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ATTN’s videos may exceed 1.5 billion monthly views – Progressive except for Palestine?

ATTN’s videos may exceed 1.5 billion monthly views – Progressive except for Palestine?

ATTN: co-founder Jarrett Moreno
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | August 8, 2017

Look for an array of of short, snappy, professionally made social media videos to expose injustice, racism, and numerous other issues in the coming months.

But don’t expect them to expose Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, or the role of the Israel lobby in pushing for war.

In fact, if past actions are any indication, the videos may instead extoll the virtues of Israel, despite the country’s ongoing record of human rights abuses, systemic discrimination, and violent militarism.

A new digital media company known as ATTN: is forming partnerships with traditional media companies and others to produce “social issues” videos with a potential reach of well over 1.5 billion video views per month.

ATTN: stands for “attention.” The colon is part of the official name. The company was founded in 2014 with $4 million seed money that quickly grew to $22 million. By 2016 it was reportedly already getting over 400 million monthly video views and receiving more than 2 billion monthly impressions.

The media partnerships are with ABC News and the Tribune Media Company, which are eager to reach younger, Internet-focused audiences, and are expected to increase ATTN:’s already extensive reach.

The videos will be disseminated on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and will especially target younger audiences who rarely watch TV news programs. ATTN: sees its main audience as what it calls “mature millenials” – people in the 25-34 year-old range. While the segments will be designed for social media, they may also appear on ABC News’ TV broadcasts.

This is part of a larger strategy in which ATTN: is working with clients such as HBO, Bloomberg, and REI to produce videos that will drive consumers to their companies.

‘Issues-driven to make a social impact’

ATTN: calls itself “an issues-driven media company. Reuters reports that ATTN: “produces video and news pieces focused on a variety of political and social issues such as abortion and anti-Semitism.” Its commercial angle, as an Ad Week article put it, is to produce “socially-minded branded content.”

The New York Times reports that the company is “targeting progressive-leaning young people,” and its work is reliably leftish. Its website announces: “At our core, ATTN: believes in informing people to make a social impact.” The Los Angeles Business Journal calls it a “politically liberal news and advocacy site,” and its collection of videos largely bear this out.

There is one subject area, however, in which its progressive stance seems to be missing: Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Past actions suggest that the company and its founders may be what are known as “PEPs – Progressive Except Palestine.”

PEPs typically oppose racism and oppression and support indigenous peoples, equal rights, justice, freedom, and the rights of prisoners – except when it comes to Palestinians.*

On that topic, they support Israel’s “right to exist,” (i.e. its right to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population and discriminate against Muslims and Christians) and tend to overlook, minimize, or even justify its periodic slaughters in Gaza; its vast imprisonment of men, women, and children, often without even a semblance of judicial process; its confiscation of farmers’ land; demolition of family homes; its seemingly never-ending military occupation; and its systemic discrimination against Palestinians and other non-Jews.

Invisible Palestinians

ATTN:, despite its record of covering almost every current social justice issue, sometimes multiple times, seems to have ignored Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. In fact, what articles and videos ATTN: has produced on the subject praise Israel and ignore the Palestinians entirely.

An ATTN: video praising Israel describes “an idyllic secluded greenhouse nestled in the mountains of Galilee.” The ‘social issues’ video, which has received over 5.3 million views on Facebook, fails to mention the plight of Palestinians in Galilee.

One example is “The Major Way Israel Is Putting America to Shame on Marijuana,” which states: “The Israeli government’s stance on medical marijuana research and the country’s cultural landscape make it far friendlier to marijuana than the puritanical policies of the U.S. government.” The piece, quite likely, is helpful to Israeli companies marketing marijuana to the U.S.

The article discusses “an idyllic secluded greenhouse nestled in the mountains of Galilee,” but does not mention that the Galilee is notorious for the Israeli governmental policies that discriminate against the Christian population and that are increasingly squeezing Palestinians out.

Salah Sawaid stands on the last area of arable land available to the village of Ramya in the Galilee. An Israeli court ruled that the Palestinian village must be bulldozed. (Photo Jonathan Cook)

The article quotes an Israeli who says: “The Jewish people also feel a responsibility to perform ‘tikkun olam,’ repairing the world and improving the human condition.” The Israeli links Israel’s policies on medical marijuana to “its social and culture valuation of life, as characterized in the Talmud.”

While Israel’s marijuana policies may be as enlightened as the article says, the claim about Israeli culture’s “valuation of life” seems more questionable, given Israeli policies and practices.

In fact, Israel’s numerous aggressive wars and invasions of the Palestinian Territories and surrounding countries, its consistent killing of large numbers of civilians, the fact that Israelis who have killed Palestinians in cold blood are rarely or minimally punished, and the sometimes very explicit statements by some Israeli personages suggest that Israel’s “valuation of life” often only applies to Israeli life.

ATTN:’s mention of the Talmud ignores the uncomfortable fact that like probably all religious texts, the Talmud’s messages are mixed. Among the Talmud’s many benevolent passages are some that are deeply problematic, and these are particularly relevant to extremist portions of the Israeli public and leadership.

