29 Nov 2016

The WaPo’s Absurd Conspiracy Theory About Conspiracy Theorists

Politics 10 Comments

Everybody and his brother has made fun of this recent WaPo piece. In case you missed it, here’s the punchline:

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton…say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers…

Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment…The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.

But now for my contribution to the discussion. Others have alluded to the hypocrisy, but I don’t recall seeing someone literally quote the following:

The Russian campaign during this election season, researchers from both groups say, worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination with “buzzy” content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate world events.

Just read that above quotation again. Is it not delicious? Did the WaPo writer realize he was doing that? I can’t decide which answer I prefer.

10 Responses to “The WaPo’s Absurd Conspiracy Theory About Conspiracy Theorists”

  1. Daniel Kuehn says:

    OK I can agree with you on this. This “fake news” obsession is bizarre.

    The consensus seems to be Russians didn’t sit on their hands this election. I doubt they did. But the boogey man stories that have been built up from that and that hysteria around what is either clickbait or eccentrics like Alex Jones (neither of which are new to the internet!) is nuts.

    • Ivan Jankovic says:

      it;s not bizarre at all: producing fake news and propagating them in Western media is a very old KGB tactic. It’s called “dezynformatsia” or sometimes “active measures”. Nothing new or original, let alone “bizarre”, here. Cold facts.

    • Ivan Jankovic says:

      Greenwald may not be a friend of the American right, but is a big friend of Vladimir Putin. who is a big friend of Trump’.Sapienti sat

      • Jim says:

        Of course. It’s obvious on the face of it given an understanding of Greenwald’s KGB connections.

        Greenwald is a friend of Russia because he broke the Snowden case. Anyone that’s against neocon fascism and pro-constitution is obviously a Russian spy. Sapienti (though not much apparently) sat.

        Even Ron Paul *gasp* – also on your “list” Mr. McCarthy.

  2. Trevor Peck says:

    Reminds me of other examples of Liar’s Paradox like:

    What happens if Pinocchio says, “This is a lie”


    The following sentence is false. The previous sentence is true.

    I don’t know which answer I prefer either (it’s funny both ways); either way seems to reinforce the point – fake news is a real thing, even in articles about fake news.

    But my real question is: How long did it take you to stop laughing long enough to craft this post? I read it four hours ago and it still strikes me as funny and makes me giggle every once in a while.

    I just read it again – yep, still funny!

    – Trevor.

  3. Max says:

    Gotta love the Onionesque “Experts Say” in the title.

  4. Yancey Ward says:

    Part of me wants to believe the WaPo story was a well constructed satire since it actually reads that way.

  5. DZ says:

    Maybe the Russians created this clearly over-the-top WaPo story to reverse-psychology people into thinking they DIDN’T do anything!

  6. Tel says:

    It’s only a “conspiracy” when the other guy is doing it.

    It’s only a “conspiracy theory” when the other guy seems to have got wind that we are doing it.

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