The frenzied, hysterical Russia narrative being promoted day in and day out by western mass media has had two of its major stories ripped to shreds in the last three days.
A report seeded throughout the mainstream media by anonymous intelligence officials back in September claimed that US government workers in Cuba had suffered concussion-like brain damage after hearing strange noises in homes and hotels with the most likely culprit being “sophisticated microwaves or another type of electromagnetic weapon” from Russia. A recording of one such highly sophisticated attack was analyzed by scientists and turned out to be the mating call of the male indies short-tailed cricket. Neurologists and other brain specialists have challenged the claim that any US government workers suffered any neurological damage of any kind, saying test results on the alleged victims were misinterpreted. The actual story, when stripped of hyperventilating Russia panic, is that some government workers heard some crickets in Cuba.
Another report which dominated news headlines all of yesterday claimed that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (the same Paul Manafort who the Guardian falsely claimed met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy) had shared polling data with a Russian associate and asked him to pass it along to Oleg Deripaska, who is often labeled a “Russian oligarch” by western media. The polling data was mostly public already, and the rest was just more polling information shared in the spring of 2016, but Deripaska’s involvement had Russiagaters burning the midnight oil with breathless excitement. Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall went so far as to publish an article titled “The ‘Collusion’ Debate Ended Last Night”, substantiating his click-generating headline with the claim that “What’s crystal clear is that the transfer to Kilimnik came with explicit instructions to give the information to Deripaska. And that’s enough.”
Except Manafort didn’t give any explicit instructions to share the polling data with Deripaska, but with two Ukrainian oligarchs (who are denying it). The New York Times was forced to print this embarrassing correction to the story it broke, adding in the process that Manafort’s motivation was likely not collusion, but money.
Aw, shucks. Well at least the new names are also complicated and Slavic, so readers can still draw their preferred sinister inferences https://t.co/1NPNC5EN4m pic.twitter.com/P2dhAN8eQg
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 9, 2019
These are just the latest in a long, ongoing pattern of terrible mass media debacles as reporters eager to demonstrate their unquestioning fealty to the US-centralized empire fall all over themselves to report any story that makes Russia look bad without practicing due diligence. The only voices who have been questioning the establishment Russia narrative that is being fed to mass media outlets by secretive government agencies have been those which the mass media refuses to platform. Alternative media outlets are the only major platforms for dissent from the authorized narratives of the plutocrat-owned political/media class.
Imagine, then, how disastrous it would be if these last strongholds of skepticism and holding power to account were removed from the media landscape. Well, that’s exactly what a shady organization called NewsGuard is trying to do, with some success already.
A new report by journalist Whitney Webb for MintPress News details how NewsGuard is working to hide and demonetize alternative media outlets like MintPress, marketing itself directly to tech companies, social media platforms, libraries and schools. NewsGuard is led by some of the most virulently pro-imperialist individuals in America, and its agenda to shore up narrative control for the ruling power establishment is clear.
EXCLUSIVE: As Newsguard’s project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site’s ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States. @_whitneywebbhttps://t.co/ftH6QnVlDn
— MintPress News (@MintPressNews) January 9, 2019
The product which NewsGuard markets to the general public is a browser plugin which advises online media consumers whether a news media outlet is trustworthy or untrustworthy based on a formula with a very pro-establishment bias which sees outlets like Fox News and the US propaganda outlet Voice of America getting trustworthy ratings while outlets like RT get very low ratings for trustworthiness. This plugin dominates the bulk of what comes up when you start researching NewsGuard, but circulating a plugin which individual internet users can voluntarily download to help their rulers control their minds is not one of the more nefarious agendas being pursued by this company. The full MintPress article gives a thorough breakdown of the yucky things NewsGuard has its fingers in, but here’s a summary of five of its more disturbing revelations:
1. The company has created a service called BrandGuard, billed as a “brand safety tool aimed at helping advertisers keep their brands off of unreliable news and information sites while giving them the assurance they need to support thousands of Green-rated [i.e., Newsguard-approved] news and information sites, big and small.” Popularizing the use of this service will attack the advertising revenue of unapproved alternative media outlets which run ads. NewsGuard is aggressively marketing this service to “ad tech firms, leading agencies, and major advertisers”.