Israeli author Israel Shahak, who was endorsed by progressive icons Noam Chomsky and Edward Said, translates some of these passages in his books, and reports that some religious teachings have very different meanings than are commonly portrayed:

“In numerous cases general terms such as “thy fellow,” “stranger,” or even “man” are taken to have an exclusivist chauvinistic meaning. The famous verse “thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself” (Leviticus, 19:18) is understood by classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism as an injunction to love one’s fellow Jew, not any fellow human. Similarly, the verse “neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy fellow” (ibid., 16) is supposed to mean that one must not stand idly by when the life (“blood”) of a fellow Jew is in danger; but, as will be seen in Chapter 5, a Jew is in general forbidden to save the life of a Gentile, because “he is not thy fellow.” (Shahak’s book, Jewish History, Jewish Religion,, can be downloaded or read online here.)

Israel’s alleged “valuation of life” is hard to square with the statement by Israel’s former chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, who called for the Israeli army to mass-murder Palestinians: “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1000. And if they don’t stop after 1000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million.”

Some booklets distributed by the Israel Defense Forces rabbinate called for the killing of civilians. The chief rabbi taught that soldiers who “show mercy” toward the enemy in wartime will be “damned.” A book by two Israeli rabbis, The King’s Torah, teaches that killing infants is permissible.

Writer Stephen Lendman reports that some Israeli rabbis teach that “the ten commandments don’t apply to non-Jews. So killing them in defending the homeland is acceptable, and according to the chairman of the Jewish Rabbinic Council: ‘There is no such thing as enemy civilians in war time. The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them…. A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.’”

Similar statements by Israeli officials are reported frequently in the Israeli media, even on the filtered English language websites. They are also sometimes taught in the United States. Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman, “world-renowned author, lecturer and philosopher; and co-founder of Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies,” wrote:

“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).

Friedman wrote that “living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations.”

Again, ATTN: misses the situation for Palestinians

Another ATTN: article and video is How One Country Nailed the Solution to Its Drought, about Israel’s desalinization projects.

The video, which got over 30 million views on Facebook, tells how Israel’s desalinization work is superior to the U.S., while leaving out the fact that the U.S. gives Israel $10 million per day. According to the video Israel now has “a surplus of water.”

The laudatory video repeats some of the founding myths of Israel, while omitting the fact that Israel gets much of its water by taking it from the Palestinian Occupied Territories and its neighbors. Reporter Charlotte Silver writes in her investigative article “Israel’s water miracle that wasn’t“:

Israel credits its use of desalination plants and drip-irrigation with enabling the desert to bloom – the iconic image reinforcing the still-lingering notion that the land of historic Palestine was a dry one, while further impressing Israel’s world audience with the young country’s wizardry with water.

Less attention is given to the Knesset report commissioned in 2002, nearly four decades after Israel’s national water carrier began diverting the Jordan river to Israeli citrus orchards in the Negev region. The report concluded that the region’s ongoing water crisis – a desiccated Jordan river and shrinking Dead Sea – was “primarily man-made”.

In 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with California Governor Jerry Brown and bragged that, unlike California, “Israel doesn’t have a water problem.”

Silver writes: “The visit – and the message it carried – are just the latest in the PR ploys aptly called ‘bluewashing’. Israel doesn’t have a ‘water problem’ because it steals water from Palestinians.”

Camilla Corridin similarly reports in “Israel: Water as a tool to dominate Palestinians:

Since it occupied the West Bank in 1967, Israel has laid hands on Palestinian water resources through discriminatory water-sharing agreements that prevented Palestinians from maintaining or developing their water infrastructure through its illegal planning and permit regime. As a result, thousands of Palestinians are unable to access sufficient water supplies and became water-dependent on Israel.

By building on the myth of a water-scarce region – Ramallah has more rainfall than London – Israel has deliberately denied Palestinians control over their water resources and successfully set the ground for water domination, granting itself a further tool to exercise its hegemony over the occupied population and territory.

ATTN: founders Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno

Entrepreneurs Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno founded ATTN: in 2014. (Photo from the OurTime.org “Generation Now Inaugural Youth Ball,” January 19, 2013. The two also co-founded Our Time.)

At 32 and 31, ATTN: co-founders Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno are part of the generation they’re hoping to influence. Both seem to be Israel partisans.

An ATTN: article by Segal (who will now also be an ABC on-air contributor) criticizes the nonviolent movement known as BDS (boycott, divest, sanction), which is attempting to use financial pressure to  push Israel to end its violations of Palestinian human rights and of international law.

In his article Segal claims that BDS is a “catalyst” for antisemitism. He quotes the pro-Israel Simon Wiesenthal Center’s claim that BDS is a “thinly-disguised effort to coordinate and complement the violent strategy of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim ‘rejectionists’ who have refused to make peace with Israel,” which reverses reality (see also this , this, and this).

Segal quotes Jewish students who oppose BDS, but provides no information from the diverse collection of students who support it, many of whom are also Jewish, and ignores the Israeli violence against and subjugation of Palestinians that elicited the BDS movement.

A featured ATTN: video continues this theme in a video entitled “The Rise of Anti-Semitism in the United States.” Like Segal’s article, the film connects criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism.

The video highlights an unsubstantiated claim by the ADL that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States jumped 86 percent in one year,” superimposing the statement on a photo of Jewish children in Israel.

