The Media Wars Between the United States and Russia

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American Media Accuses Russians of Election Tampering and Fake News, Also Target RT and Other Russian Networks.

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-Rob Lawson, Editor-in-Chief, IFR

Fake news is a trending news topic because that's what the corporate media (and likely independent media alike) are worried about in America. So it's set high on the news agenda, so you can hear the same report being fed in streams of information flow from all the top corporations (including non-profit NPR, owned by American Public Media) like the Washington Post that wrote about a study from an organization tracking the Internet activity behind a number of emotionally driven propaganda media online, particularly stories shared on Facebook.

Then there's this post, that was shared on BuzzFeed, pointing to an actual BuzzFeed study that was citied by NPR and the Post, regarding fake news trends: Neon Nettle was standing in defense of indie journalism, but also to a more potent point, posited that the actual BuzzFeed data used to determine these findings was not adequate and did not represent much, if any real insight into actual user behavior on Facebook. Media uses the term "engagement", but there are only so many metrics for engagement that one can determine. Also, it was revealed that Facebook received complaints about the stories, so if there was indeed engagement, much of that engagement may very well have been a reaction of skepticism or annoyance by the obvious disregard for truth. Several major U.S. news outlets have been burned by false stories and forced to correct the record, so this is nothing new.

Maybe the American media, mainly corporate, has a reason to want to juke the stats a bit. They are competing with the Russians, who they accuse of spreading disinformation and propaganda on the Internet in an attempt to undermine our politics, faith in democracy and civility. Of course, this behavior has been well documented on both sides by scholars. These are two powers in the world fighting both for influence and ideological framework: basically, which society is better.

Now, however, social media and bot (a clunky type of artificial intelligence software application) technology has enabled the Russians to think outside the box. On one side, they have their state-owned legitimate looking news enterprises like RT and on the other, they employ what's described as something like an underground network of propaganda news bots and editorial teams to slant news to favor their interests in undermining the West. Of course, one should assume the West is a culprit of that very type of behavior as well, being a major power and all. Neon Nettle mentioned the San Jose Mercury News reporter that was accused of making up stories about the CIA's involvement in drug smuggling in California related to operations in Latin America. That stuff was actually not made up. That reporter lost his job, maintained his claims and was eventually found dead, allegedly a suicide.

It is quite apparent that the U.S. has been involved in countless efforts to undermine social groups domestically as well as on foreign soils. They will create conflict to serve the interests of the powerful. There is also much consensus on the powers of the intelligence and other agencies that now operate in secrecy using special loopholes and their scope and budgets are virtually unknown even to government officials. Plus, their accountability is basically non-existent. In collusion with a powerful business and finance class where money and power crosses few hands and identities, it is a murky picture for journalists, let alone citizens, to try to uncover.

Additionally, in our Oligarch pseudo capitalist and neoliberal society, groups in both conservative camps like Ron Paul's and Liberal ones like Bernie Sanders' agree that the corporate media is looking out for their own interests. Noam Chomsky says there is an indoctrination system that takes place in the education system with children from Kindergarten through graduation of high school and even college that churns out the patriotic uninformed citizens that eventually become model robot reporters for the wealthy corporate owners that control more than 90 percent of the media messaging. That model is changing however. Take a look at The Young Turks, TYT Network. They say their business model is simple: The demand is truth. We report the truth. That is how our business model works.

The best weapon against information warfare is persistence and dedication to the truth. As Ghandi put it: we only know the truth as it reveals itself to us. Much of our time spent is on rearranging our prejudice. Fact-finding, collaboration and a solid commitment to scrutiny and logic are required. Education is also quite handy. Understanding complicated legal jargon is best done when consulting with experts, not simply sourcing articles found online. If there is to be an indie media revolution, then there must be an emphasis on accountability. The independent Nation of Change has a really good checklist to determine an objective viewpoint of media reporting standards in corporate media.

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