Who Can You Trust?
January 19, 2015 § 54 Comments
“Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.” — Jowett & O’Donnel
War in Ukraine, beginning with the assault and annexation of Crimea and subsequently enlarged via proxy ”separatists” to include Donbass as well as sabotage and terrorism in other parts of the country, is undeniably the product of Russia. Without Russia’s involvement there would be NO war in Ukraine.
However, Russia, who demonstrably and actively train, support, equip and supply the so-called ”separatists”, vehemently deny ANY involvement in the conflict. Equally bizarrely, Russia act as ”mediator” between the sides – the criminal and unrecognized terrorist ”states”, and Ukraine – while keeping Ukrainian civilians, soldiers and a Ukrainian MP and PACE delegate, Nadiya Savchenko, as prisoners and prisoners of war, hostage in a war to which it is, according to Putin, Lavrov and Churkin, not a party.
Meanwhile Ukraine is fighting, desperately, righteously and according to the lawful mandate its constitution and international law decree, to regain its territorrial integrity and to restore peaceful governance.
There can be no question that Ukraine is under illegal attack by Russia and her criminal proxies, no question that Ukraine has every right to defend itself and her sovereignty. This however, is often called into question – by Russia, and by her supporters. Some of these supporters are found among the Western press, and quite a few among Western politicians and public figures of various stature.
“Propaganda becomes ineffective the moment we are aware of it” –Joseph Goebbels
Apart from the actual war waged against Ukraine, Russia is also waging a very powerful information war, against Ukraine and against Western democracies in general. The information war is every bit as real as the shooting war, and the frontline is drawn on your TV screen, on your laptop, on your smartphone – in your mind as it were.
Focussing on the journalists – the frontline information warriors that produce content for websites, magazines, newspapers, newscasts, YouTube vids and what have you, without whom the media outlets would stand naked for want of pictures and commentary – it is important to know who you can trust to deliver factual, substantiated and objective news rather than hearsay, pure lies and disinformation intended to mask or distort actual events and actual facts.
In certain cases it is easy enough to find the liars: virtually all Russian media outlets are state owned and/or managed by people who support Putin’s regime. Very few independent Russian media remain, and the last bastions of free thought and speech are hard pressed to toe the party line lest they be shut down like their brethren. TASS, Rossiya One, RT/Ruptly, ANNA News… all these are completely in Putin’s fold and should not be trusted to deliver anything but the opposite of the truth (which indeed can be used to extrapolate some element of truth). Visit StopFakeNews if in doubt of Russia’s overt propaganda.
Lies, allegations and desinformation
Yet not all of the ”false flag” journalists – citizens of western democracies – are outright liars. Instead, they specialize in spreading disinformation and utilize a disingenuous language designed to spread confusion, dread and defeatism.
The main task of these peddlers of subversion and propaganda is to disparage, ridicule, question and criticise Ukraine’s efforts to regain its territorial sovereignty, to promulgate selected lies and half-truths, to lay smokescreens of baseless allegations and to incite uncertainty and fear among Ukrainians and defenders of Ukraine.
Some, certain or large parts of their reporting consist of bona fide reports and simple retweets of innocuous tidbits. This serves to build trust and confidence. Their true colours, however, shine through during bouts of very high military activity when they will spout disinformation and raw lies for days on end – and get away with it, because they have already won your confidence.
