Blame Russia: Assange outlines how to be a journalist in 2017

Haven’t you heard? The Russians did it. Julian Assange has outlined the key element to being a “Western journalist in 2017” and it’s quite simple: blame Russia.

Seemingly behind every major news event in the last number of years, Russia has been busy influencing world events simply by reporting on them, just like everyone else. And this, according to Assange, is key, as outlined in his three-point strategy on Friday.

First, “Pick a globally newsworthy event” which the Russian press “will also be reporting it by definition.”

Second, “Write story: Russian state secretly behind globally newsworthy event as proved by their press reporting it.”

And finally “Profit!”

Assange’s comments echo that of The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald who, on September 28, reported on the demise of “yet another major Russia story” that most major US media outlets ran with as fact, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever.

The story in question – “Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states in the run-up to last year’s presidential election” – predictably went viral, having been reported by USA Today.

The ruse fell apart, however, when the Associated Press reported that one of the states included in the list of 21, Wisconsin, did not have its election systems targeted by Russian hackers.

According to Greenwald, this is far from an isolated incident. Such reporting, he notes, “has happened over and over and over again.”

“Inflammatory claims about Russia get mindlessly hyped by media outlets, almost always based on nothing more than evidence-free claims from government officials, only to collapse under the slightest scrutiny, because they are entirely lacking in evidence,” Greenwald writes.

Despite the fact that ‘Russia did it’ stories have been consistently debunked, the Catalonian independence referendum seems to have been the latest target, according to the MSM.

In the face of a brutal state crackdown by Spanish forces, Catalans voted overwhelmingly to leave Spain. But, of course, this was not an action taken by the Catalan people but a result of Russian meddling.

“Russian propagandists scored a victory in Spain this weekend after ‘boldly injecting fake news and disinformation’ into the debate over Catalonian independence and seemingly influencing the election results,” the Washington Post’s Dan Boylan wrote, citing “U.S. information warfare experts.”

Elections seem to be a favourite target for Russian meddlers. France and Germany, and now Catalonia, were all influenced by Russia, despite the fact that in France, an anti-Russia candidate (Macron) won, and in Germany, the Angela Merkel status quo held out.

Those allegations come after alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016.

Following on from the election of Donald Trump and the seeming influence of RT in particular, RT America has been told it needs to register itself as a ‘foreign agent’ under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), adopted in 1938 to counter pro-Nazi agitation on US soil.

READ MORE: Kremlin doesn’t rule out tit-for-tat measures if US continues crackdown on Russian media

According to Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, the investigation into Russian meddling in the election will ultimately show that “quite a few” news outlets in the US ran stories that were not factual.

“We’re not going to investigate news organizations, but we will use the findings of our report to let the American people hold every news organization accountable for what they portrayed as fact, in many cases without sources — at least, no sources that would admit to it,” Burr told Politico on Thursday