Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
There are two kinds of fake news:
One is a report of something that actually didn’t happen, which for a newspaper to do can reasonably be called lying, inasmuch as a newspaper is expected to report only things that happen, and any violation of that strict standard — which separates journalism from propaganda — is at least negligence violating the very reason why consumers purchase or subscribe to a newspaper (that reason being trustworthiness). This deception amounts unqualifiedly to lying, in any case where a reasonable assumption can be made that the given false ‘news’ report’s falsehood results from the publisher’s propagandistic orientation and intention to deceive on that given matter. (This might be done in order to please the controlling stockholder of an advertiser, or for many other reasons.) In such cases, the fake news is propaganda instead of news. To sell to consumers propaganda as ‘news’ is additionally to deceive them into paying the publisher in order to become deceived by the publisher; so, it’s a deception on top of a deception; it is actually deception-squared. That’s why selling such ‘news’ is even worse than merely giving it away for free (such as honest PR or propaganda is — it is free).
The other type of fake news is omission of a crucial fact from a report, whenever the omission is so crucial that it will sway some readers to believe “x” when “not x” is true, and therefore such an omission is equivalent to lying. This is a far more subtle type of deception, because it relies upon the consumer to deceive himself, instead of upon the publisher explicitly asserting the falsehood to the reader or hearer. Such “sins of omission” are impossible to outlaw, but are more insidious than direct lying is, because any publisher can easily abuse this power to deceive, merely by making clear to his employees what types of facts they will be penalized (demoted etc.) for reporting. For example, any publisher who causes employees to exclude stating as a fact that some public official is lying or did lie about a particular matter, when proof is available that the given official did lie about it, would be publishing fake news on that matter. However, more often, a publisher simply establishes a policy not to hire editors (or producers) who would allow a report to be published that calls a “liar” a person whom the publisher favors, not even if that person can be proven to have lied — he may be said to have “erred” maybe, but not “lied.” The tendency, therefore, is that people in power may be described as “lacking in experience” or etc., but not described as a “liar.”
Examples will be provided here of both types of fake news in the Washington Post, all of which examples exhibit the same intention to deceive readers in the same type of way on a particular broader subject. This broader subject that’s being deceptively presented is whether or not the U.S. should conquer foreign countries; or, in other words, whether or not America’s military-industrial complex (which thrives upon taxpayers’ enhanced appetites for financing and shedding blood for the nation’s conquests abroad) will be served. Service to that objective is otherwise called “neoconservatism” or neoconservative propaganda, which is the way that the Washington Post will be documented here to be. Understanding the motive for such fake news is far more complex; the only issue to be addressed here is the fake news itself — this particular agenda (neoconservatism) for the WP’s fake news:
First of all, here, will be the paradigmatic case of neoconservative propaganda: the deceptions that were perpetrated upon the American public in order to invade Iraq.
As has been pointed out by many books and by some bloggers, the Washington Post was, in 2002 and 2003, one of the leading deceivers of the American public into invading Iraq so as to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The fact that President George W. Bush lied to assert that he was in possession of conclusive evidence that Hussein was producing WMD in 2002 was, in at least one instance, incontestable practically at the very moment that he said it, but this crucial fact was never reported by the Washington Post, not even when the authoritative agency in the particular instance, the IAEA, made repeated attempts to draw the attention of America’s reporters to the lie. During a press conference with Britain’s Tony Blair, Bush said, on 7 September 2002, that a “new report” had just come out of the IAEA that Iraq “were six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need,” in order to invade and overthrow Saddam Hussein. The IAEA made clear that “There’s never been a report like that issued from this agency”, but the WP (like the rest of America’s press) failed to report that the IAEA was accusing the U.S. President, of, essentially, concocting an IAEA ‘report’, on this vitally important matter, a ‘report’ that never existed — in other words, of outright lying in order to assert that the case to invade Iraq had already been made by the IAEA. This instance wasn’t like all of the U.S. ‘intelligence failures’ in which the President’s own — i.e. U.S. — intelligence agencies, had refused to contradict him in public; this was instead an entirely independent intelligence agency that the President was citing as an authority here — and they were directly contradicting him, in public, about it. They just couldn’t get word out about that, to the American public. So, the idea that Bush wasn’t lying in order to ‘justify’ his invading Iraq, but was only relying upon America’s own faulty intelligence agencies regarding the matter, definitely does qualify as fake news in the WP, and it persists even today, as fake ‘history’ about the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The invasion on 20 March 2003 wasn’t ‘an error’; it was a crime, and a very massive one.
