Developer of B.S. Detector Apologizes for Including Naked Capitalism in “Fake News” Tool, Yet Fails to Take Responsibility for Non-Transparent Process and McCarthyite Nature of Project

Our attorney Jim Moody sent Daniel Sieradski, who operates The Self Agency, a letter last Friday demaning that Sieradski, among other things, remove Naked Capitalism from B.S. Detector, a Chrome browser extension he had developed to identify “fake news” sites. Even though Sieradski had been alerted to the fact that the browser extension falsely included sites such as Shadowproof, Truthout, Truthdig, and Naked Capitalism, and Sieradski had acknowledged that those should never have been included, he made another browser release without correcting the error. Moody’s letter, among other things, also asked Sieradski to issue a prominent apology, send it to news outlets that had reported on B.S. Detector, most importantly CBS News, and inform all those who had downloaded B.S. Detector of the erroneous inclusion of Naked Capitalism.

Sieradski put up a long note on his website the next day, a Saturday, titled Naked Capitalism and the B.S. Detector. It includes a short letter from his attorney to Jim Moody at the end.

While we appreciate that Sieradski apologized quickly, he has not taken any of the other steps we requested. We must note that a substantial amount of Sieradski’s note consists of self-justification and an effort to depict himself as victimized. He also mischaracterized some of the elements of Moody’s letter. Moody correctly pointed out areas of potential legal exposure for Sieradski, given that he has stated that his team of 20 developers is entirely volunteers. Unless Sieraski has extensive prior work experience with all these individuals, it is unlikely that he knows their full backgrounds or the complete scope of their recent activities. The nature of having volunteers is you don’t scare them off by asking lots of pointed questions.

Even more troubling is that Sieradski apparently sincerely views the steps he has taken to date as reasonable and transparent, despite the fact that calling websites “B.S.,” which is the express intent of his browser extension, and “fake news” which is what anyone downloading the tool is told it does, is destructive to any business so targeted. In the view of my attorney, who has spend a considerable amount of his career litigating First Amendment and defamation cases, including ones that set important legal precedents, those designations are per se defamatory.

Yet Sieradski appears to have convinced himself that he is merely offering helpful input, when the product’s brand name and marketing strategy (the use of “fake news” in its product description and that Sieradski has repeatedly retweeted tweets that pick up on his “fake news” description) say otherwise. The term “bullshit” specifically indicates that the author is either a deliberate liar (see the Urban Dictionary’s definition as an example), or per Harry Frankfurter’s classic essay, On Bullshit, that the writer has an utter lack of interest in whether what he is saying is truthful or not.

b-s-detector-product-hub-page

Given the commercial damage that the “fake news” designation can do to any site incorrectly targeted, it is irresponsible not to contact site owners, present them with Sieradski’s evidence that they warrant inclusion, and give them the opportunity to dispute it in advance. Ex post facto remedies are not adequate. Yet he is still apparently unwilling to do that despite the damage that inclusion does.

Research on cognitive biases has shown repeatedly that initial impressions are almost impossible to dislodge. Someone who is concerned enough about the “fake news” issue to have downloaded Sieradksi’s tool is certain to take any warning on a site they view the first time seriously. Moreover, psychological research has also shown that people are strongly subject to the “halo effect” bias, of seeing individuals and organizations as all good or all bad.

It is also not at all clear if Naked Capitalism and other sites are still being incorrectly tagged as false news sites when those who have downloaded Sieradski’s tool roam around the Internet. His note says that Naked Capitalism has been removed from the database. If the browser is set up so that it goes to a cloud-based database every time it visits a site to check if that site gets a warning, then the removal would stop the damage from continuing. However, if the database is downloaded by users with the software and updated only when users themselves obtain updates to the database, there is no assurance that users have or will update their tool (I personally rarely update software and I won’t belabor the reasons why, so I know from personal experience that this does occur. Update: a reader looked at the code and says our fears were correct. Readers who have not updated their software will indeed still see Naked Capitalism as a tainted site).