2. NewsGuard’s advisory board reads like the fellowships list of a neocon think tank, and indeed one of its CEOs, Louis Gordon Crovitz, is a Council on Foreign Relations member who has worked with the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation. Members of the advisory board include George W Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, deep intelligence community insider Michael Hayden, and the Obama administration’s Richard Stengel, who once publicly supported the need for domestic propaganda in the US. All of these men have appeared in influential think tanks geared toward putting a public smiley face on sociopathic warmongering agendas.
At a Council on Foreign Relations forum about "fake news," former Editor at Time Magazine Richard Stengel directly states that he supports the use of propaganda on American citizens – then shuts the session down when challenged about how propaganda is used against the third world pic.twitter.com/ClAT5POv7G
— William Craddick (@williamcraddick) May 11, 2018
3. Despite one of its criteria for trustworthy sources being whether or not they are transparent about their funding, the specifics of NewsGuard’s financing is kept secret.
4. NewsGuard is also planning to get its news-ranking system integrated into social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, pursuing a partnership which will make pro-establishment media consumption a part of your experience at those sites regardless of whether or not you download a NewsGuard app or plugin.
5. NewsGuard markets itself to state governments in order to get its plugin installed in all of that state’s public schools and libraries to keep internet users from consuming unauthorized narratives. It has already succeeded in accomplishing this in the state of Hawaii, with all of its library branches now running the NewsGuard plugin.
We may be absolutely certain that NewsGuard will continue giving a positive, trustworthy ranking to the New York Times no matter how many spectacular flubs it makes in its coverage of the establishment Russia narrative, because the agenda to popularize anti-Russia narratives lines up perfectly with the neoconservative, government agency-serving agendas of the powers behind NewsGuard. Any attempt to advance the hegemony of the US-centralized power establishment will be rewarded by its lackeys, and any skepticism of it will be punished.
Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Ruling power’s desire to regulate people’s access to information is so desperate that it has become as clumsy and ham-fisted as a teenager pawing at his date in the back seat of a car, and it feels about as enjoyable. They’re barely even concealing their desire to control our minds anymore, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to wake everyone up to their manipulations. We need to use every inch of our ability to communicate with each other before it gets shut down for good.
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Light / January 13, 2019
This is an interesting problem. Cheers for the article, knowledge is power, but… what’s to be done about it. Most of us who gain insight from the truth and share it with others continually linger under the hope of the hundredth monkey that the world will wake up and take action. While this is a novel precept, it fails the test of context. The problem itself is the entire system being based on wealth and its acquisition.
This agency is proof that money can spawn new ideas much faster than the truth, and helping folks to see takes time and energy. Most of us are caught in the trap of doing in order to stay afloat in this economic frenzy and it’s designed that way. What we need to be sharing with each others is a framework away from trade, an economy of giving, sharing wealth versus seeking it. But how? How do we transition as a culture, as a specie?
I am of the school of thought that everything happens as it should, that what we are experiencing is an active evolution of mind. It seems obvious that consuming the earth resources and competing with one another over ideological points is backward in the eyes of survival. The system itself is unsustainable. It would also seem relevant, on this wise, that its end is inevitable. Of course this shouldn’t make us complacent. We still need to find a way to learn from these times and the history that brought us to it, if we are ever going to survive as a specie, as a planet.
Fortunately it’s the money that empowers these types of ideological societies, East and West, were all in this together. Its fate is now in the hands of momentum. The mere fact its unsustainable and deeply fractured gives me hope that from the ruble we’ll build a new paradigm. I once feared that the might behind it would take the reigns, but if evolution is a true force, we can never go backward in our development. Something new will be born and this time it will not be slaves that pave the way to feudalism. It will be free people who took the time to prepare for the shift that survive and form a new contract with the earth.
