Using Buzzfeed to Launder the Fake News

Money laundering isn’t a new idea. In short, it takes dirty money and puts it through three stages. First stage is placement. Money is introduced into the financial system. The second stage is layering: attempting to conceal the illegal nature of the funds by carrying out various transactions. And then finally integration: the launderer makes “legitimate” purchases with the money they placed and layered.

Laundering the news isn’t much different. Once you’re aware of it, it’s easy to spot.

Step 1. Placement

An unverified or un-sourced story is put out by one or more organizations. Generally a scapegoat organization is used to keep the mainstream names clean. In many cases, small unknown blogs are used. In our example today: Buzzfeed news.

How do they get away with publishing un-sourced stories? They simply obfuscate it with “according to a source close to x,” or “anonymous official says.” If the source isn’t being named, the news is likely fake.

Buzzfeed news: President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project

Sources? “according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.”

The original source may be questioned or even discredited at this point, but this is not important and will not stop the laundering process.

BuzzFeed Reporter Admits He Hasn’t Seen the Evidence He Cited in Trump Tower Report 

This should be a big red flag for anybody paying attention. It’s a big claim that Trump directed his attorney to lie to congress. That Buzzfeed won’t reveal sources is the first flag. That they haven’t even seen evidence of it means that they have failed at completing even the minimum for a journalist: verification of facts.

Step 2. Layering

Reputable mainstream news outlets who need to keep their reputations clean can now cite the original source without themselves having to fact-check or verify the claims.


CNN: BuzzFeed: Sources say Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about proposed Moscow project.

Each article citing the original, flawed, article are able to report on it at face value, presenting it as true without having to cover any details over its veracity. Grey areas of the original article will simply be left out of all future reports, so anybody looking into the news reports will simply now see the source as the original outlet rather than the “anonymous source” which is easily questioned.

Most viewers inform themselves simply on headlines alone. Those reading the entire article are unlikely to follow the trail of news to its original source to judge the veracity of the original content.

Step 3. Integration

At this point, even if outlets begin to silently post retractions and the original source becomes debunked, news outlets quickly move on to the next scoop, leaving a trail of just-so headlines that later get used as assertions in future content. The fake news is now properly laundered.

Was Buzzfeed’s article fake news? Yes, yes it was.

CNN: Mueller’s office disputes BuzzFeed report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress

You’ll notice that this soft-retraction does not require groups like CNN to correct anything or post corrections to the original article. Instead CNN plays the unbiased observer by simply reporting the news of Mueller’s statement, holding both reports (Buzzfeed’s original article and Mueller’s debunking of the article) as equally relevant (despite being conflicting) news. The original laundered news remains, since it’s technically true that Buzzfeed made the claim, regardless of whether the claim itself is accurate.

Now the Cohen-lie is very recent fake news and it has yet to be seen whether the launder mission was completely successful, however we can look at other examples of stories that have been laundered and successfully integrated into the official narrative.

Examples

Unite the Right

Paul Krugman has successfully used laundered editorials to continue a narrative:

This conspiracy theory is, it turns out, a staple of neo-Nazis in Europe. It’s what our own neo-Nazis — whom Trump calls “very fine people” — were talking about in Charlottesville last year, when they chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”

Paul links the “very fine people” quote to a laundered article that does not support his claim. I’ve debunked this here:

Mr. Krugman does a very fine job of misquoting President Trump here, in his continued hack of a job trying to attach multiple false narratives together to lead you, the reader, to believe that it is Trump and Trump supporters spreading hate. One could argue that misquoting somebody in order to mislead the public is an exercise in hate, but I digress.

Paul Krugman is referring to Trump’s statements on the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville in 2017, in which white supremacists, antifa agitators, and many others gathered to protest either the removal of a statute, or to protest other protesters protesting the removal of a statute.

If Mr. Krugman was being intellectually honest with you, he’d let you in on a secret. President Trump didn’t call neo-Nazis “very fine people.” Far from it. Here’s the transcript from his public statement: (Emphasis added)

Trump: I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame object both on both sides. I have no doubt about it. You don’t have doubt about it either. If you reported it accurately, you would say that the neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville. Excuse me. They didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis. You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me. Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue. He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? It is fine. You are changing history and culture.

You had people and i’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

In fact, the Unite the Right event is a great example of laundered information that is regularly used to fit the narrative. Many articles have published that Unite the Right was a white supremacist rally, leading to the wikipedia entry as officially listing it as a white supremacist rally. (You can find the list of articles at the bottom of the wiki article). Despite the fact that the rally itself was not originally billed as such, and a majority of those attending were there to protest the removal of a statue, not push for white supremacy.

This memory-holing of the rally is a combined effort to completely re-contextualize the rally to make President Trump’s remarks look even more extreme when referencing it. Why would Trump say anybody at a white supremacist rally are “fine people?” President Trump lays out the original context in his full transcript:

You had people and i’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

Many people were there to protest a statue. Now it’s simply known as a white supremacist rally. This laundered fact has been used countless times to discredit anything tied to it.

