Has The NYT Gone Collectively Mad?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Robert Parry via ConsortiumNews.com,

Crossing a line from recklessness into madness, The New York Times published a front-page opus suggesting that Russia was behind social media criticism of Hillary Clinton...

For those of us who have taught journalism or worked as editors, a sign that an article is the product of sloppy or dishonest journalism is that a key point will be declared as flat fact when it is unproven or a point in serious dispute – and it then becomes the foundation for other claims, building a story like a high-rise constructed on sand.

This use of speculation as fact is something to guard against particularly in the work of inexperienced or opinionated reporters.

But what happens when this sort of unprofessional work tops page one of The New York Times one day as a major “investigative” article and reemerges the next day in even more strident form as a major Times editorial? Are we dealing then with an inept journalist who got carried away with his thesis or are we facing institutional corruption or even a collective madness driven by ideological fervor?

What is stunning about the lede story in last Friday’s print edition of The New York Times is that it offers no real evidence to support its provocative claim that – as the headline states – “To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans” or its subhead: “Flooding Twitter and Facebook, Impostors Helped Fuel Anger in Polarized U.S.”

In the old days, this wildly speculative article, which spills over three pages, would have earned an F in a J-school class or gotten a rookie reporter a stern rebuke from a senior editor. But now such unprofessionalism is highlighted by The New York Times, which boasts that it is the standard-setter of American journalism, the nation’s “newspaper of record.”

In this case, it allows reporter Scott Shane to introduce his thesis by citing some Internet accounts that apparently used fake identities, but he ties none of them to the Russian government. Acting like he has minimal familiarity with the Internet – yes, a lot of people do use fake identities – Shane builds his case on the assumption that accounts that cited references to purloined Democratic emails must be somehow from an agent or a bot connected to the Kremlin.

For instance, Shane cites the fake identity of “Melvin Redick,” who suggested on June 8, 2016, that people visit DCLeaks which, a few days earlier, had posted some emails from prominent Americans, which Shane states as fact – not allegation – were “stolen … by Russian hackers.”

Shane then adds, also as flat fact, that “The site’s phony promoters were in the vanguard of a cyberarmy of counterfeit Facebook and Twitter accounts, a legion of Russian-controlled impostors whose operations are still being unraveled.”

The Times’ Version

In other words, Shane tells us, “The Russian information attack on the election did not stop with the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails or the fire hose of stories, true, false and in between, that battered Mrs. Clinton on Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik. Far less splashy, and far more difficult to trace, was Russia’s experimentation on Facebook and Twitter, the American companies that essentially invented the tools of social media and, in this case, did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda.”


New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Besides the obvious point that very few Americans watch RT and/or Sputnik and that Shane offers no details about the alleged falsity of those “fire hose of stories,” let’s examine how his accusations are backed up:

“An investigation by The New York Times, and new research from the cybersecurity firm FireEye, reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. On Wednesday, Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign. On Twitter, as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on hundreds or thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages.”

Note the weasel words: “suspected”; “believe”; ‘linked”; “fingerprints.” When you see such equivocation, it means that these folks – both the Times and FireEye – don’t have hard evidence; they are speculating.

And it’s worth noting that the supposed “army of fake Americans” may amount to hundreds out of Facebook’s two billion or so monthly users and the $100,000 in ads compare to the company’s annual ad revenue of around $27 billion. (I’d do the math but my calculator doesn’t compute such tiny percentages.)

So, this “army” is really not an “army” and we don’t even know that it is “Russian.” But some readers might say that surely we know that the Kremlin did mastermind the hacking of Democratic emails!

That claim is supported by the Jan. 6 “intelligence community assessment” that was the work of what President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies – the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. But, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you hand-pick the analysts, you are hand-picking the conclusions.

Agreeing with Putin

But some still might protest that the Jan. 6 report surely presented convincing evidence of this serious charge about Russian President Vladimir Putin personally intervening in the U.S. election to help put Donald Trump in the White House. Well, as it turns out, not so much, and if you don’t believe me, we can call to the witness stand none other than New York Times reporter Scott Shane.


Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Shane wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

So, even Scott Shane, the author of last Friday’s opus, recognized the lack of “hard evidence” to prove that the Russian government was behind the release of the Democratic emails, a claim that both Putin and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published a trove of the emails, have denied. While it is surely possible that Putin and Assange are lying or don’t know the facts, you might think that their denials would be relevant to this lengthy investigative article, which also could have benefited from some mention of Shane’s own skepticism of last January, but, hey, you don’t want inconvenient details to mess up a cool narrative.

