HomeArticle‘Confirmed’ Has Become A Meaningless Word In Mainstream News Reporting

‘Confirmed’ Has Become A Meaningless Word In Mainstream News Reporting

Last week Politico published a major exclusive report that the “Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa” in retaliation for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani earlier this year, citing (you guessed it) anonymous government officials.

The claim was nonsensical on its face; the idea that Iran would see the assassination of some random ambassador to an irrelevant country as a proportionate response to the killing of its wildly beloved top military commander would only make sense to someone with a very US-centric worldview who knows nothing about Iran. On top of that, the South African government published a statement that “the information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States Ambassador to South Africa”.

The flimsy nature of this allegation was of course not enough to prevent bombastic Twitter threats from America’s manchild-in-chief that this nonexistent assassination plot “will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!” if carried out.

It also wasn’t enough to prevent the Politico article’s co-author, Natasha Bertrand, from falsely claiming that The New York Times had “confirmed” her reporting.

“The NYT has confirmed Nahal Toosi and my reporting about Iran,” Bertrand tweeted today with a link to a new Times article, quoting the excerpt “Lana Marks, the American ambassador to South Africa and a political supporter of Trump, was a potential target of an Iranian attack…Politico earlier reported that Ms. Marks was a target.”

The New York Times has in fact not confirmed Bertrand and Toosi’s reporting, and Bertrand omits a very significant portion of text from her excerpt. Here is the quote in full, bold mine:

Lana Marks, the American ambassador to South Africa and a political supporter of Mr. Trump, was a potential target of an Iranian attack, according to national security officials. But some briefed on the intelligence said Iran has not decided to directly target any American official, and other current and former officials accused the Trump administration of overstating the threat. Politico earlier reported that Ms. Marks was a target.

Awful lot of important information hiding in that ellipsis of yours, Ms Bertrand.

So NYT had in fact merely spoken to unnamed officials (probably some of the same ones) and found there to be misgivings about the claim Bertrand had promoted, and then Bertrand deceptively omitted text which contradicted the claim she was making that her report had been “confirmed”.

It should surprise no one that Bertrand would abuse the trust of her followers in such a phenomenally sleazy way. As Antiwar‘s Dave DeCamp explained after the Politico report was discredited by the South African government, Bertrand “built her career on hyping the Steele Dossier, now-discredited document that made unverified claims about the Russian government and the Trump campaign in 2016.”

But Bertrand’s slimy manipulation is also to be expected because she knows she can get away with it. The word “confirmed” has been misused and abused to such a spectacular extent in mainstream news reporting of late that it doesn’t actually mean anything anymore when they say it.

When a news reporter announces that they have independently confirmed another outlet’s reporting, the reader imagines that they have done actual investigative journalism, traveled to the places about which the claims are being made, done deep digging and looked at the evidence with their own two eyes and found that the claim is true. In practice, all it often means is that they spoke to the same sources the other reporter spoke to and are in fact just confirming that the source did indeed make a given assertion. The reader assumes they’re confirming the source’s claim is true, but all they’re actually confirming is that the first reporter didn’t just make up the claim they’re uncritically parroting.

Take when the anonymously sourced story about Russia paying bounties to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan for killing occupying coalition forces was first reported by The New York Times. We now know this story was completely baseless, but when it first broke there were a bunch of mass media reporters buzzing around claiming to have “confirmed” one another’s stories on the matter.

“The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have confirmed our reporting,” the NYT story’s co-author Charlie Savage tweeted after the story broke.

“We have confirmed the New York Times’ scoop: A Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan,” tweeted The Washington Post‘s John Hudson.

“We matched The New York Times’ great reporting on how US intel has assessed that Russians paid Taliban to target US, coalition forces in Afg which is a pretty stunning development,” tweeted Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold.

All three of these men were lying.

John Hudson’s claim that the Washington Post article he co-authored “confirmed the New York Times’ scoop” twice used the words “if confirmed” with regard to his central claim, saying “Russian involvement in operations targeting Americans, if confirmed,” and “The attempt to stoke violence against Americans, if confirmed“. This is of course an acknowledgement that these things had not, in fact, been confirmed.

