HomeArticleThe Media’s Odd Double Standard On Evidence Required For Claims Of An Impending Attack

The Media’s Odd Double Standard On Evidence Required For Claims Of An Impending Attack

Listen to a reading of this article:

After weeks of uncritically passing along completely unevidenced claims about an endlessly imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, the mass media have suddenly remembered basic journalistic ethics when reporting on claims that Ukraine is plotting an attack on Russia-backed separatists.

I’ve highlighted a key repeating phrase we’ve been seeing in a few quotes to help you spot the difference between the way the western media cover unevidenced claims about a future attack by Moscow and unevidenced claims about a future attack by Kyiv:

  • “Russian-backed separatists, who have been fighting the Ukrainian government for years, have asserted, without evidence, that Ukraine was planning a large-scale attack on territory they control.”
    ~ The New York Times, February 19
  • “Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’ announced the evacuation in a video posted on social media. He claimed without evidence that Kyiv was planning its own military assault on the region in the country’s east where the Moscow-supported separatists have been fighting government forces since 2014.”
    ~ NBC, February 18
  • “Dmitry Peskov, the top Kremlin spokesperson, then commented that ‘the situation near the borders of Russia can ignite at any moment,’ insisting without evidence that Ukraine’s forces had taken “provocative actions that have only intensified in the last day or several days.”
    ~ Politico, February 17
  • “Price said the United States was particularly concerned by Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, without evidence, that ‘genocide’ was taking place in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.”
    ~ Reuters, February 17
  • “On Friday, the Tass news agency reported, without evidence, that the head of the self-proclaimed separatist territory of Donetsk had announced the discovery of 130 mass graves of “victims of Ukrainian aggression.”
    ~ The Washington Post, February 11
  • “While massing troops around Ukraine, Russian officials have made repeated claims, without evidence, that Kyiv was planning to attack Russia or Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine rather than the other way round.”
    ~ The Guardian, February 4

See if you can spot the difference between the above examples and the way CBS News reports an anonymous government official’s claim that Putin has ordered the invasion of Ukraine to proceed:

The U.S. has intelligence that Russian commanders have received orders to proceed with an invasion of Ukraine, with commanders on the ground making specific plans for how they would maneuver in their sectors of the battlefield, a U.S. official told CBS News.

Or the way The Guardian reports on the claim CBS aired:

US intelligence has detected evidence that Russian troops amassed close to the border with Ukraine have received actual orders to proceed with an invasion, according to news reports.

Or if those examples are too subtle, how about the way The New York Times reports on the alleged intelligence which prompted Biden’s recent announcement that he is convinced a Russian invasion is imminent:

U.S. intelligence learned last week that the Kremlin had given the order for Russian military units to proceed with an invasion of Ukraine, information that prompted President Biden to announce that President Vladimir V. Putin had made the decision to attack, U.S. officials said.

 

Officials declined to describe the intelligence in any detail, anxious to keep secret their method of collecting the information. But intelligence officials have told the administration they have a high level of confidence in the intelligence they have collected in recent months about Russian military planning, as well as about plots by Moscow’s intelligence agencies to try and create a pretext for war.

 

The administration’s trust in the intelligence has only grown as the world watched the Russian military take steps that American spy agencies had predicted.

This is super subtle stuff, I know, but see if you can detect the ever-so-slight difference in tone between the way mass media outlets are reporting on claims that Kyiv is about to attack Moscow-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine and the way The Washington Post reports that Putin is plotting to round up journalists and LGBT persons to have them tortured, murdered and disappeared after invading the entire country:

The United States has informed the United Nations it has credible information showing that Moscow is compiling lists of Ukrainians “to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation,” according to a letter to the U.N.’s human rights chief obtained by The Washington Post on Sunday night.

 

The letter alleges that Moscow’s post-invasion planning would involve torture, forced disappearances and “widespread human suffering.” It does not describe the nature of the intelligence that undergirds its assessment.

Crocker says the Russian military’s targets would include Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and “vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.”

Yep. So subtle you almost need an electron microscope to see it.

