In the 2016 presidential election, the MSM abandoned all pretense at objective journalism by going whole-hog for for Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party. See:
- NYT openly advocates abandoning objectivity in reporting on Trump
- NYT calls on Google to hide Hillary Clinton’s failing health
- Fake News: Newsweek didn’t write or read fake ‘Hillary won’ cover story
Having abandoned the pursuit of truth, it should not surprise that the MSM’s rigged polls and reports of an inevitable Hillary victory proved to be very wrong. Instead, the media who actually were reporting the truth are the Alternative or Independent Media, including little “nobody” blogs like Fellowship of the Minds (FOTM).
For that reason, after the election, Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media turned their fury at the Alt-Media. Washington Post led the attack.
On November 24, 2016, Washington Post — the newspaper that once was renown for its Watergate investigative reporting but now is owned by Jeff Bezos (birth name Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen), the “Progressive” founder and CEO of Amazon.com and the 5th wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of more than $45 billion — published an article by technology reporter Craig Timberg which would do Joe McCarthy proud.
Citing a shadowy and anonymous website called Is it Propaganda or Not? (PropOrNot), Timberg identified a List of 200 Alternative Media websites as “fake media” that “undermine faith in American democracy” by purveying “fake news” during the 2016 election which, intentionally or unconsciously, promote Russian propaganda. (See “It’s War. Time to choose which side you’re on“)
Note: According to former Reagan administration assistant Treasury secretary Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Craig Timberg is neither a real person nor a reporter, but instead is a CIA agent posing as a WaPo reporter.
This blog, Fellowship of the Minds, is included among the List of 200. (See “FOTM made the List of 200 secret-Russian-agents websites!“)
Now, one of the List of 200, Naked Capitalism, is fighting back.
Founded in December 2006 by Susan Webber, who writes under the pen name Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism is a well-regarded, left-of-center financial news and analysis blog that was cited as among CNBC’s 2012 top 25 “Best Alternative Financial Blogs,” and named by Time magazine as one of 25 Best Financial Blogs in 2011. Naked Capitalism is published by Aurora Advisors Incorporated.
In her article on December 5, 2016, “We Demand That The Washington Post Retract Its Propaganda Story Defaming Naked Capitalism and Other Sites and Issue an Apology,” Yves Smith asserts that Washington Post, out of malice, has defamed Naked Capitalism and demands that the Post apologize, take down Timberg’s article and scrub it from archives. Smith writes:
“You will notice that our attorney Jim Moody is a seasoned litigator who has won cases before the Supreme Court. He has considerable experience in First Amendment and defamation actions. Past high profile representations include Westomoreland v. CBS and defending Linda Tripp . . . .
We have another post today that describes how the few things that are verifiable on the PropOrNot site don’t pan out, as in the organization is not simply a group of inept propagandists but also appears to deal solely in fabrications. If the site is flagrantly false with respect to things that can be checked, why pray tell did the Washington Post and its fellow useful idiots in the mainstream media validate and amplify its message? Strong claims demand strong proofs, yet the Post appeared content to give a megaphone to people who make stuff up with abandon. No wonder the members of PropOrNot hide as much as they can about what they are up to; more transparency would expose their work to be a tissue of lies.”
Below is the letter from Naked Capitalism‘s attorney, James Moody, to the Washington Post ‘s publisher, executive editor, and Craig Timburg:
James A. Moody
Attorney and Counselor at Law
1101 30th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Voice: (202) 944-8600
Fax: (202) 944-8611
December 4, 2016
BY ELECTRONIC AND REGULAR MAIL
Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., Publisher
Martin Baron, Executive Editor
The Washington Post
1301 K Street NW
Washington DC 20071
Re: Request for retraction of: “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” (November 24, 2016), for public apology, and for opportunity to respond; Document and ESI Preservation Notice.
I write on behalf of my client, Aurora Advisors Incorporated (“Aurora”), which publishes the finance and economics website Naked Capitalism (www.nakedcapitalism .com) to request that the article by Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” (“Fake News”) [https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html] published by the Post on Thursday, November 25, be immediately removed from your website and all web-accessible archives. Fake News contains extremely damaging false allegations constituting defamation. Furthermore,
Aurora asks for a prominent public apology for the false and defamatory accusations made in Fake News and for an equally prominent (i.e. not in a “Comments” section) opportunity to respond.