Moreover, it is perverse to read Sieradski assert repeatedly that his process has been transparent when it has been anything but. If you want to look at what “transparency” looks like, even though we have criticized it repeatedly for falling short of its transparency obligations, start with CalPERS. All of its important decisions are taken in public view, with the meetings recorded and available on line for years afterwards. The documents supporting those decisions are made available prior to the public meetings and again are accessible to the public for years afterwards. All the responsible parties, both members of the board and the relevant CalPERS officials, are named, with their roles clearly defined, and have their biographies available on line. Members of the public have the right to speak to inform any decision made by CalPERS’ board before the vote is taken, and those public speakers are required to say who they are. The public also had the right to obtain records from CalPERS under the California Public Records Act, the California version of FOIA, and the carve-outs are comparatively limited.

Now you may say that this standard is unreasonable. But this is what transparency looks like. Sieradski’s process isn’t in the same universe.

And the reason that Sieradski feels compelled to claim his process is transparent is that, like it or not, he and entire “fake news” campaign is McCarthyite, but this version proposes to use private, faux-reasonable approaches as a substitute for government information control. This is a witch hunt, and Sieradski needs to take responsibility for what he is actually doing.

For instance, he describes the process he put in place after the browser tool was released. We have no idea who was involved in the original determination. Sieradski denies that PropOrNot was the reason that Naked Capitalism was included in his initial list of targeted sites and offers his justification instead: “This data was compiled from established lists of questionable news sources.” We are unaware of Naked Capitalism being on any list of that sort and we challenge Siedaski to publish all of these “established lists.”

Similarly, Sieradski seems to regard it as adequate to post a general description of a methodology provided by Melissa Zimdarsi and set up a chat room. We still do not know who Sieradski’s volunteers are and whether they have commercial agendas or personal biases that amount to conflicts of interest. We do not know what if any protocols he has put in place to assure that the “methodology” is actually being followed in a rigorous manner. Anyone who has lived in Corporate America knows that there are entire departments dedicated to creating policy manuals that are not followed in practice to give senior management a liability shield. Sieradski may very well have strict, hard-coded procedures to assure compliance with Professor Zimdarsi’s methodology. But his process is sufficiently opaque that we have no way to know.

This is how Sieradski justifies keeping the identity of other key participants secret:

The reason we have not published a list of our “anonymous supposed experts,” as Naked Capitalism deems them, is because of the harassment to which I and Prof. Zimdars have been subjected since we began to tackle the issue of so-called “fake news.” Nonetheless, anyone who chooses to join our public chat can see who is participating in the review process.

Sieradski wants to have influence, whether he admits to it or not, through playing a role in the “fake news” campaign. The proper exercise of power carries responsibilities, including accepting criticism, which Sieradski mislabels as “harassment.” He and his colleagues were the ones who went on a campaign against publishers. Public officials, journalists, and columnists are on the receiving end of far more disapproval than I anticipate he has received. He’s surprised and wounded that some have taken exception not just to being targeted, but to the entire “fake news” enterprise as a soft form of censorship? If you don’t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Finally, Sieradski denies having a commercial motive for releasing B.S. Detector. But even though he is not obtaining revenue from this project, he features it regularly on his Twitter feed, and his handle, @selfagency, is consistent with that feed being about the promotion of his business, and not a venue for expressing personal views.

Again, while we appreciate Sieradski’s speedy response, the failure to recognize the damage projects like his are doing to legitimate sites is deeply troubling. He seems to think it is reasonable to put defamatory information out into the wild and act as if the harm done can be remedied later. That is simply not the case, particularly given how rapidly information propagates across the Web. The time to be vigilant is ex ante above all, yet Sieradski appears unwilling to change his procedures to do that.

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67 comments

    1. anon

      This isn’t about open source, it’s about defamation per se.

      Further, an app whose source code is publicly available but whose data is not may technically be open source but seems to violate the spirit of software freedom.

      Reply
  1. integer

    “Some do wrong [then] try to make amends. Keeping it real [is] something you can’t pretend.”
    –Skinnyman

    Apology not accepted! At least for this NC regular. The fact that one of his related products is a “Trump filter” that “removes Trump from the internet” tells me a lot about this Sieradski clown. Also, from his Twitter page, he seems to be an Israel-first type, or at least very strongly pro-Israel, which helps to make sense of why he is involved in this “fake news” bs in the first place.