This fake news that Bush had ‘erred’ to invade Iraq was of the indirect type because it entailed suppression of the crucial fact from being published; it wasn’t fake news because the WP published their own lies about it. However, such stenographic ‘reporting’ of the government’s lies is merely passing along a dictatorship’s propaganda, not publishing real news. Real news always requires a publisher’s own investigation and the skepticism that any real scientist has about any allegation. In matters so important as an invasion of a foreign country, ‘news’-reporting can’t get any worse than such stenography being palmed-off as ‘news’, and the persons to be blamed for this fraud against the public are never the mere employees (who might lose their jobs if they don’t comply) but the publisher himself or herself — ultimately the controlling stockholder in the firm, who wouldn’t invest in the given ‘news’-organization if it were to be fully honest.
More recently, the WP has published fake news about Syria’s Bashar al-Assad (who is a Ba’athist, like Saddam Hussein was), like it had published fake news about Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
On 2 April 2017, it was “‘The hospitals were slaughterhouses’: A journey into Syria’s secret torture wards”.
On 15 May 2017, it was “Syria using crematorium to hide executions, State Department says”.
On 16 May 2017, it was “‘I still have nightmares’: Voices from inside Assad’s torture network in Syria”.
All were based upon PR-agency-shopped allegations and questionable evidence (like ‘Saddam’s WMD’ etc. had also been) from people who either were, or could have been, Al Qaeda affiliated, or else Islamic Brotherhood affiliated, extremist Islamists — supporters of Sharia law. And it all started with (and the WP’s ultimate sources were uncorroborated testifiers as having personally experienced what was shown in) “the Caesar photographs”, from “the Syrian Detainee Report.” As wikipedia puts it (my boldfaces):
The source, who for security reasons is identified only as Caesar, was at the time a photographer with the Syrian military police who worked secretly with a Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Movement. His job was “taking pictures of killed detainees” at just two military hospitals in Damascus. He told war crimes investigators that he used to be a forensic investigator. But once the Syrian uprising began, his job became documenting the corpses of those killed in Syrian military prisons. He did not claim to have witnessed executions or torture.
As the U.S. government’s Wilson Center explains about the Syrian National Movement:
The 2011 uprising
After Syrians launched their own uprising in March 2011, the [Muslim] Brotherhood took a leading role in assembling the exiled opposition in the Syrian National Council. It was launched in August 2011. The Brotherhood was the only organized and experienced movement among an otherwise deeply fragmented opposition. It also had support from Qatar and Turkey. But its domination over the opposition in exile was contested. The Brotherhood’s immediate challenge was competition from rival Islamists who secured influential positions on the Syrian National Coalition, the Council’s successor, which was established in November 2012.
The rival Islamists included the Coalition’s first president, Sheikh Mouaz al Khatib. Khatib, a former preacher at the historic Umayyad Mosque, had special legitimacy since he had just left Damascus. Another rival was Imad al din al Rashid, former vice-dean of the Faculty of Sharia of Damascus. His Syrian National Movement, an alliance of secularists, moderate Islamists and Salafis [“Salafis” means extreme fundamentalist Muslims], failed to recruit significant following.
Both Qatar and Turkey are run by fundamentalist (“Sharia”) Sunni Muslims who want to conquer the Shia Muslims who lead the fundamentalist Shia regime in Iran and the non-sectarian secular regime in Syria. These Sunnis want also a (U.S.-supported) gas pipeline to be built through Syria to transport Qatar’s gas into the EU to grab market-share away from Russia, which is the main country that America’s aristocracy wants to weaken and ultimately to conquer.
