On December 7, our friends at The New York Times gave us this headline: “Russia’s Latest Disinformation Tactic Exploits American Celebrities.”
According to the article, the Russians have tricked up videos from Elijah Wood, Priscilla Presley, Mike Tyson, and other D-listers, making it seem that they are delivering pro-Kremlin propaganda points. How, exactly, have the Russians done this?
According to the Times, they have hijacked videos from Cameo, a website that connects celebrities to paying customers for the purpose of making brief messages, such as birthday greetings. But now the Russians have altered these Cameos for their nefarious purposes, such as slamming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Okay, so that’s a violation of Cameo’s terms of service, and maybe a few other rules. But it’s also the sort of sophomoric “mashup” that half the teenagers in America could pull off.
Yet the Times wants us to take this oh so seriously. Thus we get this news story, including the details of how the Cameos were detected—if that seems too strong a word, perhaps “noticed” is better—by Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center. In fact, the fake videos were mostly on Russian social media.
So, the Russians are making propaganda within Russia and we’re supposed to care? In fact, the Times isn’t completely sure that the Russians even made the videos, the accusatory headline notwithstanding.
According to the Times‘ article: “Although Microsoft’s researchers did not establish the exact source of the videos, experts who reviewed the findings said the campaign bore the hallmarks of previous covert information operations from Russia.”
Let’s pause over those weasel words: “bore the hallmarks.” Where have we heard that sort of rodent-insinuation before?
How many times has it been reported, mostly in nasty stories about Donald Trump, that the Russians were doing this and that? The MSM logic was that the bad stuff had to have come from Russia, because, well, everyone knows that’s how Russians roll. That Russia-riffing tarred Trump, of course, which was the main goal. But along the way, it proved to be great for the Times. It 2018, it received a Pulitzer Prize for its “Russiagate” coverage—the Pulitzer being, of course, the ultimate Establishment attaboy.
The New York Post jibed that the Pulitzer for its crosstown rival was “absurd.” As the Post put it, the MSM Russia coverage “led to a dramatic misunderstanding, suggesting that Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to help sway the 2016 election—a grand conspiracy that we now know never existed.” (But of course, the Times is keeping its Pulitzer—it has, in fact, a habit of keeping Russia-related prizes, even when decidedly not deserved.)
In the meantime, the Post had a real scoop—and the Times and the rest of the MSM did their best to crush it. That scoop, of course, was Hunter Biden’s laptop. The news of that “laptop from hell” was broken on October 14, 2020 (the lead reporter being Emma-Jo Morris, now the politics editor of Breitbart News).
We might recall that the Post’s revelation came just three weeks before the 2020 presidential election; many wondered if revelations about Biden la famiglia could tip the balloting away from candidate Joe Biden. Whereupon the MSM scrambled, declaring the laptop to be likely disinformation. Twitter, in its pre-Elon Musk days of left-wing censorship, shut down the Post’s account.
On top of that, on October 19, 2020, a total of 51 “intelligence experts”—including such familiar names as James Clapper, Michael Hayden, John Brennan, and Leon Panetta—signed a joint letter casting doubt on the laptop story. Summoning up all their collective years in the spy biz, the 51 worthies wrote, “our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.”
The Times, too, hit a note of skepticism about the laptop. An October 22, 2020, news story emphasized that the Biden campaign rejected the authenticity of the laptop; in its own voice the paper added, “Many questions remain about the origins of the allegations themselves, the laptop and what, if anything, agents are investigating.” Meanwhile, others in the MSM went further, citing the letter as “proof” that the laptop was fake.
So those 51 officials, and the MSM, managed to cloud up the laptop story such that Joe Biden was elected in November 2020. But of course, the laptop was real, as even the Times acknowledged in 2022 (with Biden safely in office); subsequent polls found that if the voters had known it was real, the election outcome would have been different.
Okay, so maybe now the Times shouldn’t be so eager to take information gathered from the Big Tech-Big Government Deep State at face value.
Yet the Times knows that, true or false, “Russia” and “disinformation” gets clicks and prizes. So, it is back on the beat. Here’s more from that Times article, citing research from the cyber outfit Antibot4navalny:
A separate campaign began last month with posts on Facebook and the social media platform X. The posts included photographs of more than 75 global celebrities—including Oprah Winfrey and the Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo—with block quotes echoing key Kremlin propaganda messages.
Holy smokes! The Russkies are creating memes! Most people’s grandmothers can do that, but if anyone has trouble, there’s a free online meme-generator.
But the Times wasn’t done with breathless exaggeration: “The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a research organization in London that tracks extremism online, reported on Tuesday that it had uncovered a network of 64 bot accounts on X,” all supposedly doing the bidding of the Russians. To be sure, 64 accounts is more than the number of fingers and toes for both of us put together, but it’s a drop in the ocean of 353 million X accounts.
We can see the pattern here. The Times trusts outfits that the rest of us might never have heard of, such as the Threat Analysis Center, Antibot4navalny, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Most of all, the Times trusts itself to tell us what to think.
The real question is: What is truth? Or, at least, who’s telling the truth? If you think maybe the Times has some, er, biases, then who do you trust? As we know, there’s a giant Disinformation Industrial Complex (DIC), which Breitbart News has covered closely.
Alongside the MSM, the DIC has worked to shape narratives about Trump, Russia, climate change, and anything else that might persuade people to be progressive Democratic voters. It’s had some successes (Biden is president) and some failures (Russiagate is in tatters, except for true believers).
Yet the Times keeps plugging away on a proven winner—Russians under every bed. Now this latest installment seeks to convince us that Russia is using a silly website to subvert our democracy and, yes, to help Trump — because in the MSM-DIC hellscape, the Trump-Putin partnership is the Truth of Truths. Any contrary belief is Disinformation.