Wednesday, June 12, 2024

‘Intel’ Sources Collude w/ AP to Falsely Smear Zero Hedge as Russian Propaganda

'Unlike Mainstream Media, we try to publish a wide spectrum of views that cover both sides of a given story...'

(Headline USA) The same intelligence community that for years brazenly spread false innuendo about former President Donald Trump’s alleged Russia ties is now targeting conservative media.

It was likely US intelligence officials during the Obama era who supported a Ukrainian color revolution that triggered the current tensions at the former Soviet satellite’s eastern border.

Now, with many of the same players having been installed back into power under President Joe Biden, the severely diminished and less credible intel community’s deep-state globalists are using Ukraine to attempt something similar against domestic opponents in the United States.

On Tuesday, Biden administration officials accused Zero Hedge—one of the country’s top conservative news websites—of amplifying Kremlin propaganda.

The saber-rattling over Russian military aggression—which effectively ended this week when Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced the withdrawal of troops following military exercises—has been used to distract and deflect from a litany of policy failures within the current administration.

Among those are the tumultuous, inflationary economy; the ongoing immigration crisis at the US–Mexico border; the persistance of authoritarian coronavirus mandates; and a growing espionage scandal tied to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, which has led to calls for the resignation of national security adviser Jake Sullivan, a former Clinton campaign adviser.

On the world stage, Biden continues to weather public outrage following his disasterous withdrawal from the 20-year war in Afghanistan, effectively surrendering to the Taliban and allowing the resurgence of terrorist groups like ISIS.

Yet, any criticism of the Biden administration’s foreign-policy warmongering by political opponents may be labeled ‘seditious’ according to new rules of order from the corrupt and politicized intel agencies.

Without supplying evidence, Biden officials claimed Zero Hedge, which has 1.2 million Twitter followers, published articles created by Moscow-controlled media that were then shared by outlets and people unaware of their nexus to Russian intelligence.

The officials did not say whether they thought Zero Hedge knew of any links to spy agencies and did not allege direct links between the website and Russia.

Zero Hedge denied the claims and said it tries to “publish a wide spectrum of views that cover both sides of a given story.”

In a response posted online Tuesday morning, the website said it “has never worked, collaborated or cooperated with Russia, nor are there any links to spy agencies.”

That response no longer appeared on the site Wednesday, but pinned to the top of Zero Hedge’s page was, instead, a satirical attack on the notoriously biased Associated Press for collaborating in the smear campaign against a rival media outlet.

The piece was titled “Associated Press Runs Counter-Intelligence for Clinton Campaign by Attacking Zero Hedge.”

The AP’s egregious slant has led conservatives increasingly to label it the “American Pravda,” a nod to the Soviet Union’s communist mouthpiece, which routinely spread state-approved propaganda.

Although one of the attacks leveled against Zero Hedge’s reporting was its use of anonymous sources, the US intelligence officials who allegedly “briefed” the Associated Press did so on the condition of anonymity in order “to discuss sensitive intelligence sources.”

It was the latest effort by President Joe Biden’s administration to push dubiously sourced information under the guise of official “intelligence,” with the expectation that few, if any, in the mainstream media would question it.

U.S. officials previously accused Putin, without furnishing any direct evidence, of planning a “false-flag” operation to create a pretext for a new invasion of Ukraine.

In reality, it appears that the administration was deploying its own psy-ops to spread disinformation in the hope of rallying public support, but with little success.

Without releasing more proof of its findings, Washington has been criticized and reminded of past intelligence failures such as the debunked allegations that pre-war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, its shameful smear attack on Trump returned to the news following recent court findings by Special Counsel John Durham that revealed Hillary Clinton had paid a tech company with access to highly sensitive internet-traffic logs to spy on Trump, both as a candidate and as president.

Zero Hedge has been sharply critical of Biden and posted stories ignored by mainstream media outlets concerning the serious allegations—and later evidence—of corruption and lawbreaking by his son Hunter.

In its response online, the website accused the AP of publishing a “bizarre hit piece” and said government officials were trying to distract from “our views of the current dismal US economic situation.”

“The bottom line is that such hit piece accusations that we somehow work with or for the Kremlin are nothing new: we have repeatedly faced similar allegations over the years, and we can absolutely confirm that all of them are ‘errors,’” the website said.

In recent months, Zero Hedge has published numerous articles that accused the U.S. of fomenting panic about Ukraine. Some of those articles are listed as being written by people affiliated with the Strategic Culture Foundation.

