The Washington Post recently published an article “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” quoting so-called “experts” from a site called warontherocks.com.
We at Punching Bag Media, with our intelligence community background, have noted in the past that the Russia connection was never proven and was indeed unlikely. The idea that Russia was responsible for releasing the DNC emails through Wikileaks was introduced by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to deflect attention from the devastating nature of the email content.
So we scanned the document on the warontherocks.com website, and searched for any additional evidence that Russia was having an impact with “fake” news.
We found none.
The Washington Post has latched onto the warontherocks.com article to prove is allegations against Russia, but the waronrocks.com article has no proof whatsoever. In fact, it references the popular liberal media to assert its claims.
Let’s evaluate the warontherocks.com article by the numbers:
1. It cites Esquire.com, pbs.org, cnn.com, nbcnews.com, and politco.com as its starting point, saying the evidences is ‘compelling’? This is what we call the self-licking lollipop, media sources referencing each other in a circular pattern as proof of their claims. Remember that when Homeland security declared the Russians were hacking our elections, the FBI, which is the lead counterintelligence agency, refused to concur.
2. The article proceeds to a tirade of Russian doctrine dating back more than 25 years. This is stuff everyone knows, the standard propaganda model. It is the same playbook the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians, and many others use, including to some extent (under specific covert action ‘findings’) the United States.
3. The author claims to have monitored over 7000 social media accounts. Hmmm, not a very big army when you consider there are an estimated 2.3 billion social media accounts in the world. But more than that, anyone who knows propaganda and influence knows it’s the dollars spent that matters. If you want to actually make a difference you spend money to push your message. If the Russians were spending enough to make a dent in the 6.6 Billion in total election spending, this would likely be noticed. I don’t know exactly what they were monitoring but the authors don’t appear to have a handle on how propaganda works.
4. More Russian doctrine, stuff everyone in the intelligence community already knows. Completely devoid of evidence. This makes the authors look “academic” but the ideas have been part of open source academic and popular literature since the 70’s. I was briefed on much of it during my initial intelligence community training in 1985. If you want better theory try Jacque Ellul’s Propaganda, written in the 1960’s.
5. The article notes that “government backed hackers” were trying to steal his password. First they are assuming the Gmail algorithm is accurate (doubt it, the best hackers don’t leave a signature, plus you will notice the disclaimer from Google). Next they are assuming the only possible government is the Russians. Anyone could be the hacker.
6. Then we have quotes from the alt-left media about how Republicans were blocking investigations between Trump and Russia. Not their own evidence, just that from sources such as liberal mouthpiece The Daily Beast.
The warontherocks.com article is shoddy work. No academic institution would allow publication of an article using patently biased and unreliable sources like this. The authors are associated with the Center for Cyber&Homeland Security at George Washington University. Any unbiased peer review should have noted the bias and unsubstantiated claims and thrown it out.
So let’s add them to the list of fake news sites.
Yet the Washington Post seems to think it is absolute proof of a massive Russian conspiracy (did they actually read the article?).
I can’t say the Russians don’t have bad intentions. I don’t claim to know their current capabilities. I am saying the entire meme of a Russian conspiracy has never been substantiated with evidence and was originated by the Clinton campaign and the DNC and perpetuated by the liberal mainstream media. And the self licking lollipop keeps on licking.