These journalists seldom speak the direct lie: there is always an unnamed ”source”, a ”trusted contact” or anonymous witness to spreak for them, making full use of words that allow semi-believable but always unsubstantiated ”facts” to emerge: actions or reports are ”alleged”, things have ”supposedly” happened, someone is ”purported” to have said, or something is ”said to be”…
Thus works the non-factual reporter, he/she who can always drape him/herself in the cloak of ”I’m merely reporting”. Be on the look-out for these tell-tale words, and do not rest, or believe in anything, until you have proof positive that it has actually transpired as reported. More often than not, it has not. These same individuals will report again and again in negative terms about Ukraine’s army, its morale and whatnot of which they have little or no idea, and all the while fail to report about the composition and origin of Russian troops and materiel which surround them as they wander freely in ”rebel” territory…
Western Journalist’s Hall of Shame
So, without further ado, here is my personal Hall of Shame of western journalists who, in my opinion, have proved themselves less than trustworthy. I advocate unfollowing of most if not all of them, or, at the very least, a very careful reading of anything they post. Here are the winners, in my subjective order of magnitude, with incriminating details below:
List 1: Your Typical LieNews/RT/Ruptly goons
- Graham W Phillips
- Patrick Lancaster
List 2: Useful idiots and false flag operatives, in no particular order
- Oliver Carroll
- Alec Luhn
- Harriet Salem
- Maxim Eristavi
- Shaun Walker
- Will Vernon
- Gulliver Cragg
- Christopher Miller
- Roland Oliphant
- Andrew Roth
- Bojan Pancevski
- Kristina Jovanovski
- Maximillian Clarke
- Noah Sneider
- Henry Langston
- Max Seddon
@GrahamWP_UK Graham W Phillips
This despicable, sorry excuse of a Putinist worm needs no further presentation. A RussiaToday operative, GWP is simply too odious for this world. Anyone retweeting Graham’s tripe without proper condemnation or challenge is in my not so humble opinion automagically a douchebag. Sorry for the harsh language, but there it is.
@PLnewstoday (Patrick Lancaster)
Patrick Lancaster appears to be a freelance stringer peddling pro-Russian, Ukraine-bashing tripe and spin from behind “rebel” lines. Sidekick to horrid twerp G W Phillips. A given no-follow, insta-block, never-RT <invective>. In the post below he falsely portray the illegal sale of free humanitarian aid as “subsidized groceries.” Thanks Myroslawa and Lola for bringing him to my attention.
@olliecarroll Oliver Carroll
“There is a logic behind the DNR push. The economy of DNR is not viable…” “DNR” is a terrorist construct managed by GRU. It has no economy: it is part of Russia. Get it? Ollie doesn’t, or pretends otherwise. Yes, Oliver spends weeks and months among ”rebels” yet fails to report on atrocities and war crimes, yet doesn’t spot a single Russian soldier or piece of equipment. Below, Ollie posts propagandistic and defeatist pieces of conversation with an unnamed Ukrainian soldier right in the middle of Ukraine’s offensive to regain parts of Donetsk airport. Currently one of the most active propaganda founts whose ”reports” yield retweets galore by pro-Russians, propagandists and others less discerning. I strongly advise against following or retweeting this fellow.
Addendum: I’ve been catching a lot of flak for putting Oliver on this list, so let’s have another look shall we? His latest offering “Inside the Bloody Battle for Donetsk Airport” illustrates my case perfectly. You would be excused to expect a picture of the “Cyborgs” to go along with the article, however, we are greeted with a trio of happy “rebels” instead – or “Pro-Russian separatists” (tellingly without the citation marks). That alone is enough to raise MY hackles, but you may be inured to the paradox already. He then goes on to paint a bleakly desperate canvas of distress, defeat and devastation – fine, that’s what ultimately transpired, yet, the take home message is that “the Ukrainians” are done for, down and out. He even weaves in an alleged phone call to an alleged British reporter who allegedly calls an alleged deputy defence minister (in Britain? Ukraine?) who allegedly proffers relief. Riiiight. Totally believable. Woe be us!
