I think I’m starting to really understand this whole Cold War 2.0 thing a little better. For about two years now, Western think tank pundits and government officials have been warning of the need to counter Russian propaganda. Beyond support for effective initiatives like Stopfake.org and EU Disinfo Review, we haven’t heard much from the academic geniuses of the various think tanks. Now, however, it looks like the private sector might be stepping up to the plate with a plan to counter the Kremlin propaganda machine. And apparently the strategy is to fight bullshit with…more bullshit.
Just get a load of this headline:
“The man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned”
The man, incidentally, is Bennet Omalu, who is at least a forensic pathologist. The problem is, however, that you can’t diagnose people over twitter. To his credit, he merely suggested she might have been poisoned and advised her doctors to check and see if this was the case. However, this isn’t really newsworthy, particularly when his best argument is:
I’m sorry but how is this any different from Pepe Escobar accusing the US of organizing the Charlie Hebdo murders shortly after the attack, apart from the degree of callousness, of course?
In case you didn’t notice how hard they were trying to make this newsworthy, they included information about the Litvinenko case. I’m sorry but Hillary being diagnosed with pneumonia and fainting in public is not comparable to Litvinenko or Yushchenko, who was nearly killed with dioxin. If Hillary’s hair falls out tomorrow or her health rapidly declines, then you might have an argument.
This is a bit infuriating because recently Dmitry Kiselyov suggested that the US intelligence services might assassinate Donald Trump, because he’s just such an anti-establishment figure don’cha know.
This is course is amusing because it’s not the US but Russia that has a habit of losing political dissidents under mysterious circumstances.
We laugh, yet how funny is it when only a couple days later a major publication like The Washington Post is taking idle speculation of the same sort and turning into an actual news story?
Let me make this clear. Conspiracy theories and fallacious stories aren’t acceptable or good just because they’re on “your side.” These things make the world stupider. This is one of my main arguments against the Russian foreign language press, for example. All their conspiracy theories aren’t new, and they’re not even Russian in origin most of the time. It’s just that beaming these idiotic theories onto the internet makes people less rational and eventually, dumber.
And here’s the thing about making people dumber- today you get them on your side with fallacious arguments and conspiracy theories. Later down the road, their moods change, the political situation changes, and now suddenly they’re more receptive to the Kremlin’s propaganda. Hell it’s already happening. Look at Trump’s supporters and tell me that the vast majority of them would have vehemently condemned anyone speaking positively of Russia or Putin. Conservatives had on numerous occasions attacked Obama’s administration for supposedly being too soft or flexible with Russia. Moods change.
If we want people to question Russian, Chinese, or any kind of state propaganda, we need to consistently encourage critical thinking. Moreover, if privately-owned Western media outlets want to continue being taken more seriously than Sputnik News, they need to crack down on conspiratorial non-stories like this. If you don’t want to well, first, you don’t get to complain about not being taken more seriously, and second, maybe you’re not really as interested in the truth as you claim.
And as a final note, addressed to the Putin fanboys out there who are no doubt applauding- stop. I’ve pointed out numerous times how Western media makes mistakes and fails to report things with 100% accuracy or objectivity. I’ve also point out how this fact doesn’t excuse a state run media apparatus deliberately concocting stories and suppressing others for the sake of preserving a regime and justifying its foreign policy. As I’ve said many times on this topic- fast food is unhealthy, but eating out of the dumpster round back is not an acceptable alternative.