The video claims that anti-Semitism on the left is due to “anti-Israel sentiment,” and includes a warning by the UK’s Mark Gardner about the alleged prevalence of anti-semitism.

What the scare video doesn’t reveal is that The ADL and Mark Gardner are pro-Israel partisans who conflate criticism of Israel with “anti-Semitism,” and that this conflation is part of an ongoing campaign to change the meaning of the word.

What Jarrett Moreno missed on his visit to Israel

ATTN: co-founder Jarrett Moreno shows a similar pro-Israel bias.

In 2013 he posted a series of Instagram photos during a trip to Israel. As an individual responsible for an organization that claims to be socially concerned and against racism, Moreno shows a surprising lack of awareness about Israel’s past and present oppression of Palestinians.

In one of his posts, Moreno is wearing a hat with an Israeli flag emblem on it and  writes: “An American feeling at home in the ancient city of Tzfat.”

Another name for Tzfat is Sefad or Safad. It’s an ancient, religiously mixed site (some have speculated that it was the location of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, although most today believe this to have been at another nearby location.)

In 1945 Safad’s population of 12,000 was approximately 80 percent Palestinian. In 2003 the Palestinian population was under one percent. Jewish, Muslims and Christians having been forced out by Israel’s founding war and its policies since.

In 2010 an Israeli journalist called it “the most racist city in Israel.” Its 18 senior rabbis had ordered residents not to rent to non-Jews and some Palestinian homes were attacked to chants of “Death to the Arabs.” In 2016 Safed’s chief rabbi posted on Facebook that the Israeli army should stop arresting Palestinians and instead should “execute them and leave no one alive.”

Another Instagram post says: “Iced coffee & goofy smiles in #Israel #KiryatGat”.

Former San Francisco Chronicle journalist Henry Norr gave some background on this city in his 2008 article “The Nakba, Intel, and Kiryat Gat“:

Sixty years ago, there was no Kiryat Gat. The land it now occupies was divided between two Palestinian villages, al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya. While the area is well within the Green Line, Israel’s 1949-67 border, its history is in one way unique: Israeli forces never captured it during the 1948-49 war. Egyptian forces occupied it in late May 1948, and although later Israeli counter-offensives broke up their front and laid siege to the two villages — known at the time as the “Faluja pocket” — the 4,000 Egyptian troops deployed there (including a young officer named Gamal Abdel Nasser, soon to become president of his country) held out until Egypt and Israel agreed to an armistice on 24 February 1949.

That’s when the Nakba befell al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya.*

Stranded and surrounded, the Egyptians were in no position to stay in the area. To their credit, however, they insisted as a condition of their withdrawal that Israel guarantee the safety of the civilians in the area — about 2,000 locals and some 1,100 refugees from other parts of Palestine.

In principle, Israel accepted the Egyptians’ demand. In an exchange of letters that were filed with the United Nations and appended to the main armistice agreement, the two governments agreed that civilians who wished to remain in al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya would be permitted to do so, and that “All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects.”

Within days, however, it was clear that the agreement wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Under the direction of Yitzhak Rabin (later Prime Minister of Israel), and probably with the direct approval of founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, according to historian Benny Morris, Israeli troops promptly mounted “a short, sharp, well-orchestrated campaign of low-key violence and psychological warfare designed to intimidate the inhabitants into flight.”

Residents of al-Faluja flee in 1949. (Palestine Remembered) Members of an American Quaker relief mission who were in the area at the time kept a diary of the violence they observed, such as the case of a man brought to them with “two bloody eyes, a torn ear, and a face pounded until it was blue.” And UN observers reported not only beatings and robberies, but also cases of attempted rape and “promiscuous firing” on civilians by Israeli soldiers.

What Morris labels “low-key,” however, probably didn’t seem so to the victims. He himself quotes a survivor’s testimony that the Israeli army “created a situation of terror, entered the houses and beat the people with rifle butts.”

Members of an American Quaker relief mission who were in the area at the time kept a diary detailing the violence they observed, such as the case of a man brought to them with “two bloody eyes, a torn ear, and a face pounded until it was blue.” And UN observers reporting to Ralph Bunche, the distinguished African-American diplomat then serving as chief UN mediator in Palestine, noted not only beatings and robberies, but also cases of attempted rape and “promiscuous firing” on civilians by Israeli soldiers.

Israel supporters, of course, are quick to dismiss even such eyewitness accounts as exaggerations if not outright fabrications. But even the most ardent Zionist can’t easily dismiss one other source who documented what happened in the Faluja pocket: Israel’s own foreign minister at the time, Moshe Sharett. Observing the blatant contradiction between the solemn diplomatic commitment his government had just undertaken and the behavior of its forces on the ground, he worried that it might jeopardize Israel’s campaign to gain UN membership. On 6 March 1949, just ten days after the agreement with the Egyptians, he fired off an angry memo to the Israeli army, charging that its actions in al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya were throwing into question “our sincerity as a party to an international agreement.” Noting that Israel was trying to argue at the UN that it was not responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem, he wrote, “From this perspective, the sincerity of our professions is tested by our behavior in these villages. … Every intentional pressure aimed at uprooting [the local population] is tantamount to a planned act of eviction on our part.”