You began Fake News with the sensational claim: “The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy,” and attributed this claim to “independent researchers who tracked the operation.” Naked Capitalism is one of the accused organizations in PropOrNot’s report, which, contrary to Fake News’ claim that the report had not been published, was available on the Internet well before Fake News ran. [http://www.propornot.com/p/the-list.html] This error should be corrected.
You identified and thus denigrated Naked Capitalism, one of the sites targeted in the “study” as one of the “right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.” You called upon Facebook and Google to “crack down on ‘fake news,’” apparently by censoring Naked Capitalism, because it is supposedly “attack[ing] American democracy.”
Your identification of Naked Capitalism as a “fake news site” and as an agent for Russian propaganda designed to undermine American democracy is defamatory per se. You accuse Naked Capitalism of spreading “Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience.” These serious allegations have caused and will continue to cause great harm to Naked Capitalism, including but not limited to damage to policy impact and reputation, diversion of scarce reporting and managerial resources to respond to concerned inquires and debunk this smear, loss of readers, and damage to the site’s profitability. Moreover, writers and editors associated with Naked Capitalism face ridicule, emotional distress, loss of reputation, and risk to future career advancement, including for example, difficulty passing background and security checks.
You did not provide even a single example of “fake news” allegedly distributed or promoted by Naked Capitalism or indeed any of the 200 sites on the PropOrNot blacklist. You provided no discussion or assessment of the credentials or backgrounds of these so-called “researchers” (Clint Watts, Andrew Weisburd, and J.M. Berger and the “team” at PropOrNot), and no discussion or analysis of the methodology, protocol or algorithms such “researchers” may or may not have followed. Fake News also erred in citing a “monitoring report” already published on propornot.com [https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byj_1ybuSGp_NmYtRF95VTJTeUk/view], inaccurately depicting it as not available to the public: “provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release.” Aurora had not only seen the site and its defamatory blacklist before your story appeared, but despite it being a holiday week, had already had extensive discussions with close contacts about it.
Fake News described this PropOrNot “organization” (without evidence or analysis) as “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds” and as one of two groups of “independent researchers.” It was this report, NOT directly made available by the Post, but found almost immediately on the PropOrNot website by journalists and other readers of Fake News, not the work of the first team of “researchers” associated with warontherocks.com, which identified Naked Capitalism as one of “more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.” You described a source as the “executive director” of PropOrNot but afforded him/her anonymity allegedly “to avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.” These are all the indicia of actual malice, i.e. knowing and/or reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of your allegations against Naked Capitalism.
On a widespread basis, highly regarded reporters and institutions that monitor journalistic standards have criticized Fake News harshly for failing to
adhere to the most basic professional standards. A few of the numerous examples:
The New Yorker deemed PropOrNot’s blacklist, which the Post legitimized and promoted, as “propaganda.”¹ In The Hill, Patrick Maines, President of The Media Institute, called Fake News “perhaps the shoddiest piece of feature writing since Rolling Stone published its blatantly false story about a campus rape at the University of Virginia.”² Media watchdog FAIR lamented in its headline on December 1, “Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited ‘Fake News’ “Blacklist?”³ Many of these articles and tweets and specifically cite Naked Capitalism as a clearly reputable site victimized by Fake News.4
The simplest internet search reveals propornot.com to be a recent creation, shadowy at best, and with no credentials or bona fides that are capable of independent verification and assessment for e.g. credibility.
Furthermore, you made no effort to contact Naked Capitalism for a comment, rebuttal, or opportunity to respond even though you had ample time. Indeed, you contacted RT by email and reported its response.
You have made damaging false accusations against Naked Capitalism. Please immediately remove these from the web and provide an equivalent opportunity to respond. Please see the attached concerning your obligation to retain documents and electronically stored information relating to Fake News. I look forward to hearing from you within three business days. Please contact me if I can provide further information.
/s/ James A. Moody
James A. Moody
Counsel to Aurora Advisors Incorporated
¹ “The Propaganda About Russia Propaganda,” Adrien Chen, The New Yorker, December 1, 2016 (available at http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-propaganda-about-russian- propaganda)
² “Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post — and the journalism it’s practicing,” Patrick Maines, The Hill, December 29. 2016
³ “Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited ‘Fake News’ Blacklist?” FAIR, December 1, 2016 (available at http://fair.org/home/why-are-media-outlets-still-citing-discredited-fake-news-blacklist/)
4 For instance, from “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group,” Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept (available at https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/):