Fake news is the butter of Washington Post
As usual an excellent piece over at The Intercept from the great Glenn Greenwald about the horrendous lies about Russia in the US media.
The Washington Post is hands down the most toxic big paper on Russia out there right now, and it's likely to remain such because as Greenwald points out spreading sensationalist but totally unsubstantiated allegations of Russia's evildoing is very lucrative and rewarding business for Jeff Bezo's men -- even when these end up being completely debunked and the paper is forced to climb down from them.
How this works is very simple. The original sensationalist accusation is read and shared widely resulting in massive spikes in traffic for the Washington Post. However the ensuing humiliating editorial note which is basically a retraction of the original claim is buried and goes largely unnoticed. Thus WaPo can profit greatly even from publishing the most outrageous lies.
This is exactly what happened with the Post's recent fairy tales of Russia hacking US electricity grid and spreading fake news through 200 alternative media sites including Russia Insider. Greenwald take it away:
IN THE PAST six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.
The second story on the electric grid turned out to be far worse than I realized when I wrote about it on Saturday, when it became clear that there was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid” as the Post had claimed. In addition to the editor’s note, the Russia-hacked-our-electric-grid story now has a full-scale retraction in the form of a separate article admitting that “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility” and there may not even have been malware at all on this laptop.
But while these debacles are embarrassing for the paper, they are also richly rewarding. That’s because journalists — including those at the Post — aggressively hype and promote the original, sensationalistic false stories, ensuring that they go viral, generating massive traffic for the Post (the paper’s executive editor, Marty Baron, recently boasted about how profitable the paper has become).
After spreading the falsehoods far and wide, raising fear levels and manipulating U.S. political discourse in the process (both Russia stories were widely hyped on cable news), journalists who spread the false claims subsequently note the retraction or corrections only in the most muted way possible, and often not at all. As a result, only a tiny fraction of people who were exposed to the original false story end up learning of the retractions.
Baron himself, editorial leader of the Post, is a perfect case study in this irresponsible tactic. It was Baron who went to Twitter on the evening of November 24 to announce the Post’s exposé of the enormous reach of Russia’s fake news operation, based on what he heralded as the findings of “independent researchers.” Baron’s tweet went all over the place; to date, it has been re-tweeted more than 3,000 times, including by many journalists with their own large followings:
Russian propaganda effort helped spread fake news during election, say independent researchers https://t.co/3ETVXWw16Q— Marty Baron (@PostBaron)November 25, 2016
But after that story faced a barrage of intense criticism — from Adrian Chen in the New Yorker (“propaganda about Russia propaganda”), Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone (“shameful, disgusting”), my own article, and many others — including legal threats from the sites smeared as Russian propaganda outlets by the Post’s “independent researchers” — the Post finally added its lengthy editor’s note distancing itself from the anonymous group that provided the key claims of its story (“The Post … does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings” and “since publication of the Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list”).
What did Baron tell his followers about this editor’s note that gutted the key claims of the story he hyped? Nothing. Not a word. To date, he has been publicly silent about these revisions. Having spread the original claims to tens of thousands of people, if not more, he took no steps to ensure that any of them heard about the major walk back on the article’s most significant, inflammatory claims. He did, however, ironically find the time to promote a different Post story about how terrible and damaging Fake News is:
‘Pizzagate’ shows how fake news hurts real people https://t.co/cOh7RZ4RqK— Marty Baron (@PostBaron)November 26, 2016
Read the rest of this hard-hitting piece at the source: WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived