Preserving Independent Journalism and Fighting the New McCarthyism
Posted on Nov 29, 2016
Editor’s note: This discussion was based on a recent Washington Post article that linked to allegations that Truthdig and numerous other news outlets were propagandists for Russia. The Post’s story is based on unsubstantiated allegations by an organization that conceals its members’ identities. Truthdig never has and never would propagandize for anyone.
The team spoke about PropOrNot’s alarming McCarthyist sentiments, the importance of independent journalism, and the Post’s failure to adequately check its source.
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“We like to promote independent voices, and we don’t tell our writers what to write,” Publisher Zuade Kaufman remarked during the live discussion. “We have an unwavering dedication to truth.”
“We are different, we are independent,” Editor in Chief Robert Scheer stated. “I find it very liberating.”
Scheer also argued that The Washington Post should apologize. “They should correct the story,” he said, and stated that the Post’s executive editor, Marty Baron, “should apologize now.” “If you [Baron] really believe in a free press, you should not have been party to this,” he concluded.
Other journalists have also weighed in to critique the Post’s piece, as Anderson notes. In a piece published Monday, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi published a response titled “The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting.”
Taibbi argues that “[a]ny halfway decent editor would have been scared to death” to rely on PropOrNot as a credible source. “Most high school papers wouldn’t touch sources like these,” he continues. “But in November 2016, both the president-elect of the United States and The Washington Post are equally at ease with this sort of sourcing.”
Chris Hedges, a Truthdig contributor, also spoke with Taibbi regarding the Post piece. As Taibbi relates:
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton also zeroed in on the “obviously reckless and unproven allegations” made by Timberg.
“In other words, the individuals behind this newly created group are publicly branding journalists and news outlets as tools of Russian propaganda—even calling on the FBI to investigate them for espionage—while cowardly hiding their own identities,” Greenwald and Norton write. “The group promoted by the Post thus embodies the toxic essence of Joseph McCarthy, but without the courage to attach individual names to the blacklist. Echoing the Wisconsin senator, the group refers to its lengthy collection of sites spouting Russian propaganda as ‘The List.’ ”
The immaturity of PropOrNot’s social media presence hides a broader, more alarming aspect to its claims. “A new McCarthyism has emerged in the wake of the contentious 2016 presidential election,” Anderson writes. “What we see spells trouble for press freedom at a crucial moment.”
—Posted by Emma Niles
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