Sharett objected not only to the overt violence, but also to what he said was a “whispering propaganda campaign” conducted covertly by the Israeli army, threatening the civilians with “attacks and acts of vengeance by the army” if they didn’t leave the area. “This whispering propaganda is not being done of itself,” Sharett continued. “There is no doubt that here there is a calculated action aimed at increasing the number of those going to the Hebron Hills [then controlled by Jordan] as if of their own free will, and, if possible, to bring about the evacuation of the whole civilian population” of the Faluja pocket.

… By mid-March all of al-Faluja’s residents had abandoned their homes; the residents of ‘Iraq al-Manshiya held out longer, but after several shootings by Israeli sentries, the last of them — some 1,160 people — left in Red Cross-organized convoys on 21 and 22 April.

Five days later, Rabin ordered the demolition of both villages.

In sum, they fell victim to the same tactics Israeli forces had perfected during the ethnic cleansing of the rest of their new state over the previous year. The only thing unusual about al-Faluja and ‘Iraq al-Manshiya was that Israel had formally promised not to do what it did, that so many Westerners were on hand to document the process, and that even a top Israeli official provided confirmation of their accounts.

Gaza enters the picture, sort of

Jarrett Moreno (right) with Israeli Guy Amir (posted on Instagram July 27, 2014)

In 2014, the year after Moreno’s trip, Israel invaded Gaza, yet again (its previous major invasion had been 2008-9). Moreno, now back in the U.S., responded with a July 27 Instagram photo of himself with an Israeli friend. He comments:

“Thinking of my friend Guy Amir and many thousands of Israelis who dropped school and work to respond to more than a decade of rocket attacks from Hamas.”

In the “decade of rocket attacks” that Moreno mentions, rockets from Gaza had killed 23 Israelis. Moreno doesn’t mention that during the same period, Israeli forces had killed about 4,000 Gazans and injured tens of thousands.

Moreno’s post goes on to say:

Hoping for safety and peace for my friends through the Middle East, the citizens of Gaza + Israel, and Jews who’ve been victims of violent protest around the world.”

A boy sits amid the rubble of his destroyed house in the Gaza Strip, July 2014. Israeli forces damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, displacing an estimated quarter of a million people.

The Red Cross reported in 2010 that the Israeli blockade had caused a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in Gaza.

While Moreno’s post suggests that Israelis and Gazans were suffering equally, the reality was far from equal.

Gazans were living in what many have described as an open air concentration camp in which food, medicines, building supplies, and the ability to come and go were severely restricted by Israel. Children were suffering malnutrition and some died from treatable conditions.

During Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” invasion of Gaza, the period when Moreno posted, Israelis killed more than 2,100 Palestinians (three-quarters were civilians); Palestinians killed 72 Israelis (six were civilians).

The day before Moreno’s post, Israeli forces had killed a two-and-a-half year old, an 18-month-old, a seven-year-old, a five year-old, two one-year olds, an eleven-year-old, and a four-year-old among the at least 494 Palestinian children killed by Israel during the invasion. No Israeli children were killed.

A few months later Moreno posted a grinning selfie:

The bottom line

So far, ATTN:’s marketing strategy has paid off.

Its Facebook page has 4.7 million followers; one video alone got over 60 million views. A spokesperson says the company is “benefiting from a trust halo.”

Matthew Segal’s net worth is now reportedly $2.1 million. (Jarrett Moreno’s is unknown but is likely similar.)

ATTN: proclaims that it covers ‘important issues and calls to action, breaks down complex issues for its viewers, and starts conversations around issues that matter with hundreds of millions of people every month.’

Its promo video has a clip of Joe Biden noting “the power of social media and the power of communicating a view.”

Given ATTN:’s record so far and the views of its founders, this ‘social issues’ powerhouse that plans to ‘make an impact’ does not bode well for Palestinian men, women, and children – or for the Israelis who oppose their government’s actions and have long called for the U.S. to “stop Israel.”

If ATTN: continues its present course, both may continue to lose out – as well as Americans, whose politicians from both parties, give Israel massive amounts of our tax money, year after year.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.  


* Conservatives seem to have a similar phenomenon – where for some people ‘America First’ changes to ‘America Second’ when Israel comes into the picture, and fiscal conservatism turns into massive hand-outs when money to Israel is involved. Politicians from both parties who desire donations from Israel partisans and who desire favorable coverage from pro-Israel media – which includes almost everyone, from Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz – are a mainstay of both groups.

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August 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook begins ‘fake news’ crackdown with ‘disputed’ story tag roll out

RT | March 5, 2017

Facebook has begun rolling out its much hyped ‘fake news’ crackdown initiative, launching its ‘disputed’ news tag on stories deemed false by fact checking organisations working with the social media giant.

The tool appears to have been unveiled without fanfare in the US, but some users have shared screenshots of it in action on Twitter.

Facebook has added a question to its help center page entitled “How is news marked as disputed on Facebook?.” The section notes, however, that this feature is not yet available to everyone. It is unclear how many people currently have access to the ‘fake news’ debunking feature.

Facebook introduced their solution to false stories last December amid outcries that so-called fake news influenced the outcome of the US presidential election. These unproven claims have been disputed by a Stanford University/NYU study.

