TASS, the Russian state-owned news agency, reports:
The situation around three unidentified flying objects that were shot down over North America is designed to distract reporters’ attention from the investigation into the sabotage on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, former NSA (National Security Agency) employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden said on Monday.
“I wish it were aliens, but it’s not aliens,” Snowden wrote on Twitter on Monday, commenting on the downing of balloons and UFOs in the United States and Canada. According to him, “it’s just the old engineered panic” to ensure that national security reporters “get assigned to investigate balloon” nonsense “rather than budgets or bombings (a la Nord Stream).”
On February 8, American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an article alleging that “last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives” under the Russian gas pipelines with support from Norwegian experts. Hersh said that US President Joe “Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community.” Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council at the White House told TASS, replying to the news agency’s question, that the Hersh story was totally false and complete fiction. [Continue reading…]
A Pulitzer-winning journalist, Hersh has in recent years developed a reputation for questionable reporting. Now he once again produced an exclusive that was full of holes: he made scandalous allegations, but based them on a single source. He told a coherent story, but lacked a smoking gun. The verdict was clear: Hersh’s explosive investigation was self-published, because it would never get past an editor?
But if we just dismiss Hersh’s story as bad journalism, we risk missing its impact.
The story, tossed aside as not rigorous enough by many in mainstream policy and journalism circles, metastasized elsewhere, spread by Russian propagandists, American leftists and conservatives (“So many details in here, that it is not possible that it’s not true. It is true!” declared Tucker Carlson), Indian and Chinese outlets, Edward Snowden, Sky News Australia and even publications like the Times of London have picked it up. And I am naming only a few.
Those who didn’t pick up the original story, like Al Jazeera, reported on the Russian reaction to it. (In case you are wondering, Russians agreed with Hersh). We will never know who Hersh’s single, anonymous source on this story was, but in the end, the product bears all the hallmarks of disinformation.
“This is how disinfo 101 works,” says Emily Bell, director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University in New York. “A piece is published, it triggers a reaction. Media then reports on the reaction, further extending the lifespan of that original piece.”
The result: millions of people around the world now believe that the United States conducted an act of war against Russia. Even though they haven’t seen any actual proof.
And millions more who will one day hear the allegation and google “Nord Stream pipeline” will find themselves lost in the avalanche of information that will either confirm their pre-existing biases or just confuse them further. Either way, truth and nuance are lost in the noise. Disinformation wins. [Continue reading…]