None of these claims being reported by the obedient mass media have any evidence. They’re just government assertions being passed on to the audiences of these media institutions. It’s possible that there’s real intelligence behind them, but if the public can’t see it and verify it it’s the same as there being no evidence. Secret, invisible evidence is not evidence.

And of course completely unspoken in all this straight-shooting news reporting is that the actual evidence seems to suggest that the separatist factions in Ukraine are indeed under attack with a sharp spike in aggression, as explained here by Moon of Alabama.

None of these discrepancies would be worth pointing out if the mass media in the western world did not uphold itself as a free and impartial press whose only job is to report the truth about what’s happening in the world. If the western mass media were openly owned and controlled by the United States government for the explicitly stated purpose of distributing imperial propaganda, there would be nothing odd about brazen one-sided reporting which uncritically accepts unevidenced claims by secretive government agencies with an extensive history of lies. The discrepancy is only noteworthy because it highlights another one: the discrepancy between what the western mass media purport to be, and what they actually are.

_______________________

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Latest comments

  • My life is full of lies from msm.

  • …….for $19.99 a month you can be your very own LINGUIST!….that’s right!…..do the gymnastics of words with ease!….tell the stories of our times with or without “evidence”…..$19.99 a month lets you sketch events happening right before everyone’s eyes as is, or was, or will be……truth, lies?…who gives a shit!…..TELL IT LIKE IT IS!….YOU are evidently….a LINGUIST!…..baffle all with bullshit, then dazzle all with the brilliance of clever wordsmithing…..$19.99 a month gives you the power to equal any “journalist” because you’re a LINGUIST!….this package includes a CERTIFIED, LINGUISTICALLY VERIFIED supply of all one would need to BULLSHIT all who WANT TO BELIEVE!……$19.99 a month is worth it…..because you can cook up anything with words using this package…..spice up the times!…YOU’RE A LINGUIST!..CALL NOW….1/800/666-4355……get on the hot plate of current events with or without “evidence”……because you’re a LINGUIST!….CALL NOW!….VOICES NEED TO BE HERDED!……(linguini not included)….

  • The torrent of lies coming out of Washington and repeated endlessly in the USian media today are just horrifying, even though I have lived over a half century of adult life amidst fact-free narratives from my government about virtually everything of importance. I am sickened to be forced to bear silent witness yet again to the spectacle of people on the other side of the planet being condemned to suffer violent death, whatever side they may happen to be on, because the inhuman monsters who control my government do not believe they have enough wealth and power yet.

  • So this [map of dozens of ceasefire violations by OSCE within Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts since 18 Feb, which does not copy/paste] is not considered evidence by the Times and Post?
    ~
    What high standards of evidence the American media have. What do they require? Dead body parts?

  • NATO-UE-UK-US were expecting a Russian invasion but they never expected a single signature made by Putin to be the most right move. CIA-NSA fortunetellers lost their jobs but Russia made the move after 20 years of warnings about a NATO expansion towards Russian borders. It’s the end of EU-NATO. They just don’t know it yet. They are in check-mate no matter what they try to do.

  • All the propaganda.

    Now the USA will have to provide protection racket for all of European countries against Russia (the so-called enemy). I wonder which military industries will profit? And who will have to pay – the USA taxpayer and all those people living Europe. Europe will now be broke for many years to come. The USA will bleed these European countries dry for years to come – War is a racket.

  • As a side note to war, the US is expecting 500,000 refugees from the Ukraine to come to America and call it, “home”. Well, thank God we have that many Americans who have already lost their that we’ll be able to easily accommodate them, on top of which recent studies have revealed that the Covid vaccines have caused a 68,000% increase in strokes among those who partake in them. So, no doubt a war in the Ukraine would be a great thing for Americans.

    • 68000%? And Putin and Xi didn’t think it was worth mentioning in a period of extreme tension? No chance.

  • Putin just announced that he is recognising the Donbas republics sovereignty.

    • Well Biden will be on the telephone to the German Chancellor right now telling him that’s it I’m shutting down the Nordstream II pipeline whether the people of Germany like it or not.

      This in reference to what Biden said in an interview that he has the power to shutdown the Nordstream II pipeline, and the gas deal that’s on the table with Germany once the licences are granted.

