Corporate media and fake news


This video from the USA says about itself:

Denying You Supported The Iraq War Is Harder When The Internet Exists

21 September 2015

Bill Maher had an “interesting” program on the other night. They were arguing about how the media covered the Iraq war. Jorge Ramos argued that the media was too compliant, but Chris Matthews insisted he was not guilty of this. He thinks he can get away with claiming he was against the war, despite the fact that the internet is a thing that exists and we can all watch clips of him cheerleading the Bush Administration. Cenk Uygur, host of the The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Chris Matthews’ steely opposition to the Iraq War is a subject that comes up periodically, and is shot down periodically, as well. Matthews’ critics concede that he opposed the invasion and the war in print, but that in his much more influential television forum, it was a different story. That’s not exactly true, there are plenty of examples of Matthews expressing opposition to Iraq policy on TV, but they are greatly outweighed by his consistent bashing of the war’s critics, and tingly amazement at the Iraq War’s huge “successes.”

For example, he called then-President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech an “amazing display of leadership,” declaring that Bush had “won the war,” and “was an effective commander,” before going on this turgid riff about Bush’s flight costume with guest Pat Caddell:..”*

Read more here.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Who are the original purveyors of fake news?

Friday 2nd December 2016

While the established media frets about the rise of “fake news” on Facebook, it was their own lies which wore down people’s trust and opened the gates to even faker and more hateful news, writes SOLOMON HUGHES

NEWSPAPERS are currently pointing at the danger of “fake news.” And by “fake news,” they mean the dubious fringe websites that pumped out false, usually pro-Trump, propaganda during the US election.

Thanks to the web generally and Facebook in particular, this “fake news” has had a big audience.

It’s a real problem. But the mainstream solution is completely wrong.

The main news outlets want some kind of stamp of approval, so their news is treated as sensible and “fringe” outlets are treated with disdain.

They miss the big problem: “Fringe” media has grown precisely because the established media has repeatedly printed “fake news” itself. This has worn away trust in the mainstream and sometimes opened the door to even faker news.

The most obvious example is Iraq. Here, the most “respectable” media printed fake news over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which paved the way for Tony Blair and George Bush to wage bloody war on Iraq, the effects of which we are still living with today.

In fact, the newspapers’ fake news went well beyond any of the government’s dubious claims.

I will give just one example of a repeated fraud.

In 1995, the [Rupert Murdoch owned] Sunday Times ran a story for three consecutive issues about a “defecting Iraqi nuclear scientist” who “vanished” — possibly kidnapped or murdered “while trying to reveal details of the secret nuclear weapons programme that president Saddam Hussein has been hiding from United Nations inspectors.”

The story was completely false. The “scientist” Khidir Hamza had not been kidnapped. The “documents” — supposedly showing an active nuclear weapons programme — were fake.

The International Atomic Energy Authority — the official nuclear weapons inspectors — looked at the papers and concluded: “On the basis of all the evidence available, these documents are not authentic.”

Hamza’s claims were part of a campaign to keep sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s regime — sanctions that did much more damage to the people of Iraq than their dictator.

The Sunday Times never reported that international inspectors ruled their story was based on fake documents.

Nor did any other Western newspaper, despite the Atomic Energy Authority making its ruling publicly.

Saddam’s son-in-law, general Hussein Kamal, who himself defected in 1995, told the CIA that Hamza was “useless” and “a professional liar.” But the fake news from 1995 remained unexposed.

So a fresh wave of fake news could be churned out after the September 11 2001 attacks which led to a campaign for a new war on Iraq.

Most people remember this as governments issuing dossiers full of fake stories about Iraqi WMD that turned out not to exist.

But actually, the newspapers added a whole other layer of fake news. Stories so false that the government wouldn’t put them in its dossiers.

Hamza was the source of many false stories.

On October 29 2001, the Times ran a story under the headline “Saddam Must Go” in which Daniel Finkelstein told the tale of Hamza building a nuclear bomb for Saddam. Finkelstein wrote: “Hamza had helped Saddam to build a crude device. Only the fact that it was too big to attach to a missile prevented Saddam from being able to fire it at Israel.”

This was fake. Saddam wanted nuclear weapons in the 1980s and ’90s. But was unable to build them.

In June 2002, historian Christopher Andrew reported in The Times: “By the outbreak of the Gulf War, [Saddam’s] Atomic Energy Department had nearly completed the manufacture of a nuclear weapon.

“But, according to his chief nuclear scientist, Khidir Hamza, it was ‘about the size of a refrigerator — far too big to fit into a missile warhead’.” This never happened.

