How I Produce Fake News for Russia
Apparently I've written "fake news" on behalf of Russia without ever receiving a dime from Russia or realizing what I was doing. It took the intrepid reporting of the Washington Post to alert me to what I have been engaged in. My "fake news" has been published in at least 18 Russian propaganda outlets included on the Washington Post-endorsed Enemies List.
They are ahtribune.com, off-guardian.org, opednews.com, antiwar.com, beforeitsnews.com, blackagendareport.com, ronpaulinstitute.org, rt.com (that one is actually Russian), consortiumnews.com, countercurrents.org, counterpunch.org, globalresearch.ca, truth-out.org, truthdig.com, informationclearinghouse.info, washingtonsblog.com, mintpressnews.com, and nakedcapitalism.com.
Since everything I write is also at davidswanson.org it's a safe bet that that's a Russian propaganda site as well, even though I hadn't realized it.
In all seriousness, there is very likely Russian propaganda to be found somewhere, since Russia tried to hire me a-year-and-a-half ago to produce it. I turned them down and blogged about their offer. Quite likely not everyone turns them down. But even voter fraud or intelligent Washington Post articles can be found eventually if you look hard enough.
I have also turned down all invitations to conferences in Russia, due to colleagues' fears of false accusations that it turns out arrive anyway. I have also repeatedly gone on Russian media and denounced actions by the Russian government, due to the fact that that was what I thought of those actions.
And yet somehow I've produced a veritable flood of Russian propaganda, most of it not even mentioning Russia at all. I've given some thought to how this has happened. Here's my best explanation:
I sit in front of my computer. I think about the world. I move my fingers in such a manner that words appear on the screen.
Does that help explain it?
Here, I'll demonstrate:
It is my belief that the president of the United States is Barack Obama. If this is true, then blaming a pipeline in North Dakota on Donald Trump is a chronological error. Admitting that bizarre error doesn't make Trump one iota less racist or sexist or authoritarian, since it's a statement about a completely different topic.
It is my belief that any thaw in the new U.S.-Russian Cold War created by the Obama regime will be a good thing, above all because a nuclear holocaust would be horrible. Agreeing with this does not guarantee that Trump will bring it about. Nor does it suggest that Vladimir Putin is a saintly humanitarian. Nor does it constitute a claim that all U.S. presidents should be white males. This is because it is a comment about a completely different topic from those ones.
It is my belief that dozens of things went wrong with the recent U.S. election, none of which eliminate any of the others. Here is a partial list.
- The Democratic Party stacked the primary against its politically and morally superior candidate -- in ways that we always knew, ways that we know now, and in other ways that many of us suspect.
- The propaganda-free U.S. Corporate Media of Freedom stacked the Republican primary against anyone other than Donald Trump by giving Trump billions of dollars worth of free air time.
- The Republican governments of several swing states stripped 7 million disproportionately racial minority voters from the voting rolls.
- Donald Trump encouraged voter intimidation.
- States provided too few voting machines in racial minority precincts.
- Prisoners and felons were stripped of their voting rights.
- Residents of U.S. territories were not allowed to vote.
- The popular vote winner was denied the win.
- Congress was determined largely by gerrymandering.
- Winner-take-all systems without ranked-choice voting blocked options.
- Votes were counted on unverifiable machines that produced the usual suspicious red shift away from exit-poll results.
- The media and the presidential debates "commission" shut out candidates, views, and useful questions.
- There was no serious reporting on what the candidates would do if elected about climate change, military spending, wars, or poverty.
- Serious scandals were passed over in favor of obsessing with lesser scandals.
- Among serious scandals that were passed over I would include near the top of the list: Hillary Clinton took money into her family foundation from foreign governments and weapons makers, and then supported weapons sales from those companies to those governments, resulting in massive death and destruction.
- Among serious scandals that were passed over I would also include near the top of the list: Donald Trump encouraged racism, bigotry, hatred, and violence, and threatened to "kill families" in wars aimed at "stealing oil."
- Among the lesser scandals that ate up air time, I would put near the bottom: Without any proof, Trump was accused of being an agent of Russia, and Russia was accused of interfering in the election.
- Tokenism was, once again, promoted as meaningful.
I believe that every population that has U.S. troops on or within its borders should have a vote in the U.S. presidential election. When Russians or anyone else in the world are pleased by the outcome, I take that to be a good thing. My taking that to be a good thing does not erase any negative aspects of that outcome, because one thing is not identical to lots of other things.
Why did people vote for Trump? For the most part they did not. He got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, who herself got fewer votes than either of the two candidates in recent U.S. presidential elections. But some voted for Trump for the same reason they backed Bernie Sanders: they wanted to reject the establishment, no matter what form that rejection took. Some voted for him because they bought into his racism, bigotry, and scapegoating. Some simply couldn't stomach any more Clintons. Some wouldn't vote for a woman. Some mistakenly believed that Trump would help them. But these groups overlap, as do these reasons.
Why is it acceptable in the United States to make fun of poor white people, to mock their speech and their dentistry, to condemn them in ways that are simply forbidden with other groups? Why is there no Trailer Park Studies Department? Why does the very idea sound ludicrous, while ethnic studies departments of all non-white varieties are very serious institutions? One justification for this is that poor rural white people are racist, and that it is perfectly fine to be cruel to racists. That is simply false and horribly misguided; it is not simply fine to be cruel to anyone. And that fact does not mean that racism and sexism are acceptable, because that would be a completely different claim.
A vicious cycle can be produced in which people who perceive anti-racist and anti-sexist campaigns as directed against them consequently embrace their racism more strongly, resulting in more opposition to their racism and to them. This can be compounded by the usual delusions to the effect that government assistance hurts people, while tax cuts for billionaires help people. This can be reinforced by systems of government assistance that do not benefit everyone, as would a basic income, or single-payer healthcare, or free college, or free job training, or guaranteed vacation, or sustainable infrastructure, instead of systems designed merely to aid and stigmatize the very poorest.
Recognizing the blind spots of identity politics or the madness of the new McCarthyism do not mean that election results are always all to be blamed on liberals, since that conclusion would require erasing numerous other problems listed above.
Imagining that elections carry as much or more importance than building a nonviolent movement for revolutionary change is a deep mistake made by most people on earth, including in Russia.