Yet, if you struggle all the way to the end of last Friday’s article, you do find out how flimsy the Times’ case actually is. How, for instance, do we know that “Melvin Redick” is a Russian impostor posing as an American? The proof, according to Shane, is that “His posts were never personal, just news articles reflecting a pro-Russian worldview.”

As it turns out, the Times now operates with what must be called a neo-McCarthyistic approach for identifying people as Kremlin stooges, i.e., anyone who doubts the truthfulness of the State Department’s narratives on Syria, Ukraine and other international topics.

Unreliable Source

In the article’s last section, Shane acknowledges as much in citing one of his experts, “Andrew Weisburd, an Illinois online researcher who has written frequently about Russian influence on social media.” Shane quotes Weisburd as admitting how hard it is to differentiate Americans who just might oppose Hillary Clinton because they didn’t think she’d make a good president from supposed Russian operatives: “Trying to disaggregate the two was difficult, to put it mildly.”


Couple walking along the Kremlin, Dec. 7, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

According to Shane, “Mr. Weisburd said he had labeled some Twitter accounts ‘Kremlin trolls’ based simply on their pro-Russia tweets and with no proof of Russian government ties. The Times contacted several such users, who insisted that they had come by their anti-American, pro-Russian views honestly, without payment or instructions from Moscow.”

One of Weisburd’s “Kremlin trolls” turned out to be 66-year-old Marilyn Justice who lives in Nova Scotia and who somehow reached the conclusion that “Hillary’s a warmonger.” During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she reached another conclusion: that U.S. commentators were exhibiting a snide anti-Russia bias perhaps because they indeed were exhibiting a snide anti-Russia bias.

Shane tracked down another “Kremlin troll,” 48-year-old Marcel Sardo, a web producer in Zurich, Switzerland, who dares to dispute the West’s groupthink that Russia was responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and the State Department’s claims that the Syrian government used sarin gas in a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21, 2013.

Presumably, if you don’t toe the line on those dubious U.S. government narratives, you are part of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. (In both cases, there actually are serious reasons to doubt the Western groupthinks which again lack real evidence.)

But Shane accuses Sardo and his fellow-travelers of spreading “what American officials consider to be Russian disinformation on election hacking, Syria, Ukraine and more.” In other words, if you examine the evidence on MH-17 or the Syrian sarin case and conclude that the U.S. government’s claims are dubious if not downright false, you are somehow disloyal and making Russian officials “gleeful at their success,” as Shane puts it.

But what kind of a traitor are you if you quote Shane’s initial judgment after reading the Jan. 6 report on alleged Russian election meddling? What are you if you agree with his factual observation that the report lacked anything approaching “hard evidence”? That’s a point that also dovetails with what Vladimir Putin has been saying – that “IP addresses can be simply made up. … This is no proof”?

So is Scott Shane a “Kremlin troll,” too? Should the Times immediately fire him as a disloyal foreign agent? What if Putin says that 2 plus 2 equals 4 and your child is taught the same thing in elementary school, what does that say about public school teachers?

Out of such gibberish come the evils of McCarthyism and the death of the Enlightenment. Instead of encouraging a questioning citizenry, the new American paradigm is to silence debate and ridicule anyone who steps out of line.

You might have thought people would have learned something from the disastrous groupthink about Iraqi WMD, a canard that the Times and most of the U.S. mainstream media eagerly promoted.

But if you’re feeling generous and thinking that the Times’ editors must have been chastened by their Iraq-WMD fiasco but perhaps had a bad day last week and somehow allowed an egregious piece of journalism to lead their front page, your kind-heartedness would be shattered on Saturday when the Times’ editorial board penned a laudatory reprise of Scott Shane’s big scoop.

Stripping away even the few caveats that the article had included, the Times’ editors informed us that “a startling investigation by Scott Shane of The New York Times, and new research by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, now reveal, the Kremlin’s stealth intrusion into the election was far broader and more complex, involving a cyberarmy of bloggers posing as Americans and spreading propaganda and disinformation to an American electorate on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. …

“Now that the scheming is clear, Facebook and Twitter say they are reviewing the 2016 race and studying how to defend against such meddling in the future. … Facing the Russian challenge will involve complicated issues dealing with secret foreign efforts to undermine American free speech.”

But what is the real threat to “American free speech”?

Is it the possibility that Russia – in a very mild imitation of what the U.S. government does all over the world – used some Web sites clandestinely to get out its side of various stories, an accusation against Russia that still lacks any real evidence?

Or is the bigger threat that the nearly year-long Russia-gate hysteria will be used to clamp down on Americans who dare question fact-lite or fact-free Official Narratives handed down by the State Department and The New York Times?

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aloha_snakbar's picture

Russia was behind social media criticism of Hillary Clinton..

No... I think it is the whole *cunt* thing...