I have read your work for a few year now and really get a lot out it. I believe you are an archetype of the truth and must survive the shift. People like yourself will find their voices lead to real actions when we are no longer trying to fight against the tide. You are a guide for correctness in an incorrect paradigm. But this will not always be the case. Thank you. Your light shines in my heart. You must survive the shift!
SteveInNC / January 11, 2019
Caitlin and Community,
I followed the link back to the MPN article, and from there to the belly of the beast – the Newsguard site itself. I saw also that they are pushing their product to schools as well. I can easily see a requirement to use only “green” sites as source material. Of course neoliberalism may have shot neoconservatism in the foot here, as the schools are so underfunded and understaffed (because of austerity, diversion of funds to charters, general hostility to public services, etc.), that the staff may not have time and energy to police such an initiative.
Great work as always!
Orlando J. Valerino / January 11, 2019
Controlling the narrative is nothing new, religion has been used for this purpose by rulers for centuries. Controlling the way people think and behave is the ultimate point of the panopticon surveillance data gathering police state. From Sri, Alexa, Google Hub, people are literally buying the devices of enslavement, to the police cameras popping up all over the cities in the world. The powers that shouldn’t be want to control your mind and body and eradicate a good portion of the population of this planet. Until a critical mass of humans truly understand this, we are just lemmings falling off a cliff staring at our screens.
Grace M Joubarne / January 13, 2019
So true. The Vatican has been pushing for a war with the Russians since 1910…People simply do not know that Roman Catholicism is anti-Christian and anti-democracy, and the historical documents do not lie. But the Vatican controls almost all media and the narrative, so it falsely assures its followers that they are following God. In fact Popes since at least the 1200s have been referring to themselves as the God and that they rule the world. Its easy to spot the bad guys…they want a war with Russians, they bad-mouth Russia constantly, they tell you what to watch and who to listen to, they make bald assertions and when questioned, make up stories, they have titles like “Honourable” and “Right Honourable”. Read the world’s leading expert’s books on this: The Vatican in World Politics (free on the internet but out of print) and The Vatican Holocaust (in its 57th reprint and available free online), both by Avro Manhattan
Robyn / January 11, 2019
A lot of the comment and analysis sites I visit daily post appeals for money so they can keep going. To donate to all of them, and donate a sum proportionate to the information and enlightenment I gain from them, is beyond my means. I wonder whether there couldn’t be some central distribution point so that a single donation could go towards some of the costs non-MSM sites have in common. These courageous comments and bloggers are essential to stopping the complete take-over of the ‘narrative’ which I believe is cover for criminal governments and their local and global crimes. Yet I fear some, and possibly most, of these worthy sites will cease to exist unless there is some change will allows them to remain financially afloat.
SnappleBC / January 11, 2019
You might look into the Brave browser. It’s based on chromium. It is private by design. Of interest to you, it includes a feature that tracks how much time you spend on sites and allows you to set percentages for them (at your control). Then you can pay into the blockchain-coin pot once per period and it’ll disburse to the sites you want to support. The sites in question, of course, needs to have signed up somehow.
It”s early days for Brave but I’m hopeful it catches on.
Orlando J. Valerino / January 11, 2019
Operation Mockingbird was admitted by the CIA in public decades ago, why would anyone be surprised today of the ‘group think’ of the mainstream media today?
“U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans”
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2 , that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs …
Ishkabibble / January 10, 2019
I see some usefulness to NewsGuard. Whatever it reports about a site is the exact oppisite of reality. In the NewsGuard (Newspeak?) world, war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignornce is strength. Its warning on RT, which may be the best news site other than Wikileaks in existence today, is the perfect example. Therefore, NewsGard “Bad” equals Reality “Good”.
The good thing is that all of the Elite’s desperate measures to keep the Matrix and its empire intact (as well as its desperate measures to keep the stock market from crashing) are becoming so obvious that even semi-conscious people are starting to wake up to see reality for maybe the first time in their lives.