In August 2002, Hamza gave evidence before a Senate committee. The Financial Times, the Evening Standard, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times all reported the hearings without any scepticism.

They described Hamza without any qualification about his expertise, calling him “the former director of Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme” and how he “told senators that Iraq has enough uranium to produce three nuclear weapons by 2005.”

Only one newspaper, the Morning Star, pointed out this was fake news. Felicity Arbuthnot reported that Hamza had indeed made his false claims to the Senate committee. She accurately described him as “a controversial wild-card […] who has variously been accused of having minimal knowledge of the nuclear industry and being paid handsomely by the CIA.”

News got even faker in September 2002. The Times had a 1,400 word piece based on an interview with Hamza, saying he “was at the heart of the Iraqi nuclear programme from its inception and is regarded as the ‘father’ of the Baghdad bomb.”

In the piece, Hamza claimed: “Saddam could be in a position to make three nuclear weapons within the next few months, if he has not already done so.”

Hamza claimed these inspectors could not “detect the nuclear assembly line” because it was “concealed underground or in basements or buildings that outwardly seem normal.”

This completely fake story was repeated in days by the Express, the Independent, the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail without any scepticism or qualification.

The Sunday Mirror went further with a piece by Hamza himself. It claimed: “Saddam’s top nuclear weapons scientist exclusively reveals to the Sunday Mirror today that the dictator has enough nuclear material for three nuclear devices.

“Dr Khidir Hamza, who was Iraq’s nuclear bombmaker for 24 years before defecting to the West, claims Saddam has 10 tonnes of natural uranium. And he reveals an Iraq’s nuclear bombmaker for 24 years before defecting to the West, claims Saddam has 10 tonnes of natural uranium. And he reveals an Iraqi intelligence team has taken delivery in Africa of spent fuel rods from a Russian nuclear reactor.” All of this was exclusive because it was imaginary.

Again, the Morning Star stood almost entirely alone up against the spurt of fake news triggered by the Hamza articles.

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter correctly pointed out in a September 17 2002 Morning Star article that Hamza wasn’t the “father” of anything atomic. He “was an obscure member of the Iraqi nuclear team” who had been “fired, sent back into obscurity” before he left Iraq.

Ritter said the problem was that British newspapers had no guard against fake news, writing “[Hamza] doesn’t have the access to information that he claims to have and to cite him on the front page of a prominent British newspaper and to give credence to what he’s saying is part and parcel of the problem we are facing here.”

Ritter was right. Hamza had been publicly linked to forgeries since 1995. But almost every major British newspaper used him to publish more fake news. And when his promised WMD failed to surface from the bloody wreckage of Iraq, they didn’t have any inquiry into why they got it so wrong. Their own fake news led to huge bloodshed and a loss of authority.

If the media wants to stop the growth of fake news, it needs to stop publishing it.

This 2014 video says about itself:

‘Enemy of the Internet’ – UK accused of mass surveillance & censorship

Reporters Without Borders have branded the UK an ‘Enemy of the Internet’ for their mass surveillance and censorship programmes, the first time they have appeared on the list. Appearing alongside countries such as China, Iran and North Korea, the UK was criticised for mass surveillance of nearly a quarter of the world’s communications. And the report also said they confused journalists with terrorists.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

The “fake news” furor and the threat of Internet censorship

1 December 2016

In the weeks since the November 8 election, US media reports on the spread of so-called “fake news” during the presidential campaign have increasingly repeated unsubstantiated pre-election claims that the Russian government hacked into Democratic Party email servers to undermine the campaign of Hillary Clinton. There is more than a whiff of McCarthyism in this crusade against “fake news” on social media and the Internet, with online publications critical of US wars of aggression and other criminal activities being branded as Russian propaganda outlets.

A case in point is an article published in the November 24 edition of the Washington Post headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.” The article includes assertions that Russian “botnets, teams of paid human ‘trolls,’ and networks of web sites and social media accounts” were used to promote sites across the Internet “as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.”

According to the Post, the exposure of Russian involvement in the spread of fake election news is based on the work of a team of “independent researchers” and another anonymous group calling itself PropOrNot, which has expertise in “computer science, national security and public policy.” Although no one from the PropOrNot organization is mentioned by name, the Post quotes the executive director of this group anonymously. The organization has gone so far as to publish a list of 200 web sites—including WikiLeaks, the ultra-right Drudge Report and the left-liberal Truthout—that are deemed “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.”