The Wall Street Journal article co-authored by Gordon Lubold cited only anonymous “people”, who we have no reason to believe are different people than NYT’s sources, repeating the same unsubstantiated assertions about an intelligence report. The article cited no evidence that Lubold’s “stunning development” actually occurred beyond “people familiar with the report said” and “a person familiar with it said“.

The fact that both Hudson and Lubold were lying about having confirmed the New York Times‘ reporting means that Savage was also lying when he said they did. When they said the report has been “confirmed”, what they really meant was that it had been agreed upon. All the three of them actually did was use their profoundly influential outlets to uncritically parrot something nameless spooks wanted the public to believe, which is the same as just publishing a CIA press release free of charge. It is unprincipled stenography for opaque and unaccountable intelligence agencies, and it is odious.

Earlier this month The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald published an article titled “Journalism’s New Propaganda Tool: Using ‘Confirmed’ to Mean Its Opposite“, about an anonymously sourced claim by The Atlantic that Trump had said disparaging things about US troops. An excerpt:

Other media outlets — including Associated Press and Fox News — now claim that they did exactly that: “confirmed” the Atlantic story. But if one looks at what they actually did, at what this “confirmation” consists of, it is the opposite of what that word would mean, or should mean, in any minimally responsible sense. AP, for instance, merely claims that “a senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press,” while Fox merely said “a former senior Trump administration official who was in France traveling with the president in November 2018 did confirm other details surrounding that trip.”

Greenwald also documents how in 2017 CNN falsely reported that Donald Trump Jr had received an encryption key to WikiLeaks which let him preview the 2016 DNC leaks ten days before they were published, which we shortly thereafter learned was actually due to nobody involved in the story bothering to read the date on the email correctly. The whole entire story, in reality, was that Trump had merely received an email about an already published WikiLeaks drop.

Greenwald writes the following:

Very shortly after CNN unveiled its false story, MSNBC’s intelligence community spokesman Ken Dilanian went on air and breathlessly announced that he had obtained independent confirmation that the CNN story was true. In a video segment I cannot recommend highly enough, Dilanian was introduced by an incredibly excited Hallie Jackson — who urged Dilanian to “tell us what we’ve just now learned,” adding, “I know you and some of our colleagues have confirmed some of this information: What’s up?” Dilanian then proceeded to explain what he had learned:

 

“That’s right, Hallie. Two sources with direct knowledge of this are telling us that congressional investigators have obtained an email from a man named ‘Mike Erickson’ — obviously they don’t know if that’s his real name — offering Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. access to WikiLeaks documents. … It goes to the heart of the collusion question. … One of the big questions is: Did [Trump Jr.] call the FBI?”

 

How could that happen? How could MSNBC purport to confirm a false story from CNN? Shortly after, CBS News also purported to have “confirmed” the same false story: that Trump Jr. received advanced access to the WikiLeaks documents. It’s one thing for a news outlet to make a mistake in reporting by, for instance, misreporting the date of an email and thus getting the story completely wrong. But how is it possible that multiple other outlets could “confirm” the same false report?

That’s three mainstream outlets–CNN, MSNBC, and CBS, all claiming to have independently “confirmed” a story that would have been recognized as false if even one person in any of those outlets had done the tiniest bare minimum of independent investigation into the claim that its source was making, namely looking with their eyeballs at the actual information they were being presented with.

They didn’t, because that’s the state of the mass media today. That is its culture. That, in answer to Greenwald’s question above, is how this could happen: the western mass media are nothing but a bunch of lackeys mindlessly regurgitating incendiary narratives by those in power in their rapacious search for ratings.

Natasha Bertrand is acutely aware of this, which is why she feels comfortable falsely telling the world that her absurd reporting has been “confirmed”.

So now you know. Whenever you see the mass media saying an important claim has been “confirmed”, just ignore them. They have no respect for that word, and it has lost all meaning among their ranks. The western media class does not exist to tell you the truth about the world, it exists to distort your understanding of the world for the advantage of the powerful.

