Written by Caitlin Johnstone; Originally appeared at her blog
In an extremely weird article titled “Russia is backing a viral video company aimed at American millennials”, CNN reports that Facebook has suspended popular dissident media outlet In The Now and its allied pages for failing to publicly “disclose” its financial ties to a subsidiary of RT. According to CNN, such disclosures are not and have never been an actual part of Facebook’s official policy, but Facebook has made the exceptional precondition of public disclosure of financial ties in order for In The Now to return to its platform.
I say the article is extremely weird for a number of reasons. Firstly, according to In The Now CEO Anissa Naouai, CNN knew that Facebook was going to be suspending the pages of her company Maffick Media before she did, suggesting a creepy degree of coordination between the two massive outlets to silence an alternative media platform. Secondly, the article reports that CNN found out about Maffick’s financial ties thanks to a tip-off from the German Marshall Fund, a narrative control firm which receives funding from the US government. In The Now’s Rania Khalek has described this tactic as “a case where the US government has found a legal loophole to suppress speech, in this case speech that is critical of destructive US government policies around the world.”
Thirdly, and in my opinion weirdest of all, the article goes to great lengths to make the fact that a dissident media outlet supports the same foreign policy positions as Russia look like something strange and nefarious, instead of the normal and obvious thing that it is.
— Anissa Naouai (@AnissaNow) February 16, 2019
The article repeatedly mentions the fact that all the people working for In The Now “claim” to be editorially independent as opposed to being told what to report by Kremlin officials, a notion which Khalek says was met with extreme skepticism when she was interviewed for the piece by CNN. As though the possibility of an American opposing US warmongering and the political establishment which drives it without being ordered to by a rubles-dispensing FSB officer was a completely alien idea to them.
Check out the following excerpt, for example of this bizarre attitude:
“Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow for information defense at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told CNN that while Russian state-backed outlets claim to be editorially independent, ‘they routinely boost Kremlin narratives, especially those which portray the West negatively.’
“Nimmo said the tone of Maffick’s pages is ‘broadly anti-US and anti-corporate. That’s strikingly similar to RT’s output. Maffick may technically be independent, but their tone certainly matches the broader Kremlin family.’”
This is a truly obnoxious mind virus we’re seeing the imperial narrative controllers pushing more and more aggressively into mainstream consciousness today: that anyone who opposes the beltway consensus on western interventionism is not simply an individual with a conscience who is thinking critically for themselves, but is actually “boosting the Kremlin narrative”. If you say it in an assertive and authoritative tone like Mr Nimmo does, it can sound like a perfectly reasonable position if you don’t think about it too hard. If you really look at it directly, though, what these manipulators are actually saying is “Russia opposes western interventionism, therefore anyone who opposes western interventionism is basically Russian.”
Which is of course a total non-argument. You don’t get to just say “Russia bad” for two years to get everyone riled up into a state of xenophobic hysteria and then say “That’s Russian!” at anything you don’t like. That’s not a thing. More to the point, though, there is no causal relationship between the fact that Russia opposes western interventionism and the fact that many westerners do.
As we discussed recently, there will necessarily be inadvertent agreement between Russia and westerners who oppose western interventionism, because Russia, like so many other sovereign nations, opposes western interventionism. If you discover that an American who opposes US warmongering and establishment politics is saying the same things as RT, that doesn’t mean you’ve discovered a shocking conspiracy between western dissidents and the Russian government, it means people who oppose the same things oppose the same things.
Something appears fishy with conservative columnist running smears on behalf of a "Russian troll hunter" about an open pro-Bernie subreddit before the man even announces he's running.
Someone REALLY wants Trump to get a second term! (Thread) https://t.co/MFo6N7zuWe
— HootHootBerns #RunBernieRun?? (@HootHootBerns) February 15, 2019
We’re seeing this absurd gibberish spouted over and over again by the mainstream media now. The other day the delightful pro-Sanders subreddit WayOfTheBern was smeared as a Russian operation by the Washington Times,not because the Washington Times had any evidence anywhere supporting that claim, but because the subreddit’s members are hostile to Democratic presidential hopefuls other than Sanders, and because its posts “consistently support positions that would be amenable to the Kremlin.” All this means is that the subreddit is full of people who support Bernie Sanders and oppose US government malfeasance, yet an entire article was published in a mainstream outlet treating this as something dangerous and suspicious.
If you really listen to what the CNNs and Ben Nimmos and Washington Timeses are actually trying to tell you, what they’re saying is that it’s not okay for anyone to oppose any part of the unipolar world order or the establishment which runs it. Never ever, under any circumstances. Don’t work for a media outlet that’s funded by the Russian government even though no mainstream outlets will ever platform you. Don’t even subscribe to an anti-establishment subreddit. Those things are all Russian. Listen to Big Brother instead. Big Brother will protect you from their filthy Russian lies.
“If CNN would like to hire me to present facts against destructive US wars and corporate ownership of our political system, I’ll gladly accept,” Khalek told me when asked for comment. “But the corporate media doesn’t allow antiwar voices a platform. In The Now does. I’ve worked for dozens of different outlets, from Vice to Al Jazeera to RT, and my message has always been the same: leftist, antiwar and pro justice and equality. People should be asking why US mainstream media outlets that claim to be free and independent refuse to air critical and adversarial voices like mine.”
Why indeed? Actually, if CNN is so worried about Russian media influence in America, all they’d have to do is put on a few shows featuring leftist, antiwar and pro-justice voices and that would be the end of it. They could easily out-spend RT by a massive margin, buy up all the talent like Khalek, Lee Camp and Chris Hedges, put on a sleek, high-budget show and steal RT America’s audience, killing it dead and drawing all anti-establishment energy to their material.
But they don’t. They don’t, and they never will. Because Russian media influence is not their actual target. Their actual target is leftist, antiwar and anti-establishment voices. That’s what they’re really trying to eliminate.
I did an interview with RT’s Going Underground yesterday on UK foreign policy since 1945, to broadcast Monday. Why? I’ve waited since 1989 when I was at Chatham House to be interviewed by BBC; the call has never come. So I gave my first interview to RT. (PS. I don’t love Putin).
— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) December 7, 2018
So yes, Moscow will of course elevate some western voices who oppose the power establishment that is trying to undermine and subvert Russia. Those voices will not require any instruction to speak out against that establishment, since that’s what they’d be doing anyway and they’re just grateful to finally have a platform upon which to speak. And it is good that they’re getting a platform to speak. If western power structures have a problem with it, they should stop universally refusing to platform anyone who opposes the status quo that is destroying nations abroad and squeezing the life out of citizens at home.
It doesn’t take any amount of sympathy for Russia to see that the unipolar empire is toxic for humanity, and most westerners who oppose that toxicity have no particular feelings about Russia any more than they have about Turkey or the Philippines. Sometimes Russia will come in and give them a platform in the void that has been left by the mainstream outlets which are doing everything they can to silence them. So what? The alternative is all dissident voices being silenced. The fact that Russia prevents a few of them from being silenced is not the problem. The problem is that they are being silenced at all.