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Fake news – Putin has been pushing it for some time before Mrs Clinton noticed

From Observer (not the leftist UK newspaper, but another site):

The Washington Post reported this week that Kremlin-backed websites pushed “fake news” regularly portraying Hillary and the Democrats in a negative light. There’s really nothing new here for anybody who’s followed Russian propaganda for any length of time. Kremlin agitprop aimed at the West—properly termed disinformation—contains an amalgam of fact and fiction, plus lots of gray information somewhere in between which can be difficult and time-consuming to refute.

Back in the 1980s, when the KGB was pumping all kinds of outlandish conspiracy theories into Western media outlets to smear the Reagan administration, Washington got proficient at countering this sort of nasty deception (the Pentagon created AIDS, for instance). The Active Measures Working Group, an interagency entity stood up expressly to debunk Kremlin lies, became effective at its job, drawing on expertise from various government departments and agencies. With Cold War victory, however, it folded along with the Soviet Union.

By mid-2014, it was apparent that Moscow was up to its old disinformation tricks again, and it was obvious to anybody acquainted with the Kremlin that Washington needed to react to the torrents of lies filtering into Western media thanks to Russian intelligence and its friends in the West. Putin, that wily KGB veteran, is familiar with Active Measures, and his Kremlin has become more aggressive about employing it abroad than the Politburo ever was.

17 comments to Fake news – Putin has been pushing it for some time before Mrs Clinton noticed

  • Russia engages in very sophisticated disinformation campaigns, and this has been known for a while. However, it is far from certain that they engaged in any such campaign in order to influence the US election in favour of Donald Trump. It’s not even a given that Putin would favour a Trump victory (although I am sure he respects Trump more than Clinton or Obama): Clinton was more likely to go looking for trouble with Russia, but I don’t think Putin will fancy rattling the American cage with Trump in the White House. Personally, I don’t think the Russians spread much bullshit during the presidential election campaign: the MSM seemed to be doing that all on their own.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not doubt it J.P.

    But then we both also remember that Mrs Clinton was a friend of Mr Putin only a few years ago – “Reset”, and the nuclear materials deal, indeed Mrs C. and her friends have got a lot more money out of the Kremlin than any friend of Donald Trump has.

    When dealing with these gangsters (Putin, Hillary Clinton, and so on) it is hard to follow their alliances and then their disputes.

    I certainly do not see Mrs Hillary Clinton as someone likely to save anyone from Mr Putin – and I do not think you do either.

  • Johnnydub

    The thing that truly sunk Hillary above and beyond her extraordinary shitness, was the Podesta emails… and Seth Rich is already dead…

  • Mr Ed

    I vaguely remember reading in the 1980s of a rumoured CIA ‘joke factory’ somewhere near Paris whose function was to start anti-Soviet jokes.

    And here is Ronald Reagan with his own quips.

  • NickM

    Mrs Clinton was also pals with Mr Trump not so long ago…

  • The Russians have been awfully good at disinformation, at least since “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and they’ve been very good as government secrecy since Ivan The Terrible.

    I’d love to blame communism, but Moscow’s been expert at this sort of thing for a very long time.

  • lucklucky

    So what are these Russian fake news?

    The only fake news i am seeing from Russians is their praise of “historical leader”* Fidel Castro but in what those are distinguishable from BBC and others western journalists ?

    *Btw Pinochet is called by same journalists “old dictator” instead of “historical leader”. Essentially calling Castro legitimate and Pinochet not.

    People need to understand the subliminal and not so subliminal journalist message.

  • O/T, but still on the topic of news manipulation: did anyone else notice how quickly news of the knifings in Ohio disappeared from the front page of the BBC once it was discovered the perpetrator was a Somali refugee?

  • bobby b

    ” . . . did anyone else notice how quickly news of the knifings in Ohio disappeared from the front page of the BBC once it was discovered the perpetrator was a Somali refugee?”

    In the U.S. sphere, it was a double whammy.

    The news first called it a shooting attack, which resulted in many thousands of tweets, toots, and twits about how guns would be the death of us all. (Guns are in the top-three-list of hot political issues here. Maybe top two.)

    Thus, the news that the weapon was a knife hammered about 70% of the twitterati into a deep silent funk.

    Then came the Somalian name, and you could practically feel the pall of depression spread. (Islamic immigrant mass attacks will always take the top spot in the list of our hot political issues.)

    The government, with all of its distribution powers, used to be able to control the fake news. It used to be harder to find specific news, and so it was inefficient to read about any one particular story twice. Whoever put out the first story usually provided the lasting narrative.

    The government could quickly put out its fake story, and then walk away from it, knowing that most people’s exposure to the story was over and done.

    Doesn’t work now that everybody can publish and distribute. Must really PO some of the old hands seeing power devolving and all that. This new “fake news” theme has the feel of “if we can’t do it anymore, neither can you.”

  • Watchman


    For all their praise the Russians aren’t exactly sending anyone senior to Castro’s funeral. So in a way the praise is fake news (albeit it is real news – Putin did say those things (or have it said he said those things…)) as it is obscuring a lack of Russian commitment to Cuba.

  • Watchman

    Tim Newman,

    I am hoping that none of the OSU students hurt were from the UK (they are one of the biggest recipients of UK exchange students from memory), or the BBC might find its editorial judgement being a bit questioned there…

  • bob sykes

    By far the largest group of foreign students at tOSU are Chinese. In my 35 years there, I don’t think I ever met a student from the Anglosphere, although there are a few. The tOSU punter is an Australian.

    BTW, Columbus has the second largest Somali community in the US (after Minneapolis), and they are a common sight around town.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I have a purely gut-level feeling that as a serious man, Putin would rather deal with a serious opponent than the doofusses we’ve been presenting him with these last eight years. Even a villain must eventually despise himself for taking candy from a baby, or at least grow bored with it.

    As far as ‘fake news’ goes, if Trump would only announce that he’s ‘thinking about doing something about it’, I suspect the issue would disappear pretty quickly.

  • veryretired

    “Fake news” is itself a fake non-issue, invented for purely political reasons by the losers to help explain that the reason they lost was that the simpleton voters were misled by phony stories.

    An article the other day reported that the operator of the most prolific phony news sites, which purported to be “right wing”, or the equally phony “alt-right”, are in fact run by a progressive activist in California who bragged about publishing all sorts of phony stuff so the the conservative side would look foolish.

    Left out of all this fussing over something that barely existed is any recognition by the media that they are the most voluminous producers of fake news on a daily basis, and that a great part of Trump’s victory can be laid at their feet, since their credibility is so low, that everything they published attacking him only ended up increasing his popularity with the very disenchanted voters they were trying to influence.

  • lucklucky

    Actually it is an issue, but not about Putin.

    The establishment saw with Brexit and Trump they could not control like before with the MSM, so they started this narrative to allow them further down the road to censor what they find inconvenient.

    This is the objective:

    And must be said that Britain is much more advanced than Merkel in speech control. China like censorship wil arrive here.

  • I fear Lucklucky may indeed be correct.

  • Johnnydub

    Lucklucky is spot on. Only “approved” news will be allowed – and as you can imagine that will be the establishment version of the “truth”. North Korea here we come.

    What Brexit and Trump had in common was millions of engaged people talking about issues away from the official establishment line – and in a lot of cases exposing that the establishment line was complete bollocks. Hence the extreme “how could they” reaction you’re seeing at the moment and the desire to curtail such conversations.