Ridiculous Guardian smear piece results in epic satire
In perhaps one of the most ridiculous propaganda pieces of the year, The Guardian’s Olivia Solon has published an article coming to the aid of the Nusra Front propaganda wing known as the White Helmets and labeling anyone who dare criticize the group as “conspiracy theorists,” “alt right,” or “Russian propagandists.”
“The Guardian has uncovered how this counter-narrative is propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime),” she writes. Adding later that “Despite this positive international recognition, there’s a counter-narrative pushed by a vocal network of individuals who write for alternative news sites countering the ‘MSM agenda.’ Their views align with the positions of Syria and Russia and attract an enormous online audience, amplified by high-profile alt-right personalities, appearances on Russian state TV and an army of Twitter bots.”
In other words, if you don’t believe the White Helmets are precious gifts from God, you are a racist Nazi and paid Russian conspiracy theorist troll. Nice work, Olivia. We can only imagine how long it took you to come up with that. At least it’s original though . . . right?
Solon’s silly insults aside for the moment, a bulk of the article is the typical Western corporate media gushing over the White Helmets, describing them as selfless humanitarian rescuers and “heroes” saving Syrians from the evil Assad and Putin. She even goes so far as to say that the United States and UK governments launched their war and continue their proxy fight against the Syrian government in order to “stabilize” Syria.
There is little point in debunking the Western media surrounding the White Helmets in this article since I have done so many times in the past. Indeed, at the end of this article, I will post a number of links (below) that anyone unacquainted with the falsity of the Western White Helmet narrative will be well served to access and investigate.
A second major portion of the article then turns to praising the “researchers” who are, in reality, nothing more than an echo chamber for a whole international community of “Russian meddling” loons who promote McCarthyistic fear and paranoia in order to promote foreign and domestic agendas.
The next major portion of the article is simply a slander job on some of the usual suspects like Vanessa Beeley, Tim Anderson, and Eva Bartlett. Solon does not address the claims of any of these journalists, only insults them as idiots unable to tell fact from fiction, trolls, alt righters, or Russian propagandists.
Beeley seems to be the biggest target of Solon’s smear job. As Solon writes,
Separately, both Graphika and Menczer’s Hoaxy tool identify Beeley, the British blogger, as among the most influential disseminators of content about the White Helmets.
Their findings also correlate with work done by Kate Starbird from the University of Washington in Seattle, who asserts that Beeley and the alternative news site 21st Century Wire have dominated the Twitter conversation about White Helmets over the last few months, along with Sputnik and RT.com.
This is perhaps the only kernel of truth in Solon’s article. Beeley probably is the most vocal and foremost expert on the White Helmets and 21st Century Wire is most likely the most prominent website that has addressed the White Helmets fraud due to Beeley’s regular contributions to the site. Beyond that, it’s hard to find anything else in the article that might fit in the reality based community.
The best part of the entire article (besides the end of course) are the responses garnered by Solon’s attempt at contacting both Beeley and Bartlett for a comment on her already prepared hit job on the two researchers and anyone who dares question easily disproven government propaganda. Solon writes,
The Guardian contacted Beeley several times asking for comment and she declined to respond to specific queries, saying that the questions put to her were “a disgrace” containing “no relevant facts and are reminiscent of a McCarthyite interrogation”.
The Guardian also contacted Eva Bartlett, who said she had “no interest in participating in your quite evidently already-decided ‘story’ (an odd term for a journalist to use for an article)”.
Indeed, why would anyone participate in an article that is designed to do nothing but impune their character and propagandize the people reading it into believe a repeatedly debunked narrative. There is no reason for independent journalists to cooperate with corporations who almost always attempt to smear them and take their words out of context.
Just in case anyone was wondering whether or not Beeley and Bartlett’s statement would have made any difference whatsoever to the article, one can read the full email sent to Beeley by Olivia Solon which reads as follows:
I have tried contacting you on Twitter and Facebook, but I just found your email address in the comment section of your blog. I am a San Francisco-based reporter for the Guardian.
We are planning to publish a story on Monday about the people who believe that the White Helmets are terrorists and propagandists promoting an imperialist agenda.
We would really like to include your voice within the story, and so I am including the key points below. I also have a few further questions, which I have pasted at the bottom. It would be great if you could respond to this email by 10pm UK time on Sunday 8 October 2017.
Please respond to them by number and we will carefully consider any comments you make. If you do not choose to respond to the numbered points by Sunday evening, we shall proceed on the basis that you have no comment you wish to make.
1. That you form part of a truther campaign dedicated to exposing the White Helmets as having links to terrorists and being a propaganda vehicle for pushing a US imperialist agenda – they are, in your view, part of a movement to demonise and destabilise the Syrian government.
2. That you attract an enormous online audience, amplified by high-profile right-wing personalities and appearances on Russian state TV.
3. The Syria campaign argues that your work forms part of a “disinformation campaign” that is putting the lives of “peaceful humanitarians” at risk.
