‘Western media that pointed fingers at Russia will soon move on’
RT:We have seen sweeping headlines from the Western media, like the "international outrage" or "world waiting for answers from Russia". Is it fair to make these accusations before credible evidence has been put forward?
Ben Swann: That is exactly the problem – any credible evidence does not seem to exist at this point. ABC network has a story up that there is an enormous array of facts that Russia supported the rebels accused of downing that airliner. If you just do a simple Google search you will find that Washington Post, New York Times, basically every major news network in the US has reported that there is no question that Russia is involved. We now see the administration is stepping back on some of its comments about the involvement of Russia, even going as far as to say that there is no evidence right now that shows that the missile or training [originated] in Russia.
RT:US officials have said there's no direct evidence linking Russia to the plane crash. Do you think Western media will now continue blaming Moscow for the incident?
BS: They absolutely will. Fox News is now reporting, which is a huge step, that there is no clear evidence that links Russia. Here is what we are going to see happen: the administration gives this kind of soft explanation that they do not have evidence, but with a nudge and a wink they [will] say “but we really know [that Russia was involved]”. Media picks upon that, they will begin to report it a little bit, and then in a few weeks we will see that this becomes a non-story in many ways, because it no longer fits the narrative that the administration was hoping for and the media was hoping for, and they will move on to the next story.
RT:What do you think of the claims by US officials that Ukrainian rebels received training in Russia and had the capacity to shoot down the plane?
BS: Again, this goes back to the same issue that we've been having. The nudge and a wink that they [the US administration] are giving the media now is to say that we do not have any evidence that this missile came from Russia and that even training happened in Russia, but we are pretty sure this is all happening in Russia, [though] we are not going to tell you who our sources are, they are speaking anonymously. But not offering any evidence. So as media will see this unravel as most media will begin to back away from it.
The issue with the media is that those who are the consumers of it do not go to the news outlets to be informed; they go there to be validated in the belief system they already hold. So those who want to believe that Russia is responsible will continue to seek sources that tell them that Russia is responsible, and those who believe some other story will be seeking other sources. I think the problem is the consumer of the media as much as the media themselves.
RT:We have seen unverified videos and audio recordings which Kiev says implicate anti-government forces. Has the media been rigorous in its treatment of these do you think?
BS: Not at all. Media is in this 24/7 news cycle in which there is any little piece of evidence. We would think that even those videos are worth some discussion, [but] many of those videos are about the whole other issue. Most media in this country are very poor on this job, because it is a rush to get any information out as soon as possible. How easily a YouTube video can be doctored? It is a very easy thing to do. It seems like a very strange evolution of media when in the rush to get information out we do not really vet that information very well. We are going to see walking back on a lot of this information over the next couple of days, and media sources that were very quick to point fingers at Russia and say clearly they are responsible will begin to walk back on some of the comments as well, and move on. What there won't be is a correction to any of their stories that were very definitive talking about evidence.