How to Fight Putin’s Propaganda

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

It’s hard to keep up with the Russian propaganda over the Ukraine, but a fascinating article, “Playing by Putin’s tactics,” examines some of it. The column in The Washington Post is by Molly K. McKew and Gregory A. Maniatis, who worked for Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili and his national security adviser during and after the 2008 war with Russia. However, the article offers no substantive response to what Putin is doing.

In describing how vulnerable Western media are to Putin’s propaganda over Ukraine, they note that “Itar-Tass ran a story last weekend, later picked up by Forbes and others, that 675,000 Ukrainians had recently sought political asylum in Russia.” Such absurd claims are being used by Russia to justify its invasion of Ukraine.

Not surprisingly, this ludicrous story showed up at Russia Today (RT) television under the headline, “675,000 Ukrainians pour into Russia as ‘humanitarian crisis’ looms.” RT is the Moscow-funded channel that gave WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a TV show.

Rebecca Novick in The Huffington Post dissected the phony refugee story in the context of documenting how Russia was “creating a fake refugee crisis” in the Ukraine to justify its military intervention. She cites a Russian TV channel video showing a picture of many people crossing the border, claiming they are escaping to Russia. In fact, however, it was a picture of people crossing the Ukraine-Poland border.

The refugee crisis story was a lie from start to finish. The Twitchy site documents the number of Russian outlets picking up the story and how the claims were debunked by eyewitnesses.

In an editorial, The Washington Post says that Putin might actually believe his own Ukraine propaganda. It noted that his public comments have “become indistinguishable from the propaganda of his state television network.”

It is far more likely that he knows the stories are false, but promotes them anyway. In the words of Ukrainian activist Ruslana, they are the work of “paid liars.”

McKew and Maniatis write, “Going forward, the terms by which the world is playing are Putin’s—a reality we all must recognize and for which we need an effective response.”

One simple way to respond would be to enforce the law concerning Russian propaganda broadcasts in the U.S., which are reaching tens of millions of American homes. Media carriers for the Moscow-funded channel, which changed its name to RT from Russia Today to mask the foreign connection, include Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Verizon Fios, Cox Cable, RCN Cable, MHz Networks, and Dish Networks.

MHz, which provides RT to dozens of public TV stations, is itself a public television programming service that receives taxpayer money from the federally-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). In fiscal year 2011, for example, the CPB funneled $27,580,113 into MHz Networks and its affiliates.

As AIM has discussed many times over the last four years, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is “a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.” In addition, broadcaster Jerry Kenney points out that the law mandates that the broadcasts carry a notice that they constitute propaganda on behalf of a foreign government.

But the Obama administration doesn’t enforce the law. And the tax dollars keep flowing through MHz to the public TV stations airing RT.

An unintentionally hilarious video released by RT (with my own subtitles) shows Putin reviewing his troops at the channel in Moscow.

According to RT, the propaganda is not coming from the Russians. Instead, the channel is now exposing the dangerous “lies” in the media that are supposedly being told by the American side, as revealed by a “journalist” by the name of Manuel Ochsenreiter. His claims include:

  • Secretary of State John Kerry “is one of the best paid professional liars in the West.”
  • “This whole Ukrainian conflict is not about democracy, it is not about oligarchs and it is not about political parties.”

Who is Manuel Ochsenreiter? The editor of a German magazine described as “right-wing,” he seems to be a favorite of RT. He showed up in an RT story that ran under the amazing headline, “International journalists refute claims of Russian forces in Crimea.” His photo gallery shows him with a Syrian Army soldier at the Khomeini Shrine in Tehran in 2012, and interviewing a Hezbollah official.

He also happens to have published on his own website an interview with Aleksandr Dugin, the Putin adviser linked to former KKK leader David Duke, who declares:

“Russia is a liberal democracy. Take a look at the Russian constitution: We have a democratic electoral system, a functioning parliament, a free market system. The constitution is based on Western pattern. Our president Vladimir Putin rules the country in a democratic way. We are not a monarchy, we are not a dictatorship, we are not a soviet communist regime.”