    Reply
      1. Dylan

        reading that twitter exchange i think youre right. He sounds unhinged. Lost to his own fantasies and worldview. detached from understanding

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Wow to that. He shrugs off NC but goes to town on Counterpunch’s ‘anti-semitism’ because it’s a broad basket of genuine activist-left voices. Seems like his connections aren’t with Langley, more like AIPAC. He’s not unhinged about lefties per se, I hope you don’t feel slighted, Yves.

          Reply
          1. Yalt

            Counterpunch has occasionally published articles by Gilad Atzmon. That’s apparently enough to remove him from his hinges.

            Sieradski’s a self-described anarchist and veteran of OWS–I seriously doubt he has any Langley connections whatsoever and I don’t think he’s carrying AIPAC’s water either, but it’s worth remembering that this was a “Nazi Detector” before he redefined its targets as “fake news.” Counterpunch has been on since the beginning.

            Reply
    1. Marie Parham

      Daniel Sieradski and NC came into my life 5 years ago. I am a loyal reader (really loyal) reader of NC. Daniel Sieradski is a friend of mine. It is a horrific nightmare for me that NC ended up on his bs database and I will send this article to him hoping he will better see Yves point of view. Daniel is not a clown. In the past 5 years I have seen him attacked by neo nazis who photoshopped his head in an oven (Daniel is a grandchild of survivors). He has been relentlessly attacked as a self hating Jew and Hamas sympathizer. We met at Occupy Wall Street. Many times over the last five years I have feared for his safety for doing things like write an Op Ed piece for the New York Times defending BDS. (In the Jewish World this is really unpopular). Although I disagree with Daniel on some issues, I must admit he does what he thinks is right and consequences be damned. It is difficult for me to understand why he thinks his approach with the bs detector is a good idea, but I know he thinks it is the right thing to do. I am very grateful for his apology to NC and the other sites. See links for other things he has done. He sure has offended a lot of people. Not that is a bad thing.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/13/opinion/andrew-cuomos-anti-free-speech-move-on-bds.html?_r=0 (He is pro-Israel by pointing out when Israel is going down the wrong road)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Sieradski

      https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/spoof-adl-ad-justifying-attack-gaza-goes-viral

      Reply
      1. integer

        Daniel is not a clown

        I presume you forgot to add “in my opinion” to that sentence, because he’s looking pretty clown-like from where I’m standing. Frankly, calling him a clown was about the mildest description of him I could come up with, and having had a look at his Twitter feed it is evident to me where his ideological loyalties lie. Thanks for the links but frankly I’m not interested; actions speak louder than words and I will be happy to refine my opinion of him if he takes verifiable actions that result in all of his bs being discontinued and exposed for what it is. That would include finding a way to inform every user of his crappy software that he and his accomplices are the real “fake news tools” btw.

        Reply
        1. integer

          Oops, one too many “frankly” in the above comment hahaha. Feel free to mentally remove one at your leisure.

          “Frankly, Frank, franks a lot.”

          Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        Thanks for the information, and it sounds like many of us would share some of his views.

        That said — and speaking only for myself and not NC — his views on the issue at hand are wrong and his motivations for them really don’t matter. And an apology is not enough. At the very least, the defamatory material should be removed, and removed from everywhere it was distributed to.

        Adding, in my view “BS Dectector” is deceptive. What he’s done is created a black-list, plain and simple. A “BS Detector” would be able to detect material like Judy Miller’s fake stories in WMDs in the NYT. His plugin can do no such thing as a technical matter. (When Sherlock Holmes “detects,” he weaves clues together into a narrative. He doesn’t consult a list.)

        Reply
  2. Knifecatcher

    FYI, the source code for the BS Detector is already freely available on Github. I’m a CS grad that hasn’t coded professionally for close to a decade, so I have no Chrome extension knowledge, but from what I can see it just reads from a big JSON file (formatted text file) bundled with the extension. You can actually see the current version here:

    https://github.com/selfagency/bs-detector/blob/dev/ext/data/data.json

    So if someone installed the original version of the extension and didn’t update it they would still see Naked Capitalism as fake news.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      Well, that’s horrible coding. “The list” isn’t in the cloud, it’s hard-coded, so it’s not going to be updated automagically. I do note that “naked capitalism” is not there, but counterpunch.com is.

