December 8, 2016
A few days ago, I wrote about how the Washington Post was committing “credibility suicide” with its obviously fabricated Craig Timberg story accusing Natural News and 199 other websites of being “fake news” sources controlled by the Russian government. Now, after the discredited paper has been threatened with lawsuits by several of the websites named in the WashPost’s cited source, they’ve all but admitted their entire story was surely fake to begin with.
Wednesday evening, the Washington Post added an editor’s note to the top of their story which essentially admits the Washington Post slandered and defamed 200 websites by reporting fabricated, false news derived from sources that even they no longer think are legitimate. Without offering any direct apology or retraction of their blatantly false and extremely irresponsible “fake news” story, Washington Post editors have now added this “weasel words” half-apology:
Editor’s Note: The Washington Post on Nov. 24 published a story on the work of four sets of researchers who have examined what they say are Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy and interests. One of them was PropOrNot, a group that insists on public anonymity, which issued a report identifying more than 200 websites that, in its view, wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda. A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.
In other words, the same Washington Post that relied heavily on the discredited fake news group “PropOrNot” as its primary source for the story is now admitting PropOrNot can’t be trusted at all. The editor’s note is “in effect admitting the entire story may have been… ‘fake news’ and conceding the Bezos-owned publication may have engaged in defamation by smearing numerous websites – Zero Hedge included – with patently false and unsubstantiated allegations,” writes Zero Hedge, one of the sites defamed by the Post.
$10,000 reward is still active for the identities of the PropOrNot organizers
By the way, Natural News has announced a $10,000 reward for the identities of the PropOrNot organizers, and we’ve been informed that two research groups are working on obtaining that information.
Despite the Washington Post’s admission that their original story relied on an obviously fake news source, the $10,000 reward is still being offered and Natural News intends to publicly name the PropOrNot organizers, then sue them for defamation. We further intend to name the Washington Post and Craig Timberg as co-defendants in that lawsuit.
For all we know, Craig Timberg at the Washington Post is the journo-weasel behind PropOrNot
The Washington Post’s “editor’s note” is a particularly pathetic attempt to try to weasel out of responsibility for the story, claiming the paper “did not name any of the sites” even though it relied on the PropOrNot website lists as its primary source for its story. By this reasoning, the Washington Post asserts that it can quote any shady source it wants, without any verification whatsoever, and then disclaim any liability for the defamation, loss of reputation, emotional damage and other harm caused to its intended defamation targets. For all we know, Craig Timberg himself ginned up the “PropOrNot” group so he could quote it in his own fabricated story (and then distance himself from the shady group if anyone called “bulls##t” on the Post).
The realization that this is how the Washington Post pursues “journalism” is a disgrace to the entire profession of journalism and an admission that the Washington Post has abandoned any semblance of journalistic integrity. The paper, by refusing to fire Timberg, retract the story and apologize to those affected by its shoddy reporting, is doubling down on its own well-deserved credibility suicide. As the entire world watches, a once-respected paper has transformed into a presstitute tabloid “fake news” rag right before our very eyes… and then defended its tabloid-style reporting by claiming it never said its sources could be trusted, wink wink. Seriously? This is what passes for journalism at the Washington Post now? Frankly, the National Enquirer does far more research on its sources before publishing stories.
In grokking this admission by the Post, all I can say is “Wow.” However, I will extend an olive branch of sorts to the Washington Post by promising that if the Post retracts the story and issues a prominent front-page public apology to those independent media publishers that were defamed by the Post’s shoddy reporting, I will direct my legal team to drop any further action against the Post. (Our reward and lawsuit against PropOrNot, however, shall continue.)
From this day forward, the Washington Post is synonymous with “fake news”
Zero Hedge adds the following comments about the Post’s fabricated story in the context of all the accusations of “fake news” currently making the media rounds:
As The Washingtonian notes, the implicit concession follows intense and rising criticism of the article over the past two weeks. It was “rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations,” Intercept reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton wrote, noting that PropOrNot, one of the groups whose research was cited in Timberg’s piece, “anonymous cowards.” One of the sites PropOrNot cited as Russian-influenced was the Drudge Report.
The piece’s description of some sharers of bogus news as “useful idiots” could “theoretically include anyone on any social-media platform who shares news based on a click-bait headline,” Mathew Ingram wrote for Fortune.
But the biggest issue was PropOrNot itself. As Adrian Chen wrote for the New Yorker, its methods were themselves suspect, hinting at counter-Russian propaganda – ostensibly with Ukrainian origins – and verification of its work was nearly impossible. Chen wrote “the prospect of legitimate dissenting voices being labelled fake news or Russian propaganda by mysterious groups of ex-government employees, with the help of a national newspaper, is even scarier.”
Criticism culminated this week when the “Naked capitalism” blog threatened to sue the Washington Post, demanding a retraction.
Now, at least, the “national newspaper” has taken some responsibility, however the key question remains: by admitting it never vetted its primary source, whose biased and conflicted “work” smeared hundreds of websites, this one included, just how is the Washington Post any different from the “fake news” it has been deriding on a daily basis ever since its endorsed presidential candidate lost the elections?
Do I even need to say that if you believe anything the Washington Post ever publishes again, you’re being suckered by a “fake news” propaganda publisher that now admits even it can’t trust its own sources… but doesn’t think that’s a good reason not to publish the story anyway?