We Demand That The Washington Post Retract Its Propaganda Story Defaming Naked Capitalism and Other Sites and Issue an Apology

As the lawyers like to say, res ipsa loquitur. Please tweet and circulate this letter widely. You will notice that our attorney Jim Moody is a seasoned litigator who has won cases before the Supreme Court. He has considerable experience in First Amendment and defamation actions. Past high profile representations include Westomoreland v. CBS and defending Linda Tripp.

I also hope, particularly for those of you who don’t regularly visit Naked Capitalism, that you’ll check out our related pieces that give more color to how the fact the Washington Post was taken for a ride by inept propagandists, particularly our introduction to our spoof PropOrNot.org site, which uses the PropOrNot project as an example of sorely deficient propaganda and shows where it went wrong, or the humor site itself. Be sure not to miss its FAQ.

We have another post today that describes how the few things that are verifiable on the PropOrNot site don’t pan out, as in the organization is not simply a group of inept propagandists but also appears to deal solely in fabrications. If the site is flagrantly false with respect to things that can be checked, why pray tell did the Washington Post and its fellow useful idiots in the mainstream media validate and amplify its message? Strong claims demand strong proofs, yet the Post appeared content to give a megaphone to people who make stuff up with abandon. No wonder the members of PropOrNot hide as much as they can about what they are up to; more transparency would expose their work to be a tissue of lies.


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  1. Skip Intro

    I hope they concede to all your demands immediately, but that that does not stop you and the other victims of this attack from suing them into the stone age.

    Is it too late to contribute again?

      1. Skip Intro

        The longer this drags out, the more mileage for fundraising and entertainment at the expense of WaPo we get. Just don’t let it take too much of a toll on you. Thanks for taking the fight to the man, I know I speak for many when I say we’ve got your back.

          1. PWC, Raleigh

            +1 as well.

            The thing with raising money is you have to ask, ask, ask a lot, lot, lot.

            So when you need more money to continue this fight, just publish an updated case-statement with an ask, and the lot of us will turn over our digits to support the fight. Many hands make light work, as my mother always says.

            It’s refreshing to have something to support that is worthwhile in both principle and actuality. Plus, the Post is a nasty piece of work. Same for the Times. Disgraceful and distasteful. They are only fun to peruse for the self-parody.

        1. Tim

          Class Action libel suit against WaPo and the propornot website seems reasonable. The motive is there (discredit competition), the evidence is there per the above, the legal standing is explicit, the only thing that is technically unquantifiable is the damage done.

          If the damages can be determined by some reasonable methodology then perhaps there is enough to make it worth bringing a suit.

          1. Rex Visigothis

            Not every multi-party litigation is a class action but given the high costs of motion practice, it might not be a bad idea for the several libeled and aggrieved to bring on an action as co-plaintiffs.

            That said, the accusations will be more or less easily dispelled with some than with others. (Cf, eg, Russia Today v. The Intercept or Naked Capitalism (both of which, parenthetically, I was gobsmacked to find thusly accused.)

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Regarding paying for the news in general, I’m assuming there aren’t too many readers who who actually want to pay WaPo or the NYT for anything at this point.

      Those sites and others in recent years have imposed a monthly free article limit and I find that sometimes after clicking on stories linked to from here I run up against the limit.

      I’m sure most people here are already aware of this, but just so you are never tempted to subscribe to their crappy organizations, all you need to do to get around the limit is use a different browser to open the link.

      1. Peter VE

        Both Firefox and Chrome have added the option to open in a “private” or “incognito” window or tab, which also gets you around the monthly limit.

      2. Skip Intro

        What NYT/WaPo lose in people not paying to read, they apparently can make up from people willing to pay to have things published.

        1. Brad

          On one of the two (forgot which) one need merely click the browser’s “stop” button after the article loads, but before the paywall pops up. It doesn’t take a Russian hacker…

      3. Patrick Wilson

        solved that, I know what they have to say, go there less and less fewer hits are bad for biz

  2. choung

    My name is Choung, I’m Korean(south Korea).
    Korean have experiened this kind of things many many times under the millitant dictatorship,
    and now we were suffering from new blacklist.
    Our president is daugther of the past infamous dictator.

    I have visited your site and linked manay good pieces. Somtimes translated them.

    Korean mainstream media don’t handle this story,
    So, l wrote some pieces about it in public site.

    I strongly express solidarity with you on behalf of many progrssive Koreans.

    1. UserFriendly

      Good luck getting rid of your current President! Hopefully the next one isn’t as corrupt, or at least keeps track of their personal electronics better. ;-)

      1. lin1

        I Hope the next one is just as careless, if that’s the only way they can get rid of these South Korean dictators.

        1. olivio deoliveira

          south Korea is a democracy though. Clubbish perhaps (like most political systems) but a democracy none the less. the current upheaval is over corruption allegations rather than freedom etc.

  3. ambrit

    Of tangential interest is the “news” report, if Yahoo can be so described, of the man charged with various and sundry for threatening the pizzaria “implicated” in the pedophilia allegations swirling around in the overheated miasma that passes for “common wisdom” today.
    Of importance is the framing of the “story.” The man is alleged to have gone off on his “adventure” as the result of “fake news site” reporting. The assault on journalism is now switching from a pure smear to a flanking maneuver. Whether real or manufactured, this act will probably be spun to support further crackdowns on dissenting points of view. Guilt by (manufactured) association can hurt just as badly as real guilt. All this plays out in the court of public opinion, a notoriously rickety edifice in the best of times.
    See: https://www.yahoo.com/news/gunman-charged-threatening-dc-restaurant-hit-fake-news-030914425.html
    Congratulations for adopting the “best defense is a strong offense” strategy.

  4. Sally

    Yves, I would very much question your description of The Washington Post being ” taken for a ride.” over this story.

    It’s worth pointing out that the newspapers owner Jeff Bezos was hired by the Secretary of Defense to a rather sinister sounding organisation called the ” Defense Innovation Advisory Board ” in July. The Boards mission statement is to……..”focus on new technologies and organizational behavior and culture.” Also, in addition……… “identify innovative private-sector practices, and technological solutions that the DoD could employ in the future.”