      Chrome does have an autoupdate mechanism. Here is how to disable it.

      So this guy has a bunch of plugins out there in the wild with defamatory material hard-coded into them.

      I’m not a lawyer, but if I were, I’d look into the theory that he has to contact everybody that’s downloaded his plugin and guarantee they’ll uninstall it. Maye a small financial inscentive would do it. Say five bucks a pop?

      Reply
      1. craazyboy

        Nay, good coding! JSON files are cool – they save a round trip to the cloud every browser page navigation by keeping the “The List” local. Speedier BS.

        Then, IIRC(somewhat iffy nowadays on programming minutiae), at least in Windows, there is a separate data storage space set up for local data storage from the web. This is separate from your usual cookie area – so if you delete all your cookies, you don’t delete your valuable web databases by accident. They can be deleted manually, but most users don’t know how.

        Reply
        1. anon

          For a data component it would be much better to hold the info in cache and then periodically pull updates, wouldn’t it? I actually was a lawyer before going into system administration (so ethically I can’t give a legal opinion here) but I’d be concerned about any legal analysis that didn’t see a problem with the existing design. The author may have written himself into a corner vis a vis the mitigatory value of any future remediation effort.

          Reply
        2. Stephen Gardner

          Whether use of JSON files is good coding practice or not depends on the application. If the data changes frequently or the consequences of stale data are dire (as in this case) then clearly static client side data files are a bad idea. Keep in mind that this coding practice fails to keep track of new “fake news” sites too. Any data driven application has to take into account data volatility and implement accordingly.

          Reply
          1. craazyboy

            It would be unfair to geeky programmers to expect them to assume “The List” of Russian fake news sites would change on a daily basis!

            Reply
        3. Lambert Strether

          Terrible coding, unless your only concern is efficiency.

          When Sieradski’s blacklist lives in the plugin, defamatory material is removed at user option, since the user can disable automatic updating.

          If the blacklist lives in the cloud, Sieradski would be able to change his blacklist at a single location, and remove all defamatory material immediately for all users.

          I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t express an opinion on whether Sieradski, in prioritizing (if he did so) efficiency over the ability to remove all defamatory material immediately, acted recklessly or not.

          Reply
        4. fajensen

          Then, IIRC(somewhat iffy nowadays on programming minutiae), at least in Windows, there is a separate data storage space set up for local data storage from the web.

          May A Plague be Upon the Heads of whoever did this! This “secret” space “…/AppData/Local” is where much of the malware, crapware, spyware and adware hangs out on Windows.

          PS,
          At least it’s a Chrome extension: The Chome “Anti-Bulshitters” will get theirs soon enough because Chrome, coming from an Ad-pusher, is basically the Ned Flanders of internet security – “Yup, this here webpage say you need some extension for their content, here, let me help install it for you”. “Cromium”, the Linux Strain, has the same behavior.

          Reply
    2. Yalt

      I see that he had also posted the source code of his earlier Nazi Detector. Maybe that finally explains the odd overlap between PropOrNot’s list and the two lists from Sieradski–they just repurposed his code?

      Until now the coincidences had mounted to the point that I was wondering if these two shady groups of anonymous volunteers were distinct. (Or if they even exist, but never mind that.) But maybe there’s a simple explanation after all.

      Reply
  3. LA Mike

    There are some themes running through NC these days and I’m still trying to make sense of it all:

    1) Some juvenile sites have wrongly accused NC of supplying ‘fake news’ and supporting Russia.
    2) NC is fighting back forcefully so as to not be tarnished. Can’t blame ’em.
    3) The media has begun to place some blame on Russia for Hillary losing the election. NC wholeheartedly disagrees with that “loss analysis”. At least, most commenters seem to think it’s ridiculous to make such an excuse.
    4) The Clintons have the power to make the media blame Russia for her loss.

    I write all of this without judgment. It’s sincere curiosity.