  • Putin on RT news right now, its thought he’s about to recoginse the sovereignty of the Donbas republics, meanwhile Ukraine amasses 60,000 troops on the border of the Donbas, will they attack when/if Putin recognises the republics.

    Also how will the West react to this, and will Kiev destroy the gas pipe lines that pass through the country, Ukraine had plenty of opportunities to implement the Minsk Agreements but chose not to, it might be too late now.

  • But they don’t need to provide evidence because they’re the “good guys” (TM).
    They’re the Kinks’ Well Respected Men (I know it doesn’t make us any younger but… It was this or La Bruyère :o)

  • Evidence? We don’t need evidence!
    Without Evidence… if it is written it is true… or if it is on TV… Believe It…

    “It is smart to know the truth & stupid to believe lies.”
    ~ Be Smart … Shun Liars ~
    Truth in Media … Sovren.Media

  • Craig Murray also has a link to and description of the OSCE Monitoring Mission:
    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2022/02/ukraine-where-to-find-the-truth-in-enormous-detail/
    Generally speaking, that man is incredibly valuable in the way he reports staying truthful to his convictions.

  • I like the way that Caitlin uses the word “Subtle ” in news reports.Sure brought me to a chuckle ,even as it
    so serious.

  • Please revert to the old spelling of Kiev, I notice that Kyiv suddenly appeared when ‘we’ decided to support ‘our friends and allies in Ukraine’. It’s the equivalent of wearing masks to show you are anti trump

    • Are they calling it “Chicken Kyiv” yet?

  • The apparent discrepancy between what the western media are and what they claim to be can be described as mainly due to two things: First, that the mass media is largely owned by those who benefit, financially, from the buildup, if not just the actual battles, of war and second, by the near abandonment of journalistic integrity, out of fear of reprisal by the U.S. government, such as that imposed on Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, among others. Even on Facebook, one must, today, go to the page of certain truth seekers, in order to see what they say or share, because Facebook has developed an algorithm that isolates those people by no longer regularly sending notifications of posts that the algorithm considers critical of the U.S. government.

    As for the mass news media mentioned in this article, I’ve never read the Guardian. The New York Times became an unreliable joke when it confessed to printing fraudulent articles written by one of its journalists. Either the Times editors failed to perform the main functions of their jobs, or the article was printed because it sounded so ‘good’ that it had to be true.
    The Wapo, cutely referred to by Caity as the CIA Post, has lacked credibility ever since it was purchased by Jeff Bezos, with the claim that it would never do anything but tell the truth. That was a few days before he signed the massive contract with the CIA, to become a propaganda release point, receiving significantly more than he spent to purchase the paper two weeks earlier.
    To be fair, there is, on rare occasion, some truth in articles it publishes – those not pertaining to the government. However, the obvious lack of value in most of what it prints, means that, if you bother to read its releases at all, you must read them very slowly and carefully.
    As for CBS, I refer it as the military/police channel. If you disregard its terrible lineup of sitcoms, you are left with a few reality shows, police and military shows, mostly of second-rate scripting. The only one in that genre that is at all acceptable is Blue Bloods, which does tend to have well-written scripts, even if many of them are quite obviously either strongly pro-police or patronizing of current news issues.
    That leaves its ‘reality’ shows. As a summa cum laude graduate in psychology, I still enjoy Survivor for the psychological interplay of the characters. I enjoy the Amazing race for its international flair. However, Big Brother (both the celebrity and regular versions) has so declined in quality, over the last few years, that I no longer can bring myself to watch it, even though it does contain some psychological aspects. Good Sam, that follows the current offering of The Amazing Race, is a decent-first year drama, but its staying power may be questionable, especially since its scripts tend to show mild battling with authority. So that amounts to a total of 4 shows, of 21, that I deem at all worthy of watching, and – except for finales, two of them never have series running at the same time.
    What, you may ask, does the criticism of CBS, have to do with what Caity has written today? Well, first, it is the most extreme liar of all the networks. Secondly, since all are owned by conservative media moguls, it becomes eminently clear that all networks air what they think people will watch, because in their conservatism, money trumps all principles, no pun intended.

  • why are there ukrainian troops on the ‘contact line’?