____________________________

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  • I would like to suggest that all MSM journalists should insert a hyphen into the word confirmed, such that it reads con-firmed, and humbly submit that the new portmanteau created should be used instead in the future.

    This is derived from the amalgam of:

    con (v) To swindle, trick; to persuade by deception, cajolery, etc
    and,
    firm(-ed) (v) to steady or fix; to make firm, tighten, or strengthen

  • Another word that seems top be over-used in MSM is ‘unequivocal’ as in “we have unequivocal evidence that Russia has done this…” or “we have unequivocal evidence that China has done that….” but of course there is no evidence, there never is.

  • I don’t know how to contact Caitlin and I’m certain she can make a very good article based on the open letter recently released by 398 Belgian doctors demanding an end to all the measures that global governments have taken.

    At last, a breath of fresh air!
    https://docs4opendebate.be/en/open-brief/

    Expect this to be censored shortly because it threatens the massive financial investments that have been made in the vaccine project. If you agree with their findings, please share as far and wide as possible and make a backup copy.

    • Same as article on zerohedge I believe. Sharing for sure. Caitlin article would be great!

  • ” . . . rapacious search for ratings.” Nail on the head. In today’s media world, ALL that matters is “clicks,” since “clicks” = ad revenue = $$$$.

    Advertising ruins everything it touches; now it has completely ruined the internet.

  • Caitlin Johnstone wrote:
    > When a news reporter announces that they have independently confirmed another outlet’s reporting, the reader imagines that they have done actual investigative journalism, traveled to the places about which the claims are being made, done deep digging and looked at the evidence with their own two eyes and found that the claim is true.
    .
    .
    That’s it, like Julian Assange and WikiLeaks:
    .
    .
    “1.4 How WikiLeaks verifies its news stories
    .
    “We assess all news stories and test their veracity. We send a submitted document through a very detailed examination a procedure. Is it real? What elements prove it is real? Who would have the motive to fake such a document and why?
    .
    “We use traditional investigative journalism techniques as well as more modern technology-based methods. Typically we will do a forensic analysis of the document, determine the cost of forgery, means, motive, opportunity, the claims of the apparent authoring organisation, and answer a set of other detailed questions about the document.
    .
    “We may also seek external verification of the document. For example, for our release of the Collateral Murder video, we sent a team of journalists to Iraq to interview the victims and observers of the helicopter attack. The team obtained copies of hospital records, death certificates, eye witness statements and other corroborating evidence supporting the truth of the story.
    .
    “Our verification process does not mean we will never make a mistake, but so far our method has meant that WikiLeaks has correctly identified the veracity of every document it has published.
    .
    “Publishing the original source material behind each of our stories is the way in which we show the public that our story is authentic. Readers don’t have to take our word for it; they can see for themselves.
    .
    “In this way, we also support the work of other journalism organisations, for they can view and use the original documents freely as well. Other journalists may well see an angle or detail in the document that we were not aware of in the first instance. By making the documents freely available, we hope to expand analysis and comment by all the media.
    .
    “Most of all, we want readers know the truth so they can make up their own minds.”
    .
    About — WikiLeaks — 7 May 2011
    https://wikileaks.org/About.html
    .
    .
    “WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?”
    .
    ‘The truth will always win’ — Julian Assange writes — The Australian, Dec 7, 2010
    https://web.archive.org/web/20101208234832/http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/mediadiary/index.php/australianmedia/comments/julian1/
    .
    .
    “It’s Julian Assange and WikiLeaks that have returned honour to journalism. Julian is a truth teller and that’s what has upset those who continue what Goebbels called ‘The Big Lie’.”
    .
    John Pilger — Interview on WBAI Radio NYC, 11 April 2017

    • On the contrary as Leonard Cohen , a Canadian/American /Jewish /Buddhist pointed out . “There is truth that lives and truth that dies , I don’t know which so Nevermind ? “, is a far more accurate view of the state of truth in our world.