    In short, Bezos, and his companies are now part of the MIC. I believe Googles CEO is also on the same board. These so called private corporations are now part of the US govt that works in the field of black ops. Remember also that Amazon has major contracts with the govt to provide cloud computing storage. This is fascism in all but name. It remains to be seen how long the new President Mr Trump will want to trust these people as they did so much to try to defeat him.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I beg to differ. No one would want to damage their credibility above all in undermining a narrative (in Beltway-speak) that they are tying to promote Remember the Dan Rather scandal? Unlike this case, the underlying fact set about George Bush was accurate, but Dan Rather falling for bogus evidence not only forced Rather to resign, but 1. diverted attention from what should have been a scandal if properly reported and 2. confused any attempts to discuss it (as in the Rather evidence being bad made casual observers think the dirt on Bush was untrue).

      1. Quentin

        I was also struck by the statement that the Post was ‘taken for a ride’. Am I supposed to accept then that the Washington Post really thinks that the work of PropOrNot is honestly and objectively carried out? I can’t. Dan Rather was put in an impossible position by supporters of GW Bush, despite the accuracy of the accusation. In this case, instead, the Post intentionally credits accusations for which it can offer no support (or at least declines to do so). I’ll conclude that the Post acted maliciously and spitefully, as in slander, until it gives me reason to think otherwise. No person or media outlet can disseminate such shocking and potentially damaging accusations without our demanding accountability.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Fact checking at the Washington Post is a joke:


          And if you look at the what the Post said to Consortium News (hat tip UserFriendly), it apparently considers just chatting with a source for a bit an adequate basis for validating a smear against 200 publications. They effectively admit they did no independent verification:

          The reply came from the newspaper’s vice president for public relations, Kristine Coratti Kelly, who thanked me “for reaching out to us” before presenting the Post’s response, quoted here in full:

          “The Post reported on the work of four separate sets of researchers, as well as independent experts, who have examined Russian attempts to influence American democracy. PropOrNot was one. The Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list of organizations that it said had — wittingly or unwittingly — published or echoed Russian propaganda. The Post reviewed PropOrNot’s findings and our questions about them were answered satisfactorily during the course of multiple interviews.”

          1. Sally

            Yves, just to be clear…..I am in complete support for you, and your site and other sites from these outrageous and slanderous attacks.

            I was just surprised at your generous description of them being “taken for a ride.” I think that is way to charitable.

              1. Gary Headlock

                Speaking of, do you think your inclusion on the initial “PropOrNot” list is an example of malice or incompetence? Could it be some half-assed algorithm scanned the web for sites linking to RT (which I can remember at least one instance popping up in Water Cooler/Links), and called it a day? That seems the most plausible to me, but it also seems plausible that there are many organizations which would want to discredit NC.

                1. Samuel Conner

                  I haven’t seen “The List”, but am confident that sites like Moon of Alabama and The Saker are on it. Saker is explicitly pro-Russia (this is not a criticism per se; I found his pieces on the Ukraine/Donbas crisis in 2014-15 to be more illuminating than most of the very little that one could find in the US MSM, for example) and MoA is typically skeptical of US international military adventures. Pieces from both of these sites have been, from time to time, linked at the NC daily news links page. Not sure, but there may be a few links over the past couple of years to items at Russia Insider as well. It may be that 2nd order associations were enough to “merit” NC’s inclusion on “The List.”

              2. Katharine

                But last week Timberg was still touting his “independent experts” in an article on a proposed new committee mandated in the 2017 intelligence authorization bill. He quoted Wyden:

                If you read section 501 of this year’s intelligence authorization bill, it directs the President to set up an interagency committee to ‘counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence over peoples and governments.’ So that shows you that senators from both parties are clearly concerned about Russian covert influence efforts.

                Linking his earlier story with this information may be self-important stupidity on Timberg’s part, but stupidity does not actually preclude malice.

                In any case, if senators are treating Russian influence as fact when we have yet to be shown any proof of its existence that is a sign this article, be it folly or malice, needs further discrediting, so thanks and more power to you!

                1. pretzelattack

                  with the wp, i’m willing to presume both stupidity and malice. it’s a rebuttable presumption. i live in hope.

              3. davidly

                That’s an awful aphorism. Never discount one just because the other is a potential explanation, especially if the pattern indicates they’ll abdicate their core responsibilities for access and relish going after those they resent for calling them out on it.

                Having said that, one can see how you personally wouldn’t want to risk libel, but I will make no such assumptions about the likes of the beltway press.

              4. DarkMatters

                “Never assume malice when incompetence will explain the behavior.”
                …unless a lengthy history of errors having the same bias suggests otherwise.

                Best wishes, and success.

              5. Lyle James

                I’ve been a lifelong journalist, 10 years on a daily newspaper, 20 years freelancing for magazines. The Wapo story so blatantly violated fundamental journalistic standards I cannot believe any experienced editor would not have realized that. My only possible conclusion is that irresistible pressure was placed on editors to publish the story.

            1. JTFaraday

              I don’t think they were taken for a ride. I do think that one of the first things one learns in journalism school (I’ve never been to J-school, I’m just saying) is getting other people to give you a quote, so you can repeat it.

              They are going to say the reporter is just repeating what they were told. There’s no real follow up to ascertain the truth of what they were told. This is sophomoric journalism, but it is within the range of actual journalistic practice.

              They will say investigating the truth of the statements they are repeating is outside their normal day to day operations, which will be broadly true, as most reporters and commentators are not engaged in real investigative work. Most of them gain a feel for what’s plausible, over time, and run with that, (which is why most of it is so conventional in the first place).

              A lawsuit could even play internally as a bid for more money to (ostensibly) fund better journalism. How munch money does Amazon lose in any given year? How much are newspapers allowed to lose?

              I’m not excusing this, just agree there’s probably some sort of ulterior motive operating. Even incompetence has its uses. And neoconservative war mongering and red baiting is well within their ideological window, hence the editor’s breathless insistence that these dangerous propagandists must be investigated.

              And in terms of bodies at work, the past two years has been a real bloodbath at traditional press outlets.

