The “Fake News” narrative with regard to any alternative news outlet which doesn’t play ball according to the mainstream-accepted dogma just received its first strike back. Yves Smith is the owner of www.nakedcapitalism.com, a website blacklisted by the farcical (and anonymous) organization which runs under the PropOrNot moniker.
Yves Smith’s lawyer wrote a letter to the Washington Post’s staff demanding a retraction and threatening with a defamation suit. According to the letter, the Washington Post was taken for the proverbial ride by PropOrNot.org, which are described as inept propagandists running a spoof operation which claims to have concocted a list of approximately 200 websites who are running Russian backed propaganda.
The respective list includes huge news outlets like the Drudge Report, Breitbart or Infowars, together with the likes of RonPaulInstitute.org or WikiLeaks.org. What’s very worrying when talking about free speech over the internet is that on November 30th, just one week after Washington Post started its “war” against “Russian backed” “fake news” websites, the House passed very stealthily H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, a piece of legislation sponsored by Devin Nunes, a California REP, whose 3rd largest donor in 2016 is no other than Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc.
The bill is aimed at dealing with a number of intelligence issues, Russian propaganda included (or whatever Big Brother considers to be propaganda actually) and hints at quelling the dissent of “offenders”. If the law is passed in the Senate and gets signed by President Obama, it can be very well used to threaten, target or even eliminate what’s now described as “fake news” websites, considering the aforementioned list that can be arbitrarily modified to include basically any blog or website that doesn’t share the mainstream media narrative.
The bill that was passed on November 30th was introduced in the House on the 22nd, i.e. 2 days before Washington Post published an article citing a so called expert claiming that Russian propaganda helped significantly Donald Trump to get elected. Also, WaPo cited copiously the PropOrNot anonymous website’s hit-list of alternative news sites which were accused of spreading Russian propaganda, without any actual proof.
You identified and thus denigrated Naked Capitalism, one of the sites targeted in the “study” as one of the “right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.
The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.”
You called upon Facebook and Google to “crack down on ‘fake news,’” apparently by censoring Naked Capitalism, because it is supposedly “attack[ing] American democracy.”Your identification of Naked Capitalism as a “fake news site” and as an agent for Russian propaganda designed to undermine American democracy is defamatory per se. You accuse Naked Capitalism of spreading “Russian-backed phony news to out compete traditional news organizations for audience.”
These serious allegations have caused and will continue to cause great harm to NakedCapitalism, including but not limited to damage to policy impact and reputation,diversion of scarce reporting and managerial resources to respond to concerned inquires and debunk this smear, loss of readers, and damage to the site’s profitability.
Moreover, writers and editors associated with Naked Capitalism face ridicule, emotional distress, loss of reputation, and risk to future career advancement, including for example, difficulty passing background and security checks. You did not provide even a single example of “fake news” allegedly distributed or promoted by Naked Capitalism or indeed any of the 200 sites on the PropOrNot blacklist.
You provided no discussion or assessment of the credentials or backgrounds of these so-called “researchers” (Clint Watts, Andrew Weisburd,and J.M. Berger and the “team” at PropOrNot), and no discussion or analysis of the methodology, protocol or algorithms such “researchers” may or may not have followed. Fake News also erred in citing a “monitoring report” already published on propornot.com