  • It has been confirmed that the Sputnik radio show Loud & Clear, with hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, has been cancelled. For the past several years, that show has broadcast, IMO, a beacon of truth over a sea of propaganda. I’m really going to miss its light. I have to wonder why Sputnik cancelled it. I hope that its cancellation is not a harbinger of future cancellations of sources of truth.
     
    Does anyone know exactly why that broadcast was cancelled?

    • I thought Sputnik was a George Galloway vehicle ? RT hired Ric Sanchez a right wing talking head , on RT he is considered moderately of the left RT/Sputnik is moving right to avoid being banned and increase it market niche? Their position on the covid panic has been opportunistic and unconscionable.

    • The last episode of L & C was on Sept. 1, on Sputnik News.
      https://sputniknews.com/radio_loud_and_clear/

      Galloway hosts “The Mother of All Talk Shows”, also on Sputnik.

  • come on you must know besides their eating and shitting and their lies they also think many things that are so wrong.
    .
    and that is why all ghouls die.
    .
    they get wringed in neck….and die a suffering death.
    .
    same goes for the psychopaths
    .
    it is called
    .
    justified retribution
    .
    when the ropes form in mysterious solution
    .
    after they have been blowing in the wind
    .
    and pull them in while they are
    .
    so full of
    .
    fear
    .
    the fear they gave to so many
    .
    Well, you get what you give.
    .
    Simple
    .
    and the fear pulled them in and ropes made it true as they wrapped around the necks of those who had caused so much suffering of innocence –
    .
    It is simple because WE KNOW and we won’t forget

  • “Definite maybe”
    https://www.johndayblog.com/2020/09/irrational-actors.html
    I’ve had to revisit the battlefield of masks and social-distancing vs civil-liberties in America again.
    I wear masks for practical medical reasons.
    I also understand that the pandemic response is being manipulated by financial/power elites to keep pawns from effectively taking their own side in the current elite power struggle.

    This elite power struggle is one fundamental cause of the partisan divide in American society.
    These divides happen in history when essential resources become scarcer.
    The threats are not as they is presented in the media. Pawns (our status) are being manipulated to support one or another elite oligarchic faction.
    Pawns are not supposed to take the side of “other” pawns, which would disrupt the power structure.
    Pawns provide meat, blood and work.

    We might call the battling elite factions “nationalists” and “globalists”. All terms are flawed and inaccurate, but these names will do.
    The Military-Industrial-Deep-State-Complex is so overarching, that it’s elimination is not part of the power struggle; out of the question.
    Which faction will control the narrative is the issue, globalists or nationalists.

    • Oh so you say John Day you statue you…..
      .
      Wrong in my opinion. You couldn’t be more wrong.
      .
      Don’t settle is what I would suggest.
      .
      Nothing, and I mean nothing is out of the question when our fate is in the balance.
      .
      So eff off you puppet

  • So just to be obvious, to most here who I assume already know this, but if you want to follow the Julian Assange hearing most closely, then the places to go are Consortium News and Craig Murray. I encourage you to read the comments on this generational event that will make a huge difference one way or the other. I can confirm this if you want, but who gives a shit about confirmation.
    .
    I have deep respect for the rogue journalist here because she knows this already as well as so many other things already spoken and some waiting to be shared we can only hope.
    .
    A study of history suggests that blood on the streets and under the poles is no big deal since it has happened so often, but I think otherwise nowadays going forward. I advocate non-violence when it comes to achieving goals, but I know others have different opinions and I respect that as long as they are not a puppet or a psychopath.
    .
    In fact, I’ll make a vow just now, and I don’t do this casually, but if there is a psychopath in front of me spewing hate and contempt for the peasants, then I will grab you by the neck quicker than a heart beat and soon you will be dead and I will be pleased with my behavior unless of course you manage to kill me first – metaphorically speaking of course.
    .
    Know what I mean?
    .
    Snakes are easy to kill and so our psychopaths who deserve death.
    .
    Love is a good thing.

