‘Journalistic garbage’: Greenwald & others slam WaPo for ‘insane’ Russian propaganda story

© Jonathan Ernst
Glenn Greenwald, along with other journalists, has unleashed a torrent of criticism at The Washington Post over a piece about Russia leading a “fake news” campaign during the US election, calling it a “disgusting” smear and “supremely shitty” garbage.

The Washington publication, at one time hailed for its role in exposing the Watergate Scandal, has now been rounded on by a number of well-known figures from the media industry for publishing the article.

READ MORE: WaPo blasted online for article accusing Russia of ‘sophisticated’ US election propaganda

Award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, significant in bringing Edward Snowden’s US security revelations to the public, labeled the story “total journalistic garbage”.

In a series of tweets, Greenwald said the websites listed by chief source PropOrNot were smeared without any evidence by a group hiding its own identity. 

Greenwald also indicated that the Washington Post piece is an example of how it has become “100 percent permissible – bordering on obligatory – to spout the most insane, evidence-free conspiracy theories if they involve Russia & Putin.”

Key criticisms levelled against the article are that it was based on a Cold War think tank source and a report by dubious, anonymous researchers. It’s also been slammed for a failing to critically evaluate a blacklist of publications that supposedly comprise a “sophisticated” Russian propaganda machine.

New York based journalist Adam Johnson scolded the Washington Post for “uncritically” publishing the story without asking “who’s behind it”.

In the piece, journalist Craig Timberg reported how 200 websites had been implicated by a group called PropOrNot in propagating fake news. These websites included RT.com, Truth-Out.org, WikiLeaks.com, ZeroHedge.com and the site for the Ron Paul Institute.  

The article also incorrectly suggested RT had used the hashtag #CrookedHillary on Twitter.

The Washington Post has since retracted its statement regarding RT using the #CrookedHillary hashtag.

“A previously published version of this story incorrectly state that Russian information service RT had used the “#CrookedHillary” hashtag push by the then-Republican candidate Donald Trump. In fact, while another Russian informations service Sputnik did use this hastag, RT did not,” the Washington Post said.

In a statement, RT responded to the article built on “false, unsubstantiated claims”.

“It is the height of irony that an article about “fake news” is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single “fake story” related to the US election. It is telling that in publishing such outrageous and slanderous allegations, the article failed to provide a single example – via a hyperlink, a headline, or otherwise – to substantiate its case against RT.”

It continued: “Likewise, RT has never used #CrookedHillary hashtag in its coverage of the campaign – this is another fabrication that was neither fact-checked, nor challenged by the Washington Post. It is important to reiterate that these claims have not been presented as an opinion, but as unquestionable fact. In what is a particularly troubling development, RT was not contacted by the Washington Post prior to the publication of the article. In effect, RT was refused the right to respond to these absolutely absurd claims prior to their publication – claims that now have been reprinted by dozens of international media outlets.”