As the Washington Post distances itself from a new, nebulous organization it recently cited as proof of Russia’s efforts to tamper with the U.S. election, Hillary Clinton has stepped into the spotlight to back the Post’s original claims.
Her reappearance comes after spending almost a month away from the public spotlight.
During a speech in honor of retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV), the defeated presidential candidate warned the country about the “fake news” epidemic. Though she didn’t cite specific examples, Hillary Clinton told the audience “that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences,” adding that now isn’t a time for politics. “Lives are at risk, lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days, to do their jobs, contribute to their communities,” she added.
The Washington Post was recently criticized for a report it published based on the research of an anonymous organization called ProporNot, which claims to identify Russian-influenced news stories on the web. In that article, Post writer Craig Timberg wrote that “Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda campaign” influenced the U.S. presidential election through independent media outlets in the U.S.
Criticizing the ProporNot’s lack of concrete evidence, insistence on remaining anonymous, unprofessional posts on Twitter, and several other red flags, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote:
“Any halfway decent editor would have been scared to death by any of these factors. Moreover, the vast majority of reporters would have needed to see something a lot more concrete than a half-assed theoretical paper from such a dicey source before denouncing 200 news organizations as traitors.
“But if that same source also demanded anonymity on the preposterous grounds that it feared being ‘targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers’? Any sane reporter would have booted them out the door. You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.”
However, in a recent update at the top of the Post article, editors explained the news organization “does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet.” The note also acknowledged that “PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.”
Though the addendum was better late than never, the Post’s semi-retraction came nearly two weeks after the original, widely-read story was published, meaning most of the damage had already been done.
Meanwhile, though she failed to cite evidence or examples of fabrication by independent media, Hillary Clinton didn’t have to feel the same public pressure as the Post when, during her last speech, she simply repeated the same unsubstantiated line she used throughout her campaign: that Russia has been behind many of the maladies the nation has encountered as over the past few months.
In fact, it was the campaign staff serving the former secretary of state that insisted on accusing WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange of being a Russian asset in the past. In truth, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Post, whose journalists have been known to donate to the Democrat’s charity organization, was just attempting to validate the Democrat’s agenda.
Hillary Clinton’s ‘Warning’: Is She Promoting Censorship?
While the speech offered little in the form of advice, Clinton was effective in urging Congress to get more done. Considering other media outlets like Time have, in the past, based entire reports on baseless hearsay, and their favored candidate did the same while on the campaign trail, it’s safe to say many mainstream news organizations find it hard to discern what the longtime politician says from fact.
If taking Clinton’s words as a call of duty is part of the media’s goal as influencers, don’t be surprised if you see more news organizations taking the same approach as the Post.
Even Congress has already started to act by clearing “a bipartisan plank that would create a new office in the State Department [to] work across multiple agencies to come up with a strategy to counter foreign propaganda efforts.”
This is an effort Clinton applauded during her speech, adding that “[i]t’s imperative that leaders in both the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy and innocent lives.”
Much like Edward Snowden, who was accused of being a Russian agent promptly after his leaks proved the federal government had been involved in mass spying for years, news organizations reporting on stories that erode the official narrative are bound to be accused of being Kremlin agents.
Now that a former senator and first lady has stepped up to publicly urge Congress and the private sector to act, it’s still unclear whether her instructions will be followed. What is clear is that this bipartisan, across-the-board support for censorship is nothing but an attack against the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.