“It was emotionally wrenching for me to see places like DemocracyNow!, The Intercept, The Young Turks (where I work) push RussiaGate. It… destroyed me, kind of, internally, right? It was way worse than the Iraq War for me, because at least during the Iraq War most of the people on the left were awake about it, right? But this was ubiquitous. It was just horrible…”
And here from that same segment is journalist Aaron Mate — just awarded the prestigious “Izzy” award (honoring the journalism of I.F. Stone) for his intrepid RussiaGate reporting — discussing the calamity that’s befallen journalism in America, even at supposedly independent/progressive media outlets:
“I can tell you that I tried to write this stuff at The Intercept. It wasn’t welcome there. I wrote one piece about Rachel Maddow… talking about how she covered Russia more than all other issues combined, and going through and debunking a lot of her conspiracy theories — basically arguing, very politely, that she was a propagandist. That piece did very well, but after that, I was never welcomed back at The Intercept again. And I tried.
“And I thought that… an outlet that calls itself fearless and adversarial would want to put resources to challenging the claims of intelligence officials like John Brennan (Obama’s “Kill List” managing, torture-defending DCI). And challenging this conspiracy theory that was so widespread across the corporate media… but they weren’t interested.”
“…to the Intercept’s credit, they publish Glenn Greenwald, who… pushed back on RussiaGate from the beginning (before I did). It was pretty much him and Bob Parry — the late, legendary Bob Parry (of Consortium News), a legend — so, Glenn and Bob Parry were among the first… Because Glenn has autonomy. He does whatever he wants. And they had nothing to do with what he did.”
(AUTONOMY! What a wonderful word!!!)
“Institutionally, there was a decision. This website that does such great work (they do! I love The Intercept, actually: I think it’s a great website) — but on this key issue, the one that was engulfing our politics… they made a concerted editorial decision to not be aggressive and adversarial, but to be careerist. And to go along with the prevailing narrative — and sort of burnish their adversarial bona fides through Glenn Greenwald, over whom (again) they had no editorial control.
”And that’s why, for example, they also published this really overhyped and overblown piece based on the Reality Winner leak about how Russia was trying to hack into U.S. voting systems. I mean, if you look at the actual document that they based their article on, the document itself doesn’t even show what they said it did…
“It also was basically a spearfishing attack that they were talking about, which they kind of minimized — spearfishing is not a sophisticated ‘hacking’ thing — as illustrated by the fact that whoever was carrying out this supposed ‘massive attack on our election system’ was using a Gmail address, impersonating a voting company with a Gmail address.
“And that’s why, when I had on James Risen… he couldn’t defend the substance of the article. And he hung up on me.”
“My former workplace, DemocracyNow!, which is my favorite news show, has the most noble, has such a noble legacy. And I’ve benefited a lot from it. But their top guest on RussiaGate was Marcy Wheeler, who is one of the most vocal conspiracy theorists out there…
“She also turned in her source to the FBI, who she said played a key role in what she called Russia’s attack on the election. Well, her source and her story are nowhere in the Mueller Report. And we haven’t heard her explain what happened there. And yet, she was treated (by many people) as a sort of a hero for turning in her source. When really, she was actually violating one of the core tenets of journalism: You don’t turn in your source to the government. And now we know, based on the fact that Mueller didn’t go anywhere with it, that it was totally baseless, as was her entire conspiracy theory…
“The fact that even our most noble outlets could drink the Kool-Aid and go along with it, I think really says something about how bad our media culture was.”