13.05.2020 Author: Henry Kamens

Political & Media Spin in Pandemic Times


Where the US leads, the rest of the world is bound to follow. That is the reality of living with a superpower. So it is no surprise to see Trump’s response to the pandemic being repeated in places like Poland and Hungary – not healthcare support, but political opportunism.

Various Heads of State and governments are giving themselves the authority to govern by emergency powers and decrees—as if the international community’s self-styled “tough guys” hadn’t always wanted to. There is no political oversight of their actions in many instances; after all, an emergency justifies everything.

The media and political pundits, who appear to be attacking governments, are doing so in selective ways to prevent the real questions from being asked. Civil society is also a victim—although not an innocent one, as many people voted for the option most likely to behave in this way.

Now with curfews everywhere, in fact if not yet in name, people are being told to stay at home and only go out for “essentials”. A couple of people I know were stopped by police when driving to work – and the police actually followed them to their worksite to make sure they were telling the truth.

The news is telling us that the next 2-3 weeks will see huge increases in COVID-19 positives and deaths. However, that is no longer the story. The big issue now is how the “story itself” and its political backdrop are being exploited to the fullest to harm the public interest.

Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick

The more news I watch these days, through being trapped in the house, the more convinced I am that the mainstream media is the guiltiest party of all in heating up the level of hysteria. Its sensationalism has helped provoke publicity-hungry leaders to do little but posture, as measured actions don’t have the audience that grand statements which mean and achieve nothing have.

Much more is going on than appears at first impression, involving security agencies and media front groups. A line is being pursued which suits a lot of nefarious purposes, which is evident when you see so many official health agencies, and their government masters, being unable to answer simple questions or give accurate information.

The hand of the powers to be is all over both the disinformation which is repeatedly refuted by frontline health professionals and the funding of it. After just a few turns of the shovel, I ended up asking Veterans Today, a partner organisation of this journal, to look into one media Group, the Rendon Group.

I am fairly sure this group knows a lot about what is really going on, based on its track record in Iraq and other hotspots around the world, and the speed at which the media spins. It is not hard to see that a major media agency, always in competition with others, has an interest in provoking a media “feeding frenzy” in tandem with a political horse-and pony show. If people die, so be it, as that also sells newspapers and makes a profit for those in power, or it would be addressed credibly.

Any smoking guns would be welcomed”

There have been many stories about the source of COVID 19 and how it actually appeared. Many of these can be dismissed as conspiracy theories, at least at a first impression.

But when you investigate where something came from, instead of looking of ways to prevent it, you are doing so to take action against those you hold responsible for it, rather than stopping the thing from happening. This focus on the origin, rather than the prevention, of COVID-19, tells us a lot about why it has taken on the form it has.

A genuine possibility is that this is a real animal virus which has crossed the species barrier to humans, either by natural means or some kind of human intervention which might have helped it. There are many speculations, such as those by the infamous EU-anti Russia Agency, and here is a decent scientific discussion of the question. One spot by Pepe Escobar also adds some real food for thought.

But most of the stories about the origin of the virus, and those attacking those who question the official view, are linked to media groups with questionable funding mechanisms. For instance, there are Coda Story articles supporting the Lugar Lab in Tbilisi, which the public is not associating with a virus supposedly made in China until they read these articles. Such agencies are ready to pounce on any news coming out of Russia on this topic as false information, and this only increases the boldness of tin-pot dictators who do not want to be questioned or contradicted.

Veterans Today editors and contributors have found extensive CIA and Mossad/Shen Bet complicity in media manipulation. Take for example, the March 19 piece by Mitch Prothero in Business Insider.

Prothero is a “go-to” guy for reliable propaganda from the CIA. Business Insider regularly launders CIA-promoted conspiracy theories for the “unwashed”. It employs the same contributors as the Open Society Foundation, where, as with Rendon, you find old spooks and connections to the people who ran the Cold War.

The CIA’s bioweapons lab in Tbilisi has been busted time and again for leaking Swine Flu into Georgia and Southern Russia, and even mixing Sarin gas for end-users in Syria. Insiders know that, but not most of the global media audience. However, some readers might begin to question why there is any need to defend a lab far away from China in articles about what the media insists is a “Chinese virus”.

