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Hey Forbes! "How About a Dissenting Russia View?"

Following the Forbes anti-Russia rhetoric or news, the financial markets enthusiast may have trouble discerning fact from fiction. Here's a shout out to editor Steve Forbes, with some disclosures he may not be aware of. 

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Has somebody transformed Forbes into a bloody pulpit for security spooks to evangelize from? Looking at the contributions to the once formidable financial magazine renders curious editorial and information bedfellows.

How many times in the last 14 months have you read or heard about Russia’s propaganda war? However convinced the American public might be that Russia is the Dr. Evil of world propaganda, watching Forbes headlines objectively will make anyone who's still sentient flinch. The latest in a long list of negative narratives is this one “contributed” by Ivana Smolenova, communications and outreach manager for the Prague Security Studies Institute, and it’s revealing in the extreme. What's intriguing, aside from the rhetoric, though, is the evident frustration of the western mainstream media about losing an information war, even with its obvious numerical superiority.

<figcaption>Armed to the teeth - Western mainstream rhetoric casts undue dispersion</figcaption>
Armed to the teeth - Western mainstream rhetoric casts undue dispersion

Before I go on to explain how US national security interests and business leverage even the most trusted media, let’s take a look at those Forbes headlines I mentioned. And please remember the stated purpose of the magazine as a “leading source for reliable business news and financial information.” If you visit Forbes and simply search its website for the term “Russia”, here’s what you’ll find in the top ten results:

Do you notice any trend here? I could go on about the trend, but you catch the drift.

What appears on Forbes today is a mix of excellent financial reporting by reporters like Kenneth Rapoza, counterbalanced by a generous sprinkling of contributors with “interesting” resumes. (I am being kind). Looking at the author of the latest piece in question, the connective tissue underneath that opinion piece leads to names such as: former CIA Director, James Woolsey; former US National Security Advisor, Richard Allen; former United States Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair; among the many other western intelligence advisories/friends of the PSSI.

Now if the massively unbalanced message from the mainstream were not so dangerous, it would be hilarious. I think the big problem for corporate media and its backers is really about losing a media war to an underfunded Russian and even Chinese information system of media. If necessary, I can prove most supporters of the Russian point of view are in fact unpaid, concerned citizens, rather than some organized army of Putin disciples. As interesting and powerful a figure as Putin is, he's got more important matters in mind than to personally lead the new Soviet Troll Army. Not many pro-Russians are enrolled at think tanks, researchers for funded institutions, or outright embassy employees, as is the case to the west of Prague. This is another story though. 

Turning the spotlight back onto Forbes, the subjective narrative of the Czech think tank lady found there is nebulous and flawed in the extreme. This is especially true in her assessment that the Russia narrative is anything more than a dissenting view by pro-Russian or pro-alternative media elements. This is a clear case of “the pot calling the kettle black,” albeit one interjected on a massively accepted American mainstream portal. And this is problematic for a multitude of reasons. The bad news for Forbes financially is, most of the media's traffic and readership comes from the brand. Organic search for "Forbes" is the single biggest conversion value the magazine has. If the brand loses credibility, it's all over for Forbes, unless some other monetization scheme is initiated. Paid search, social, and other means of conversions are minimal for desktop adoption. 

The author of the most recent Forbes opinion piece goes so far as to pull out the familiar “Russian Internet troll” card (Oh boy). Having been in the trenches of social media since the onset of the digital revolution, I can tell you no entity on Earth has more paid trolls than the United States establishment. NATO and the various embassies alone employ and deploy cyber forces unequaled even by China. The gist of this Smolenova malarkey piece comes home with a revelation of saintly Czech commentators on social:

“Another commentator compared state propaganda to methods used by fascists and bolsheviks, a narrative frequently used against the government in Kiev. While depicting traditional media as unreliable and manipulated by the West, they call for the nation to wake up, open its eyes and finally find the real truth.”

Just for a bit of my own revelation, I studied Smolenova’s own social footprint. The communications and outreach manager at Prague Security Studies Institute’s twitter follows frame a familiar trend in mainstream media and western NGO engagement. The first follows of Ms. Smolenova include The Council on Foreign Relations backed @ForeignAffairs, the aforementioned Stratfor spooks, another “spooky” think tank group known as IRSEC, and many other key linkages to the US State Department message. If anyone is looking suspicious in guilt by association, war mongers entrenched within supposed peaceful ranks stinks to high heavens for me. To sum up, I’ll just focus on the International Relations and Security Affairs Research Hub (IRSEC). God knows Forbes needs research into who and what they grant Op-Ed status for. For crying out loud, PSSI has a NATO summer school offering!

If Smolenova is making a case on Forbes for poor Czech Republic being overrun with Russia media trolls, then she and her organization's affiliations with CEPI and other Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski influenced think tanks should be disclosed in full. Maybe Moscow does want the Czech Republic on Russia’s side, and no small wonder. CEPI (linked from IRSEC front page), and by proxy Smolenova’s group, seem to advocate the Kaliningrad Oblast being annexed? They're proud of Smolenova, too; the Forbes article seems to be a win of sorts here. Not surprisingly, Ivana Smoleňová is IRSEC Hub's Manager and Co-creator.

Not to bore the reader (or Forbes) further, PSSI is, and has been, supported by a long list of international corporations including: OMV Group, Skoda key investor Appian Group, financial and banking giant PPF Group, Mercedes Benz, and notably RWE Transgas. (PDF from PSSI). For more affiliations, the reader may want to double check SourceWatch, but there’s far greater implication of west backed propaganda herein than some bloggers in the Czech Republic “maybe” associated with “someone” in Russia is insignificant compared to Forbes headlines like:

Where Will Russia Strike Next?

What we’re seeing across the media spectrum, in my informed opinion, is a mountain of resources and influence (and money) directed at media control and influence against not just Russia, but ANY opponent of the party line. Whether or not Ms. Smolenova’s vehement studies and reflections are well thought out planning, or simply naïve passions for some “American Way” delusion, I leave to those with more time and resource. The point for me here is, “Forbes, you need to offer up a balance, or forever be labeled biased in the extreme.” And utter bias has nothing to do with discerning financial advice. It seems pretty clear to me the ad/contributor model Forbes reverted to won't last much longer. 

Give the other side of the story a chance @SteveForbesCEO will you? Brzezinski has enough corporate think tank shills telling his side.


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