Such propaganda doesn’t pass the laugh test.

But it becomes deadly serious when you examine Dugin’s views on Iran, as explained in the article, “Eurasianism, Iran, and Russia’s Foreign Policy.” Identified as the leader of the “International Eurasia Movement,” Dugin discusses a “strategic alliance” between Iran and Russia that will expand to include Turkey, China and India.

In this context, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reports that Iran and Russia have reached a primary agreement for building two more nuclear power plants in Iran. This report doesn’t appear to be propaganda.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.


Clintonworld Determined to Contain Latest Controversy

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Much of the media have been obsessed with “Bridgegate,” the local New Jersey story about traffic jams caused by the closing of some lanes on the George Washington Bridge leading into Manhattan—and other potential scandals—simply because the person who figures into it most—Chris Christie—is the governor, and was considered by many to be the Republican with the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton in a 2016 matchup.

“The fact is that we have to take these guys on directly,” Christie shot back at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. “You know, I’m shy and retiring and I don’t like to speak my mind, especially regarding the media. But what we need to start saying is…that we’re not going to put up any longer with them defining who we are.”

Politico was quick to point out that this was the first time that Christie had given a speech “to a crowd of base Republican voters since his administration was roiled by scandal.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who has been among the most obsessive about Bridgegate, told a late-night talk-show host this week that the reason it is so captivating is “I think in part because it’s not over and we still don’t know what happened.” By that standard, she should really want to sink her teeth into this latest Hillary Clinton controversy, which is already bordering on being a full-fledged scandal.

A local Washington D.C. political scandal that has Mayor Vincent Gray in the hot seat has expanded to ensnare the Clinton campaign machine, with actual evidence that illegal money was used to support her 2008 presidential primary campaign to defeat Barack Obama in the Democratic primary. But the former first lady and secretary of state claims that she had no knowledge of these actions, so she is, of course, exonerated by most of the mainstream media. “A campaign adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton was involved in an off-the-books operation to help the former first lady’s 2008 presidential campaign in four states and Puerto Rico, according to federal court documents,” reports CBS News. Will this get enduring wall-to-wall coverage on par with Bridgegate? We doubt it.

“Prosecutors said that from February to May 2008, [Jeffrey] Thompson used two firms to disburse $608,750 in ‘excessive and unreported contributions to pay for campaign services in coordination with and in support of a federal political candidate for president of the United States and the federal and the candidate’s authorized committee,’” reports The Washington Times. “That candidate was Mrs. Clinton.” Thompson pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges on March 10. CBS News confirmed that the $600,000 in contributions were never reported to the Federal Election Commission.

The Clinton advisor in question is Minyon Moore. A spokeswoman for the public affairs firm where she works, Dewey Square Group (DSG), was quick to defend her, saying that “In fact she [Moore] asked Thompson to contribute and raise money directly for the campaign so the campaign could afford to execute a field program in constituent communities. Her actions were legal.”

“Furthermore, she was never aware Jeffrey Thompson paid Troy White or any other vendor outside of the campaign,” said the DSG spokeswoman to CNN.

DSG has a vested interest in proving Moore’s actions were legal; The Washington Post reported in September 2013 that “At the time [that she was a senior advisor on the Clinton’s 2008 campaign], she [Moore] was working at Dewey Square Group as state and local director. Clinton’s campaign paid the firm nearly $420,000 for strategic consulting, according to campaign finance records.”

“A federal government source would not comment on whether Moore had aided the investigation or if she could be charged in the future for the campaign with Thompson,” reports CNN, which carried DSG’s statement but ignored the financial connection.

Moore’s role in the conspiracy is somewhat suspicious. “But Thompson, in his discussions with authorities, depicted Moore as playing a far more intimate role in the off-the-books campaign than was previously indicated—securing the money and helping guide the strategy by feeding internal campaign documents and receiving messages about the media coverage,” remarks The Washington Post.