The Russian Virus That Dare Not Speak Its Name

There are other media outlets that regularly attack Russian policy and news reports from all sides, for the sake of it, when they are supposed to be talking about a health issue. By coincidence, many of the contributors to these are based in Georgia. The anti-Russian script is too professional to be written by locals, especially the ones whose names appear on the articles.

Could it be that these are the people providing the spin for Lugar Lab, which has long been implicated as a bioweapons lab masquerading as a public health institution? When the preponderance of the evidence is buttressed with money, it appears that hiredgun professionals are on the job, even when there should be no job.

As Jeffrey Silverman, Bureau Chief for Veterans Today shared:

I am not so embedded anymore, and lost my main source two years ago, to a heart attack. He was a “Deep Throat” for me, while another main source from inside the Lugar Lab died in a car accident back in the village where I live in rural Georgia. I can say this much, some are most upset, especially those associated with the Lugar Lab.”

One example I have found is by “Tea Bakradze, Lead Biosafety Officer, MD”, who responded over a comment Silverman made about Battelle, the company with large US government contracts now making sterilisation equipment for masks:

I am sorry asking you this, but are you that person, who published disgusting articles about Georgia’s BTRP program and Lugar Center laboratory? I am sorry if it is not you, but if you are…” adding in another message, “you are such a shame of manhood; Russians paid you well, I know too.”

If Silverman really wanted to stir the pot he could write to the police accusing lab management of being accessories to the possible murder of two foreign Lugar contractors, who died suddenly a few years ago with apparent gas poisoning symptoms. The police won’t act on that, and covered the case up at the time, but if this is one of many complaints, they’ll act on the others to avoid facing this one.

Some very high powered spin has been put out protecting the Lugar Lab, even to the extent of organising a three-sided attack against Silverman, who is retired and teaches English in Tbilisi as a volunteer. He was attacked in print, radio, and TV all on the same day, which is beyond the capacity of the Georgian media to organise.

Who Stands Behind Such Concerted Efforts?

The usual suspects are behind this campaign to tell everyone they are being murdered by the Chinese and Russians. The NED (National Endowment for Democracy) long ago established a mechanism for controlling information without appearing to do so, through a “media partnership” which violates basic tenets of journalistic ethics.

A snippet of what is going on, before, now and into the future, is provided here:

While a few journalists wrung their hands in disapproval, mainstream media welcomed this innovation in wartime reporting. This new propaganda involved the state merging with private sector consultants (the Rendon Group, Burston-Marstellar, the Bell Pottinger Group) and professional journalism to form a nexus that Guy Debord once called “networks of influence, persuasion, and control.””

The Charge of the Fright Brigade

Nobody would have thought that countries like Italy, Spain, the UK and even the US would turn out to be so fragile in the face of this pandemic. After all, these countries have mature healthcare systems. The problem rests in how decisions are taken, the chain of command, and how these “media partnerships” have helped corrupt the system and render it not fit for purpose.

From the beginning, specialists and media outlets have reprimanded the government for locking people up at home (or at least, attempting that) instead of using the trace and treat method. Locking down hasn’t worked, but is still being presented as the best alternative because disengagement from others also means disengagement from questioning others.

You don’t have to take any of this on trust. Here are some good articles. 

Back in the US

As you probably know, things are getting worse every day in the States (which has now passed China in the number of COVID-19 cases). New York City and State are getting hit hard, but the virus is spreading everywhere, and healthcare professionals have estimated up to 200,000 deaths at the time of writing, even more by some accounts.

The public reaction has been predictable. As one American shared,

“I was grateful that Ohio had Pennsylvania to “cushion” any more cases, but now the word is coming out that Detroit is in for a shock – and Toledo is only a 30-minute drive from Detroit. So now it may be hitting a little closer to home.

I went shopping about a week and a half ago, so I should be good for another two weeks, but after that, I don’t know. Also heard on PBS News Hour that the US unemployment rate (according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve chairman) could hit 32% – that is shocking – as unemployment during the Great Depression at its highest was 25%. It’s like living in a surrealistic world.”

And yet the US has still not obtained the testing kits required. Without knowing who is and who is not COVID-19 positive, this outbreak could go on for months and months, even years – all unnecessarily.

When it is over, people will start looking for answers as to how this happened. More importantly, they will ask why they weren’t given the right information at the time – and this is where the political opportunists and their media partnerships are going to be the final and biggest victims of their convenient virus.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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