Saddam Hussein had been supported by America’s aristocracy when Saddam was trying to conquer Shiite Iran back in the 1980s, but became opposed by the U.S. aristocracy as soon as he turned against and invaded fundamentalist Sunni Kuwait and became friendly toward secular Russia, which since 1979 has been plagued by (U.S.-Saudi-backed) “mujahideen” (who became called “Taliban” and some of whom then became “Al Qaeda”) and other fundamentalist Sunnis in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere, who want a Sharia-law-ruled Russia. The Obama regime in America came into office in 2009 determined to overthrow Syria’s secular leader Bashar al-Assad; and, starting in 2010, actively pursued organizing rebels against Syria’s secular government. On 24 September 2010, Jared Cohen of Hillary Clinton’s State Department was working to find a way to stir demonstrations to bring down Assad’s government; and, on 23 June 2011, he was meeting inside the London Ecuadorean Embassy with Google’s Eric Schmidt to pry out of Julian Assange information about how to do this; and, on 25 July 2012, Cohen was (now as a high Google executive paid by top Hillary backer Schmidt) telling Hillary’s other aides about Cohen’s own progress in putting the Syrian overthrow-plan into effect. Google also assisted the 1 March 2013 start of Hillary’s plan for the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, which used nazis to bring down Ukraine’s government, just as they used jihadists to bring down Syria’s government — extremist haters of Russians in both cases.
With ‘allies’ such as Saudi Arabia’s despots, and such as the apartheid Israeli ‘democracy’ (which latter is so theocratic it doesn’t even have any constitution), the U.S. government is no ‘democracy’, despite its Constitution (which the U.S. government routinely violates). But whereas the Washington Post calls Russian Television ‘fake news’, Russian Television presents news about those regimes and their allies, while the WP presents lies about RT, and about Russia, and about any ally of Russia (such as Saddam Hussein was, and Bashar al-Assad is). If this sounds like a lopsided characterization, it’s nonetheless stated because the associated reality is also lopsided. That’s the reality which should be reported but is instead blacked-out in America’s press
Of course, one of those Russian allies is Syria, whose government the U.S. government therefore is at war against, and has invaded, while pontificating that the world’s most ‘aggressive’ country is Russia, and while claiming to be the moral authority that can dictate morality to the ‘barbarous’ Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin.
On 16 December 2016, Human Rights Watch published “If the Dead Could Speak: Mass Deaths and Torture in Syria’s Detention Facilities”, claiming to confirm the “Caesar” photos. Then, on 7 February 2017, Amnesty International published “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Exterminations at Saydnaya Prison, Syria”, further ‘confirming’ the alleged depravity of Assad’s government. Yet a third ‘authority’ that was additionally cited in the three articles in the Washington Post that were here referred to as having alleged that Assad was doing these types of things to innocent people during the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-Turkey-UAE-Kuwait war to conquer his country, was the Syrian Network for Human Rights. How reliable, then, are these three alleged ‘authorities’ on that subject?
Wikipedia’s section “Criticism of Human Rights Watch” has a subsection “Allegations of Bias”, which states, among other things:
Ideological and selection bias
HRW has been accused of evidence-gathering bias because it is said to be “credulous of civilian witnesses in places like Gaza and Afghanistan” but “skeptical of anyone in a uniform.” Its founder, Robert Bernstein, accused the organization of poor research methods and relying on “witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers.” In October 2009, Bernstein said that the organization had lost critical perspective on events in the Middle East: “[T]he region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.” HRW responded by saying that HRW “does not devote more time and energy to Israel than to other countries in the region, or in the world”. Tom Porteus, director of the HRW’s London branch, replied that the organization rejected Bernstein’s “obvious double standard. Any credible human rights organization must apply the same human rights standards to all countries.”
According to The Times, HRW “does not always practice the transparency, tolerance and accountability it urges on others.” …
On September 7, 2010, it was announced that George Soros planned to donate $100 million to Human Rights Watch. Soros’ donation was criticized by Gerald Steinberg, founder of NGO Monitor.