Jared / January 10, 2019
I would not describe RT as best, it is somewhat biased and colloquial, I think.
But it offers refreshing alternate perspective in many cases – breaks the lock that CIA has on other media – pretty much globally.
Chucknobomb / January 10, 2019
Off Topic? Spoke to Media Benjamin and the U.S. Senate may try to vote on Anti BDS/Israeli Billion Bill at 1:45 TODAY. ” We Don’t Need No Education” Free Palestine/BDS Tear Down The Walls
chuck nasmith / January 10, 2019
Be Afraid of Russians. Israel almost 4 BILLLION and making it illegal in the FREE U.$. to support BDS. Damn Russians. What country influences the USA the most ? BDS
Chucknobomb / January 10, 2019
Does Israel and Dual Citizens and Donation getters control the media and Our Reps.? I love Jews. BDS
DAVID J DODGE / January 10, 2019
I wonder if this News Guard app can be hacked to do the opposite of it intentioned purpose. Another thought, advertisers could start using it stop wasting their money on on the dumb sheep and target the more intelligent people out there.
John Farnham / January 11, 2019
Or advertisers might use it to target the dumb sheep, that being the most efficient use of advertising on one hand and not arouse the suspicious on the other.
Jared / January 10, 2019
However, excellent heads-up.
Caitlin is lighthouse.
Jared / January 10, 2019
Better to light a candle.
Clearly “News Guard” is an orwellian badge of shame which after the fun wears-off will tag all fake news sites, such as NYT, CNN.
The alternative news sites need to bad together, cross-linking and have readers subscribe to guard against fakebook attacks – a al InfoWars. They are coming. It is a battle we did not choose, but must win.
Alex / January 10, 2019
I seem to remember another browser extension that was supposed to measure the trustworthiness of a website, they were discredited when it was found that the were taking payments and violating users privacy.
I can’t remember the name of the company.
Johny Conspiranoid / January 10, 2019
This is a troll to discredt CJ.
Harry S Nydick / January 10, 2019
No doubt, we are marching backward, double time, to 1984.
AriusArmenian / January 10, 2019
In the 1990’s I started to realize the warmonger slant of news in the US which started my search for reliable sources outside the US. Now I don’t pay any attention to the US media which is a 24 hour around the clock lying machine.
inforebelscum / January 10, 2019
“Now I don’t pay any attention to the US media which is a 24 hour around the clock lying machine.”
Exactly! And the biggest lies from US media are the lies of omission. So many important stories do not even get covered here in the land of the fools.
jared / January 10, 2019
It’s not only news and the media – All U.S. government data and economic analysis is suspect at best. It’s all fudged as needed. The trick is to be credible sometimes so you will be trusted when it becomes important to deceive.
The thing is: They print the money and have the guns.
Robert Russell / January 10, 2019
If the symptoms of the Embassy attacks are compared with the symptoms of ruction to 5G exposures it is hard to separate. Could it be that the embassy exposures are really 5G exposure, and if so, the the question is was the 5G exposure the result of American 5G or some foreign 5G? clearly no one is talking. Weird and radical ideas are preferable. Crickets, Drones, these are more believable? Give me a break! But suggesting the idea thee 5G /exposure is harmful,would blow up the whole idea that the whole world of Internet of Things (IOT) is not harmful! iff that were true, the empire would collapse!
AriusArmenian / January 10, 2019
I remember those loud crickets at night on St Lucia island. So I can believe that some US cupcakes would go weird from it.
Sean Harvey / January 10, 2019
On the other hand, Newsguard will provide a handy way of identifying establishment propaganda. As for advertisers – they’r gonna go where the views are, no matter what. The important thing is to identify newsguard as the filter for idiots, which has already begun thanks at least in part to CJ.
inforebelscum / January 10, 2019
All NewsGuard has to do is claim they are only stopping “hate” news and the left will hail the company as being “responsible”.
tom / January 10, 2019
So now grasshoppers are part of a Russian plot to destroy democracy in the free world.
inforebelscum / January 10, 2019
Its crickets not grasshoppers. Insectist!
bob / January 10, 2019
The goal may be (is) to destroy the Russian Federation:
That is my operative assumption. Narrative (propaganda), sanctions, arming terrorists, false arrests, stealing diplomatic properties…endless provocations intended to create causus belli. I now understand what these psychos are doing. Crazy because Russia could be a good friend to America or a terrible enemy. The choice is simple unless you’re a lunatic.
What is more likely is the dissolution of the United States when we go bankrupt.
John / January 10, 2019
I think you are on to something. We should start discussing/planning now for the aftermath of the disillusion. I suggest a Rojava like federation of autonomous regions, with borders for those regions based on watersheds.
inforebelscum / January 10, 2019
John are you referring to the US?
Charles Beall / January 10, 2019
Caitlin, I recently came across your article: ‘Society is made of narrative. Realizing this is awakening from the matrix’.
The insight conveyed by your words represents a rare and elevated plane of consciousness, a level of non-religious spiritual awareness that is very uncommon. I don’t blog and seldom correspond with unknowns I encounter on the web, but I was compelled make an exception after reading your article. Quick background: I grew up the oldest son of a poor farmer in the deep south, U.S. Early life was hard–bone aching physical work; strict compliance with authority in the home, government and church; patriotic indoctrination, et al. As a 19 year old kid, my father was physically and emotionally ripped apart when he landed with the Marines at Iowa Jima. He never completely recovered. Most of the males in our large, extended family served in one or more of America’s never ending wars. I was the first college graduate in the family, and became the pride of the clan when I enlisted in the USMC after graduation and became a commissioned officer. That experience changed me in a profound way, but not in the same way that military combat experience had effected other members of my family and friends. For me it was a cathartic experience that precipitated an explosion of my entire world view and system of beliefs–the ‘narratives’ that defined my understanding and convictions about all things previously important to me. Through a long process of self-examination and discovery, I became free of the matrix. It’s been an incredible journey, filled with revelation and awakening to the truths of my personal narrative. One of those profound truths is that every human being has the right to live on their own terms, so long as they acknowledge the equal right of every other person to do the same. However, history reveals the existence of not a single human social construct or organization that did not ultimately devolve into an authoritative social order of oppression and predation. In my long, exhaustive exploration and search for confirmation, I have failed to find any indication that humankind has the capacity to achieve the utopian existence you envision (and clearly hope for) in your article. Such a utopian social construct of any significance must be first centered on a common understanding and universal respect for individual self-ownership and determination. This would invariably require at scale the capacity to recognize, then bring under control, the force of darkness that resides in every human society. The most inhuman, ambitious, and ruthless must be deprived of access to power, but how. The resources essential to control the minds and physical existence of society invariably concentrate in the hands of the wicked. Domination, predation, coercion and exploitation will not be denied by merely acknowledging their existence, and writing a different personal narrative. Ultimately, the question of self-defense must be addressed, in some form or manner. Enforcement of the transcendental imperative of self-defense is the only effective means of securing our right to self-determination. You refer to yourself as a “Bogan Socialist and Utopian Prepper”. If socialism, by definition, is a variant authoritative social construct centered on concentration of power and monopoly use of violent force, I think you do yourself a disservice by using the label. However, I do like the Bogan and Utopian Prepper handles–they suit you well. I hope you find continued inspiration to use your gift. Your voice is powerful. I’ll also drop a few bucks in your hat. All the best, Charlie Beall, Nassau, The Bahamas.
N. Kovar / January 11, 2019
Wonderful comment. America’s founders were very well studied and intelligent to understand humans, to be free, must have comparable weapons, from the lowest level of society all the way to the very top. Today, the top only have the big guns, they also have the big technology. I feel very sad for anyone younger than my 60 yrs.