4. Some of the anti White Helmets stories that you and others publish centre around a few isolated incidents including: Muawiya Hassan Agha joining a jihadist group; a White Helmet who was fired after he was filmed assisting armed militants dispose of the mutilated corpses of pro-Assad fighters.
5. Some White Helmets have been photographed carrying weapons to defend themselves despite marketing themselves as unarmed.
6. There is also footage of White Helmets taking a body away from an execution carried out by rebel militants, which you claim shows they are “assisting” executions. Others say that the White Helmets are called to retrieve bodies after executions so they can be buried according to Islamic ritual.
7. The anti White Helmets campaign is supported by a Russian-led propaganda machines, which helps shape public perception in favour of Assad, raising questions about chemical weapons attacks.
8. That you went to Syria for the first time in 2016.
9. That you described your two-hour meeting with Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus in August 2016 as your “proudest moment” [Link: http://archive.is/pTqo6]
10. That you are one of the leading social media personalities promoting the idea that White Helmets are a terrorist support group and Western propaganda tool.
11. That you describe yourself as an independent, self-funded journalist but have gone on state-funded trips to Syria.
12. That you were invited on a trip to North Korea in September 2017 but were unable to attend.
13. That Assad is being demonised by the US as a means to drive regime change.
I also have a few questions for you:
1. Have you ever received any funding, payment in kind or free trips or gifts from Russia or Syria?
2. Do you believe that Assad’s army has committed any war crimes?
3. Even if you believe the White Helmets are propagandists, do you believe they are doing any good work in rescuing civilians?
Please do not hesitate to contact me on my cell phone [number removed] or email me here.
One can easily see that the premise of the article was already decided and that the questions for Beeley were entirely arranged to assess her “character” and “independence” instead of her wealth of evidence damning the White Helmets. A similar email was sent to Bartlett, asking her to clarify her “training” as a journalist. This is, of course, despite the fact that Bartlett lived in Gaza for three years and has been in and out of Syria since the conflict began covering the events in real-time and always providing evidence for her claims. After the Syrian war is finally over, we hope Bartlett and Beeley are able to teach a class on journalism and that Olivia Solon is able to attend. It might be a helpful experience for the rest of The Guardian staff as well.
Regardless, even though Solon’s article produced nothing of value on an intellectual level, it was at least the subject for good satire as social media user Rob Torito responded with a slightly updated version of questions for Solon herself.
Dear Olivia Solon (The Guardian)
We are about to publish an article about The Guardian and its role in the propaganda for regime change in Syria. Please be so kind to comment, before we publish, so that we avoid making any mistakes.
Our article will contain the following accusations.
1. That The Guardian forms part of a Syria Regime Change campaign that uses terrorists, Western founded and funded propaganda groups like the White Helmets and attacks by allied Western air forces.
2. That The Guardian has an enormous audience, amplified by it’s online publications and discussions about its findings on Western nation wide TV channels.
3. That truth seekers argue that The Guardian’s publications form part of a disinformation campaign that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of peaceful humanitarians.
4. That the Guardian prefers to describe the crimes committed by the White Helmets as those of a few rotten apples.
5. That the Guardian never reported about White Helmets being photographed carrying weapons despite marketing themselves as unarmed, waving an ISIS flag, and cheering with ISIS fighters.
6. That the Guardian never reported about White Helmets having a happy time with a truck load of dead Syrian soldiers.
7. That The Guardian never wrote that the White Helmets are founded by a British soldier.
8. That no reporter of The Guardian ever went to the battlefields in Syria for its reports about the war.
9. That The Guardian never choose to contact Assad for an interview.
10. That The Guardian is one of the leading corporate media promoting the idea that the White Helmets are neutral and heroes and not at all a propaganda tool or linked to terrorists, despite them being photographed with weapons in hands, cheering victories with ISIS fighters, and slitting the throat of a boy?
11. That The Guardian reporters make a living of forwarding the propaganda for regime change in Syria.
12. That The Guardian seeks every opportunity to paint Putin, who kicked ISIS out of Syria, as the biggest threat to world peace.
13. That The Guardian portrays Assad as a demon as a means to drive regime change.
I also have a few questions for you:
1. Have you, or The Guardian ever received any funding, payment in kind of advertisement or other support from governments like that of the UK or USA, or corporations that could be linked to the campaign to overthrow the Syrian government?
2. Do you believe that The White Helmets never committed any war crimes or other crimes, and that they are as neutral as the claim to be?
3. Even if you believe the White Helmets are neutral, and heroes, and rescuing civilians, do you believe they never slitted a boys throat, never cheered a victory of ISIS, never stole property, and never had their shelter in the same building as ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists had, or right next to it?
NB: THIS IS SATIRE.
At the end of the day, the Guardian piece was simply more of the same from an outlet that does nothing but propagandize the public in support of Western imperialism in Syria and the rest of the world. The hit piece on anti-imperialist journalists was a low blow but not an unexpected one.
One glimpse at social media comments on Facebook and Twitter, however, suggests that even The Guardian’s audience is not buying the hype. For now, we’ll just throw this in the category of yet another epic Guardian FAIL.
For those unfamiliar with the true nature of the White Helmets, the following articles are recommended reading:
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