        2. David Addams

          “Dan Rather was put in an impossible position by supporters of GW Bush, despite the accuracy of the accusation.”

          Excuse me.

          Rather (and CBS) had to admit that the documents used to make those accusations were fake. How do you have “accurate accusations” when those accusations are based on faked documents?

          Rather was not put in a bad positions by supporters of GW Bush.

          He was put in a bad position by Dan Rather.

          BTW, the Rather incident is a perfect illustration on how fake news gets reported. The underlying accusation so matched Rather’s world view that he decided to run with them without doing any sort of fact checking. Or checking the reliability of the one source for the story.

          Doing so would have prevented Rather from reporting that story and having to resign in disgrace.

          This is why fact checking and verifying stories via multiple sources is so important when reporting news.

          It prevents reporting fake news.

          The reason we have so much “fake news” is that too many reporters have abandoned basic journalistic practices.

          On both sides of the aisle.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > How do you have “accurate accusations” when those accusations are based on faked documents?

            You fake a document that contains the truth. When you discredit the document, you discredit the truth. Maneuvers like that show why Karl Rove really was (in his own special way) a genius. I followed the Bush Texas Air National Guard story in detail at the time, and the Rather story in particular, and posted on it a good deal. So far as I know, nobody ever claimed the $10,000 reward that Gary Trudeau offered for anybody who would come forward as an eye witness to Bush performing his TANG duties.

          2. davidly

            The abandonment of basic journalistic practices stems from a press dominated by reporters from “both sides of the aisle”.

    2. Carolinian

      Your comment is heavy on speculation including the notion that Bezos is directly controlling what goes into the Post. I’d say the tight little club that is mainstream journalism doesn’t require government subversion in order to represent a MIC point of view. As Gore Vidal said re the deep state: they don’t need to conspire since they all think alike anyway.

      More likely the Post article is an example of journo dinosaurs striking out at websites they now regard as their rivals. Print journalism has been brought low, financially, by the internet and television. The people who work at the Post don’t dare attack television because they all want to be on it. However the web is likely regarded as an easy target and I’ve long been under the impression that mainstream journalists know practically nothing about the internet other than Twitter and a few favored sites like Politico. While it’s potentially the greatest communication medium ever devised, of course people visiting the internet have to bring their own truth filter. Which is why some of us have landed here. NC seems serious about getting to the truth, and if you don’t like what’s written you get to say so. What the MSM really resents is people thinking for themselves.

      1. Sally

        With all due respect it isn’t speculation that Bezos has been hired by the secretary of defence to the Defence innovation advisory board. I think you have to be very naive if you think he has little input into the editorial running of the paper. Why else buy a newspaper these days? They hardly make much money.

        I suspect that this outfit PropOrNot was set up before the election of Trump. They assumed Clinton was going to win and this was the The begining of an onslaught against the so called alternative media that was going to be waged once Hilary was safely inside the White House. Full regulation of the Internet is their aim. This agenda has been pushed in other so called liberal newspapers. The British Guardian for example has been running articles and pushing a campaign of “The Internet we want.” Which seems to consist of all critiscms of what it believes being censored.

        As to Yves point about the amateur nature of this list, and the attack on sites like NC in the article, Yves shouldn’t assume that all these people are geniuses. It won’t be the first or the last time that powerful people who run businesses make complete fools of themselves. I doubt they thought they were going to be called out on it, and if Clinton won the election it didn’t really matter because they would have the power to come after the alternative media. Trumps election has put a spanner in the works….for now. It remains to be seen if he will try to censor the Internet under pressure from elites.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No it wasn’t. They bought the URL only in late August. The first tweet was November 5. The site appears to have been published at the earliest as of November 9, but from what I can tell, it was November 18.

          And Bezos is too busy to have much/any input into editorial decisions. Newscycles are far too rapid. Bezos might make clear what the general priorities and tone are, but he’s not going to be involved in individual stories save on a very exceptional basis, and news of that would get out to reporters and make the journalism rumor mill in a bad way. Marty Peretz, who unlike Bezos was the publisher and editor in chief of the magazine he bought (the vastly smaller The New Republic) had pet priorities (Israel) and preferences (falling in love with smart young male senior editors and then becoming disenchanted with them in a couple of years and driving them out) that were widely known.

          1. andyb

            Agree that Bezos is an unlikely instigator of this farce. More likely, from what we know about the CIA/Mockingbird history, the person responsible is most likely a CIA plant at the senior editor level.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I have to beg to differ re CIA plant. These guys are so ludicrous that folks like Bellingcat are denouncing them. I won’t link even here to the original site since that helps them in Google, but just go look at the FAQ on the baddie’s site or their Twitter feed. No one who was a pro in any field would see them as serious. I have no idea what the reporter was smoking. But the article reads as if they never did the most basic verification, like a web search. They didn’t recognize that the “report” which was The List, was already up and they either double down on or try to cover for their mistake by “updating” the article saying the “report” went up Saturday November 26, when it had been up since at least November 18.

              1. Keith Warren

                Carl Bernstein has done some pretty deep reporting on decades of links bw CIA and media: http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

                Even he says there are not really any links bw CIA and WaPo as propaganda channel. As much as it’d be fun to fantasize about Bezos being an evil operator for the MIC, I am inclined toward Yves’ narrative of incompetence, and an (unhealthy) dose of confirmation bias-seeking.

              2. Daily Bail


                The ass clowns behind PropOrNot first utilized their Twitter feed to double down on the insanity after the WaPo publication. Now — it’s complete radio silence. They have posted nothing for 3 days. Meanwhile they have been annihilated by virtually every journalist who has taken the time to examine the WaPo piece.

                It’a astonishing to me that Marty Barron hasn’t already removed the original story. I thought it would disappear within hours after Glenn Greenwald’s epic takedown…

                Damnit, you go Yves. I applaud your action and letter. I was beginning to worry they would get away with the malfeasance, er I mean ridiculous bullshit masquerading as journalism.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Much as I would believe anything about Bezos/WP, the article is so amateurish its very hard to believe it is part of an active top-down conspiracy. I’d be more inclined to think that it ‘became known’ among WP staff that certain Very Important People believe in the Russian propaganda conspiracy and that any articles highlighting this are more likely to be published than others.