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

"Russia was behind social media criticism of Hillary Clinton.."

So was I.  So were 99% of ZHers.  The point?

aloha_snakbar's picture

Did you read the story? Do you know how to read?

Manthong's picture

 

Geez… give me a break….

 There is no sanity at that rag HQ

GUS100CORRINA's picture

UNBELIEVABLE!!!

THE MARXIST PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL MSM just will not give it a break. 

My advice: Shut them down ... I believe that the PATIENCE OF MANY is EXHAUSTED!!!

toady's picture

So tired of this shit. I'll say it one more time.... If Trump had been allowed to normalize relations with Russia we actually had a chance to end the whole neocon movement. Now, if the missles fly, this was the critical tipping point.

Such a lost opportunity!

NiggaPleeze's picture

 

What's the news here?  This is Standard Operating Procedure.  They always find some ideologue Globalist/Empire agent, that's been installed at some agency for this purpose, to give them "anonymous quotes" to build their false narrative virtual reality; the first time they note that it's a quote from an "anonymous official", but thereonafter, it's just a "known fact".

NYTimes is not only globalist but a Jew supremacist media - i.e. their goal is a Global Dictatorship ruled by Jews.  So is Washington Post and virtually every major media outlet in the US.  Activist/tribalist Jews hate Putin for restoring control over Russia to Russians and opposing Big Brother Globalism, nothing any of them writes about Russia or any other topic important to organized Jewry can be taken even slightly seriously.

giovanni_f's picture

The NYT-of-1984. Ignorance is strength.

 

jcaz's picture

NYT isn't "mad"- it's owned......

MarsInScorpio's picture

GUS:

Better yet, pull their press credentials to the WH.

They are not the "press" protected by the First Amenment; they are a propaganda operaation not covered by the amendment.

Let them sit outside the WH fence for about 6-months to let them think about it.

And put Jim Acosta, the 5-year old maturity in a fifty-something body, out there with them.

Note to the Malicious Seditious Media, and Jim Acosta: E S & D.

Montani Semper Liberi's picture

 Do you seriously not grasp the concept of a rhetorical question?

MarsInScorpio's picture

aloha:

I've written for the NY Times. I have over 44-years in American journalism. Today's NYT is nothing but a propaganda operation for the Establishment, Progressives, and Carlos Slim, who now runs the place.

The WaPo is Jeff Bezos' whore.

This is part of the continuing game-plan to shut down opposing thoughts and investigative work by using the McCarthy tactics cited by the author. Anitfa does it in the streets; the NYT, WaPo, and the Malicious Seditious Media do it through their oligopoly power held by just 6 corporations, and by the even fewer oligarchs who control what these corporations do.

Never forget the CEO and Board are nothing but wage slaves. They report to, and follow the commands of the true powers that run these operations: the oligarchs that control the stock. They are the true initiators of what does, and what doesn't - and how it all appears if it does - run.

You're an ignorant ass.

Please, E S & D.

macholatte's picture

 

Lock her up !

   Lock her up !

        Lock her up !

                 Lock her up !

 

 

armageddon addahere's picture

To me the most amusing part is that they claim Russia derailed Hillary's $1.4 billion campaign at a cost of $50,000. Makes her campaign team look pretty lame doesn't it?

esum's picture

NYT IS WHAT YOU WIND UP WITH WHEN THE RAG IS RUN BY A CARTEL BEANER WHO SELLS OBAMAPHONES AND HATES AMERICA...

Bigly's picture

At least you spellcheck...

Bigly's picture

I am done bitching about the corrupted media.

Everything I think they cannot outdo, they do; they increase the stupid to 11.

Tune off. Unplug. Boycott. Unsubscribe. Go analog.

 

Duc888's picture

 

 

NY Times.

Mad magizine or Cracked magazine, which one?  Does anyone really believe the bullshit they're pimping?

BeepBeepRichie's picture

Marxist leftists definitely take all this to heart which is.... INSANE. You cant even talk to these people anymore as they are completely disjointed from reality 

Moving and Grooving's picture

Even stranger than that - they view everyone who disagrees with their insanity as delusional right-wing extremists.

 

Projection is in their DNA.

 

 

Withdrawn Sanction's picture

Once again, the NYT (and ZH for that matter) sidestep the main issue.  It wasn't WHO delivered/released the emails, it was the CONTENT of the emails that derailed HRC.  She revealed herself to be a power-lusting mean-spirited person.  Americans dont expect their politicians to be paragons of morality, but her behavior, esp. to her own (Bernie Sanders or Seth Rich for example) was just too much to ask. Perhps that explains why she won fewer than 500 out of over 3000 counties. 

TuPhat's picture

ZH often sidesteps the real issues.  ZH is only here to allow those who want to vent an avenue to blow off steam.