As part of the plan, the tech giant partnered with fact checkers that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles. These include ABC News, FactCheck.org, the Associated Press, Snopes and Politifact.

Stories flagged by Facebook users as ‘fake news’ are passed on to these fact checkers for verification. If the fact-checkers agree that the story is misleading, it will appear in News Feeds with a “disputed” tag, along with a link to a corresponding article explaining why it might be false.

These posts then appear lower in the news feed and users will receive a warning before sharing the story.

Similar efforts are planned in Europe amid threats from the EU to clamp down on the spread of misinformation. Facebook recently revealed fact checking partnerships in Germany and France ahead of respective elections in each country.

Concerns have been raised, however, over the implications of such practices on freedom of speech.

Project Censored, a non-profit that aims to fight censorship through promoting media literacy, views Facebook’s fake news crackdown as “problematic.”

“What Facebook, and the Washington Post’s ill advised list of fake news sites, has attempted to do is make lists of news outlets that are “fake,” Nolan Higdon, faculty advisor at Project Censored told RT.

“However, this is problematic because some news sites have both journalists doing credible work and those disseminating propaganda. While some consumers may be swayed by the digestible notion of “these sites good, these sites bad” lists; it does not solve the problem of people consuming propaganda, “ he added.

The key is education, Higdon insisted, explaining the importance of teaching individuals to examine a media outlet critically.

“Simply creating an arbitrary list of whose websites can and cannot be viewed on Facebook or considered ‘news’ is normalizing censorship instead of informing individuals.”

READ MORE:

Fake news did not influence 2016 election, study finds

 Facebook’s ‘anti-fake news’ plan looks like effort to curb alternative media

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Debate Moderator Distorted Syrian Reality

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | October 11, 2016

How ABC News’ Martha Raddatz framed her question about Syria in the second presidential debate shows why the mainstream U.S. news media, with its deep-seated biases and inability to deal with complexity, has become such a driving force for wider wars and even a threat to the future of the planet.

Raddatz, the network’s chief global affairs correspondent, presented the Syrian conflict as simply a case of barbaric aggression by the Syrian government and its Russian allies against the Syrian people, especially the innocents living in Aleppo.

ABC News' chief global correspondent Martha Raddatz.

ABC News’ correspondent Martha Raddatz

“Just days ago, the State Department called for a war crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ally, Russia, for their bombardment of Aleppo,” Raddatz said. “So this next question comes through social media through Facebook. Diane from Pennsylvania asks, if you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn’t it a lot like the Holocaust when the U.S. waited too long before we helped?”

The framing of the question assured a response from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about her determination to expand the U.S. military intervention in Syria to include a “no-fly zone,” which U.S. military commanders say would require a massive operation that would kill many Syrians, both soldiers and civilians, to eliminate Syria’s sophisticated air-defense systems and its air force.

But Raddatz’s loaded question was also a way of influencing – or misleading – U.S. public opinion. Consider for a moment how a more honest and balanced question could have elicited a very different response and a more thoughtful discussion:

“The situation in Aleppo presents a heartrending and nettlesome concern. Al Qaeda fighters and their rebel allies, including some who have been armed by the United States, are holed up in some neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo. They’ve been firing rockets into the center and western sections of Aleppo and they have shot civilians seeking to leave east Aleppo through humanitarian corridors.

“These terrorists and their ‘moderate’ rebel allies seem to be using the tens of thousands of civilians still in east Aleppo as ‘human shields’ in order to create sympathy from Western audiences when the Syrian government seeks to root the terrorists and other insurgents from these neighborhoods with airstrikes that have killed both armed fighters and civilians. In such a circumstance, what should the U.S. role be and was it a terrible mistake to supply these fighters with sophisticated rockets and other weapons, given that these weapons have helped Al Qaeda in seizing and holding territory?”

Siding with Al Qaeda

Raddatz also could have noted that a key reason why the recent limited cease-fire failed was that the U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels in east Aleppo had rebuffed Secretary of State John Kerry’s demand that they separate themselves from Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which now calls itself the Syria Conquest Front.

Instead of breaking ties with Al Qaeda, some of these “moderate” rebel groups reaffirmed or expanded their alliances with Al Qaeda. In other words, Official Washington’s distinction between Al Qaeda’s terrorists and the “moderate” rebels was publicly revealed to be largely a myth. But the reality of U.S.-aided rebels collaborating with the terror group that carried out the 9/11 attacks complicates the preferred mainstream narrative of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin “the bad guys” versus the rebels “the good guys.”

If Raddatz had posed her question with the more complex reality (rather than the simplistic, biased form that she chose) and if Clinton still responded with her recipe of a “no-fly zone,” the obvious follow-up would be: “Wouldn’t such a military intervention constitute aggressive war against Syria in violation of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg principles?

“And wouldn’t such a strategy risk tipping the military balance inside Syria in favor of Al Qaeda and its jihadist allies, possibly even its spinoff terror group, the Islamic State? And what would the United States do then, if its destruction of the Syrian air force led to the black flag of jihadist terror flying over Damascus as well as all of Aleppo? Would a Clinton-45 administration send in U.S. troops to stop the likely massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other ‘heretics’?”

There would be other obvious and important questions that a more objective Martha Raddatz would ask: “Would your no-fly zone include shooting down Russian aircraft that are flying inside Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government? Might such a clash provoke a superpower escalation, possibly even invite nuclear war?”