          Off the top of my head, some of the worst examples of journalistic libel recently have primarily been driven not by malice or conspiracies, but because of active confirmation bias. The journalist and editor strongly believes X to be true, therefore when a source comes up to provide a potentially juicy story confirming the reality and evil of X, then they leap on the source without any professional scepticism. The Rolling Stone college rape hoax comes to mind, as does a notorious case in Ireland which nearly destroyed investigative journalism in the main TV company.

          Having said that, I think it is strongly likely that certain elements in the establishment (probably the Clinton part of it) was actively pushing the Putin is Goebbels line for several months – but I doubt there is any structured conspiracy – these things tend to just become part of received wisdom, and there are plenty of bottom feeding journalists ready to join the parade.

        3. Ralph Johansen

          Well, there’s negligence, and then there’s wanton, feckless, scurrilous, criminal negligence. Recompense accordingly.

          They certainly know or ought to know that, with the entire left field virtually empty, the Bill of Rights in the round hole, and because they’ve foreclosed global working class solidarity with walls, laws and red tape, (if that’s too much of a stretch you don’t belong), all they have to do is squirm at us and we crash.

        4. Ralph Johansen

          Well, there’s negligence, and then there’s wanton, feckless, scurrilous, criminal negligence. Recompense accordingly.

          They certainly know or ought to know that, with the entire left field virtually empty, the Bill of Rights in the round hole, and because they’ve foreclosed global working class solidarity with walls, laws and red tape, (if that’s too much of a stretch you don’t belong), all they have to do is squirm at us and we crash.

        5. H. Alexander Ivey

          That’s right, blame it on a woman… No, not that one, the other one: Ada! The ‘AI’ that lead Hillary’s campaign-they don’t call them Hillbots for nothing, right?

          This whole thing fits an AI. Mechanical reaction, GIGO processing, psuedo-thought, appearance of evil but really just incompentance-since an ‘AI’ is programmed machine, if it is not programmed with morality, its actions will appear as evil to us humans… Yeah, I like it. Not mendacity, just an AI. (haha).

          (Unfortunately I can’t do craazyman’s, or even craazyboy’s loonie toonie stream of consciousness, so you have to settle for this. But if you think there exists an ‘AI’ worthy of the moniker, I have a bridge for you! Proceeds to go for NC’s fundraising.)

      2. Winston

        “What the MSM really resents is people thinking for themselves.”

        Here are other examples of undoubtedly top-down suppression of anything other than the “kingmaker” and corrupt status quo maintainer narratives owned by the six mega-corporations that control 90% of what we see and hear.

        The stealthy, Eric Schmidt-backed startup that’s working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House – October 09, 2015


        An under-the-radar startup funded by billionaire Eric Schmidt has become a major technology vendor for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, underscoring the bonds between Silicon Valley and Democratic politics.

        The Groundwork, according to Democratic campaign operatives and technologists, is part of efforts by Schmidt—the executive chairman of Google parent-company Alphabet—to ensure that Clinton has the engineering talent needed to win the election. And it is one of a series of quiet investments by Schmidt that recognize how modern political campaigns are run, with data analytics and digital outreach as vital ingredients that allow candidates to find, court, and turn out critical voter blocs.

        Research Proves Google Manipulates Autocomplete Suggestions to Favor Clinton – 12 Sep 2016

        In this exclusive report, distinguished research psychologist Robert Epstein explains the new study and reviews evidence that Google’s search suggestions are biased in favor of Hillary Clinton. He estimates that biased search suggestions might be able to shift as many as 3 million votes in the upcoming presidential election in the US.


        Ironically, Sputnick News IS, I believe, a Russian supported site, but just on a hunch and noticing search autocompletion suggestion disparities myself, I had INDEPENDENTLY confirmed what Epstein proved a month before the topic hit the on-line news. I even emailed a few web sites about it, but they didn’t run with it AS THEY SHOULD HAVE as they would have scooped Sputnick News. It was easy to prove, BTW. Google Trends data which is what is normally used to create autocomplete suggestions on Google did not match the suggestions made, but the search autocomplete suggestions on every other search engine DID.

        YouTube and Facebook censorship against political conservative video bloggers (Google owns YouTube)


        Wikileaks Reveals Google’s “Strategic Plan” To Help Democrats Win The Election, Track Voters


        Zerohedge was listed as a “fake news” site but, as I’m sure many here know, they do great, hard hitting economic analysis and have had their projections and theories confirmed many times with a far better track record than the mainstream sites covering the same subject.

  5. James Miller

    My heartfelt support (and contribution) will be with you as you take on one of the most egregiously insulting to its’ readers and rot-riddled collection of hacks and mouthpieces. Now a propaganda outlet but once at least a flaky effort at journalism, today,s Washington Post has earned an encounter of the costly kind with a good lawyer or two, many times over.
    .Illegitemi non carborundum! (Don’t let the bastards wear you down!).

  6. Kokuanani

    As I noted here this weekend, I have cancelled my subscription to the WaPo and will be sending a check to NC in the amount of what I would have paid for it.

    I am embarrassed that it took me so long to do so, but having been a subscriber since 1979 [except for when I lived elsewhere], the Post was rather a habit.

    I specifically mentioned the Timberg story as the reason for my cancellation, and hope this information will work its way up the Post food chain.

    Also, Amazon is as dead to me as Walmart. I refuse to buy from either of them.

  7. Tom Stone

    The “Fake News” story was vetted by editors at the WaPo before it was published. That they published an article that no reputable High School paper would have touched with a 10 foot pole speaks volumes. Hubris?.
    Did they think that because it was published by the WaPo that no one would question it?
    It was certainly a bold thing to do ( And stupid) unless the person or persons who decided to publish this trash thought they had the kind of powerful backing that would protect them from the consequences.
    I expect the WaPo to try to weasel their way out of this embarassment and urge you not to back down or compromise on your demands, if they don’t get their noses rubbed in it they will crap on you again.
    When the National Enquirer has become more respectable than the WaPo ( And it is!) we are living in strange times indeed.

