MSNBC Pundit Goes To Fight In Ukraine, Acts Like A Disruptive Troll And Leaves

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readMar 26, 2023

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One year ago then-MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance announced he had left the network to join the fight against Russia with the Ukrainian International Legion, telling MSNBC’s Joy Reid “I’m done talking” to much fanfare from the blue-and-yellow-flag-waving crowd.

A year later, The New York Times has published a report which would seem to indicate that Nance was not done talking after all.

In an article titled “Stolen Valor: The U.S. Volunteers in Ukraine Who Lie, Waste and Bicker,” the Times describes how foreign volunteer fighters “who lack the skills or discipline to assist effectively” are hindering the war effort, saying that “people who would not be allowed anywhere near the battlefield in a U.S.-led war are active on the Ukrainian front — often with unchecked access to weapons and military equipment.”

The New York Times’ Justin Scheck and Thomas Gibbons-Neff name several of these problematic volunteers who “lie, waste and bicker,” including well-known American volunteer fighter James Vasquez, whom they confront about lies they’ve discovered he told in order to get himself to the frontline in Ukraine. But like many articles in the mainstream media, the chewiest bits aren’t found until many paragraphs down.

From the article:

Malcolm Nance, a former Navy cryptologist and MSNBC commentator, arrived in Ukraine last year and made a plan to bring order and discipline to the Legion. Instead, he became enmeshed in the chaos.

Mr. Nance, whose TV appearances have made him one of the most visible Americans supporting Ukraine, was an experienced military operator. He drafted a code of honor for the organization and, by all accounts, donated equipment.

Today, Mr. Nance is involved in a messy, distracting power struggle. Often, that plays out on Twitter, where Mr. Nance taunted one former ally as “fat” and an associate of “a verified con artist.”

He accused a pro-Ukraine fund-raising group of fraud, providing no evidence. After arguing with two Legion administrators, Mr. Nance wrote a “counterintelligence” report trying to get them fired. Central to that report is an accusation that one Legion official, Emese Abigail Fayk, fraudulently tried to buy a house on an Australian reality TV show with money she didn’t have. He labeled her “a potential Russian spy,” offering no evidence. Ms. Fayk denied the accusations and remains with the Legion.

Mr. Nance said that as a member of the Legion with an intelligence background, when he developed concerns, he “felt an obligation to report this to Ukrainian counterintelligence.”

Scheck and Gibbons-Neff report that “Mr. Nance has left Ukraine,” which would make sense if that was how he was behaving. Perhaps he was asked to leave, or perhaps he left on his own because so many people hated him.

In case you’re unaware, Malcolm Nance has an extensive history of telling brazen lies to advance the interests of the US empire, and has suffered no professional consequences as a pundit for doing so. As journalist Glenn Greenwald has documented over the years, these include making the objectively false claim on MSNBC that former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein “has a show on Russia Today,” falsely asserting that the WikiLeaks documents published ahead of the 2016 election were “riddled with obvious forgeries,” and falsely accusing Greenwald himself of being “an agent of Trump and Moscow” who is “deep in the Kremlin pocket.”

It is rare for the mainstream media to push falsehoods made up whole cloth by the media employees themselves; normally mass media propaganda consists of uncritically reporting false claims made by government officials, or using half-truths, distortions and lies-by-omission to give their audiences an inaccurate picture of what’s going on. Malcolm Nance’s media career has been one so brazenly propagandistic that it makes other propagandists cringe due to his lack of subtlety, which is why even the imperial smut rags like The New York Times are spitting on him now.

This gruelling war has had very little about it that draws a smile, but at least we’ll always have the story of an odious imperial spinmeister flying to Ukraine to fight the Russians only to go home in disgrace while being spurned by his fellow propagandists after acting like an infantile troll.


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