Why does it always start with the same weak lead-in, the Russophobia, I mean? This time the mighty New York Times overrode journalism 101 to let author Julian E. Barnes properly propagandize what publisher A. G. Sulzberger needs to say about those pesky Russians. The “story” begins like this:
“A new campaign appears to be spreading falsehoods about the potential for forced inoculations against COVID-19.”
The only thing the story misses out on is the facts. All I can say is, “Here we go again,” with the use of misleading verbs like “appears.” By definition, in this context, Barnes is attempting to “give the impression of being.” But, as in every case where western mainstream media reports on Russia, seeming is not believing for everybody. The logic is just not there. What would Vladimir Putin unleash a campaign to destroy vaccine credibility, and at the same time, create COVID remedies proven to be 90+ percent effective?
Is it possible, in the collective mind I mean, that Russia is a vast country with a lot of different viewpoints and entities out to accomplish a lot of other things? I mean, is the world’s biggest country a bit like America, or Britain, or Germany, or even China in this regard? Nope.
According to almost everyone who types memes, memos, or editorials at the New York Times, Russia is a nation of Putin-controlled zombies who can say nothing but da, nyet, or do svidaniya.
According to these misinformation agents in the west, a cartoon is, just maybe, the “latest effort in Russian-aligned disinformation: a campaign that taps into skepticism and fears of coronavirus vaccination.” Barnes cites US State Department “assertions” that a massive Russian vaccine subversion campaign is underway. But, ironically, or I should say “tellingly,” most of the disinformation and anti-vaxxer propaganda comes from Americans, Brits, with a few Norwegian idiots thrown into the mix.
And once again, the big, bad, wrong, world-ruling newspaper quotes an expert. This time Lisa Kaplan, the chief executive of the Alethea Group, says:
“…And knowing how the Russians typically play those situations, it wouldn’t surprise me they are trying to take advantage of it.”
Then there’s the Internet Research Agency the New York Times propped up as Putin’s 007 spoof spy troll agency some years back. This Austin Powers comedy comes back into the picture with other experts at Graphika, the self-proclaimed “cartographers of the internet age!” Oh brother. I won’t even dignify these self-serving interests anymore. Let’s just tell it like it is. These companies have no reason to exist without convenient Russian cyber-villains. Now let’s get down to the lies New York Times is sewing.
Farther down into this latest propaganda piece, the author asserts that state-owned RT is complicit or even leading this alleged disinformation campaign. Let me quote directly, once again, from Bret Schafer, a disinformation expert at the Alliance for Securing Democracy:
“RT has published articles highlighting athletes who are resisting pressure to get vaccinated. It has also suggested liberals were taking at face value Donald Trump Jr.’s facetious remark that vaccinations could be required to vote. And it has published essays aimed at exacerbating divisions over mask requirements.”
Once again, the New York Times is cherry-picking and using narratives of anti-Russia bent experts to validate the fallacious narrative. Nowhere in this story or any other will you find the RT headlines that discuss COVID and other subjects from an objective point of view. For example, take this story by Paul Robinson, a professor at the University of Ottawa. Robinson discusses how come some people risk dying instead of taking the COVID jab. The following citation from the story should suffice to dispel and notion Vladimir Putin is trying to swamp the west with anti-vaxxers:
“Given a choice between believing the state’s warnings about the dangers of COVID-19 or buying into the latest anti-vax theories and sentiments they heard from a friend, Russians seem to be picking the latter.”
You are with me now, I know. Why is Russia’s state-owned news media coming out saying the anti-vaxxer movement is growing out of mistrust for authority and agency not only in the west but inside Russia? The RT piece cites Professor Sam Greene at King’s College London, who says the fallacy of the so-called “slave soul” of Russians is just that, a lie. Let me reiterate, for impact – from RT…
Then there’s the story of Argentina threatening to buy western vaccines if Sputnik V is not delivered on time. And this one is calling for an inoculation drive inside Russia. I could go on and on because RT has many writers and many headlines about COVID and vaccines. My point is made 1,000 times over, I assure you. But if Russian trolls are not pumping up the volume on vaccine fears, then who is?
Why is there no mention in the New York Times story of a group known as the “Disinformation Dozen?” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is part of a pack of sensationalists who need followers, who have tapped into the ignorance and fear matrix surrounding this pandemic. Amazingly, NPR carried the story, but the research (PDF) by The Center for Countering Digital Hate is here. Miraculously, there are no Rusky names on the list. Joseph Mercola is the top name, followed by Kennedy, Ty and Charlene Bollinger, Sherri Tenpenny, Rizza Islam, Rashid Buttar, Erin Elizabeth, Sayer Ji, Kelly Brogan, Christiane Northrup, Ben Tapper, and Kevin Jenkins. CCDH’s executive summary begins by describing these dozen as:
“The Disinformation Dozen are twelve anti-vaxxers who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation about COVID vaccines. They were selected because they have large numbers of followers, produce high volumes of anti-vaccine content, or have seen rapid growth of their social media accounts in the last two months.”
How could the mighty New York Times have missed them, the dirty dozen who are really behind disrupting America and getting hundreds of thousands killed needlessly? These anti-vaxxers, and a few more, account for almost all of the misinformation in social media concerning vaccines. And somehow Julian E. Barnes and the NYTs editors just missed them? Bret Schafer and the alliance that fronts for the CIA failed to notice them? The high-powered technology of Graphika passed over nephews of dead presidents and whacko conspiracy nuts in favor of the Russia bad guys narrative western corporate media prefers?
Vladimir Putin is not peddling dietary supplements to replace eastern or western COVID-19 vaccines. Americans are. Vladimir Putin is not using children to further a false narrative that ends up getting people killed, the son of a slain US presidential candidate is. Vladimir Putin is not selling books and DVDs misinforming people about vaccines. American snake oil sales couples are. Vladimir Putin is not ripping his hair out, fanning the flames of hatred and mistrust to get followers, a lunatic American osteopath who sells books on the subject is. Vladimir Putin did not say he beat COVID with hot soup and cayenne peppers. An American social media influencer did. Vladimir Putin has not claimed that the Pfizer vaccine has killed more people than the virus, an American snake oil salesman has. Putin does not claim to be a holistic psychologist. He’s not an obstetrician or gynecologist ranting about vaccines causing an 800 percent increase in chronic illness either.
So, if I were you, I would stop believing everything A. G. Sulzberger’s world-famous newspaper publishes.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.