    1. Reify99

      Yep. The Wapo story is right up there with the grocery aisle headline,
      “Metal Eating Cockroaches Destroy Car”!

      1. Reify99

        If this effort begins to build a stronger alliance between truth telling internet sites- thus promoting change from the ground up- perhaps it will lead to quicker consequences for Wapo and others who pull this kind of stunt. If it becomes obvious that,
        not only will your bogus story increase the traffic to these sites at the very time they are pointing out what an idiot you are, but you also reliably get sued,
        maybe it won’t be as much fun anymore.

  8. OldLion

    I’m not sure the guys behind all this mind losing the discussion in the end.
    As often, even if the smeared news sites, including NC, win the debate, they’ll still lose the communication war.

    The original revelation is buzzing around, and everybody loves it. If there is a rebuttal, it will be a boring article nobody will comment. What people will remember is : “the russians helped Trump win, and some fake news site like NC were their mouthpieces. I distinctly remember the articles, even if the MSM now tries to hide the truth”

    Not sure how to fight that, except with an even better message like : “There is a conspiracy by the WP to smear independent reporting.”
    Sadly, I’m not sure it is possible to do that in all honestly. My opinion is that stupidity and ignorance are at work here (and everywhere), not some well organised effort. And the thoughtful voice is just boring.

    1. hemeantwell

      I’m not so sure. This scandal might be something of a test of your argument, which predicts that, similar to the horrible fate of Gary Webb, the named sites will forever have a residue of doubt to deal with. Webb’s story went the way it did because it was semiforgotten, drifting off into the collective preconscious, vaguely malodorous. Surely that can be avoided here. Opportunities for reminding readers of the farce and the revealed intentions of its promoters are abundant. One thing to consider might be to put the WaPo under steady critical scrutiny. For example, as above, the WaPo Whopper of the week.

      The background to all this, the attempt by the Clintonites to draw on Cold War stink reserves (a National Ideological Reserve, sorta like the National Petroleum Reserve) and, if not its complete failure, than its failure to be decisively effective, makes me think we are witnessing signs of a decisive weakening in elite communication control. PropOrNot advances the process.

    2. Katharine

      Keep needling outlets that picked up the Post story and demanding a prominent apology for irresponsible reporting. Send them the FAIR link, send them this one. Ask why they haven’t reaffirmed their commitment (sic) to basic journalistic principles…. Be a damn nuisance. (I’ve often thought what a pity it is that “public nuisance” has a prior signification.)

  9. AnonymousCounsel

    I’m relieved to know that James Moody will be representing Naked Capitalism in its authentic quest to right an egregious (and either reckless or intentional, in my opinion) wrong committed by a major newspaper of record that purports to represent the Fourth Estate.

    Mr. Moody is technically competent, deeply experienced and highly ethical.

    It’s critical that the establishment-driven & coordinated assault on many credible alternative media outlets be halted if free speech and free criticism (which mainstream media sources have not only failed in protecting, but have willingly attempted to suppress views contrary to establishment-approved concepts) is to survive in the United States and elsewhere.

    There is a coordinated attempt by long-standing establishment media sources and government to discredit and de-legitimize very authentic, well-intentioned and thought-provoking non-mainstream media sources, which, if successful, would amount to nothing less than basic censorship and a wholesale de-democratization of news reporting and editorializing.

    That the Washington Post allowed for and even assisted a highly questionable and anonymous source to cast a wide net of aspersions over so many clearly legitimate alternative media sources (such as Naked Capitalism) is nothing short of shameful McCarthy-era attempts to stifle free political expression of substance, and must be challengers if there’s any hope in preserving the very system of a free exchange of ideas and speech.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      They’ve come a long way from Watergate. Would really like to see discovery on how Propornot came to the WaPo’s attention.

    2. Crumbling Joe McCarthy

      Sen. Joe McCarthy was essentially correct. Google unbiased entries on McCarthyism. So, there is a lot of irony in this part of your comment: ” …shameful McCarthy-era attempts to stifle free political expression of substance…”

      Further, note that commenter “OldLion” stated in part: “I’m not sure the guys behind all this mind losing the discussion in the end.
      As often, even if the smeared news sites, including NC, win the debate, they’ll still lose the communication war.

      The original revelation is buzzing around, and everybody loves it. If there is a rebuttal, it will be a boring article nobody will comment. What people will remember is : “the russians helped Trump win, and some fake news site like NC were their mouthpieces. I distinctly remember the articles, even if the MSM now tries to hide the truth” End quote from OldLion.

      He’s right – A real life example is Sen. McCarthy. People remember the lies and propaganda and that he crumbled under pressure, and from making mistakes. So, the only solution is for NC to drive “The Washington Compost” into oblivion without crumbling under the pressure first. NC is going to need help and lots of it. For example, on the radio today, the news report included the term “fake news site” and implied that it precipitated the recent gun-related incident at Comet Pizza and Ping Pong in DC by Mr. Wheeler. The radio report didn’t say which website – so, in effect, all on the list were impugned by association and that at least one of them was investigating PizzaGate. (Google that term for info. I can’t vouch for its veracity, so I won’t go into its substance here.)

      Frankly, this is a media war that the biggies intend to win. NC et al. will be lucky to survive and much less likely to prevail. Good luck and Godspeed.

  10. craazyboy

    I can’t believe the unfairness of this allegation made by this propaganda watchdog website. I mean, if I were a Hillary supporter, I would be in tears over this. But as a Bernie supporter, I have learned to get over my butthurt.

    “You identified and thus denigrated Naked Capitalism, one of the sites targeted in the “study” as one of the “right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.”

    “shadowy cabal of global financiers” ???? We always use the stock symbols GS and JPM here. WTF is shadowy about that?????????????? You can look the symbols up in Bloomberg!

    Well, I guess maybe some fake news got posted here in the comments section, but I distinctly recall discussing real news, like when Hillary compared Putin to Hitler, or the Cookie Monster thing in Kiev. Or NATO scattering nukes around Eastern Europe. Or Soros and the CIA funding a long term propaganda war in Eastern Europe. Even Fox News would call that fair and balanced fake news. But at any rate, Russia shouldn’t view any of this as hostile. That would just be childish.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Confirming the impression that the Z site monitors NC closely for useful content, Tyler Durden now has a post up titled “Fake News” Site Threatens Washington Post With Defamation Suit, Demands Retraction.