Journalists have criticized Human Rights Watch for requesting, encouraging or accepting financial donations in Saudi Arabia and for its fundraising methods.
Moreover, the PR department of New York’s Syracuse University headlined on 17 December 2016, “HRW Validates Caesar Report on Syrian Torture, First Reported by Law Professor David Crane” and reported regarding the HRW study, which was co-authored by Professor Crane:
Commissioned by London law firm Carter-Ruck on behalf of Qatar, the Caesar Report’s other co-authors were international prosecutors Sir Desmond Lorenz de Silva QC and Sir Geoffrey Nice QC. This team — which also included forensics experts — analyzed 835 images, 150 of those in depth, uncovering evidence of starvation, beatings and strangulation, as well as an obsessive documentation of the killings. The lawyers also cross-examined Caesar and found him to be “a truthful and credible witness,” according to Crane.
Qatar had commissioned anti-Assad PR from HRW, and got what they had paid for, in their “Caesar Report.”
Regarding Amnesty International’s report, which was issued on 7 February 2017, the invariably cogent “Moon of Alabama” blogger headlined and documented appropriately about it the same day, “Hearsay Extrapolated — Amnesty Claims Mass Executions In Syria, Provides Zero Proof”, but one could also say that it provided zero evidence (but lots of allegations). Three days later, the also credible Tony Cartalucci bannered “US Cooks Up New Syrian Atrocities Amid Syrian Talks”. Then, yet another day later, on February 11th, the brilliant Rick Sterling headlined “Amnesty International Stokes Syrian War” and he utterly destroyed the AI study’s credibility. Among many other things, he tracked the AI study’s funding and backing back to Soros and other rabid haters of Russians. Finally, on February 25th, Paul Mansfield bannered “Amnesty fake report ‘Human Slaughterhouse’ invents Assad war crimes to undermine Syria peace talks”.
As regards the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), it (and other U.S.-arsistocracy-backed fronts) was discussed by Helena Glass, on 8 February 2017, headlining “Amnesty International – A Propaganda Machine”:
Like the Syrian Observatory of [for] Human Rights, the SNHR is a one man show. One man who lives in the UK, who has no background, and who adamantly and openly hates Assad. Neither of these ‘organizations’ list their funding although it is widely believed to come from the UK’s GCHQ.
BOTH organizations claim to have ‘a network of spies on the ground in Syria with whom they converse daily for information’. Like SOHR, Fadel Abdulghani, the Director of Syrian Network of Human Rights, lists absolutely no previous background or history on social media sites. He never existed prior to becoming an expert…and Chairperson of his one man show…
But it gets worse: Fadel Abdulghani is aligned with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which the US and Australia consider an alias of MEK. MEK, headed by Maryam Rajavi was considered a terrorist organization by the US as of 2003 and was delisted in 2012.
It gets worse: The delisting of MEK as a terrorist organization was made by then Secretary of State – Hillary Clinton!
Thus it would appear that one of Amnesty International’s prime source[s] for their claim that Assad tortured and murdered 13,000 comes from one man who is affiliated with a former terrorist organization who has no background or previous experience and who would seem to have been ‘created’ from thin air…and possibly funded by GCHQ! Wow!
Apparently, Maryam Rajavi openly declares that she is the leading advocate and voice to ‘violently over-throw the government of Iran’.
The international war to overthrow Assad is barbaric, and nothing that is said in the present article is necessarily rejecting the possibility that some of the gruesome things that have been alleged about Assad’s handling of his side of that international invasion against Syria’s government might be true. But that’s not the topic here, anyway; the topic is instead the question as to whether the Washington Post has fake news. It certainly does — and lots of it, including also, for example, that ‘news’paper’s continuing not to report that the coup that occurred in Ukraine in February 2014 was a coup by the U.S., and no grass-roots democratic revolution, such as the U.S. regime (and its propaganda-organs) claim it to have been. That ‘news’paper’s subscribers are buying propaganda.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.