It is, as Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept notes, a mishmash of dubious methodology juxtaposed with calls for "official investigations".
If you want a point by point take-down of the facts, or lack therof, in the WaPo story and its pet anonymous bloggers (see attached Herblock cartoon), read Greenwald, but if you want moral outrage done right, I would suggest that you read Matt Taibbi's commentary in Rolling Stone, who meticulously dissects how the Post ignored even the most basic of journalistic due diligence.
Last week, a technology reporter for the Washington Post named Craig Timberg ran an incredible story. It has no analog that I can think of in modern times. Headlined "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say," the piece promotes the work of a shadowy group that smears some 200 alternative news outlets as either knowing or unwitting agents of a foreign power, including popular sites like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism.Also, note that Mark Ames notes that whoever is running their official Twitter account is a Ukranian fascist: (I am not using metaphor here, I am talking real fascists)
The thrust of Timberg's astonishingly lazy report is that a Russian intelligence operation of some kind was behind the publication of a "hurricane" of false news reports during the election season, in particular stories harmful to Hillary Clinton. The piece referenced those 200 websites as "routine peddlers of Russian propaganda."
The piece relied on what it claimed were "two teams of independent researchers," but the citing of a report by the longtime anticommunist Foreign Policy Research Institute was really window dressing.
The meat of the story relied on a report by unnamed analysts from a single mysterious "organization" called PropOrNot – we don't know if it's one person or, as it claims, over 30 – a "group" that seems to have been in existence for just a few months.
It was PropOrNot's report that identified what it calls "the list" of 200 offending sites. Outlets as diverse as AntiWar.com, LewRockwell.com and the Ron Paul Institute were described as either knowingly directed by Russian intelligence, or "useful idiots" who unwittingly did the bidding of foreign masters.
What this apparently means is that if you published material that meets their definition of being "useful" to the Russian state, you could be put on the "list," and "warrant further scrutiny."
Any halfway decent editor would have been scared to death by any of these factors. Moreover the vast majority of reporters would have needed to see something a lot more concrete than a half-assed theoretical paper from such a dicey source before denouncing 200 news organizations as traitors.
But if that same source also demanded anonymity on the preposterous grounds that it feared being "targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers"? Any sane reporter would have booted them out the door. You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won't put your name to your claims? Take a hike.
Most high school papers wouldn't touch sources like these. But in November 2016, both the president-elect of the United States and the Washington Post are equally at ease with this sort of sourcing.
Even worse, the Post apparently never contacted any of the outlets on the "list" before they ran their story. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism says she was never contacted. Chris Hedges of Truthdig, who was part of a group that won the Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times once upon a time, said the same. "We were named," he tells me. "I was not contacted."
Helping Beltway politicos mass-label a huge portion of dissenting media as "useful idiots" for foreign enemies in this sense is an extraordinarily self-destructive act. Maybe the Post doesn't care and thinks it's doing the right thing. In that case, at least do the damn work.
Wow. The @washingtonpost anonymous source for blacklisting US journalists recently tweeted 1940s Ukrainian fascist "Heroiam Slava!" salute pic.twitter.com/vGvhAIjgTl— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) November 26, 2016
It appears to be that the Washington Post could not even be bothered to read this guy's Twitter feed.
They cited someone who is blogging in his pajamas who lives in his parents' basement.