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SURVEY: Who's Running the Defamation Campaign Against Russia?

Answering the question of why false news about Russia is so ubiquitous. 

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Indeed, who IS running the defamation campaign against Russia? There is a survey now underway to collect individual perceptions and hard evidence. Your participation in this study will be a big help in putting the puzzle together. Please click on the link at the end of this article. All survey respondents will receive an advance copy of the final report when it is rendered.

But first let me share with you my experience with this subject, the defamation campaign. I began studying the process in the mid 1990s. Most observers are not familiar with the manipulation of facts that was already underway back then. Here's an example: Charges had been brought against a prominent media mogul. He fought back by running a targeted defamation campaign against Yeltsin. Members of the US Congress were tricked into complicity. They helped the mogul to prevail in Moscow. Not only were charges dropped, but Russia's prosecutor general was fired.

It wasn't until Vladimir Putin became president that greater awareness of the defamation process grew.

The death of reputed former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 really ratcheted things up. News stories claimed Putin was behind the murder. Just months after Litvinenko's death, the International Federation of Journalists commissioned me to analyze the associated news coverage. My report was later updated and published as a book titled The Phony Litvinenko Murder.

What I found is that basically none of the top news stories of the day were true. They were part of a massive fraud perpetrated by Boris Berezovsky, the fugitive Russian tycoon who was hiding out in London. I know it's hard to believe that such a well-accepted story could be false. But I thoroughly documented the whole caper from beginning to end.

The foregoing represent examples of countless allegations that have been advanced to maliciously create and feed counterfactual images of Russia and its president. These assertions have infiltrated stories such as:

--Invading Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine
--Using energy as a weapon
--Blowing up apartment buildings
--Exhibiting pedophilic behavior
--Cracking down on press freedom
--Killing journalists
--Retreating from the democracy of the 90s

It's worth wondering, if these news stories are without basis, why do so many people believe them? Here is a passage from my book Ukraine in the Crosshairs:

"The answer, in part, is a phenomenon known as 'confirmation bias.' This is a psychological term for people's tendency to interpret information in ways that are partial to their existing beliefs, expectations, or hypotheses. ... Things that fly in the face of pre-existing expectations tend to be disbelieved. ... You've probably seen a lot of characterizations of Putin as a tyrant who will stop at nothing. But what if those earlier stories about Putin were faulty? I'm talking about all the stories that go back years. What if they were as contaminated with inaccuracies as the faulty news reports on Ukraine? What if your expectations regarding Putin were based on false premises?"

That's the process. We're now well into the era of Westerners basing their perceptions of Russia and Putin upon false premises that have come to be regarded as the whole truth. They are entrenched.

But who's driving the defamation campaign now? Who's behind the fabricated stories involving Syria and Ukraine? We don't have Berezovsky around anymore to blame things on.

This survey is a first step toward ferreting out the culprits. By soliciting wide-ranging inputs, we should be able to put together a mosaic that will indeed be enlightening.

Please do your part and take part in the study.

Click here to view the short questionnaire.


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