    • I hope you metaphorically rip their beating hearts from their chests and eat them whole with blood dripping from your fangs … I’m in in the metaphorical sense

  • How to keep the lies going by writing a true statement that contains as subject an obvious false statement.

    Mr. Assange is not facing charges over the later publication by WikiLeaks of Democratic emails stolen by Russian hackers in the 2016 U.S. election.

    Charlie Savage contributed reporting from Washington.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/world/europe/assange-extradition-hearing.html

  • “…the western mass media are nothing but a bunch of lackeys mindlessly regurgitating incendiary narratives by those in power in their rapacious search for ratings.”
    .
    The Western mass media are Edward-Bernays-worshiping cult followers and disciples whose job it is to convince you that lies are truth and you must believe us because we told you to.
    .
    “Whenever you see the mass media saying an important claim has been ‘confirmed’, just ignore them.”
    .
    Whenever you see the mass media saying an important claim has been ‘confirmed’, know that they have just done you a big favor. You now know that what they’ve told you is dog-walk-leavings and you need to run in the other direction to learn any truth in the matter.
    .
    Don’t give liars and distorters and manipulators and those who peddle deceit one precious second of your time.

    • Hear, hear. One would think that grown-ups would have this critical faculty, but that would be an unwarranted assumption. Far too many people of my acquaintance still get all of their “information” from mainstream news, especially CNN and MSNBC, two of the biggest lie-mongers on the air. No matter how many articles from independent journalists I send them or recommend to them, they still only believe things that they’ve seen on TV. But I keep trying.

  • It has been confirmed Covid 19 is a dangerous pandemic.
    It has been confirmed that BLM protests are peaceful.
    It has been confirmed that police brutality is out of control.
    It has been confirmed that Julius Assange is a danger to mankind.
    It has been confirmed that Climate Change is the greatest danger to mankind.
    It has been confirmed that Trump ia a neo nazi facist.
    Now ask yourself how many of these you believe have been confirmed by the MSM.
    Look inward at our gullibility to MSM lies.

    • Speak for yourself. You may be gullible but, fortunately, the majority of the readers here are not.

      • So you think covid and climate change is a hoax. BLM is causing riots and police brutality is not pandemic. You also know Trump is not a fascist. Good for you. You are one of the few.

        • Only if you go by false Wiki definition of fascism is Donald J. Trump.

  • I can confirm that “confirmed” is a meaningless word if the confirmation is coming from a media entity that is OWNED by somebody who wants a certain message to get out there regardless of the truth.
    .
    DUH……DUH……DUH…..
    .
    More confirmation of this would be easy to get, but what is the point of telling something that we already know? Seriously. That is why I think direct action is the only option because unfortunately the desired changes cannot be accomplished with just words and cajoling. That is the lesson I have learned. Folks don’t change their minds most of the time unless their hand is forced.
    .
    Metaphorically speaking, the winds need to blow, some hats need to go, up in the air, like a kite, and some flames need to burn through the brains of a few who refuse to learn. The puppets need to blow away in the wind and the psychopaths will get lost in a maze of their own making. Eventually they will die of thirst and I’m not sorry to lose them. Consider the amount of suffering of innocence they have caused and this is why they deserve no mercy. Justice is ruthless. Metaphorically speaking of course.
    .
    There will be pain, and this may be my last message to sing out as I may be one of the ones who dies in the transition to something better. I will gladly die for this because I know what I stand for and I’m fedup with what we have. Fedup myself and fedup for my kids and fedup for any future generations that I hope come along. They deserve better.
    .
    buffalo_ken

  • Confirmed means they read it somewhere else, for example: see the NYT said it right here((“excerpted partial quote”) minus qualifier) or (a “brazen lie” from an unverifiable anonymous source). Thats the research. They are counting on the education system failing, and older people becoming senile. Maybe its more sinister and the power elite have agreed at Davos or one of their parties to switch the new 5g onto the frequency making all of us as stupid/ overwhelmed by the general atmosphere of stupidity as possible.