    The one part I don’t get is… when the right wing was going all McCarthy way back when… it was the right wing! They feared communism, something that I believe is falsely considered “left wing”. I consider totalitarianism and ‘free market capitalism / crony corporatism’ to be far more aligned with each other than say, the New Deal. But why would a modern right wing nut case accuse NC of being “Russian” when it’s being reported that Russia helped their candidate get elected? And um, Russia’s no longer communist. Have the roles reversed? Do the right wingers see Russia as progressives and that sites like NC are promoting that cause?

    Why would right wing nut case sites claim that progressive sites such as this support a Russia which perhaps helped elect their own party’s candidate!?!?! And yet, many at NC believe that all the reports about Russians having involvement in the election are just Clinton excuses, as if they’re running the media. Next, the NY Times went all in today as far as Russia taking a serious role in having interfered with the election.

    Honestly, I’m not sure what to think. I primarily care about economic policy which I think will quickly go to hell under Trump.

    Can someone else who follows more closely do a better summary than what I’ve written? Or, is anyone else confused?

    Reply
    1. bob

      The little piggies accusing NC of being commies are the wapo, and those who seek to frame themselves on the “left”.

      The theory on the reason for the attack is that NC, and other sites were either pro-trump, or anti-clinton. Both are worse than the other. The clinton machine, having nothing to govern now, is resorting to battles of attrition, having learned NOTHING from the same line being tried during the campaign.

      It very sad. Who said you couldn’t shoot yourself in the head twice?

      Reply
    2. Skip Intro

      The left/right dichotomy is a distraction. It is probably more accurate to consider this part of the death throes of centralized media outlets which have controlled the political discourse for a long time. The fact that they were all in for Clinton, and lost, or that they regularly support neocon conquest with their own fake news, or that they hew to the economic proscriptions of neoliberalism reliably and as if ‘there is no alternative’ is tangential. This is more of a blatantly anti-competitive attack by the dying media cartel against alternate sources of information and opinion. It is being co-opted and bankrolled by opportunistic and breathtakingly dangerous Clinton dead-enders.
      Many suspect that the the whole Russian fake news scare and blacklist were conceived in the expectation that a victorious Clinton regime could use it as the basis for a full-scale purge of disloyal/critical media outlets. They are now salvaging that effort using low-level expendables, while trying to undermine the legitimacy of the incoming regime and excuse their own corruption and incompetence.

      Reply
      1. Quanka

        +1. Left/Right is the wrong lens to view this through. Its all about power and controlling information is key to that. Trump’s moves since election day says all you need to know about the Ds and Rs being two sides of the same coin. The establishment is closing rank and trying to exclude anyone who doesn’t belong, and it starts with alternative news and information.

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          I agree with much of this, but don’t lose sight that

          1) the FBI leaked Republican, then Comey sort of walked it back; their bottom line was there was ‘not evidence.’

          2) the CIA leaked Democratic, though (in the last paragraphs of stories) admitting they too had no actual evidence;

          3) we’ve never had rogue agencies of government release agitprop on party enemies so forthrightly (the FBI previously held the prize for its march of 600 agents warning Clinton against pardoning Pelletier).

          4) the CIA routinely does this all over the world. Should it be somewhat more scandalous than it is when they give us, their employers, their banana republic treatment? What are we, Ukraine?

          5) the Democrats could care less. nb

          Reply
    3. Code Name D

      >> The one part I don’t get is… when the right wing was going all McCarthy way back when… it was the right wing! They feared communism, something that I believe is falsely considered “left wing”.

      Okay, I’ll take a stab at it.

      Two things here. First, it’s important to point out they didn’t “fear communism”. This was all part of the cold war, and to Soviet Union was our enemy – and they just happened to be communist. So this was more of a good vs evil sort of thing, and communism was evil. But McCarthyism wasn’t so much about “anti-communism” or even about the cold war – it was about slaying your enemies – whomever they might be. And it wasn’t necessary to be a communist, to be accused of being a communist. So they went after actors, academics, scientists, other religions, minorities, just about anyone who didn’t march in lock-step with the right wing got black listed, some even having to flee the country.

