Whenever the mainstream media whip themselves into a frenzy of indignation over this or that political development—even when said indignation seems reasonable and maybe even righteous—one would do well not to take them at their word. Indeed, in the vast majority of cases, they are simply condemning someone or something they once embraced, promoted or offered apologetics for. In so doing, they expose themselves, over and over again, as truly pathological hypocrites.
It’s tempting to define such behavior as a sort of Freudian defense mechanism—discharging suppressed feelings of guilt and so on—but that would be a mistake: use of defense mechanisms presupposes a conscience; propagandizing on behalf of the American Empire (the principal function of the mainstream media) presupposes a lack of conscience. In any case, the corporate media have no credibility whatever, and, by all appearances, they couldn’t care less. (Consider, for example, the strange case of Kurt Eichenwald, Newsweek’s village idiot, whose total derangement actually contains an element of pathos.)
Apparently Facebook has a disinformation problem (who would’ve thought?). The company’s failure to crack down on “fake news stories” during the presidential campaign has been cited by many a Clintonoid as a major factor underlying their false prophetess’ humiliating defeat. That such stories were allowed to infect the public discourse is an outrage, a scandal, and it must be redressed, lest the pillars of our democracy come crashing down, crushing us all. Or so we’re informed by the Washington Post, that bastion of veracity and objectivity, in a somber editorial titled “Social Media Sites Can’t Allow Fake News to Take Over.”
“Freedom of expression is a bedrock of American democracy,” the editors sermonize, “but its irresponsible exercise can distort and destabilize our politics.” They then proceed to lecture “the social media companies” on what it means to be a credible news outlet (it’s a “delicate” thing that “requires balanced judgment”) before concluding with the following injunction:
“The Internet has become a vital forum for democratic debate; it is essential that the interchange not be warped by propaganda and lies.”
So says the newspaper that has propagandized on behalf of every US military adventure in recent memory, including, of course, the invasion of Iraq, a crystalline example of what the Military Tribunal at Nuremberg called “the supreme international crime,” namely aggression. The pretext for this momentous crime—far and away the worst of this century—was a series of falsehoods concocted by the Bush administration and promulgated by our most “credible” media outlets. Chief among said lies were Saddam’s fictional WMD program and his fictional ties to Osama bin Laden; and chief among the media outlets peddling the fake narrative were the Washington Post and New York Times, neither of whom ever contest Washington’s official version when doing so would actually mean something. (The Times, by the way, ran their own self-righteous editorial slamming Facebook; it’s almost identical to the Post’s.)
The war in Iraq was a strictly imperial enterprise, a naked power grab, and the results were as predictable as they were horrifying: More than a million dead, an entire country in ruins, widespread torture, sectarian violence on a shocking scale (now plaguing the entire region), the vilest terrorist organization we’ve ever seen, et cetera. Before and during the war, it was the mass media’s job to justify US aggression and all its ancillary horrors—a serious moral crime in itself (Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher was hanged at Nuremberg). As the war wound down, their attempts at justification became attempts at erasure, and they were ready to be infallible all over again. Indeed, as Barack Obama said upon assuming office in 2009, “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” After all, Putin!
Coinciding with the fake news drama is the alt-right/white nationalist/neo-fascist drama, augmented by Trump’s early cabinet selections, particularly Steve Bannon’s appointment as chief strategist. The concern is valid enough; Bannon seems like a pretty nefarious character, and for all I know he’s every inch the neo-Nazi many are making him out to be (though I’ll admit I tend to doubt it). Nevertheless, the vehement opposition to Bannon and the alt-right coming from the Post and the Times smacks once again of hypocrisy, and can really only be met with an exasperated roll of the eyes.
When Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown by a violent uprising in 2014, America’s foremost “papers of record” got to work legitimizing the interim government and glamorizing the storm troopers who spearheaded the revolution. What they refused to acknowledge, as a matter of course, was that Yanukovych’s government had been brought down, and was being replaced, by fascists. Indeed, for those who get the bulk of their news from the Washington Post, it would probably come as a surprise to learn that many of Ukraine’s “freedom fighters” (those so valiantly defending against “Russian aggression”) are little more than neo-Nazis who would like nothing so much as to cleanse eastern Ukraine of its ethnic Russian population.
