The corporate news media, allied with “media watchdog” groups, many financed with global billionaire troublemaker George Soros, have trotted out a new dog whistle to attack their opponents: “fake news stories.” The issue of “fake news stories” was even raised by outgoing President Barack Obama in a news conference in Berlin with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Both leaders cited “fake news stories” as something that threatens international stability.
Of course, there are an ample number of fake news stories that emanate from disreputable and discredited websites, many of them vanity sites intending to serve as “click bait” for the unsuspecting web surfer and even a few professional journalists taken in by alarmist headlines. A number of individuals have been duped by totally fake stories written by “Sorcha Faal,” a pseudonym for David Booth, allegedly a U.S. computer programmer and which may also be a pseudonym for another individual or group of individuals. Faal, Booth, or whatever his name is acts as a cyber version of an arsonist who releases fake stories attributed to Russian intelligence sources and then sits back to assess the impact of his prankster works. The fact that a number of Russian news organizations have re-published Faal/Booth fake articles as actual news leads some to believe that U.S. intelligence plays a role in the obvious disinformation operation. Faal/Booth has a number of competitors in the field of cyber-pranksterism.
However, the most prominent purveyors of fake news stories are the very corporate media entities that decry “fake news.” There are a number of examples of corporate media trafficking in fake news. The following are a few stark examples:
- In 1981, Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for a story about an 8-year old heroin addict named “Jimmy.” Washington, DC, Mayor Marion Barry was taken in by the story and launched a city-wide effort to search for “Jimmy” and provide him with treatment. Barry claimed “Jimmy” was real but, in fact, Cooke made up the entire story of “Jimmy’s World” and Barry lied about the supposed existence of the boy. Although Cooke’s story was totally fake, Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward submitted it to the Pulitzer committee for an award for best feature writing. Woodward, who concocted the fictional “Deep Throat” source in his Watergate reporting for the Post, was never sanctioned for advancing a fake story for a supposed serious professional journalism honor. The Post can be attributed to two major “fake news stories”—”Jimmy” the heroin addict and “Deep Throat” the high-level Nixon administration source who was not FBI deputy director Mark Felt.
- New York Times reporter Jayson Blair wrote a series of fake news stories for the so-called “paper of record.” The following are a few of his fake news headlines that appeared in the Times:
October 30, 2002—”US Sniper Case Seen as a Barrier to a Confession.”
February 10, 2003—”Peace and Answers Eluding Victims of the Sniper Attacks.”
March 3, 2003—”Making Sniper Suspect Talk Puts Detective in Spotlight.”
March 27, 2003—”Relatives of Missing Soldiers Dread Hearing Worse News.”
April 3, 2003—”Rescue in Iraq and a ‘Big Stir’ in West Virginia.”
April 7, 2003—”For One Pastor, the War Hits Home.”
April 19, 2003—”"In Military Wards, Questions and Fears from the Wounded.”
Blair made up from whole cloth stories about the DC sniper and Iraq war veterans. In all, 36 of the 73 national stories penned by Blair were fake. However, a number of media outlets, including the Times, reported as fact fake stories about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” all of which were false. New York Times reporter Judith Miller reported as fact information from Iraqi exiled leader Ahmed Chalabi alleging that Iraq possessed mobile weapons laboratories. The information was false, as was other U.S. “intelligence” on Iraq that was fed Miller and other reporters that was all bogus, including stories on Saddam Hussein allegedly trying to procure yellow cake uranium from Niger.
- In May 1998, Stephen Glass of The New Republic wrote an article titled “Hack Heaven” about a 15-year old hacker and a non-existent software firm called “Jukt Micronics.” It was later determined that 27 articles Glass wrote for The New Republic were fabrications.
- USA Today reporter and Pulitzer nominee Jack Kelly allegedly fabricated a number of stories for the newspaper, including a 1999 story alleging that the Yugoslavian armed forces was ordered to ethnically cleanse an Albanian village in Kosovo.
- The Dateline NBC story of November 17, 1992, titled “Waiting to Explode” and alleging that poor fuel tank design caused General Motors’ pick-up trucks to explode on impact was based on rigged tests and staged explosions.
- NBC anchor Brian Williams was suspended after making several false claims about his prior reporting. He claimed to have been riding on board an Army Chinook helicopter that was forced to land in an Iraqi desert after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. The story was false as was another in which Williams claimed to have flown into Baghdad with Navy SEAL Team 6. Williams also falsely claimed to have seen a man commit suicide in the New Orleans Superdome in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Williams also claimed to have personally witnessed the Berlin Wall coming down. He was not in Berlin until a day after the wall fell.
- In 2013, CBS “60 Minutes” interviewed a U.S. security contractor who claimed he witnessed the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. The contractor was not in Benghazi during the attack and the account was bogus.
- Rolling Stone published a falsified story in 2014 about a University of Virginia gang rape victim named “Jackie” and school administrator Nicole Eramo. The magazine falsely claimed that Eramo covered up rape incidents at the university. A federal jury later found that Rolling Stone libeled Eramo.
- Several news organizations falsely claimed that security guard Richard Jewell was the chief suspect in the July 27, 1996, bombing of Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Jewell successfully sued CNN, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (“FBI suspects ‘hero’ guard may have planted bomb”), NBC, and The New York Post for libel.
- Fox News often featured a commentator named Wayne Simmons, described by the network as a former CIA “operative.” In fact, Simmons never worked for the CIA and he was a fraud. He was later sentenced to 33 months in prison for his fraudulent activities.
The corporate media is legitimized by a very phony “arbiter” of what and what does not constitute accurate news: the very problematic Snopes.com. Snopes traffics in as much fakery in its “debunking” of alternative media articles as does the corporate media in its national and international reporting.
It is clear that Obama, Merkel, the Soros operation, and others are attacking “fake news stories” in order to hide the real target for their invective rhetoric: the alternative media, which does not kow-tow to corporate executives, advertisers, and special interests ranging from Big Pharma to the Israeli Lobby. The alternative media provides the lifeblood for the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. The corporate media is a bloated and deceitful artifice whose time is coming to an end.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2016 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).