      Second, you seemed confused between “left-wing” and “right-wing”. Which is understandable because these are meaningless terms. They do not contain any ideology but are strictly tribal identifiers that can used to isolate or conceal specific groups. Today, the “right wing” is just about anybody who isn’t fawning over the Clintons.

      So really, what this is all about is going after Clinton’s perceived enemies. And that includes just about anybody who was skeptical. However, if the past if a guide, it will not stop there.

      Reply
      1. hemeantwell

        Right. Before bringing the political spectrum concepts of left and right to bear on this question it makes more sense to think in terms of capitalist cliques or factions. To some degree they are organized nationally but that national organization is disintegrating as globalization proceeds. The whoop-up of a Russian scare is an attempt to use old national political organizers to impose discipline on a collection of economic actors whose interests are not nationally organized. Exxon-Mobil is a poster child for this.

        Reply
      2. flora

        The one part I don’t get is… when the right wing was going all McCarthy way back when… it was the right wing! They feared communism,

        They also, imo, feared a wind-down in the war-materiel machinery that was making fortunes for many and increasing its power in DC. See Eisenhower’s farewell address re MIC. Now Trump gets elected and starts talking peace. omg. Rice bowls will get smashed. Crank up the fear machine.

        “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

        -from Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation, January 17, 1961

        Reply
        1. flora

          adding: for anyone who mistakenly thinks Eisenhower was a mushy peace-nik type, he was the GOP pres who had served as 5-star general and Commander of Allied Forces in during WWII. When he talked about the military-industrial complex it was with keen inside knowledge.

          Reply
    4. washunate

      One quibble on 3 – this goes back long before the election. The professional left has been positioning Russia as the bad guy for years. The neocons who pretend to feel our pain were really sorry to see the Cold War go away so they started more wars instead of scaling back the military.

      This is one of the major intergenerational divides, by the way. If you’re 25 years old today, Russia wasn’t some scary Cold War enemy when you were a kid. They were a weak developing country on the other side of the globe that could hardly be more removed from your day to day reality of the police state and housing costs and healthcare and education and so forth. Whatever your specific feelings on Serbia, NATO expansion, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, etc., the clear overarching theme is building friendly military bases and alliances around Russia while undermining those who would not cooperate.

      Even in this specific election cycle, the Dem netroots and corporate media were hyping the Russian threat long before the general election. It has been comical (in a gallow’s humor kind of way) watching the front page at Daily Kos, for example, so openly embrace interventionism generally and Russia bashing in particular. The Russia bashing was originally designed to restrain progressives from challenging a hawkish Clinton presidency. However, since she lost, it’s being slightly repurposed to provide external blame (it can’t possibly be that the corporate wing of the party is itself to blame) while leaving a footprint of evilness to invoke later.

      Reply
      1. Anonylisa

        “This is one of the major intergenerational divides, by the way.”

        SPOT ON!

        I have had this ongoing argument with boomers in my family about this very thing. (I am in my early 30s). They are TERRIFIED of Russia now, and tell me stories of Cold War nuclear drills where they hide under their desks. No matter what i say i cannot convince them that Putin is not Stalin. Russia today is not Russia of the 1950s. They have no problem accepting change in other countries (Merkel is not equated with Hitler by them). But for them Russia wants to destroy everything we hold dear.

        I just don’t see it like that. I feel sad that i cannot convince them of what is likely the truth. Russia doesn’t want war with the US. Putin himself has said this multiple times on video. The Russian people are humans too and just want to live their lives without our intervention.

        Do they spy on us and hack our computers? Sure. But we do the same in return.

        Reply
        1. sid_finster

          I can guarantee you that if Putin were accused of hacking to ensure a Team D win, the same folks shrieking ZOMG! Russians! Putin! would be wrapping their eyebrows around their noses and making much the same arguments that we are.

          This isn’t about Russia. This is about Trump, and an establishment and Team D loyaliststhat are NOT happy about him.

          Reply
        2. Plenue

          Stalin wasn’t even Stalin. He’s the one who said the Soviet Union should mostly concentrate on itself:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_in_One_Country

          The Cold War was an American invention. That isn’t to say the two great powers wouldn’t have always been wary of each other, but the idea that Russia was some kind of existential threat hellbent on world domination was a complete fabrication. Remember, it was the United States that was the first (and so far, only) player to use a nuclear weapon in combat.

