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article imageOp-Ed: U.S. government is a prime producer of fake news

By Ken Hanly     Nov 27, 2016 in World
Lately, there has been much discussion of fake news. Much fake news is easy to detect with a little basic research. But there is another type of fake news that is spread by the U.S. and other governments.
As a recent article puts it: "In the midst of the media’s sudden headline-blaring apoplexy over fake news, you won’t hear much about the government’s role in producing, planting and peddling propaganda-driven fake news – often with the help of the corporate news media – because that’s not how the game work." The article claims this is because the powers that be do not want you to be skeptical of messages of the government. They want us to be leery of independent or alternative news sources while trusting them and their corporate colleagues to filter the news for us.
The growth of the Internet has given rise to many alternative news sites. While many of these sites do contain misinformation they also often come up with material that the mainstream media avoids or show failings in the mainstream narratives. This is further compounded by sites such as Russia Today which slant the news in ways that contradict that of most western news media. Even the U.S. Congress has taken notice. Ed Royce chair of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs said: "Russia’s propaganda machine is in overdrive, working to subvert democratic stability and foment violence. Russian propaganda has the potential to destabilize NATO members, impacting our security commitments. This Russian campaign – what one witness describes as the 'weaponization of information' – seriously threatens U.S. security."
The U.S. media works to serve the interests of the U.S. government. In 1977, an article in the Rolling Stone reported: “More than 400 American journalists … in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency… There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services… Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters… In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.” Way back in the 1950's, Operation Mockingbird began which planted intelligence reports in more than 25 major newspapers and wire agencies. This was not genuine news but government produced propaganda.
Organizations such as the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, UPI and Reuters are among a long list of organizations that worked with the CIA to vet the news. The news media are often used to dutifully spread false information or fake news: For example, in August 1964, the nation’s leading newspapers – including the Washington Post and New York Times – echoed Lyndon Johnson’s claim that North Vietnam had launched a second round of attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. No such attacks had taken place, and yet the damage was done. American journalism helped prepare people for the Vietnam War and justify it.
A few years later, the western media pressed forward with false reports of Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. As investigative journalist Nick Davies said: “For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it. The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news.”
Officially propagated news — or technically "information operations" — is now regarded as the fifth core competency by the Pentagon together with land, sea, air and special forces. Ever since October of 2006 the US has had its own "psyop" forces producing output for local media. This activity links up with that of the State Department campaign of what it calls "public diplomacy" which includes the funding of radio stations and news websites.
These operations can include the actual creation of fake news. The U.S. government paid a British public relations firm $500 million to run a top-secret propaganda campaign in Iraq: Bell Pottinger, a London-based P.R. firm, created fake videos that appeared to be the work of al-Qaida, the Islamist extremist group formerly headed by Osama bin Laden. It also created news stories that looked as though they were produced by Arab media outlets, and distributed them through Middle Eastern news networks.
While it may be a bit of a stretch to call government propaganda "fake news" the simple reporting uncritically of government claims, some of which may be false, is less presenting the news than a form of "manufacturing consent" for whatever the government wants to promote. I append a video from the alleged "fake news" site RT.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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