Alchemedes's picture

THE NYT has been a shoddy over printed left wing rag since day 1.

venturen's picture

maybe you aren't old enough...it was useful and much more honest 20 plus years ago

stant's picture

God says the NYt is dead

shovelhead's picture

Everyone loves Hillary except Putin.

LOLOLOL.

True Blue's picture

Wet pulp grade paper splotched with cheap ink and with a strong odor of bad fish.

Too coarse for use as toilet paper, it is best used as a cheap dropcloth material, dunnage in boxes when moving, birdcage liner, or (since it stinks anyway) actually as a fish-wrap.

Shift For Brains's picture


“Now that the scheming is clear, Facebook and Twitter say they are reviewing the 2016 race and studying how to defend against such meddling in the future. … Facing the Russian challenge will involve complicated issues dealing with secret foreign efforts to undermine American free speech.”

Is it just me or is MSM starting to read like those assinine North Korean propaganda pieces that always sound like it was written for maximum bombastic effect? What person in their right mind could read that statement above and think anything other than they are truly, unquestionably insane?

FoggyWorld's picture

And just think, Zuckerberg is thinking of running for President in 2020!

Moving and Grooving's picture

Chist, I hope so. He'll use his (actually Amazon's) $$$ to really screw up the D primary season, and in the end will fall. It'll be Biden, Warren, maybe Bernie for the gold.

 

'Nancy / Maxine 2020 - All Or Nothing!'

 

 

Bill of Rights's picture

is the a rhetorical question?

MadRunner's picture

I hear she's even blaming that little poopsie she made in her pants on the Russians.

buttmint's picture

...can we call someone in to TERMINATE all Clinton's?

At the same time, take out the Bush Crime Syndicate!

 

American values---pooooft!

Dilluminati's picture

I'm not Russian, I don't like kremlin trolls, none of my friends are Russian, and none of them kremlin trolls, and we all share on social media that Hillary is a ridiculous cunt, career criminal, and pathological liar.  

I call BS, I guess that NYT follows kremlin troll social media and not Pennsylvania social media, remember that state that ridiculous cunt Hillary lost last election?

venturen's picture

just what a russian would say...I am turning you in into the Herr Zuckerburg the Minister of Information...Het,  the Propganda Minister...Het the Social Communication Minister!

TheMexican's picture

The NYT is owned by Carlos Slim who runs one of the worst run monopolies in the world Telmex. He needs to be shot.

Withdrawn Sanction's picture

Yes, the same scum who conspired w/Jeb Bush to defaud American taxpayers w/Obama-phones.  Nice work, if you can get it. 

buzzsaw99's picture

they are just trying to see if anyone still reads it.

whatswhat1@yahoo.com's picture

All of this insanity is the reason I only leave my cave to gather provisions.  I believe I might require a 10-Step program for my high speed lead addiction.

booboo's picture

12 step, copper jacketed lead takes 12 steps to break the cycle. Good luck

whatswhat1@yahoo.com's picture

Ugh!  I was feeling challenged with 10 steps.  I don't think I'd be able to commit to two more steps. 

Hank Stinkhammer's picture

The end's not near, it's here. Hallelujia spread the cheer.

 

:)

Miskondukt's picture

This is growing dangerous.

Twee Surgeon's picture

I have seen a Trend where applying the SARC tag to comments is almost now obligatory on ZH comments containing Sarcasm because it goes right over the head of a lot of readers.

Hillary Clinton apparently thinks the message of Orwell's 1984 is that we should all trust our 'Government Leadership'.

There are a lot of voices on an International internet forum and some shit does not translate, add to that that a lot of people are pretty much fucking illiterate functionally and we have a recipe for a titanic amount of misinterpretations.  Most Liberal Americans seem to be products of Suburban Paradises. They have little Comprehension of the Information provided by their own eyes. It's just 'Things" that need the Money thrown at it.

Not a fucking clue about any of the problems facing the other 98% of the people on the planet who obviously say 'Fuck Yeah' to anything that looks like free shit.

NYT are not mad, they are utterly ignorant of the real world. They visit a war zone for the Resume and are then experts. They visit an Art Museum and they are Art Garfunkel. It's splendid to watch them slowly come to terms with their own impending obsolescence.

 

Aerows's picture

I disagree - it believe the NYT knows exactly what they are doing, right along with WaPo - they are propaganda outfits.  There is no possible way you can read some of the horseshit they come up with and not realize that they are pushing an agenda.  Remember the Iraq War?  There is PROVEN evidence of lies that they published to encourage public support for that one.

Seemingly, someone wants war with Russia.  I think they are quite bitter that their war has been cancelled (Thank the diety of your choice).