  • https://www.johndayblog.com/2022/02/no-agreed-narrative.html
    Even a little-bit of buy-in from more than half of Americns would help “our government” a lot right now… Can Putin please “play ball” a little bit?
    ​ ​Everything about the Russia invasion of Ukraine has to be increasingly imminent, horrible and loomingly catastrophic for the planet, so that when it doesn’t happen the glorious victory for Dear Leader Biden can be proclaimed and amplified from the mountaintops…​ ​
    ​ ​Yes, let the church bells ring from the mountains as Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Helsinki summit with Michael Gorbachev has now been eclipsed in strategic geopolitical importance.
    ​ ​France and the United States jointly announce that the brilliant and incredibly strategic Joe Biden, and the dastardly villain of all things villainous, Vladimir Putin, will meet and come to an incredibly intense agreement over the Ukraine invasion that Putin never planned.
    ​ ​Together both leaders will save the world from a war that Putin never intended to participate in.
    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2022/02/20/ron-klain-organizes-a-stunning-massive-and-magnificent-biden-putin-peace-summit-certain-to-bring-nobel-peace-nomination/

    • ​Abusers always accuse their victims of what they, themselves are doing…
      Ukraine – Who Is Firing At Whom And Who Is Lying About It?
      The concentration of impacts on the left of the above picture is a bit south-east of Svitlodarsk. Artillery rounds landed on both sides of the line of control but the vast majority of them exploded on the Donbas side. The same can be said for the impacts north-east of Luhansk. On Thursday both of these areas were also the aim of artillery concentrations. These are likely crossing points through which the Ukraine military plans to direct its upcoming attack.
      https://www.moonofalabama.org/2022/02/ukraine-who-is-firing-at-whom-and-who-is-lying-about-it.html#more

      ​ ​Update(9:48amET): Separatist leader Denis Pushilin has issued a formal request to President Vladimir Putin calling on Russia to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic. The Luhansk republic has simultaneously published the same request, at a moment Putin is holding an urgent session of the Russian Security Council. This followed quickly on the heels of what Russia’s southern command said was a serious attempt of Ukrainian armored vehicles to breach its​ ​​ (Russia’s)​ ​border, that resulted in five Ukrainians killed.
      ​ ​However, the Ukrainian government and army rejected the entirety of the allegations as “fake news” – rejecting that its forces are even in the area where it’s said to have occurred (though without addressing the possibility that they could have been irregular forces). But Russia’s FSB Director Bortnikov Russian responding by saying the Russian military “destroyed Ukrainian forces that tried to infiltrate the border and took one Ukrainian POW” – thus doubling down on the claims.
      https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/donbas-rebel-leaders-formally-urge-immediate-russian-military-assistance

      • Pluto returns to America tomorrow, Tuesday, after last visiting in 1776.
        (I don’t believe in astrology, but who could pass this up? I have a dentist’s appointment…)
        ​ ​Nothing says a cosmic rebirth like enigmatic Pluto, the power-hungry dwarf planet that symbolizes transformation and renewal. According to the stars, the United States is finally getting a spiritual makeover with its first-ever Pluto Return on Feb. 22, 2022. Astrologically, a Pluto return is when the heavenly body returns to the same position in a birth chart where it was when the chart began. It happens around every 248 years, meaning this is the Pluto return in the United States since the country was founded in 1776.
        ​ ​“Pluto rules death and rebirth, influencing the end and beginning of new karmic cycles. It also rules things like interpersonal skills, power struggles, and shows the source of your personal power. This planet is the portal through which your spiritual and shadow energy is transformed and released into the exterior world,” astrologer Lauren Ash tells Bustle.
        https://www.bustle.com/life/united-states-pluto-return-2022-meaning-dates-predictions

  • For those who love twisted narratives Putin this morning seized both Donetsk and Lugansk as Russian possessions.
    On a side note, there are an awful lot of orphans coming out of the Ukraine of Russian ethnicities; their parents were all quietly murdered by the Ukrainians in the last ten years?