The State Department, and thus the mainstream media, would have us believe that there are no fascists in or around the western-backed Ukrainian government, and that anyone who says otherwise is simply propagandizing on behalf of the Kremlin (“useful idiot” is a term in heavy rotation in our media). As usual, however, the facts are not on their side; ergo they are ignored or distorted.
Following Yanukovych’s extralegal ouster, a man called Andriy Parubiy was appointed Secretary of National Security and Defense Council. Back in 1991, Parubiy co-founded the Social National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), a fascist and virulently anti-communist party whose symbol—the Wolfsangel—was used by the Waffen-SS during World War II. Only ethnic Ukrainians were permitted to join the SNPU, which later changed its name to Svoboda and made efforts to soften its image.
Parubiy named as his deputy secretary Dmytro Yarosh, then leader of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector, a violent gang of street fighters who played a crucial role in militarizing the Euromaidan protests.
The office of Vice Prime Minister was awarded to one Oleksandr Sych, a member of the aforementioned Svoboda party who faced significant backlash for his assertion in 2013 that women ought to “lead the kind of lifestyle to avoid the risk of rape, including refraining from drinking alcohol and being in controversial company.”
While the Ukrainian government was being filled out along these lines, the Western media sought to divert our attention by publishing hysterical rants about Putin’s supposed aggression, steadfastly ignoring the fact that ninety-six percent of people in Crimea voted to rejoin the Russian Federation—or, if they acknowledged it, charging that the referendum was somehow fixed by Moscow (just like our recent presidential election was). Anything to obscure the fact that the Obama administration was supporting bona fide fascists in Ukraine.
In one exceptionally disingenuous article, master obscurantist Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post whitewashes and romanticizes the infamous Azov battalion, a paramilitary unit enlisted by the Ukrainian government to wage war against pro-Russian separatists in the east. Why is the Azov battalion infamous? Because it’s comprised of avowed fascists who embrace Nazi insignia like the swastika, the SS bolts and the Wolfsangel. So noxious are the Azov militants, in fact, that in 2015 the US Congress actually passed an amendment (later discarded) that “limits arms, training and other assistance to the neo-Nazi Ukrainian militia, the Azov Battalion.”
Now, contrast that unequivocal characterization with the deliberately ambiguous one offered in Faiola’s story, where the Azov Nazis—now officially a part of Ukraine’s National Guard—are described as “battle-scarred patriots” who “have fought valiantly for their country.” Throughout the 1100-word piece, the battalion’s Nazi sympathies are mentioned only once, in passing, in the third-to-last paragraph.
“In one room,” Faiola writes (grudgingly, one senses), “a recruit had emblazoned a swastika above his bed. But [a platoon leader] dismissed questions of ideology, saying that the volunteers—many of them still teenagers—embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of ‘romantic idea.’”
And lest his readers be made uncomfortable by the disquieting revelation, Faiola finishes on a strong Russophobic note, assuring us that “the group’s primary goal is defending its country against Russian aggression” and quoting the platoon leader’s assertion that “Putin is the new Stalin.”
In other words, let’s not dwell on such trifles as resurgent Nazism in Europe. We’ve got a reincarnation of Uncle Joe on our hands.
Clearly, the editors over at the Washington Post couldn’t care less about opposing the rise and spread of neo-fascism; and the same, of course, can be said of the New York Times (you can read about their efforts to soft-pedal Ukrainian Nazis here). The Post even appears amenable to the notion that the swastika—forever synonymous with mass murder—holds a sort of mystical “romantic” appeal, so long as it’s brandished by people who share our fear and loathing of all things Russian. In view of that, any criticism of Steve Bannon and the alt-right from either outlet can and should be disregarded as a load of hypocritical shit. When Bannon masterminds America’s next nation-building exercise, you can bet your bottom cent our “papers of record” will reprise their roles as war-loving cheerleaders.