  • The MSM is only ONE of the major institutions of modern neoliberal society that has totally lost credibility. Add in the politicians, the police, the military, academia, religion, law, medicine, and science itself. The blatantly brutal mishandling of the Covid pandemic, the failure of the authorities to adjust their policies when original lethality estimates proved grossly excessive, has gutted the integrity of EVERY institution upon which the neoliberal world order rests. Yet given that this world order had been hellbent on nuclear suicide or global ecocide, this disruption/disorientation/deconstruction, even with all the personal and social pain it brings, would seem to be a good and necessary thing in the bigger picture. So we’re down to a handful of places like this– Caitlin’s amazing little blog–when it comes to attempting to ferret out some semblance of truth about what the hell is going on and why. Drink deeply of this spring before the PTB do everything in their power to dam it. If and when that happens, we’ll have to find other ways to listen to people like Caitlin and talk with each other, find other vehicles to take us end around the incompetent bastards who’ve been gleefully killing us and our planet…until Covid suddenly knocked them, along with the rest of us, flat on their asses. No, my friends, nobody planned this sudden, total wreck of not only the world economy but also its carefully manufactured sense of (false) reality, so instead of wasting time trying to uncover such a plan, let’s instead do our best to figure out ways to take full advantage of the chaos.

    • Religion never had any credibility, since it is rank superstition. Agree about the rest, though.

      • Theoretical philosophical belief systems, be they economic, social, or political ideas even born out of sincere efforts, must prove viable in practice to be credibly adopted by an informed society; failing such proof of viability such ideas should be preserved as either creative ideological prose or magical fictional thinking, not factual doctrine of any description.

      • Superstition or not. I believe Christian faith helps mold individuals into caring people for the most part. The world is in dire need of that now unfortunately.

  • According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani, which was carried out for his planning a future attack, murdering U.S. Troops, and the death & suffering.

    I was tempted to rant mockingly that we have an idiot in charge how and how could it have happened? Then I realized that the author of this tweet from hell is THE VERY MAN WHO MADE SLOEIMANI DEAD. The killer himself.

    There you have it. Murdered for planning a future attack. And still Trump walks the earth.

    Why?

    • I’m sure you know that “justice” in any form, has never applied to the United States of America.

      • Most Americans believe the exact opposite. Americans consider themselves to be beacons of morality and enlightenment. Americans consider capitalism to be the most rational economic system the world can have. Americans believe they can do no wrong.

  • There are many apart from ” confirmed ” – there are ” claimed responsibility ” – “suicide bomber ” – a “source close to” – well – anybody – a “source that wished to remain anonymous” !!
    My personal favourite is “dropping barrel bombs on his own people” !!

    Of course the perpetrators of the REAL crimes against humanity – OWN the media !

  • I beg to differ. “Confirmed” has just as much meaning as it ever did. It’s just applied to completely different aspects of the same incident, or lack thereof. They indeed have “confirmed” that whatever lies necessary to promote the ongoing destruction inflicted by the Psychopaths In Charge will indeed be told.

  • Just call the Ministry of Love to see if they’ve put a contract out on the honorable ambassador.

    Just call the Ministry of Truth to learn whether the Ministry of Love can be relied upon.

    Just explain to your inquisitor in Room 101 why you are asking so many questions.

  • Pompeo just lurking waiting for the precious like Gollum

  • And what about Rupert?
    Is he an honorary Jew?
    They may be Jews by birth, but they know who butters their bread.
    ‘Tis Mammon, not Moses.

  • “The western media class does not exist to tell you the truth about the world, it exists to distort your understanding of the world for the advantage of the powerful.”
    Ah, the Buddha Ms Caitlin speaks the truth!

  • There’s only three things we can ‘confirm’ when it comes to the suited ghouls who rule.
    They eat.
    They shit.
    They lie.
    (The second and third are interchangeable).

    • I think they sleep too but I cannot confirm it.

      • True.
        But do psychopaths dream of slaughtered sheep?
        (Apologies Mr Dick).

      • Lizards don’t sleep, they just slow down for a few hours …

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