U.S. intelligence officials allege the foundation’s leaders ultimately take direction from the SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service.

The Biden administration sanctioned the foundation last year for allegedly taking part in Russia’s interference in the 2020 U.S. election—although those claims also appear to be highly suspect coming from the same partisan authorities who have politicized agencies like the FBI and CIA beyond the point of redemption.

Media outlets, like the AP, who accept without question those allegations of Russian interference have persistently denied clear evidence of election meddling from within the United States that helped swing the outcome for Biden.

Recent articles listed as authored by the foundation and published by Zero Hedge include those with the headlines: “NATO Sliding Towards War Against Russia In Ukraine,” “Americans Need A Conspiracy Theory They Can All Agree On” and “Theater Of Absurd… Pentagon Demands Russia Explain Troops On Russian Soil.”

In an email sent prior to its online response, the website said there “is no relationship between Strategic Cultural Foundation (or the SVR) and Zero Hedge, and furthermore this is the first time we hear someone allege that the Foundation is linked to Russian propaganda.”

“They are one of our hundreds of contributors—unlike Mainstream Media, we try to publish a wide spectrum of views that cover both sides of a given story,” the website said.

Intelligence officials on Monday named two websites they said were directed by the Strategic Culture Foundation. Three other websites are alleged to have ties to the FSB, Russia’s federal security service.

“These sites enable the Russian government to secure support among the Russian and Ukrainian populations,” one official said. “This is the primary vector for how the Russian government will bolster support domestically for an invasion into Ukraine.”

Officials described for the first time what they say are direct communications between Russian spies and the editors or directors of the media outlets. They did not release records of the communications.

FSB officers had directed Konstantin Knyrik, the head of NewsFront, to write stories specifically damaging to Ukraine’s image, U.S. officials alleged.

They said Knyrik has been praised by senior FSB officers for his work and requested derogatory information that he could use against the Caucasian Knot, a website that covers news in the mostly Muslim republics of southern Russia and neighboring countries such as Georgia.

The editor of PolitNavigator sent reports of published articles to the FSB, an official said. And the managing editor of Antifashist allegedly was directed at least once by the FSB to delete material from the site.

PolitNavigator’s editor, Sergey Stepanov, said Washington turns a blind eye to what he says are Ukraine’s anti-democratic actions and instead labels those who point them out “anti-Ukrainian propagandists” and “agents of the FSB.”

“I would like to believe that American journalism will rise above the hysteria provoked by officials,” he added.

The Strategic Culture Foundation is accused of controlling the websites Odna Rodyna and Fondsk. The foundation’s director, Vladimir Maximenko, has met with SVR handlers multiple times since 2014, officials alleged.

Several of the sites have small social media followings and may not appear influential at first glance, noted Bret Schafer, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a leftist activism group that receives considerable funding from globalist, anti-democratic oligarchs including George Soros.

But falsehoods or propaganda narratives often start small before they’re amplified by larger actors, said Schafer, who may be considered an expert in both due to his organization’s propagandist efforts.

“You see the narrative enter the information space, and it’s very hard to see where it goes from there,” he said.

A “manifesto” published in Zero Hedge’s About section defends its use of anonymous authors and proclaims its goal is “to liberate oppressed knowledge.”

An Associated Press investigation determined the site played a pivotal role in advancing the unproven theory that China engineered the virus as a bioweapon—one that likewise has yet to be disproven.

Many of the early COVID “conspiracies” dissmissed by mainstream outlets have since proven to be true, including the widely accepted lab-leak theory.

It’s also posted articles touting natural immunity to COVID-19 and unsanctioned treatments. None have been disproven scientifically, despite the cabalistic effort of media and public officials who have colluded to censor and discredit them.

Zero Hedge was also cited in a recent report by the far-left-funded Institute for Strategic Dialogue that examined how conservative media sites are harnessing COVID-19 skepticism to expand their reach as readers opt to dig deeper than the lies and misinformation being disseminated by the unreliable mainstream press.

Twitter briefly suspended Zero Hedge’s account in 2020 but reinstated it a few months later, saying it “made an error in our enforcement action in this case.”

Schafer and other left-wing activists hoped the U.S. moving to name the website could inform some people who come across its content online.

However, that effort—like others attempted by institutions that have long-since destroyed their own credibility as reliable information sources—may well backfire.

“My guess is that most of the people who are loyal Zero Hedge followers naturally are inclined to mistrust the U.S. government anyway,” he said, “and so this announcement is probably not going to undermine most of Zero Hedge’s core support.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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