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15 Aug, 2020 00:33

‘Come on, don’t do this’: Yahoo slammed for shoddy story accusing RUSSIA of antifa.com prank of Joe Biden

‘Come on, don’t do this’: Yahoo slammed for shoddy story accusing RUSSIA of antifa.com prank of Joe Biden

The latest chapter in the conspiracy theory blaming Russia for ‘meddling’ in US elections accuses Moscow of somehow redirecting the website Antifa.com to Joe Biden’s website, thanks to some major internet illiteracy at work.

On Wednesday, Republican activist Matthew Foldi pointed out that typing Antifa.com in one’s browser redirected to Biden’s campaign page, just as the Democrat candidate and his freshly chosen running mate Kamala Harris were about to do their first joint public appearance. 

When a One America News correspondent at the White House asked President Donald Trump about it, however, that was a red flag for her Yahoo! News colleague Hunter Walker. To hear him tell it, OAN is a pro-Trump network that promotes “conspiracy theories” and employs someone who also works for Sputnik, which is “Russian propaganda.”

So he looked into the internet records for Antifa.com and breathlessly reported it was “linked to – wait for it – Russia”! According to his article, the domain was “registered in the Russian Federation from 2013 through last July.” 

Interestingly, that whole bit about OAN employing someone from Sputnik got MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in hot water recently, and she had to argue that her show isn’t actually news in order to dodge a defamation lawsuit over calling the network “really literally paid Russian propaganda.”

In any case, Walker’s report was uncritically picked up and promoted by PropOrNot, a shadowy anonymous outfit notoriously misrepresented by the Washington Post as experts on Russia and propaganda.

According to Mashable, however, the Yahoo story “substantially misunderstands” the archived history of the domain. The reason Russia turns up is because WhoisGuard, a privacy service, used a contractor based in St. Petersburg at the time. 

That alone “does not tell us anything about where the registrant is actually based,” Mashable added, conceding that Russia “could possibly be” behind the redirect, but there is “zero proof” of that.

BuzzFeed reporter Craig Silverman also slammed Walker’s article as shoddy, noting that it hinges solely on the fact that whoever registered antifa.com once used a Russian domain privacy service.

“That’s it?! Come on, don't do this,” Silverman tweeted, adding, “Don't cite domain records if you don't know what they mean! Yahoo should retract this story.”

Confronted with these findings, Walker stood by his claim, saying that “the little public info we have on this site that had an odd George Floyd protest message and popped up in the [White House] briefing is a link to Russia.”

Apparently anything can be a “link to Russia” these days – especially for Yahoo News, a major player in the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy narrative. It was their chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff who famously first reported the existence of the ‘Steele dossier’, a collection of salacious claims about President Donald Trump and Russia compiled by British spy Christopher Steele for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

Isikoff later recanted about the Steele Dossier, but not before getting a sweet deal on a book about the “inside story of Putin’s war on America and the election of Donald Trump.” 

Also on rt.com ‘It’s Ruptly, I’m not tweeting it’: Yahoo WH correspondent ridiculed for not sharing LIVESTREAM from protest because it’s RUSSIAN

As for Walker, he seems to be afraid of so much as a shadow of anything Russian. Back in June he infamously refused to retweet a livestream of Black Lives Matter protests in Washington – after desperately searching for one – only because it came from Ruptly, which he warned his followers was “state owned Russian media."

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