Ghosts in the Propaganda Machine

S. Mangal’s social media profile and author photo.

Is this what online journalism looks like in the era of Russiagate fever? A fake writer (read Alice Donovan) catfishes CounterPunch and a dozen other online websites. A handful of her articles are published over a two-year period. The FBI is tracking her and believes this writer, whoever is behind the moniker, has some ties to Russia. What kind of ties and how deep do they go? We aren’t sure. No evidence is presented, perhaps because there isn’t much, or perhaps because the NSA and the FBI are also spying on actual journalists and editors right along with the alleged imposters. The Washington Post calls for a quote on the FBI’s allegation and runs an article a month later on Kremlin operatives “burning across the internet”.

More panic ensues.

But only one troll was named in the Washington Post piece, Alice Donovan — our suspected interloper. Prior to the Post’s article, we found out Donovan likely was not who she claimed to be and was a plagiarist to boot. We apologized for our screw-up and issued a lengthy investigation into the whole Donovan ordeal and the challenges of vetting writers in the fast-paced world of cyber-journalism. The story ends there, or does it?

For the record, what you are about to read isn’t typical fare here at CounterPunch. We aren’t in the business of investigating the legitimacy of other independent media outlets, their editors, their contributors or even their motives. In…

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