    The post includes the Scribd document of Moody’s letter.

    Since the Z site reportedly generates a six-figure annual profit, you’d think this deep-pocketed site would join the suit (should litigation regrettably become necessary). Whaddya say, Tyler(s)?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        He’s actually quite technically expert (as in he can take apart and analyze software) which is why I don’t get the aol.com either. Although he may have been an early aol.com user, and I am told it is a nuisance to extract your contacts from aol.com, and he may have decided it was not worth the fuss.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Now the post is “gray boxed” (pinned) on the Z site, making it one of two lead articles that apparently are expected to generate a high level of interest and comments.

      Which will send traffic this way. Welcome ZHers.

    2. MDBill

      It’s not monetary support, however, the story now ends thus,

      We fully endorse Yves Smith’s efforts.

      Additionally, we note that the only reason we haven’t followed up with a similar action is because i) the allegations were beyond laughable – we have rejected all of them on the record, and ii) there are simply too much other events taking place in what should otherwise be a quiet end to the year taking place to focus on what may be a lenghty, if gratifying, legal process.

  12. Sluggeaux

    Pass the popcorn! Mr. Moody is a terrific lawyer. I just hope that if Aurora Advisors winds up owning ScAmazon, the workers and suppliers start getting treated decently!

    1. craazyboy

      It would really be cool if Mr. Moody was doing this “pro bono” – as in give ’em a royal hosing just for the fun of it.

  13. Jim

    Good for you Yves. Just the dying gasps of an outdated system (MSM news). Anyone with half a brain knows alt news is the place to go these days.

  14. tiger

    You’re too nice to WaPo Yves, maybe this was incompetence but Bezos and WaPo are terrible and they did too many hit pieces on Trump which included false information, so this is not a coincidence. They are the fake news, and that’s terrifying. Good luck and may you destroy them.

  15. RUKidding

    Good luck. I agree with your demands and hope that they are satisfied.

    I gave up a long time ago on either the tv or mainstream print media as a source of credible or factual news. There are some print publications out there that do a rather decent job at reporting the news more accurately, but the ones I know of are mostly smaller local newspapers with very limited budgets.

    All the Bigs are propaganda pure and simple. I gave up reading the NYT and the WaPoo a long long time ago. It would embarress a parrot to have either on the bottom of their cage to catch their sh*t.

  16. John Medcalf

    Where’s Bezos? I’m still speculating this is Bezos’ answer to Trump’s birthing. Annoy the press like hell. Let them whine and sue. Then save the country.

  17. susan the other

    Addressing the Whappo’s “incompetence” is genius bec. it cannot shake the label. It will stick with them now, whereas if you had gone for the throat with an accusation of malice the Whappo could have escaped all that disgust and resentment because to prove malice you have to prove intent. Like fraud. It’s hard to do.

  18. Be Prepared

    It has been a difficult to watch these past 8 years under the continued conversion of whatever was left of MSM being turned to merely a propaganda arm for the Executive branch. It is absolutely hilarious that they had the audacity to write the article in the first place since MSM is the only “real” fake news outlet. I do believe it will be a difficult road to achieve a full retraction or even an acknowledgement because they will hide behind the concepts of editorial content. Nothing they write is vetted or researched because they merely conjure articles to fit their preconceptions. If nothing else, pushing back is still the right thing to do…. just remember to not let it consume you to the detriment of your continued good work on this site.

  19. Kurt Sperry

    Does the threat of civil litigation even matter to an organization with Bezos’ endless resources to draw on? They would probably love the idea of a war of monetary attrition–they can’t lose that game. It seems to me the weak link might be the creators of the website itself. Unlike a hardened target like the WaPo, they are unlikely to have such bottomless resources. The first step may be to use investigation or litigation to strip away the anonymity of the publishers of the site, probably by going after the hosting company, then to attack them directly. And if it turns out that filing website whois papers via a proxy privacy service is 100% surefire, ironclad protection from any legal accountability, then there really is no longer anything like accountability for web publishing. If that is the case then there is nothing stopping you from retaliating in kind, creating an anonymous website accusing Bezos of being a child pornographer or whatever and imploring that he and his lawyers negotiate with you to have the accusations retracted at your pleasure. Either filing whois papers for a domain using a privacy proxy is an unbreakable defense against litigation, or it isn’t.

  20. Doly Garcia

    My experience with journalists (as an organiser of non-profit activities) has convinced me that nowadays they do little to no fact-checking. In one particular case I know of, mainstream UK media including the Independent and the BBC publicized a man that, if they had simply bothered doing a Google search on his name, they’d immediately realize he had zero credibility on the field he was claiming expertise on.

    This should hardly be a surprise to anyone who has followed the story of climate change, with dozens of so-called “climate change” experts being allowed to write opinion pieces on mainstream media, in spite of having no credentials, and sometimes having long credentials of having lobbied for every dubious cause known to mankind, from the health safety of tobacco to the lack of issues with pesticides.

    The real issue is that it’s getting damned near impossible for anyone to find out the truth about any controversial issue without spending a long time researching the subject. And most people don’t have the time for this, and don’t even know that they should regard the news on any controversial issue, from any source, with great suspicion.

    1. Fiver

      They don’t want the public to have a good grasp of what’s happening. They go out of their way to present the wildest, craziest, most violent, most gut-wrenching whatever. For years now ‘they’ have seeded media with their US State and corporate puppets to control particular types of news and to keep as much true comment off the Net as possible, and disrupt the trust of the site community, even while firing up the fog machine.

    2. JTFaraday

      “My experience with journalists (as an organiser of non-profit activities) has convinced me that nowadays they do little to no fact-checking”

      Well, not only that but whole journalism programs have gone down the post-modern rabbit hole of questioning the whole idea of “fact.” Without, in my considered estimation, a good basis in philosophy or, my preference, historiographical practices (which are still very much about truth seeking), of other academic departments that were more responsible for initiating what has become a mere fashionable trend.

