National Propaganda Radio strikes again

I do my best to avoid the mainstream media – I find the bias so extreme and so blatant that I have a hard time listening to it. In my household, however, NPR is harder to avoid, as my wife is an avid listener. I usually find myself waking up to a snippet of their coverage, and their efforts to carry water for the establishment, while perhaps not as in-your-face as the commercial media, are completely transparent.

Such was the case yesterday morning, when I arose to a segment titled “Russians Devised Detailed Plan To Influence U.S. Voters, Reuters Says.” It featured one reporter interviewing another (a pet peeve of mine, done regularly on NPR). The second reporter, from Reuters, was on to talk about his “evidence” that a Russian think tank proposed a plan in 2016 to interfere in the U.S. election.

His evidence:

  • The think tank was a government entity, with the director appointed by country’s president.
  • The think tank wrote a report suggesting that US policy was harmful towards Russia, so the country should attempt to influence the election “through media and social media.”
  • The reporter asserts that “there was a very active campaign including using hacked materials from the Democratic Party and disseminating it on the Internet through Twitter and through news platforms like Russia Today and Sputnik.”
  • There was a meeting in March 2016 between the Putin administration and various Russian media outlets.

Boy, you’ve got those rotten Russians dead to rights now!

Seriously, the propaganda here is so overt, and so weak, that NPR should be embarrassed. But I’m sure they’re not – they’re just doing their part to advance the narrative. So let’s look at how incredible (as in not credible) this is.

  • The reporter fails to offer any primary sources – the reader cannot find a copy of this think tank report, nor do we know anything about his anonymous (US) sources. I suppose he thinks we’re just willing to trust him on this?
  • The Putin administration met with media outlets in March 2016, before either primary was complete. The reporter doesn’t even pretend to know the content of that meeting. (And consider that it’s pretty common for media and governments to talk – just think about the multiple off-the-record meetings with reporters in the US, not to mention the familial crossover.)
  • The think tank report comes out in June 2016, after – not before – that meeting.
  • Evidence indicates that the DNC materials were leaked (likely by Seth Rich), not hacked, and the Podesta emails were accessed through a common phishing scheme, again not a hack.
  • Did Russian media disseminate that uncovered material? You bet. It’s called reporting, something the US media failed to do. Voters deserve to have all the information they can find, and this was fair game.
  • Did Russia Today and Sputnik advance a story line favorable to Russia? Obviously. Just as the US does, both domestically and overseas (hello Voice of America!).
  • Did Russia Today and Sputnik reach many Americans? According to cable channel news ratings (via the Washington Post), Russia Today reaches less than 30,000 viewers per day in America. They get more attention via YouTube-based video clips – clips like “Trump Will Not be Permitted to Win,” an English-language clip that garnered more than 2.2 million views prior to the election – but there’s no way to tell how many of those are US viewers. (I don’t have data for Sputnik but would be stunned by information showing a wide US reach.)

Yet despite this spectacularly weak sauce, we have a national media outlet advancing this story, which was later picked up by PBS despite no hard evidence, a lack of logic, and a denial by Russia.

With “reporting” like this, is there any question as to why the vast majority of Americans are misinformed?

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