It should be obvious that the Post report is itself an example of the state-sponsored pseudo-news that is increasingly dispensed by the corporate-controlled media to promote the geopolitical and military aims of American imperialism. The New York Times has published similar articles, including one authored by David E. Sanger and posted on the Times web site on November 25 under the headline “US Officials Defend Integrity of Vote, Despite Hacking Fears.”

Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent of the Times, is a regular sounding board for the military/intelligence establishment, to which he is closely “plugged in.” He writes that “intelligence officials are still investigating the impact of a broader Russian ‘information warfare’ campaign, in which fake news about Mrs. Clinton, and about United States-Russia relations, appeared intended to influence voters.” He adds, “Many of those false reports originated from RT News and Sputnik, two state-funded Russian sites.”

The readers of this and virtually all other articles on the topic of Russia’s role in “fake news” will search in vain for a single piece of evidence to substantiate the claims made. Instead, the views and opinions of “experts,” usually unnamed, are cited and treated as indisputable fact—much in the manner of Joe McCarthy and similar witch-hunters.

The editors and writers who produce these articles seem not even to notice that their publications have been caught in one colossal lie after another—from the claims of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” used to justify the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 to the more recent flood of government propaganda in support of neo-colonial wars in Libya and Syria and drone killings in a growing number of countries—all justified in the name of “human rights” and the “war on terror.”

There are no institutions anywhere in the world more adept at producing “fake news” than the American corporate-controlled media.

These same media outlets further discredited themselves by overtly slanting their “news” coverage of the election campaign in favor of their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, and predicting that she would secure a decisive victory. Blindsided by the support for Trump among disaffected and angry lower-income people and taken unawares by the electoral collapse of the Democrats, the corporate media are responding to the growth of popular distrust by seeking to discredit alternative news sources.

This is not to deny the spread of false information and propaganda masquerading as news on the Internet. Fabricated news stories and hoaxes have been circulating online since the World Wide Web began in the 1990s, but there was a significant increase in “fake” political sites and content during the US elections. Stories that stretched the truth or were entirely made up typically started on mock news web sites and were then amplified by social media sharing. Other false reports originated on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and spread rapidly with the “like,” “share” and “comment” features of social media.

An analysis published by Buzzfeed on November 16 showed that false political news stories in the final three months of the election campaign, such as a report that the Pope had endorsed Trump for president, generated more engagement on Facebook than the combined top stories of nineteen major US news organizations. The Buzzfeed study noted the “hyperpartisan right-wing” nature of the top fabricated news items, as well as the spike in the number of visitors to these sites during the final election months.

Another key aspect of online “fake news” has been the growth of its scope internationally. The Guardian reported in August, for example, that a group of teenagers and college students from Veles, Macedonia set up dozens of political web site façades to both influence and cash in on the Trump candidacy. The Guardian report also pointed out that, although the pro-Trump sham news sites were more popular, both offshore and domestic web sites became very popular and generated income for their publishers whether they were peddling phony “conservative” or “liberal” misinformation.

That being said, the campaign in the corporate media against “fake news” on the Internet, including calls for social media outlets such as Google and Facebook to vet the material that appears on their sites, is a reactionary attack on freedom of the press. It has already elicited positive responses from major Internet sites. Both Google and Facebook have published statements acknowledging that they are working on systems that will use third-party “fact-checking” of news content published on their services. In the case of Facebook, this initiative—reminiscent of Orwell’s Thought Police—will be reinforced by barring accounts identified as “fake news” sources from using online advertising tools.

Pressure to shut down or muzzle “fake news” sites and social media accounts are emanating from the offices of corporate media organizations concerned about the loss of their influence over the public. Any moves to censor Internet content must be opposed as an attack on democratic rights. The measures being prepared today against “fake news” web sites and social media publishers will be perfected and used tomorrow against the working class and the socialist media—the World Socialist Web Site—that articulates and fights for its independent interests.

5 thoughts on “Corporate media and fake news

  1. Pingback: Fox News and fake news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. As Glenn Greenwald noted in The Intercept: “There is still no such evidence for any of these claims [of WikiLeaks disclosures about Clinton speeches supposedly being Russian government work]. What we have instead are assertions, disseminated by anonymous people, completely unaccompanied by any evidence, let alone proof. As a result, none of the purported evidence—still—can be publicly seen, reviewed, or discussed. Anonymous claims leaked to newspapers about what the CIA believes do not constitute proof, and certainly do not constitute reliable evidence that substitutes for actual evidence that can be reviewed.”

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/12/12/hack-d12.html

    Like

  3. Pingback: Corporate media problems in Britain | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Corporate media and fake news, interview | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Bernie Sanders about the USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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