Some of you may feel uplifted by a tale of glory and heroism, for that is what Donetsk symbolizes, yet the insidious message is one of defeatism and despondency. Oliver’s article is studded with non-critical reference to rebels, separatists, rebel leaders and rebel commanders – all without citation marks – and Oliver again refers to the POW parade that was staged for the cameras as if it was real. Now, as far as I can tell, Oliver is embedded with the “rebels” yet signally fails to spot the professional Russian soldiers, VDV specialists and other supporting troops who finally pushed in to deliver the coup de grace after 243 days of siege. Not once did he walk up to the gun and MLRS crews to ask them where they come from or who supplied the thousands of tons of hardware that wrecked Donetsk airport, despite hearing and probably seeing their discharges day and night throughout his entire stay in Donetsk. If you don’t think that’s funny or the least suspicious you really need your head examined. Finally, has Oliver visited the mythical “Sasha” at his “rebel” hospital bed? A picture should suffice to kill the suspicion that “Sasha” and Slavik are merely figments of Oliver’s vivid imagination.
The only mitigating factor in this intellectual debacle is that Oliver is perhaps too suave for his job, as his reports may in fact have reverse effect on the target group. But that’s an occupational hazard I guess. I’m merely sad that so many good people are duped by his reports. Now, back to your scheduled load of propaganda.
Well-known Moscow troll clearly rooting for ”rebels” and happy to spread biased trash like the one below. You don’t have to dig deep into his timeline to find the most odious rot.
VICE News operative Harriet Salem spent weeks in ”rebel”-held Sloviansk posting worshipping tweets and articles, yet failed to notice executions, rape and indiscriminate shelling of civilian housing. See tweets below. Her noxious reports cast serious doubt on other VICE reporters, such as the nigh-untouchable Simon Ostrovsky.
Kyiv-based reporter with a grudge against Ukraine, principally the government’s tardiness in combating decades of corruption and graft. That Ukraine is fighting for its very survival seems to be of little consequence to Maxim, who prefers to come down hard on miniscule rightwingers in Ukraine, all the while conveniently ignoring Russia’s hordes of nazis…
Well known propagandist, Shaun is happy to hobnob with murderer Strelkov and assorted ”rebel” scum. Put a lot of distance between yourself and this horrid creature. I have been criticized for being too harsh in my judgement of “respected” journalists such as Shaun: well, I invite you to judge for yourself – his tweets speak volumes, and if you don’t find them offensive then please consider your own moral compass.
An unashamed Putinist who is happy to uncritically “report” about stuff that happens in Moscow and elsewhere, which incidentally promotes a pro-Russian view of the world.
Gulliver Cragg reports for France24 and is frequently cited by other agencies and networks. Likes to spread disinformation, despondency and distrust about Ukraine government. Takes every chance to denigrate Ukraine and spin things according to the Kremlin narrative.
Christopher Miller, posts sentimental rebel-supporting drivel, attempts (innocently or naively, you be the judge) to shift blame for the war and suffering onto Ukraine. Also fails miserably to find or post evidence of Russian involvment. Chris is mainly content with reposting top news immune to disinformation attempts and will not engage in overt propaganda, although he is happy to retweet Oliver Carroll, AS Luhn and others. Nevertheless, I don’t trust the guy any more than I would a pick-pocket.
Roland spreads disinformation (innocently? uncritically at any rate) and speaks, disparagingly in my opinion, of Ukrainians. Failed miserably in the run-up to Russian invasion to find evidence of troops and materiel, despite tons of reports and videos. Retweets Ollie Carroll’s propaganda and generally posts in Russia-biased language. A top-level operative who is only brought out during particularly critical phases.
Andrew Roth at the New York Times writes a pitiful pro-rebel article, retweets Ollie Carroll and other cited propagandists. Another high-level operative that is relatively hard to pin down with actual lies.
Bojan Pancevski is a low-key low-volume propagandist who plays a minor role in pushing a Kremlin narrative. Pushes uncritical dross and sundry, including the post below.