      When some comment on Trump’s freedom from the tyranny of fact, I kind of have to giggle a little bit. What did they expect?

  21. Brad

    If one is serious about pursuit of a retraction and apology from Wapo, support for NC’s cautious approach is in order. It will not help the case being advanced to overstate with inferences about WaPo’s motives. Sticking to the already known objective facts will be enough to produce the desired result, public discredit of WaPo by its own hand.

    That’s said with full sympathy for the feelings on WaPo, a publication that now ranks with W. R. Hearst’s in sheer depths of vileness. And that in general is rightfully laid at the door of its libertardian owner Jeff Bezos, a man whose enterprises mark all that is most evil about US capitalism today. But none of this belongs in the retraction / apology effort. As I see it, the effort is designed to produce a specific effect from specific cause. That effort is best supported by not second-guessing it at this point and over-loading it with meanings that can’t be demonstrated within the context of the effort. Let’s give it a chance to run and review / critique the result afterward.

    Finally and for the record, this is said as someone with no sympathy for the Putin regime, one that no leftist should have any truck with, “conscious or unconscious”, especially from an “anti-imperialist” POV. The Putin regime is right wing, capitalist, neo-nationalist, revanchist, and neo-imperialist (and not at all “wannabe”). It supports with armed force a regime in Damascus that has destroyed “its own country” to save itself. It IS a regime ideologically congruent with Donald Trump’s tendencies. IOW Putin’s Russia is a lot like the United States in political coloration right now.

    Nevertheless, residents of the USA must first and foremost act against repression conducted by their own government and its political agents such as WaPo. We can agree to disagree on Putin while showing solidarity against domestic repression, especially of this poisonous neo-McCarthyite type. That is only common sense. Our main opponent is always at home.

    1. Fiver

      The US bears primary responsibility for the horrors visited on Syria (and Libya, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Yemen, and Somalia, and Sudan, and the Palestinians and so many, many more) – it is precisely the fact that US State-generated propaganda (a narrative you apparently accept) delivered via mindless MSM for decades finally broke down and failed that has some of the most egregious purveyors of same turning purple. Do yourself a favour in terms of adopting a more critical perspective and watch Oliver Stone’s “The Untold History of The United States”, a documentary tracing the critical events in the US leap from continental to global Empire (note: the doc is from 2013 and the Obama years receive only minimal discussion). If you have access to the Netflix version, watch the last 2 installments first, as they actually precede the others chronologically, covering the period from the Spanish-American War through WWI and the ’20’s. One caveat – Stone typically sticks to the more conservative, mainstream-approved estimates of non-US war-time casualties, civilian deaths, economic damage etc., than many other academic sources available. Seriously, if you want to understand where ‘we’ are, and who exactly is responsible for taking ‘us’ here, this doc is a great entree into a whole new world for those who haven’t had the time or opportunity or incentive to access and read any of the extensive US and foreign academic/journalistic literature the main themes of which are completely at odds with the dominant US narrative. If on completion you can honestly say you don’t think it was worth it, I’ll donate a couple hundred bucks to Yves.

  22. Claudia

    After more than a few decades of educational decline and loss of expertise, we have arrived at the Age of Incompetence. That the WaPo would hire such nitwits is all the proof one needs.

  23. DarkMatters

    The most reasonable hypothesis I can see is that the PropOrNot effort is a response by the MSM to reassert information control, having lost it so spectacularly during the election. The alternative media’s counterstory has proven to be more faithful to reality than the picture presented by elite journalists. Elite journalists themselves have been compromised by the Wikileaks revelations. The MSM’s reputation is in tatters and SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, at least until enough time has gone by for the public to forget how truly dismally deceptive was their coverage.

    A consistently suspicious pattern of MSM behavior is their incuriousness, and in the present situation, one of the many of the herd of interrogatory elephants in the room is, why isn’t the MSM investigating the people who make up PropOrNot? (Or asking any of the questions NS has posed). Would that not be newsworthy?

    1. Keith Warren

      I agree with this assessment wholeheartedly. I am afraid that the strategy of the dem establishment and their elite media allies over the next 4 years will be to regain narrative control via censorship, rather than make any attempts at governing like small-d democrats.

    2. Yves Smith Post author


      You assume that PropOrNot is competent. If this was MSM orchestrated, it would be.

      Quoting Dune, “The most persistent principles of the universe are accident and error.”

      One of the people we believe is behind PropOrNot looks like he has been trying to get anti-Russia propaganda consulting work for 30 months with no success. This looks to have been a marketing stunt that took off in a way no one would have ever expected give how flimsy and phony it was. Frankly, something like The List is a reason NOT to hire someone. Did you read our spoof propornot.org site as to why their propaganda was really lame?

      Another site agrees with our take:

      The biggest failure in the story, of course, revolved around the shadowy group called “PropOrNot.” One thing even critics of the story seem to be unwilling to doubt is the idea that this is some kind of group, as the anonymous source himself claims. I highly doubt this. I am almost certain this is one guy, at most maybe him and a friend….

      Put simply, PropOrNot has something to hide. Most likely it is the fact that it is one guy and not a group of 30 or so volunteers or whatever his ridiculous claim is. Once someone finds out it’s just one guy, they might quickly notice that he is utterly unqualified to speak about Russian propaganda or Russia in general. Then again, they might also find out that he’s actually a pro-Russian blogger deliberately attempting to embarrass the Western media. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve run ops involving ostensibly anti-Kremlin groups or individuals.


  24. Kim Kaufman

    The red baiting is popping out from all sides. Last week Amy Goodman interviewed Bernie – the first (she basically ignored him through the primary). She started off with “you were considered a fringe candidate…” and he politely reminded her he has been in congress for 25 years. Then she said that he had been red-baited during the primary by Clinton over Castro and the Sandinistas… and “could he speak some about Castro and Latin America?” And at every opportunity she reminded the audience he was an independent, not a Democrat, “a socialist.”

    I have been told that Sarah Palin blew her chance to be Sec. of Interior, or VA, or whatever it was because she criticized Trump for “crony capitalism” over the Carrier deal.

    I’m totally confused about who our friends are these days.

