While the collapse of public trust in the mainstream media is nothing new, with Forbes recently reporting that "Fewer Americans than ever before trust the mainstream media", it is only a much more recent phenomenon that members of the media's highest echelons - such as the NYT's Matthew Rosenberg - have started asking themselves and their (few remaining) readers the much more difficult question of why is public trust of media so low.
Joe Rogan is what he is. We in the media might want to spend more time thinking about why so many people trust him instead of us.— Matthew Rosenberg (@AllMattNYT) January 30, 2022
Unfortunately, instead of following up with some much needed top-to-bottom cleansing and fundamental reassessment of how the MSM pursues, analyzes and reports news, the media has simply fallen back to its traditional tactic of spewing baseless hit pieces against outlets they would rather see silenced and/or censored.
Most notably in recent weeks, this has been observed vis-a-vis Joe Rogan's incredibly popular podcast which has emerged as one of the biggest competitors to traditional media.
This morning, it is Zero Hedge that has again been singled out for pursuing non-establishment groupthink.
Echoing a false allegation we have repeatedly heard before, early on Tuesday the Associated Press (of "how Associated Press cooperated with the Nazis" fame) writes that "U.S. intelligence officials on Tuesday accused a conservative financial news website with a significant American readership of amplifying Kremlin propaganda and alleged five media outlets targeting Ukrainians have taken direction from Russian spies. The officials said Zero Hedge, which has 1.2 million Twitter followers, published articles created by Moscow-controlled media that were then shared by outlets and people unaware of their nexus to Russian intelligence."
Well, now we've done it - we've angered the CIA, and for what? For publishing views that challenge the conventional narrative, such as disputing that an invasion of Ukraine is actually "imminent" as the US State Department and its mainstream media conduits repeat day after day, or that the Covid virus was actually created in a Chinese lab, a view which has gained substantial prominence in recent months after it emerged that none other than the UK's Jeremy Farrar (also known as the UK's Doctor Fauci) played a pivotal role in stifling suggestions that this new virus might have come from a laboratory rather than emerged through natural zoonotic transmission from animals.
Of course, there is no actual accusation that Zero Hedge works directly with anyone tied to Russia or its intelligence apparatus - as the AP admits "officials did not say whether they thought Zero Hedge knew of any links to spy agencies and did not allege direct links between the website and Russia", which is correct because - and we will repeat this once again for the record and for all future similar hit piece attempts to smear us - this website has never worked, collaborated or cooperated with Russia, nor are there any links to spy (or any other) agencies; instead all the AP notes, citing some unnamed "intelligence official", is that the US intelligence apparatus is unhappy that among our hundreds of guest publishing contributors is a website called Strategic Culture Foundation which US intel officials "allege" take direction from the SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service.
Well, is the Strategic Culture Foundation - which periodically guest posts on this website along with hundreds of other sources of alternative information - taking direction from Russian intel?
Perhaps. We don't know. What we do know is that Alastair Crooke, one of the most prolific writers on SCF website is a former high ranking MI6 figure and UK diplomat, i.e., a former British spook. Perhaps he is now a double agent working for Putin after spending decades spying for the UK?
We don't know, and we don't care: instead what we have cared about since our first day, is to provide a platform, a voice to anyone who has a unique, a different, perspective from the one pushed by the mainstream media. The same mainstream media which we and everyone else now knows for a fact takes direction from both the US intelligence service in particular (see here, here and here) and the US government in general, or the "deep state" as some call it.
We also know that the unnamed US intel officials apparently found nothing wrong that we also frequently guest post articles from the Gatestone Institute, a website that consistently pursues a neo-con angle in its analysis and reporting.
The bottom line, as we told the AP, is that SCF is merely "one of our hundreds of contributors — unlike Mainstream Media, we try to publish a wide spectrum of views that cover both sides of a given story." And no matter how much we disagree with any given guest post, we will give it the same billing as all our other articles, unlike the NYT which spontaneously imploded in an echo-chamber scandal of its own creation after it published that infamous Tom Cotton op-ed back in 2020.
And speaking of contributors, maybe the AP could have rounded out its story by providing some perspective on both sides instead of just tracking the narrative it was spoon fed by the CIA. If it did, it would have encountered views such as these:
Having contributed to both @business and @zerohedge through the years I will confirm that propaganda is being amplified. However, by and for whom is not as it is being presented here, rather the opposite.— John Butler (@ButlerGoldRevo) February 15, 2022
Raise your game #MSM, this is just so embarrassing. https://t.co/tV0YQNSPec
ZH will never say anything about it, because they quite literally don’t give a shit what gets said - but I can tell you, I was never told what to write, how to write it, or that anything was off limits.— Thomas Crown (@ZH_Crown) February 15, 2022
What is remarkable is that in its bizarre hit piece attempt to silence us, the "deep state" has pulled out the same trite and discredited Russiagate conspiracy theory whose popularity crashed and burned long ago, yet which paradoxically still makes an appearance now and then in hopes of appeasing its few remaining "lowest-common denominator" readers, which still fall for the real hoaxes... such as weapons of mass destruction, or that Putin is invading Ukraine tomorrow, or that Democrats did not spy on Trump. Ironically, it was just yesterday that Jill Stein was lamenting the perseverance of this ridiculous trope. Perhaps Stein is secretly collaborating with the KGB?
As one of Russiagate’s targets, I was hauled in for a 3-year Senate Intel Cmte investigation based on the “Russian asset” smear.— Dr. Jill Stein🌻 (@DrJillStein) February 14, 2022
The Senate report found zero evidence for that BS. And of course there's been zero correction from corporate media. Just another political hit job.
So why pull out the same old discredited "Russiagate" narrative now? Well, it may have nothing to do with our alleged ties to Russia, and everything to do with our views of the current dismal US economic situation which few dare to criticize due to the MSM's infamous liberal bias, something the AP also notes, and this time accurately:
Zero Hedge has been sharply critical of Biden and posted stories about allegations of wrongdoing by his son Hunter. While perhaps best known for its coverage of markets and finance, the website also covers politics with a conservative bent.
Sensing that just pulling the Russiagate card would be insufficient to discredit the website, the anonymous "US intelligence source" also felt compelled to buttress their case as follows:
The website was an early amplifier of conspiracy theories and misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. An Associated Press investigation determined the site played a pivotal role in advancing the unproven theory that China engineered the virus as a bioweapon. It’s also posted articles touting natural immunity to COVID-19 and unproven treatments.
Yes, this website was the first to "advance" the theory that China engineered the virus which may well have escaped from the Wuhan lab (we never claimed it was a bioweapon released purposefully, although it certainly may have been) and last we checked the US intelligence is still unsure as to what the source of the virus is. It was that "advancement" that got us banned from Twitter for six months, only for the social media website to backtrack saying it “made an error" in doing so.
The bottom line is that such hit piece accusations that we somehow work with or for the Kremlin are nothing new: we have repeatedly faced similar allegations over the years, and we can absolutely confirm that all of them are "errors." That said, we do wish to thank the AP for bringing even more attention and focus to our contrarian, non-establishment views, views which we are confident the record number of Americans who have lost faith in such media outlets as, well, the Associated Press will find refreshing.
We will give the final word to the AP hit piece itself, which quotes Bret Schafer, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, who said:
“My guess is that most of the people who are loyal Zero Hedge followers naturally are inclined to mistrust the U.S. government anyway,” he said, “and so this announcement is probably not going to undermine most of Zero Hedge’s core support.”
We agree. As for the CIA, no we are not going to date you. Ever.