@kjovano Kristina Jovanovski
Kristina, a Canadian freelance journalist with a background from Al Jazeera and a host of international news agencies, is currently in Donetsk, behind “rebel” lines, to cover the “conflict” to the best of her abilities. At the moment, there is not a whole lot to suggest that she is actively supporting a Russian narrative, though retweets of other journalists and pro-Russian sources skews the picture. My suggestion is to be wary and treat her reports with skepticism, for the same reason as for most others: offhand reports and observations that lend credibility to or sympathy with “rebels” while casually and insidiously shifting blame onto Ukraine for doing its best to secure its sovereign right over Ukrainian territory must be deemed subversive. Selected tweets below.
@MTIClarke Maximillian Clarke
A London-based photojournalist, seemingly part of the coterie surrounding and retweeting G W Phillips, currently returned to “rebel”-held Donetsk. Clarke shoots pics and video of combat and suffering in general and seems happy to do so without further inquiry as to whom exactly is doing what. Could be “local separatists”, could be “Russian volunteers”, could be anyone but regular Russian army troops. Like other “discerning” journalists, Clarke is quick to pile blame onto Ukraine for defending against Russian aggression, and signally fails to spot actual Russian hardware, the Russian logistics chain or the Russian troopers milling and speeding about Donbass. Selected tweets below.
Stringer/writer/tag-along Noah Sneider is part of the “Glory Gang” comprising Shaun Walker, Chris Miller, Roland Oliphant, Ollie Carroll, Alec Luhn et al who tweet and retweet each other’s pieces and snide comments like there’s no tomorrow. Like all of these “gents” Noah is careful to toe a perceived balance between outright Ukraine-bashing and outright rebel-glorification, however, once you’ve sold your morals it’t not very hard to determine who Noah is really rooting for. Proof positive? Read his latest piece of muck in the otherwise discerning The Economist. You don’t have to look far to spot the bias, the rebel-loving tune, the Ukraine-bashing intent.
In the first tweet below, Noah witnesses a POW parade without mentioning that it was entirely and carefully staged for the cameras and the journalists – of which he was one.
Henry is a well-known video journalist at VICE NEWS specializing in conflict reporting, lamenting civilians and craters. He ran a decent series of clips from Syria/Iraq covering ISIS and Peshmerga, and has covered Russia’s war against Ukraine on and off since summer 2014. Now back in Donbass he is taking up where Simon Ostrovsky left off – however, with a considerably more devious storytelling technique. In his latest dispatch, #90, he covers the desperate situation at Debaltseve, sparing no effort to lay blame on Petro Poroshenko and the Ukrainian government for.. what, allowing Russian regular army troops and their hired goons to shell the place round the clock? For not evacuating the civilians, despite constant Russian bombardment? For not supplying civilians with water? Distraught civilians, brainwashed by a Russian propaganda blitz, spit at their president and their troops in the midst of Russian shelling! This is the message Henry conveys, and it’s not a pretty one. I strongly advise unfollowing both Henry and VICE.
Max is a frequent tweeter but has not, until now as far as I know, come out swinging fully for Russia. He makes up for his previous low-key profile in spades, in this article. Read and weep as he digs deep in the “separatist” soil to find “bona fide seps” to act as fig leafs for THE VERY ACTUAL AND HIGHLY PRESENT REGULAR RUSSIAN FORCES currently laying waste to the Debaltseve area. Note that the introduction has been altered to give the article a somewhat less obvious propagandistic touch. The article no longer reads “Ukraine’s bloody and callous attempt at regaining its eastern provinces..”, but apart from that, it’s the same pitiful dross.
So, who is Max Seddon? I don’t really know, and his LinkedIn bio doesn’t tell much, except that he’s in Russia Federation and has a year of something at AP in Moscow to his “credit”. No, I don’t trust AP or Reuters one bit.
On the watch-list:
I cannot actually remember why I reacted to TomParfitt’s posts, but there was some kind of dissonance that alerted me. Now mainly out of Ukraine reporting, he may surface at a later date. So, let’s keep him on the list for now.
If you have any name or piece of “evidence” to add to this list, please comment or send me an email. You should know where to look. Thanks to anonymous contributors.
For further reading about propaganda in general, have a look here.