We trust readers will enjoy and link to our new site, PropOrNot.org: Your Friendly Guide to Better Propaganda. Its aim is to combat serious deterioration of the standards of American propaganda, with the ultimate goal of restoring the US to its standing of a propaganda export powerhouse.
We include a case study on a site called PropOrNot that is so inept that it not only failed in its mission to institutionalize a blacklist of Evil Rooskie fake news sites, but got itself outed as a propagandist as well as “laughable,” “half-assed,” “amateurish,” “childish,” and “a mess.” The firestorm of criticism came not only from journalists but also experts on so-called “information operations.” This fiasco hampers its ability to run future missions.
Our launch of the spoof site PropOrNot.org came out of a desire to create more balance among the responses to this McCarthyite initiative.
The creators of the blacklist are so obviously incompetent that to the extent they were noticed at all, they should have been treated as objects of ridicule. But because they managed to latch onto red-baiting, which has a proud if unsavory history in the US, and because their work dovetailed with the desire of the MSM and big pipeline players to use “fake news” as an excuse to restrict the provision of content on the Internet, they received an extraordinary amount of attention.
Formulating a proper response to this threat to an open Internet has proven surprisingly complicated, given the need to balance competing considerations. On the one hand, the bizarrely amateurish aspects of PropOrNot make humorous and other light-hearted responses, like Paul Craig Robert’s request to Putin for a passport, and other websites complaining that they weren’t included in The List, quite reasonable. However, even these rejoinders are a bit of a double-edged sword: like a roast or comedy improv, they carry the joke further….which then risks reinforcing some of the underlying messaging.
On the other, the enormous amount of credulous traction that the story has received in high-profile sources underscores the genuine seriousness of the affair. It is therefore entirely appropriate for affected parties to respond forcefully. Yet at the same time, it would be preferable not to feed into PropOrNot’s ludicrous self-image as a small band of persecuted Davids fighting a terrifying Goliath.
One way to square this circle is to keep in mind that on their own, the unhinged enthusiasm of PropOrNot would have been ignored, or at most become a joke. It is only by virtue of the Washington Post giving it a seal of approval, and the media following blindly, that what is at best baseless rumor-mongering risks doing real damage to reputations, as well as to the ability to discuss controversial subjects without fear or favor.
So in addition to responding firmly, as our related posts do today (see our demand letter to the Washington Post and the discussion of how PropOrNot is hopelessly and verifiably dishonest), we also thought it would be productive to include a more ironic response.
Careful readers may recall that PropOrNot and its useful idiot Craig Timberg of the Washington Post flogged PropOrNot’s alleged expertise: “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.” However, if anyone in this group had any real tech or military chops, they would not have allowed yours truly to acquire the major related PropOrNot URLs (including propornot.org, propornot.net, propornot.biz, propornot.info, propornot.site, and quite a few others) even before the Washington Post story ran.
I think you’ll have fun with the site. Please tweet it and link to it on Facebook. Encourage the other targeted sites to link to it as well. Since Google heavily favors recency in its searches, the more links to PropOrNot.org, the more likely that our spoof site will outrank the censor wannabe in Google searches.
We would like to include our own own List of particularly noteworthy propaganda stories. Given that the father of propaganda, Edward Bernays, deemed half the stories on the front page of the New York Times to be propaganda, a full compendium would be overwhelming. Due to time and space constraints, we need to limit our version of The List to PropOrNot/Washington Post-level tripping-over-their-own-feet examples. We know that Ron Paul and others have provided rosters of journalists that have been purveying propaganda as news. If any of these can provide independently verifiable evidence of the validity of their lists, we will consider spotlighting them on our site. We welcome other submissions and suggestions, but remember: they have to be egregious enough to make the grade!