Today In Empire: War Machine-Funded War Games, Facebook Censors Hersh, And More
There’s a lot happening in the life of the empire, so we’re doing another multi-story article to wrap it all up. Today we’re discussing four stories:
- Facebook is censoring multiple articles by Seymour Hersh.
- Weapons industry-funded think tank helps Congress discover that Taiwan needs way more weapons.
- The New York Times really, really doesn’t like RFK Jr.
- Twitter drops its “state-affiliated media” and “government-funded media” labels.
1. Facebook is censoring multiple articles by Seymour Hersh.
Facebook has begun censoring a Substack article by journalist Seymour Hersh which asserts that the US government, in coordination with Norway, was behind the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines last September.
First flagged by author Michael Shellenberger on Twitter, this censorship is still occuring as of this writing some 36 hours later. If you try to share Hersh’s article on Facebook, as soon as you paste the URL you get a notification which warns, “Before you share this content, you might want to know that there’s additional reporting from Faktisk. Pages and websites that repeatedly publish or share false news will see their overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways.” It also includes a link to a month-old article by Faktisk.no, a Norwegian “fact-checking” website produced in cooperation with Norwegian mass media and Norway’s state broadcasting company NRK.
Facebook then gives you the option to “Cancel” or “Share Anyway”. If you opt for the latter, Facebook censors the article by pixelating the share like they would for images of extreme gore or hardcore pornography, and attaching a giant warning label on it saying “False information. Checked by independent fact-checkers.” Facebook does not explain how a “fact-checking” company which operates in conjunction with Norwegian state media can be regarded as “independent” regarding an article which explicitly accuses the Norwegian government of extremely egregious crimes.
If you click through the second warning, you can finally get to Hersh’s article. If you click the option to “See why” the article is being hidden from visibility, you are taken to a Faktisk.no article “Flere feil om norsk innblanding i Nord Stream-sabotasjen” (“More mistakes about Norwegian interference in the Nord Stream sabotage,” subtitled “The award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh accuses Norway of being behind the Nord Stream explosions. But his article contains several errors.” per machine translation).
The article disputes Hersh’s claims using arguments that have been circulating since February, many of which have been disputed. But whether you think Hersh’s claims are valid or not, his reporting is indisputably a part of the conversation about the Nord Stream sabotage and is newsworthy in itself. The world’s largest social media platform is straightforwardly interfering in news distribution.
Facebook is also censoring another article by Hersh published earlier this month which alleges that the Ukrainian government has been embezzling at least $400 million from US taxpayers to illicitly purchase diesel fuel from Russia, and that the CIA knows about this. If you paste the URL into the Facebook share box to that article you get a warning like the one for the Nord Stream article, only this one includes a link to an article by the empire-funded Ukrainian infowar website StopFake.
As Mintpress News’ Alan MacLeod reported last year, StopFake is funded by the CIA cutout National Endowment for Democracy and the empire-funded NATO think tank The Atlantic Council, as well as the British government and the Czech Republic. Despite this extremely obvious conflict of interest, Facebook has the temerity to call StopFake an “independent fact-checker” in the warnings it provides while censoring Hersh’s Ukraine article. One even goes so far as to say that “Independent fact-checkers say that this information has no basis in fact.”
The Ukraine article is pixelated just like the Nord Stream one:
The StopFake article looks nothing remotely like an “independent fact-checker”, written in typical ham-fisted Ukrainian infowar style beneath the words “FAKE” in red capital letters and citing nothing besides government assertions and its own forceful tone.
Dismissing the renowned journalist Seymour Hersh’s article as his “personal blog,” StopFake informs us that “American auditors and the White House have repeatedly stressed that after more than a year of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, they found no violations by Ukraine in the use of Western weapons and material assistance.”
Oh well okay then.
2. Weapons industry-funded think tank helps Congress discover that Taiwan needs way more weapons.
The House of Representatives’ Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party decided to roleplay as generals in a war game simulating a PRC attack on Taiwan. The war game was facilitated by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank, whose top donors include war industry giants Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing, as well as the US Department of Defense and the de facto embassy of Taiwan.
Now this is going to surprise you and astonish you and take you aback, but believe it or not the war game conducted by the weapons industry-funded think tank has revealed that Taiwan is going to need a lot more weapons.