But no such discussion is allowed inside the mainstream U.S. media’s frame. There is an unstated assumption that the United States has the unquestioned right to invade other countries at will, regardless of international law, and there is a studied silence about this hypocrisy even as the U.S. State Department touts the sanctity of international law.

Whose War Crimes?

Raddatz’s favorable reference to the State Department accusing the Syrian and Russian governments of war crimes further suggests a stunning lack of self-awareness, a blindness to America’s own guilt in that regard. How can any American journalist put on such blinders regarding even recent U.S. war crimes, including the illegal invasion of Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

While Raddatz referenced “the heart-breaking video of a 5-year-old Syrian boy named Omran sitting in an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble after an air strike in Aleppo,” she seems to have no similar sympathy for the slaughtered and maimed children of Iraq who suffered under American bombs – or the people of Yemen who have faced a prolonged aerial onslaught from Saudi Arabia using U.S. aircraft and U.S.-supplied ordnance.

Regarding Iraq, there was the case at the start of the U.S.-led war when President George W. Bush mistakenly thought Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein might be eating at a Baghdad restaurant so U.S. warplanes leveled it, killing more than a dozen civilians, including children and a young woman whose headless body was recovered by her mother.

“When the broken body of the 20-year-old woman was brought out torso first, then her head,” the Associated Press reported, “her mother started crying uncontrollably, then collapsed.” The London Independent cited this restaurant attack as one that represented “a clear breach” of the Geneva Conventions ban on bombing civilian targets.

But such civilian deaths were of little interest to the mainstream U.S. media. “American talking heads … never seemed to give the issue any thought,” wrote Eric Boehlert in a report on the U.S. war coverage for Salon.com. “Certainly they did not linger on images of the hellacious human carnage left in the aftermath.”

Thousands of other civilian deaths were equally horrific. Saad Abbas, 34, was wounded in an American bombing raid, but his family sought to shield him from the greater horror. The bombing had killed his three daughters Marwa, 11; Tabarek, 8; and Safia, 5 who had been the center of his life. “It wasn’t just ordinary love,” his wife said. “He was crazy about them. It wasn’t like other fathers.” [NYT, April 14, 2003]

The horror of the war was captured, too, in the fate of 12-year-old Ali Ismaeel Abbas, who lost his two arms when a U.S. missile struck his Baghdad home. Ali’s father, his pregnant mother and his siblings were all killed. As the armless Ali was evacuated to a Kuwaiti hospital, becoming a symbol of U.S. compassion for injured Iraqi civilians, the boy said he would rather die than live without his hands.

Because of the horrors inflicted on Iraq – and the resulting chaos that has now spread across the region and into Europe – Raddatz could have asked Clinton, who as a U.S. senator voted for the illegal war, whether she felt any responsibility for this carnage. Of course, Raddatz would not ask that question because the U.S. mainstream media was almost universally onboard the Iraq War bandwagon, which helps explain why there has been virtually no accountability for those war crimes.

Letting Clinton Off

So, Clinton was not pressed on her war judgments regarding either Iraq or the Libyan “regime change” that she championed in 2011, another war of choice that transformed the once-prosperous North African nation into a failed state. Raddatz’s biased framing also put Republican Donald Trump on the defensive for resisting yet another American “regime change” project in Syria.

Trump was left muttering some right-wing talking points that sought to attack Clinton as soft on Syria, trying to link her to President Barack Obama’s decision not to bomb the Syrian military in August 2013 after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus, which occurred six months after Clinton had resigned as Secretary of State.

Trump: “She was there as Secretary of State with the so-called line in the sand, which…

Clinton: “No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you, but at some point…

Trump: “OK. But you were in contact — excuse me. You were…

Clinton: “At some point, we need to do some fact-checking here.

Trump: “You were in total contact with the White House, and perhaps, sadly, Obama probably still listened to you. I don’t think he would be listening to you very much anymore. Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened.”

In bashing Obama for not bombing Syria – after U.S. intelligence expressed suspicion that the sarin attack was actually carried out by Al Qaeda or a related group trying to trick the U.S. military into attacking the Syrian government – Trump may have pleased his right-wing base but he was deviating from his generally less war-like stance on the Middle East.

He followed that up with another false right-wing claim that Clinton and Obama had allowed the Russians to surge ahead on nuclear weapons, saying:our nuclear program has fallen way behind, and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good.”

Only after attacking Clinton for not being more militaristic did Trump say a few things that made sense, albeit in his incoherent snide-aside style.

Trump: “Now, she talks tough, she talks really tough against Putin and against Assad. She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t even know who the rebels are. You know, every time we take rebels, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else, we’re arming people. And you know what happens? They end up being worse than the people [we overthrow].

“Look at what she did in Libya with [Muammar] Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s out. It’s a mess. And, by the way, ISIS has a good chunk of their oil. I’m sure you probably have heard that.” [Actually, whether one has heard it or not, that point is not true. During the ongoing political and military strife, Libya has been blocked from selling its oil, which is shipped by sea.]

Trump continued: “It was a disaster. Because the fact is, almost everything she’s done in foreign policy has been a mistake and it’s been a disaster.