But as in the Benghazi scandal, it seems that if there is an issue, it’s not supposed to reach high enough to tarnish this infallible presidential hopeful. CBS and other news outlets are quick to point out that “Prosecutors have said they have no evidence that Clinton was aware of the get-out-the-vote operation.”

Yet The Washington Post writes, “What really matters is not whether the Clinton campaign knew about the effort but whether it can be tied to or knew about the illegal aspect of it.”

The National Journal pushed back, in an article entitled “Clintonworld Goes After The Washington Post.” They quoted “Burns Strider, a longtime Clinton aide who now works with the pro-Clinton rapid-response group Correct the Record,” who “called the allegations ‘bizarre and brazenly false.’ Strider defended Moore, with whom he’s worked over the years, and called The Post’s reporting ‘irresponsible.’”

Added Strider, “I think it’s horseshit. I think The Washington Post is acting like some kind of an Internet blog or something instead of doing real reporting.” He said, “I think it’s pretty clear through everything that’s come out that [Moore] didn’t do anything wrong and has been exonerated and has been fully helpful in the case, and that’s the bottom line.”

The National Journal reported that the Post told them that “the story is based on publicly available documents,” and that they gave Moore “ample time to reply.”

Clinton’s role in the Benghazi scandal would be enough to destroy her chances to become president, if the news media were to just do their job. But they see their occupation in a different way: to protect and help elect favored Democratic candidates. Thus, CBS writes, “Any connection to the case could provide fodder for Republicans who already are mobilizing to undercut another Clinton campaign.” In other words, any detractors of Clinton are just trying to win political points. The press is trying to inoculate readers against any chance that Clinton might become ensnared in another scandal.

The proof will come in the following days and weeks. Let’s see if the press corps waits outside every place that Hillary goes, to ask her what she knew and when. And will Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Chris Matthews start spending segment after segment examining emails, and interviewing critics of Mrs. Clinton to try to get to the bottom of this?

I think we already know the answers. The only question is, how quickly can they sweep this under the rug, and dismiss this as sexism, or whatever the Andrea Mitchells of the world will use to ignore or bury this story.

This is not the first time that donors have proven a political liability for Clinton. In 2007, she “took the unprecedented step of returning $850,000 in contributions raised by Norman Hsu, a top campaign bundler who was wanted on criminal charges in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme,” reports The Washington Times. Hsu also served as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

We documented that and other funny-money scandals that Hillary’s been involved in which, if covered by the press with the interest and intensity that they have shown towards Bridgegate, might have ended her dreams of returning to the White House in the role of president. But the media have an agenda, and are therefore content to ignore the Clinton connections and pretend that dirty money doesn’t ever touch this family.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.


The Soviet Story – A Must-See For All Students Of History

Hat Tip: Arlie
By: Red Square
The People’s Cube

If you want to know the back story of the Ukrainian revolution, The Soviet Story tells exactly what happened to Ukraine during the Soviet era – and a lot more.

It’s the best educational film on the nature of communism, which should be shown to all high school students in America to immunize them against the lure of the “great” utopia. However, I doubt most teachers will do so in today’s political climate.

This 2008 documentary tells the story of the anti-human ideology the way I see it myself. That was rather surprising, because in today’s “progressive” media climate, such views are an anathema.

We definitely need a climate change!

That the author of this film and I share the same views is not a coincidence. Edvīns Šnore is a fellow ex-Soviet – a Latvian director who did a great job documenting the evils of communism with the support of some of his European colleagues.

The Soviet Story starts with a question I also raised many times: while the swastika is universally recognized as a symbol of evil and hate, why does the hammer-and-sickle emblem, which is just as bad, get a free pass? The answer apparently lies in the fact that there has never been a version of the Nuremberg Trial for communism, which still has a lot of sympathizers in high places of power around the world, including the United States.

When this film came out, one of our Cubists posted a trailer and a link to the DVD. Today the full movie can be seen online on YouTube and other video sites.

Below is the full film in two parts, with English subtitles for some foreign-language segments. I had previously posted a one-part YouTube video, which lacked subtitles. You can still view it here. Or you can buy the DVD to play it on big screen at an event or in a classroom.