Slate: Trump’s Rhetoric Is Raising the Risk of Right-Wing Terrorism

“Typically, after a terrorist attack, a president’s job is to inspire confidence in law enforcement, reassure a shaken America, and help bring the country together in the face of tragedy. Trump, however, has often done the opposite. After a white nationalist and neo-Nazi “Unite the Right” rally and subsequent killing of a counterprotester in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, he argued there were “very fine people” on both sides.”

Once again, a source that does not support the argument. But now it is so well laundered, that it is generally accepted that 1. Unite the right was a white supremacist rally, and 2. That trump thinks nazis are very fine people.

The Trump Dossier

Buzzfeed is no stranger to being the patsy in the news laundering business. The Trump Dossier was put together by a former British MI6 operative Christopher Steele, “initially funded by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats.”

Its origins alone should raise some red flags for those paying attention. Buzzfeed released the dossier in its entirety, despite the editor’s disclaimer that there is “serious reason to doubt the allegations.”

The dossier itself has been revealed to be most likely a fake, debunked by Alexander Mercouris and Glenn Greenwald.

This does not matter, as once again, this was simply the placing stage of the fake-news laundering cycle.

Other outlets immediately picked up on the dossier, making suggestions of the terrible implications if something like this were true:

The significance of these allegations is that, if true, the president-elect of the United States would be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.

I understand the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat – or compromising material – on the next US commander in chief. At the same time a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign.

Claims about a Russian blackmail tape were made in one of a series of reports written by a former British intelligence agent, understood to be Christopher Steele.

This is a great example of analyzing the claims without analyzing the veracity of the claims. In essence, news outlets can now operate under the assumption that the sale has already been made.

It’s worth noting that the idea that the president would be “vulnerable to blackmail” is ludicrous given the fact that the dossier has already been published.

The Dossier has since been used countless times as a matter of fact, as it is layered and integrated into the official narrative.

CNN Revisiting the Trump-Russia dossier: What’s right, wrong and still unclear?

The Guardian: What we know – and what’s true – about the Trump-Russia dossier 

Business Insider: Trump’s allies have a dubious new talking point about the Steele dossier and the Russia meeting

Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele — a former British spy who founded his own opposition research firm in London — to collect information about Trump’s ties to Russia from the high-level government sources he had developed during his years working for MI6 in Moscow. The memos Steele wrote between June and November 2016 citing Kremlin officials were sent back to Fusion and compiled into a dossier that was published in full by Buzzfeed in January.

How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump

The consequences have been incalculable and will play out long past Inauguration Day. Word of the summary, which was also given to President Obama and congressional leaders, leaked to CNN Tuesday, and the rest of the media followed with sensational reports. (emphasis added)

The source is now fully placed and layered. There is no question of veracity, instead news outlets now only give the allegations credibility.

The dossier is laundered news.

Paul Krugman Lies to You to Give You a Mental Image of a Country that isn’t the USA

Paul Krugman wrote this week in an opinion piece named “Hate Is on the Ballot Next Week” in an obvious ploy to convince readers of a dark America that is hiding beneath the surface. He carefully craft a mental image that he goes well out of his way not to accidentally break with inconvenient things like facts. He skirts the line of truth and fiction with careful omissions and half truths.

It’s an opinion piece, but it’s not his opinion, it’s the opinion he’s trying to give to you.

Archive Here

From the fake news:

All of these hate crimes seem clearly linked to the climate of paranoia and racism deliberately fostered by Donald Trump and his allies in Congress and the media.

Killing black people is an old American tradition, but it is experiencing a revival in the Trump era.

What is the image Krugman is trying to paint into your mind? A picture of a helplessly violent public full of racists dragging black people through the streets. Presumably these racists must be white people

And he does nothing to shatter this false picture with facts. Because the fact is- yes murder rates have increased, but they don’t support a racist narrative.  From FBI’s website:

Year Total Black Murder Victims Population Per 100,000 % Change
2014 6095 318,620,000 1.91
2015 7039 321,040,000 2.19 14.6%
2016 7881 323,410,000 2.43 10.9%
2017 7851 325,720,000 2.41 -0.82%

It’s true that black murder rates have been increasing, but not by much, and the increase each year has actually been shrinking under Trump. To top it off, black people are overwhelmingly victims of murder by other black people. 88% of black murders are committed by other black people. Less than 9% of black murders were caused by white people in 2017. A much higher rate of 16% of white murders were committed by black people.

The picture painted by statistics is very different. Despite making up only 12% of the US population, black people were committing very close to half of the murders (where the offender was known).

That means there are 16.08 murders committed by black people for every 100,000 black people there are in the country, vs  2.18 murders committed by white people for every 100,000 white people in this country.

The American tradition of killing black people that Mr. Krugman is referring to is not a racist white people problem.