“But if you look at Russia, just take a look at Russia, and look at what they did this week, where I agree, she wasn’t there, but possibly she’s consulted. We sign a peace treaty. Everyone’s all excited. Well, what Russia did with Assad and, by the way, with Iran, who you made very powerful with the dumbest deal perhaps I’ve ever seen in the history of deal-making, the Iran deal, with the $150 billion, with the $1.7 billion in cash, which is enough to fill up this room.

“But look at that deal. Iran now and Russia are now against us. So she wants to fight. She wants to fight for rebels. There’s only one problem. You don’t even know who the rebels are. So what’s the purpose?”

While one can’t blame Raddatz for Trump’s scattered thinking – or for Clinton’s hawkishness – the moderator’s failure to frame the Syrian issue in a factual and nuanced way contributed to this dangerously misleading “debate” on a grave issue of war and peace.

It is surely not the first time that the mainstream U.S. media has failed the American people in this way, but – given the stakes of a possible nuclear war with Russia – this propagandistic style of “journalism” is fast becoming an existential threat.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

2008 ABC News predictions about climate in 2015

wil raps

New York City underwater? Gas over $9 a gallon? A carton of milk costs almost $13? Welcome to June 12, 2015. Or at least that was the wildly-inaccurate version of 2015 predicted by ABC News exactly seven years ago. Appearing on Good Morning America in 2008, Bob Woodruff hyped Earth 2100, a special that pushed apocalyptic predictions of the then-futuristic 2015.The segment included supposedly prophetic videos, such as a teenager declaring, “It’s June 8th, 2015. One carton of milk is $12.99.” (On the actual June 8, 2015, a gallon of milk cost, on average, $3.39.) Another clip featured this prediction for the current year: “Gas reached over $9 a gallon.” (In reality, gas costs an average of $2.75.)

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Bogus ISIS Stories

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | February 20, 2015

… as America debates the possibility of a full-scale ground invasion of ISIS-controlled territory, it’s important to note that much of the ISIS threat — namely that which targets the West — has been habitually overstated by an uncritical media.

In no particular order, here are the ten most bogus ISIS scare stories over the past year:


1. Female genital mutilation edict – July 2014


Genital Mutilation

Who it fooled: Most major media outlets from Time to Reuters to The Atlantic to the BBC (whose story has since been scrubbed online). Above all, the UN itself.

Why it’s bogus: Actual residents of Mosul and regional experts quickly knew it reeked. The story was subsequently discredited by experts and jouranalists and called a hoax soon after.


2. Church-burning in Mosul – July 2014


Mosul Church Burning


Who it fooled: Human Rights Watch, The Atlantic, The Independent, The Times of India

Why it’s bogus: An intrepid archaeologist, Sam Hardy, called BS and thanks to the magic of reverse image Google search and some prodding by yours truly, it was eventually retracted by several outlets and never mentioned again.


3. ISIS in Mexico – October 2014


ISIS in Mexico


Who it fooled: Fox News, Judicial Watch, The Inquisitr.

Why it’s bogus: Absurd on its face, the story was quickly and roundly debunked.

4. ISIS recruiting emo British teen – December 2014


ISIS Emo Teen


Who it fooled: Metro, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph

Why it’s bogus: The person who uploaded the picture admitted on Twitter it was a fake. The media subsequently deemed it a “hoax”.


5. ISIS Caliphate map – July 2014


ISIS Map


Who it fooled: ABC News, International Business Times, Breitbart

Why it’s bogus: The original story from ABC News cited a map that had been floating around the Internet for months. To this day, its one and only source is a tweet from a noted white supremacist website Third Position.

io9.com and others eventually deemed it a hoax.

6. ISIS beheads Christian children – Aug 2014


aj_6


Who it fooled: Originally asserted on CNN by self-proclaimed Iraqi-Christian activist Mark Arabo–a grocery story industry lobbyist whose previous media appearance was on a local San Diego news channel to oppose an increase in minimum wage–this story spread among right-wing and Christian media.

Why it’s bogus: After a fairly thorough inquiry, snopes eventually determined the claim was “inconclusive,” having found no independent evidence it occurred.


7. $425m bank robbery – June 2014


ISIS Robbery


Who it fooled: The Washington Post, International Business Times, Fox News, Mic, Vocativ

Why it’s bogus: The story was based solely on accounts from the former mayor of Mosul and was later found to be uncredible by The Financial Times and, ultimately, US officials themselves.


8. ‘Over 100 Americans have joined ISIS’ – October 2014


100 Americans in ISIS


Who it fooled: NBC News, Washington Post, Al Jazeera


Only 12 Americans Fighting With ISIS


Why it’s bogus: After the FBI admitted there were only “about a dozen” Americans fighting alongside jihadists in Syria in September 2014, several media outlets continued to report “over 100,” despite the government correcting the record several weeks prior.

9. #AllEyesOnISIS “Twitter storm” – June 2014


ISIS Twitter War


Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, McClatchy

Why it’s bogus: Yours truly showed that the “Twitter storm” was simply a reposting of weeks- or months-old tweets by an overzealous ISIS fanboi.

10. ISIS’s ebola terror plot – December 2014


alt


Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, Fox News, Mashable, random right-wing media

Why it’s bogus: “Iraqi media” was the only source for the story, and the Iraqi minister of Health quickly debunked it.