“We are well within the window of maximum danger for a Chinese Communist Party invasion of Taiwan, and yesterday’s war game stressed the need to take action to deter CCP aggression and arm Taiwan to the teeth before any crisis begins,” said the incredibly hawkish chairman of the Select Committee Mike Gallagher in a statement.
Another thing that’s going to shock and astonish and surprise you (and you might want to sit down for this one) is that none of the reporting on this war game from the political/media class has made any mention of the immense conflict of interest that the Center for a New American Security would necessarily have in this war game. Articles by Reuters, The Hill and The National Review ominously informing their audiences of the grave findings of the war game have made precisely zero mention of the think tank’s funders, giving the impression that these are just impartial foreign policy experts and not indirect employees of the war profiteering industry.
As I never tire of reminding my readers, this is journalistic malpractice. It is never legitimate to mention war machine-funded think tanks promoting more war and militarism without also informing readers of their obvious conflict of interest in the matter.
The Center for a New American Security is one of the nastiest think tanks pulling strings in the information ecosystem today. As we discussed last year when CNAS bizarrely hosted another one of its “war games” on MSNBC, it has extensive degrees of overlap with the Biden administration and has been playing a crucial role in marketing war with China to American liberals.
One of the most insane things happening in the world right now is the way the entire political/media class routinely cites war machine-funded think tanks in the promotion and formulation of important foreign policy decisions without ever disclosing this extreme conflict of interest to the public. Future generations, if there are future generations, will scarce believe we once allowed war profiteers to directly influence government policies on war and militarism using the money they made from profiting off war and militarism. It’s one of the most evil arrangements you could possibly come up with.
3. The New York Times really, really doesn’t like RFK Jr.
The New York Times has published an article in its “news” section — not labeled “opinion” or anything — smearing Robert F Kennedy Jr for his Democratic presidential primary candidacy with jaw-dropping aggression.
The article’s author, Trip Gabriel, comes right out of the gate claiming that Kennedy has announced a presidential campaign built on “shaking Americans’ faith in science.” Again, I cannot stress this enough, this is presented by The New York Times as a hard news story.
Gabriel describes Kennedy’s campaign announcement speech as “rambling”, calls him a “fringe” presidential aspirant, and strongly implies that Kennedy is only running to bring attention to himself. He goes out of his way to say that Kennedy’s campaign has “appalled” members of his famous Democratic family, and quotes a former aide to Ted Kennedy as saying RFK Jr’s presidential run is “contrary to everything his uncle Ted Kennedy ever did.”
I’m not going to support any US presidential candidate and it’s as certain as sunrise that whoever gets sworn in on January 2025 will be a corrupt and murderous swamp monster like all the rest, but I do expect that candidates like Kennedy will cause the propaganda machine to overextend itself in some ways that can be useful in highlighting its nefariousness for the public. Framing an obvious spin piece as hard news is brazen journalistic malpractice, one more item on the mountain of evidence that The New York Times is garbage.
4. Twitter drops its “state-affiliated media” and “government-funded media” labels.
In some positive news, Twitter has taken the unannounced step of removing all “government-funded” and “state-affiliated media” labels from all accounts of every national origin. The “state-affiliated media” labels have been removed from accounts like RT and Press TV, as well as from individuals who’d been branded with that label because of their associations with state media, and the “government-funded” label has been removed from outlets like NPR, PBS and CBC.
If this turns out to be a permanent move, it is an objectively good thing. The use of these labels has always been blatantly propagandistic and obscenely biased in favor of the US and its allies, and should never have happened in the first place. It’s not Twitter’s place to make sure people trust western propaganda outlets and distrust propaganda outlets from Russia and China; that’s the role of a propagandist, not an impartial platform for free communication.
I’ve been very critical of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover and generally dismissive of claims that his ownership is a marked improvement over the previous owners, but if this is for real I’ll have to eat a big steaming pile of crow, because Twitter functioning less as a US propaganda organ is indisputably a significant improvement. If his free speech values aren’t just limited to easing hate speech restrictions and actually create a more egalitarian information ecosystem on real matters of international consequence, I was definitely wrong, and the platform is better off under his control.
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