          Reply
        3. coboarts

          Hi Anonylisa, When I was stationed in Germany, in an air defense unit in the late 70s, three out of one hundred were expected to survive the first three days of a Soviet/Warsaw Pact assault. So, naturally, the first thing I did was look down the line to try to figure out who the other two guys would be. My roommate and I (living off post) had planned hideouts/meeting spots in the rugged hills of the Saarland. I had every intention of killing Russians for fun and sport. However, the way the US handled the breakup of the Soviet Union and our chance to become friends, yes friends, with the Russians speaks directly to the… well… just be careful about assuming that your generation is any different from any other generation and beware of your own indoctrination.

          Reply
        4. Lambert Strether

          I don’t care what Putin says on TV, so his assurances mean little to me (about as much as, say, Clinton’s would).

          But I think realpolitik leads to some conclusions that warmongers on both sides of the aisle in Congress would rather not accept.

          Reply
    5. integer

      And yet, many at NC believe that all the reports about Russians having involvement in the election are just Clinton excuses, as if they’re running the media.

      There is verifiable evidence of the corporate media colluding with the Clinton campaign. See the Podesta emails at Wikileaks. Also, check out Operation Mockingbird and tell me why something like that wouldn’t be currently in play. I’m not going to bother providing more details as I don’t want to waste my time; it is hard for me to trust anyone with “Mike” in their username since the plague of “mikes” that recently appeared and were clearly trying to subvert the NC comments section.

      Reply
      1. Quanka

        +1. When you are guilty of something … the best thing to do is accuse someone else of the same thing to distract attention.

        In all this fake news hullabaloo, do you think people are lumping the MSM and the Iraq lies they peddled into perp’s penalty box? Or the million other “intelligence” sourced lies put into reality since?

        Reply
    6. Foppe

      The MSM want to saturate the airwaves with this nonsense because they fear that the alternative would involve criticism of the MSM for their role in the past election. So does the Dem party, which also wants to distract from the fact that they put forward the ultimate hack. Meanwhile, self-described “moderates”, who watch lots of TDS, and who thus despise&wish to reeducate the stupid party, feel it is their duty to “do their bit” in “sanitizing” the web to prevent a “recurrence of Trump”, without so much as understanding how/why hillary could be a weak candidate because idpol and corruption is a lie / irrelevant-because-pervasive, and how they are being played. Nor do they understand why people could be against centrism / globalization, because reasonable / least-worst alternative / “what we’re doing for the downtrodden now is the best we can do, given the macroeconomic conditions and R craziness”. They’re completely oblivious to the political nature of economic choices. One would wish they’d read Tom Frank’s Listen, Liberal, but considering that we’re now 8y into a recession, I have no real clue when they’ll start seeing beyond msm talking points.

      Reply
    7. PlutoniumKun

      I think the notion of left/right wing or even authoritarian/libertarian dichotomies have gone out the door a long time ago. We are dealing now with deep tribal/personal interest identities who are fighting desperately to maintain their positions (ideological/financial, etc). It seems to me now that the broad establishment is dominated by a series of overlapping interest groups who are broadly dependent on an international policy dependent upon a specific vision of neocon/neoliberal ideologies. This extends across the foreign policy establishment, the defence and fossil fuel industries, the media and the world of finance. The broad consensus that has held them together for the past 30 years or so is breaking down and they are lashing out – at each other and most particularly at outsiders.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        both parties were responsible for it, and both enabled it. the republicans eventually went all in on it, but people like roy cohn (and bobby kennedy) helped it along. cohn was nominally a democrat (hey! that sounds familiar) who usually supported republicans.

        Reply
    8. Oregoncharles

      You’re missing something basic: the Clintons ARE right wing, and so is the DNC/Democratic Party. That’s why there’s no love lost between them and, e.g., NC.

      More precisely: this isn’t about right-wing left-wing or any ideology (these days, Russia is more right than left anyway – arguably, it always was). It’s about power and the perks thereof. It’s also about the Democrats trying desperately to deny that it was their own d..n fault they lost.

      There also seems to be infighting between the CIA and FBI. That might get very interesting.