February 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

George Stephanopoulos Thinks Iran is Enriching Weapons-Grade Uranium

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | September 30, 2013

Iran’s new foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared on ABC‘s “This Week” and addressed a number of the same questions every Iranian official is asked again and again in interviews by the American media.

George Stephanopoulos, who effectively conducted the same interview with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad three years in a row, asked Zarif about possible concessions Iran is willing to make over its nuclear program. By doing so, however, he revealed that he knows very little about Iran’s domestic enrichment program and the consistent findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In response to Zarif’s comment that, for negotiations to be successful, Iran’s inalienable right to enrich uranium be recognized and sanctions begin to be lifted, Stephanopoulos countered, “I understand that’s your demand. But in return, is Iran prepared to stop enriching uranium at the levels they are now enriching it?”

Iran, under strict IAEA safeguards, round-the-clock surveillance and regular intrusive inspection, is currently enriching UF6 (uranium hexafluoride feedstock) to between 3.5% and 5% U-235 for use as fuel in nuclear power plants and to just under 20% U-235 for use in medical research reactors. Both 5% and 20% enriched uranium are considered “low-enriched uranium” (LEU). Neither of these enrichment levels are close to the minimum of 90% U-235, or high-enriched uranium (HEU), needed to produce nuclear bombs.

Not only this, but Iran has been systematically converting its roughly 20% LEU into U3O8 (triuranium octoxide) metallic fuel plates for its research reactor, thus precluding the material’s further enrichment to weapons-grade and decreasing its accumulating stockpile, thus deliberately reducing the potential threat of proliferation. Nuclear physicist Yousaf Butt has explained, “This conversion essentially freezes the enrichment level and subtracts from the ‘enrichable’ gaseous stockpile used in centrifuges. It is not something that a nation hell-bent on weaponization would do.”

The Tehran Research Reactor, where these fuel plates are used, produces radioisotopes required to diagnose and treat more than 850,000 cancer patients across the country.

In short, Iran is not – and has never even been accused or suspected of – enriching weapons-grade uranium.

Yet, as Stephanopoulos’ interview with Zarif continued, it became increasingly clear the ABC host thinks it is.

When Zarif noted that, while “various aspects of Iranian’s enrichment program” are open to negotiation, Iran’s “right to enrich is nonnegotiable,” Stephanopoulos replied, “But you don’t need to enrich above 20 percent, which is only used for military purposes.”

Zarif explained, “We do not need military-grade uranium. That’s a certainty and we will not move in that direction.”

Stephanopoulos, after asking if Iran would ever allow “surprise inspections” of its nuclear facilities – something Iran already does – was told forthrightly by Zarif that Iran has absolutely no interest in producing nuclear weapons.

“We’re not seeking nuclear weapons… We don’t want nuclear weapons,” the Iranian Foreign Minister said, echoing decades of official Iranian policy. “We believe nuclear weapons are detrimental to our security. We believe those who have the illusion that nuclear weapons provide them with security are badly mistaken. We need to have a region and a world free from nuclear weapons.”

What was Stephanopoulos’ response? This:

“But if you don’t want nuclear weapons why enrich uranium to the levels you’re enriching uranium?,” he wondered.

Again, Iran is not enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels, so Stephanopoulos’ question makes no sense. Next time, perhaps, he’ll ask one of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians suffering from cancer why they think their government is enriching uranium to the levels it does.

With media personalities like Stephanopoulos, it is no wonder that the American public remains misinformed and mislead on basic facts about Iran’s nuclear program.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Do TV Networks ‘Practice’ for War?

By Peter Hart – FAIR – 02/13/2012

Alexander Cockburn’s latest piece at CounterPunch (2/10/12) included this from a tipster:

I was visiting ABC News the other day to see a friend who works on graphics. When I went to his room, he showed me all the graphics he was making in anticipation of the Israeli attack on Iran; not just maps, but flight patterns, trajectories and 3-D models of U.S. aircraft carrier fleets.

But what was most disturbing–was that ABC, and presumably other networks, have been rehearsing these scenarios for over two weeks, with newscasters and retired generals in front of maps talking about missiles and delivery systems, and at their newsdesks-–the screens are emblazoned with “This Is a Drill” to assure they don’t go out on air (like War of the Worlds).

Then reports of counter-attacks by Hezbollah in Lebanon with rockets on Israeli cities–it was mind-numbing. Very disturbing–when pre-visualization becomes real.

Does that kind of thing actually happen? Well, yeah.

CBS “practiced” covering a U.S. bombing of Iraq back in 1998–and the footage was apparently fed to a satellite (L.A. Times, 2/20/98):

CBS jumped the gun Friday on a possible U.S. attack on Iraq: The network inadvertently transmitted a practice news report via satellite that could be picked up by television stations and viewers with special equipment.

To try out new graphics for combat coverage in the event the U.S. goes forward with the threatened bombing of Iraq, CBS anchor Dan Rather was rehearsing with Pentagon correspondent David Martin over a closed line between CBS‘s New York headquarters and its Washington news bureau. The report was mistakenly sent up to a communications satellite.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Comments Off on Do TV Networks ‘Practice’ for War?