article off of research gathered by four sources, including a website called “Propornot,” which published a list of 200 alternative news outlets that the organization viewed to be, whether intentional or not, purveyors of Russian propaganda. Ironically, this list was later dismissed by many major media outlets as “fake news” and a form of propaganda all unto itself.
Propornot interprets the propaganda network by stating, “While Russian influence operations resemble a marketing effort in some ways, only a few dozen individual outlets (‘sources’) actually produce large amounts of original propaganda content. That content is then echoed, extended, and amplified through an immense number of secondary sites (‘repeaters’),” implicating that many of these so-called fake news networks are unintentionally distributing Russian propaganda.
Propornot is advocating for the boycotting of the news outlets listed as well as other forms of activism that could dissuade citizens from reading from the fabricated list of “fake news” sources, which includes yours truly, We Are Change.
While Propornot’s “call to action” on their website lists things such as “Familiarize yourself with this project,” and “join us on Reddit,” it does not include anything that would encourage readers to use their own critical thinking to decide whether or not a story contains “fake news.”
Propornot’s practice of ignoring significant details seems to be the same approach that many mainstream media outlets have adopted in their war on disinformation. Breaking down the contradicting narrative and covering the entirety of the evidence used to support the dissenting claim should rationally be the method used to combat fake news. The closest notion to that being to cherry-pick articles apparently supportive of Russia, and to apply that interpretation to the news organization as a whole, “Look for ridiculous pro-Russian articles and posts on their favorite sites, and ask them: “What exactly is that doing there!?“
CNN offers additional advice on identifying fake news in an article titled “Here’s how to outsmart fake news in your Facebook feed,” which begins by outlining the different types of fake news, and addressing the need to “hone your fact-checking skills.”
Elaborating on the latter, the CNN article says, “Alexios Mantzarlis trains fact-checkers for a living. He says it’s important to have a ‘healthy amount of skepticism’ and to think, really think, before sharing a piece of news.”
The article goes on to list 10 questions one should ask when determining if an article is propaganda or not. The reader can go on to view the entirety the list himself, but the fifth entry is particularly important. The fifth question CNN poses when deciding whether or not an article is propaganda is “Does the article cite primary sources?”.
To put this question into context of CNN’s latest reporting blunder, let it be re-acknowledged that CNN cited an anonymous U.S. official as the source of the invalid claim that the Russian government was to shut down the Anglo-American school of Moscow as well as the U.S. embassy’s vacation house in Serebryany Bor. This claim was, of course, later dismissed by the Russian government as false.
Wait…how can news sourced from the U.S. government be false? Well for starters, the government stopped trying to hide the fact that they intentionally deceive the public when Congress legalized the use of propaganda on the American people in an updated version of the National Defense Authorization Act passed in 2012.
Although, after Operation Mockingbird, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Iraq War and the repeated lies concerning the mass surveillance operations undertaken by the NSA, the fact that the government lies to the public should not raise too many eyebrows.
What does this implicate in the credibility of U.S. governmental sources? It is not a falsehood to state that the U.S. government has blatantly admitted to lying to the public, going as far as to put it into law.
Fact checker Alexios Mantzarlis was onto something in emphasizing the importance of having a “healthy amount of skepticism” and to, as CNN writes, “really, really think” before sharing a piece of news. Considering anonymous U.S. sources lying—that we know of—to to the public has already dragged the country into two wars (Vietnam and Iraq), one should question how much faith we can reasonably accredit to future anonymous governmental sources.
The Russian government is continuing to deny its involvement in propagating “fake news,” reciprocating the allegations back on the accusers as careless journalistic standards continue to back-fire on the mainstream media outlets propagating this narrative.
Furthermore, one can argue that the U.S. government blatantly lying to its citizens is inherently a greater source of distrust in governmental bodies and institutions than Russia’s propagation of the fact of the matter. Lastly, no, WeAreChange is not comprised of Putin-worshiping journalists or paid Russian propagandists, but rather a compilation of truth-seekers and aspiring journalists who strive to report the truth and nothing but the truth, whether it fits the mainstream narrative or not.