      Reply
    9. Lambert Strether

      >As if they’re running the media.

      > Next, the NY Times went all in today as far as Russia taking a serious role in having interfered with the election.

      Unfortunately, the Times is now a political player (per Baquet). And they want to be a political player and be perceived as a news source. That won’t work long. I believe that they got a ton of new subscriptions based on their election coverage (i.e., on their suppression and erasure of Sanders, among other things). So they’ve made a devil’s bargain. Their new subscribers will be happy for them to become an upscale Daily Kos. But we have Daily Kos. We don’t need two.

      Reply
  4. Knifecatcher

    With regards to transparency, I think the better online model could be Wikipedia. While it has plenty of flaws you can always look in the discussion page and see exactly how a particular article ended up in its current state, and any debates between editors.

    Of course making a definitive determination whether or not a particular site is a purveyor of BS is impossible. And while there are sites who make every attempt at accuracy – hat tip to our gracious hosts – in my experience most online news sources are a mixed bag of accurate info, unfounded conjecture, and USDA Grade-A manure.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I beg to differ.

      First, your line of discussion pre-supposes that tools like browser extensions which tell readers that entire sites are dodgy is a reasonable idea. It isn’t. It is censorship pure and simple. Mainstream sites will never be listed no matter how rancid their articles are, and smaller sites that have the nerve to dig into controversies will be targeted.

      Second, Wikipedia is not transparent. Who are the editors? What biases and day-job connections do they have? You have no idea. The Wikipedia editing process is a black box.

      The record shows that Wikipedia has a strong bias against anything non-mainstream. Go read their articles on economics. They are all neoliberal pablum and people who’ve tried to get heterodox ideas in or feature empirical studies (from reputable journals) that challenge the orthodoxy find their edits quickly reversed.

      Put it another way: Wikipedia is indeed less bad, but there are tons of areas where it is viewed as reliable where its articles have serious biases, and attempts to get other views properly incorporated are minimized or expunged.

      Reply
      1. hemeantwell

        Mainstream sites will never be listed no matter how rancid their articles are, .

        A good acid test, though it needs to be amended to address what the MSM suppresses through omission, e.g. the Sanders campaign.

        Reply
      2. Knifecatcher

        My comment was poorly worded but I actually agree with you. Wikipedia is possibly the “least bad” way to approach consensus at internet scale but only really works well for relatively non-controversial topics, and quickly devolves as you’ve mentioned.

        My point was more that BS Detector failed to clear even the Wikipedia bar, let alone the transparency standard required of a public agency with fiduciary responsibility. And yes, the idea that anyone could create a browser plugin to detect “fake news” is flat out laughable.

        Reply
  5. Daryl

    Maybe instead of a blacklist, the next chrome extension should use a whitelist of sites that produce real news and insightful commentary. It would, when complete, be much shorter.

    Reply
    1. Jeff

      I have NC, MoA and Tamino (https://tamino.wordpress.com/) on that list.
      Everything else has too much noise and not enough signal.

      Not only is Naked Capitalism exceptionally strong, but on top of that it features a ‘Links’ section that shows the worthwhile ‘signals’ elsewhere on the ‘Net.

      Reply
  6. UserFriendly

    In his post responding to you and Shadows Proof he said that he delisted you both but that it would take a little bit for chrome to push out the update.

    Reply
  7. bob

    https://twitter.com/selfagency/status/809027535296139264

    daniel sieradski Verified account ‏@selfagency

    You’d think a person angry about being labeled an unreliable source’d be more careful not to repeatedly misstate facts but you’d be wrong

    +++++

    Just a little bit of passive aggression to keep his head full. He’s quite the cop about trolling anyone on twitter who links to the NC/et al complaints, but then issues the above statement, without referring to anything.

    From an above comment, claiming personal knowledge of The Agency- ” Although I disagree with Daniel on some issues, I must admit he does what he thinks is right and consequences be damned.”

    And keeps digging in deeper. He seems like a perfect Useful Idiot.

    Reply
  8. jack b

    Code is packaged into new releases. New releases are sent to the Chrome store. Those are the two updates/delays he was talking about.

    Reply

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