  25. Greg Taylor

    How has “Beall’s List” of so-called “predatory” open-access academic research publishers escaped a similar lawsuit? Some of these publishers were shut down as a direct result of being named so the list has undeniably done damage since being published in 2013. There seem to be strong parallels between “Fake News” and “Fake Science” censorship efforts.

  26. craazyman

    It’s not unreasonable the Washington Post would confuse Naked Capitalism with a Porn site. But not a Russian porn site, that’s just not credible since Naked Capitalism is English.

    They should just admit it they made up fake news. They probably never read anything on the site — or even looked at the pictures of naked animals. Naked pussys. Lots of those. With garish flash photography. It’s enough to embarrass anybody with refined aesthetic sensibilities.

    But it isn’t Porn and it’s not Russian. I’ve never seen a Russian pussy here. Usually they’re American or maybe from England. Sometimes they’re even guys. That’s kind of confusing, but a cat is a cat to most people. I’m not a veterinarian anyway.

    Fake news is the scourge of the internet. Fake news has been around a long time, as long as there were newspapers in fact. It started in the 1700s and it kept going. Before that it was fake but it was only passed by word of mouth.

    Now there’s fake pictures. Fake news with fake pictures can sometimes be art — but only if you see it in the movies, where some drug addled lunatic pretends they’re somebody else, then they go into rehab after the movie is made and sometimes before. News should be real, in theory, but in reality it isn’t. Somebody makes it up but you don’t always know who. That’s why jourmalism is so important, because you want the person making it up to be accurate! You don’t want them making up Porn and publishing that. Why pay for that? People make that up themselves evidently and don’t even need a newspaper.

    So if they fell for the fake Porn angle here — thinking that Naked meant Porn, and from Russia of all places! — that must mean they’re either making it up or they don’t know what real news is from anywhere. Since it could be from other places besides Russia. If they went to a museum they’d see naked things but not Porn. There’s a museum of things but it’s not news or porn, it’s just whatever. I’m just being honest. It doesn’t have to be confusing, even for somebody who writes and takes pictures.

    1. Science Officer Smirnoff

      Only deep AI (or some such) could be so teasingly close to utter confusion.

      Will wait for the day machines can play with language (after they master one and the whole culture implicated). ’til then this will have to illuminate—the dark.

    2. craazyboy

      I’d think Naked Communism would be a porn site from Russia. But then all you need to do is go to the webpage and if you see either lots of orgy pics, or pics of naked herd animals (not cats – you can’t herd cats into a orgy shot. I’ve heard.) then you would know… whatever it was you were trying to find out.

  27. templar555510

    The tendency towards consensus has been apparent in the mainstream media for forty plus years , long before the internet came along and upset things. What has caused mass hysteria in those circles is the sound of these other uncontrolled and uncontrollable voices . Years ago the only comment section of a national newspaper was ‘ Letters to the Editor ‘ which the editor had the veto over, never mind editorial responsibility for, and he / she took their job seriously ( in my first hand experience ) . Those days are long gone . Imagine you are a young, or even a seasoned journalist on one of these papers and you think you have the ear of the editor , the temptation to bring forth a story ( ‘ scoop ‘ in old – fashioned newspaper speak ) that gives umpteen internet sites a good kicking must be hard to resist. Trouble is the story was trashed before it hit the ground . And so another nail goes in the coffin of the mainstream press .

  28. SpongeBobSaget

    The Daily Caller story about this has a survey asking readers if Naked Capitalism is a fake news site or not.

    On my browser it’s not possible to check “No: I Never Found A Fake News Story On That Site” Only Yes it’s fake can be selected.

  29. ChrisPacific

    I took a look through the detailed report that the PropOrNot folks published last Friday. The main thing that was (almost entirely) missing was any actual evidence of Russian involvement. Instead it’s simply assumed that stories that are complimentary of “friends” of Russia are Russian propaganda while stories that are critical of Russian “enemies” are not. Interestingly Donald Trump is placed in the first category while Hillary Clinton is in the second. The other way to get on the list was by linking to, or reposting content from, sites that are considered Russian propaganda. So in the case of a community of similar sites that frequently reference each other and cross post things, if one of them is flagged then they all will be.

    Of the examples they provided, ZeroHedge was mostly a collection of links to articles about them plus a bunch of cross links from tracking cookies etc., which demonstrate relationship but do nothing to establish that it is related to Russia in any way. I didn’t bother to read the linked articles, but if there were any smoking guns in them I’d expect them to have been quoted in the report. The story about the Syrian false flag op reads like an example of a typical Internet echo chamber conspiracy theory. Once again there is no evidence presented of Russian involvement, but since the story is critical of the US it’s assumed to be Russian propaganda.

    The other example was the rumor that Hillary Clinton had Parkinson’s. I can recall this coming up a few times in NC links and comments at the time. Some people believed it, some didn’t and evidence was offered for and against. Yves found it unconvincing and did not devote any air time to it. Given the explosive meme growth described, it would have been surprising if it hadn’t been discussed in some form. But I don’t see any evidence that it has anything to do with Russia (unless you assume that automatically applies to anything critical of Hillary) or that the treatment of it at NC was at all unbalanced.

    The one case they offered from a genuine Russian source was the RT article on Putin. I tried doing as they suggested and searching some of the text from the article, but picked some from the body (rather than the headline as they did) and got a much shorter list as a result, something like 12 links in all. Of these, other than the RT link itself, all were either feed aggregators of some kind or obvious nutjob conspiracy sites. I did not see anything from NC or any of the other high profile sites mentioned.

    The whole thing is a perfect example of precisely the kind of echo chamber effect that they are railing against, to the degree that I would probably have assumed it was a parody site if I ran across it. The fact that most of the major news outlets (with some notable exceptions) have accepted this more or less uncritically and made a headline story out of it is quite eye opening, and shows the degree to which critical thinking has declined in journalism these days.

  30. doc holidaay

    This is such frivolous baseless shit which is well beyond annoying and absurd, thus I hope that Naked Capitalism not only discredits WaPo but goes several steps further and makes it financially painful on those slobs. God Speed and full throttle ahead!

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