The man arrested at the Tree of Life synagogue has been critical of Trump, who he apparently believes isn’t anti-Semitic enough.

You’ll notice Paul Krugman does nothing to clarify here. It’s incredibly intellectually dishonest to just leave the sentence here because it implies that Trump’s Antisemitism is not in question, only the degree.

But has Trump really been shown to be anti-Semitic?

Despite many Presidents who agreed to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, President Trump was the first one to actually act on America’s promise, officially announcing the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Surely something an anti-Semite would not approve of.

Is this the face of an anti-Semite?

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2009. Trump was the first president to be the parent and grand-parent of observant Jews. Jared Jushner, Ivanka’s Orthodox Jewish husband, is one of Trump’s top advisors. From tablemag.com:

The Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer and general counsel are both observant Jews, and Trump has the support of perhaps the single most important political donor in the American Jewish world—Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

So why would Mr. Krugman leave such a suggestion on the table, unless his goal was to mislead his readers into believe that Donald Trump truly is anti-Semitic?

Returning to our NYTimes editorial:

But his rage seems to have been fueled by a conspiracy theory being systematically spread by Trump supporters — the claim that Jewish financiers are bringing brown people into America to displace whites.

The shooter, who was anti-Trump, believed this Jewish conspiracy. But that doesn’t really support the allegation that Trump supporters are the ones spreading this conspiracy theory. On the contrary, it supports the allegation that an anti-Trump supporter was spreading this conspiracy theory.

What Paul is clearly trying to do is conflate two ideas:

  1. There is a legitimate concern among republicans and Trump supporters that unregulated immigration is not good for the country, regardless of race. Historically, having a regulated immigration policy has not only been standard policy for both Democrats and Republicans alike, it stands as one of the most common policies for most governments world wide today.
  2. The conspiracy theory of a crazy nut who murders people that there is a Jewish conspiracy to replace the people here, and it’s racially motivated.

These are two different ideas. Paul Krugman wants you to think that people who think #1 also think #2.  A very disingenuous suggestion indeed.

This conspiracy theory is, it turns out, a staple of neo-Nazis in Europe. It’s what our own neo-Nazis — whom Trump calls “very fine people” — were talking about in Charlottesville last year, when they chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”

Mr. Krugman does a very fine job of misquoting President Trump here, in his continued hack of a job trying to attach multiple false narratives together to lead you, the reader, to believe that it is Trump and Trump supporters spreading hate. One could argue that misquoting somebody in order to mislead the public is an exercise in hate, but I digress.

Paul Krugman is referring to Trump’s statements on the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville in 2017, in which white supremacists, antifa agitators, and many others gathered to protest either the removal of a statute, or to protest other protesters protesting the removal of a statute.

If Mr. Krugman was being intellectually honest with you, he’d let you in on a secret. President Trump didn’t call neo-Nazis “very fine people.” Far from it. Here’s the transcript from his public statement: (Emphasis added)

Trump: I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame object both on both sides. I have no doubt about it. You don’t have doubt about it either. If you reported it accurately, you would say that the neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville. Excuse me. They didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis. You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me. Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue. He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? It is fine. You are changing history and culture.

You had people and i’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

Paul’s intellectual dishonesty knows no bounds in this dumpster fire of an editorial. Anybody reviewing a spot check of his content should be able to see, he’s peddling propaganda and nothing more. How he sleeps at night is beyond me.

 

 

CNN FAKE NEWS: Donald Trump says Russia isn’t to blame for MH17, despite evidence

Donald Trump says Russia isn’t to blame for MH17, despite evidence. The problem? Trump actually doesn’t say that.

Actual Conclusion: Trump says Russia Probably to blame for MH17.

Category: Contradictory Headline

What does Trump say, according to the article?

“Putin and Russia say they didn’t do it, the other side said they did, no one really knows who did it, probably Putin knows who did it. Possibly it was Russia but they are totally denying it.”

“They say it wasn’t them,” Trump said. “It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.”

Trump later said the culprit was “probably” Russia and pro-Russian fighters, but he said the U.S. needs to focus on its own problems right now and not “get involved” in overseas conflicts, even one as “horrible” as this.

“I think it is horrible,” Trump said of the incident. “But they’re saying it wasn’t them. The other side says it is them. And we’re going to go through that arguing for probably for 50 years and nobody is ever going to know. Probably was Russia.

The Analysis:

It appears that CNN was doing their best to pin down Trump to say it definitely was or was not Russia, when it is clear that at least Trump himself does not believe he definitively knows. The headline contradicting the actual content of the article shows that this line of questioning was set up for a narrative rather than to report the news. Had the author and editor desired to report the news, the headline would’ve been accurate.

The Checklist:

  • Is the headline contradictory? YES
  • Has the story been corroborated / fact checked? N/A
  • Does the story make the target look bad? YES
  • Is the news fake? VERY

CNN Link

Archived Original 7/18/18