  • Why are we, or some of us, hanging on every word spewed out by the MSM concerning a remote regional conflict? Here’s a perfect example of how paying attention to the MSM, even if only to deconstruct their false narratives, allows them to determine what we think and talk about. As my father told me, you can’t win by playing the other man’s (or woman’s) game. When will we stop letting the MSM continually jerk us around, whether by endlessly swallowing their BS or endlessly spitting it out?

    • What else will Caitlin and Tim write about– how a better world than the one we now live in would actually look and operate?

  • You gotta to step into the shoes of the “journalists” and others employed by the MSM.
    They are still paying off their student loans and other debts.
    So they will say anything because they need their income to keep up with the inflation.
    The real problem is the system that keeps people in debt all their lives.
    Not cooperating with the system is the only peaceful way to subvert it.

  • Russia defends its border.

    “Russia’s armed forces have reported that its troops opened fire on a “Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group” that attempted to cross into the country, killing five servicemen and destroying their vehicles.”

    https://www.rt.com/russia/550119-moscow-claims-five-ukrainian-soldiers-killed/

  • The CIA will dress up in Russian uniforms and attack Ukraine, with US-made weaponry, of course, if that’s what it takes to make their dream war come true. There are no limits to the lies and chicanery these assholes will resort to. And corporate media will support them all the way to Doomsday.

    • Yes, apparently they made a public warning to Americans about upcoming terrorist attacks in Russia.

  • Let us pay attention to real issues, as opposed to what MSM clowns say.
    VP Kamala Harris explained high inflation in the US being caused by instability in Ukraine, as opposed to the profligate US government and its insane spending. This economy does not produce enough, while the Fed prints paper money, and buys debt back (and is about to stop these massive purchases).
    There is also high inflation now happening in Ukraine and Russia, food prices going up. The US must be happy to further torture Russian people with such “economic sanctions”, and they never cared for the people of Ukraine either, or they would not have installed their fascist puppet regime there.
    To be sure, high inflation is good for the Banking and Energy sectors of “the economy”.
    Therefore you know it is bankers and oil/gas corporations that are driving the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
    US Congress is also known to be personally invested in the Energy sector. And Biden and his son have already been paid off by them.
    So we know now who is causing high inflation and why.
    I am not sure how to extract ourselves from this quagmire. If there is any country that is not fossil-fuel dependent, I would like to move there.

  • There’s actually some very good videos on the internet of what exactly is happening at the border between Russia and the Ukraine. Lots of gun fire, but they must all be shooting into the air, lots of people just standing around wondering what’s next, long lines at the gas stations, kids, mostly orphans being loaded up on busses and shipped across the border, apparently, happy, but somewhat oblivious as to the potential impending danger.

  • ‘The discrepancy is only noteworthy because it highlights another one: the discrepancy between what the [western mass media] purport to be, and what they actually are’

    Some time back in one of the Daoist books I had at the time, there was this:

    Every man wears four faces: how he would like to see himself, how he would like to be seen, how he actually sees himself and how he truly is. After reading that, I asked if self-actualization or enlightenment or transcendence, in all it’s known manner & method, is a way to make all those faces the same, and if that isn’t one of the goals in the experience.

    I’ve seen Christmas cards where the well-dressed family is gathered around a rustic step ladder and surrounded by the leavess of an ending season, I’ve watched models in stiletto heels stumble on the catwalk, I’ve laughed at the facial expression of a talking head presented with unexpected information that undermines an internalized worldview, or the person who has ‘built the house on a rock’ but found that time has destroyed it’s foundation and of course the ideals [science, education, democracy and that hot iron which always scalds and burns and leaves an indelible mark on fragile souls]; the inspired institutions that were to protect and serve us only to be undermined, co-opted and captured by the most unscrupulous opportunists with the most unforgiving agendas.

    The bad news for me is that I didn’t have to leave the house, so avoiding these things is impossible.

    Was it WilliamJames that wrote when ‘a person watches the news, there’s actually six people present-the viewer, the presenter, the producer, the chairman or the board, the enemy in one’s head and the guy at work who says it’s all true? Is that how it goes?

    • I read another one in that vein lately by a photographer who said: “When someone complains there are no people in a photo, I reply there are always two: the photographer and the viewer”.

  • Thanks for laying out. Yes, Generalissimo Franco is still dead.

    • But it won’t last! :o)

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