That a protest Facebook/twitter account focusing on the mistreatment of black people by American police was actually a fake account run by Russians to make the US look bad and spread division in the West…is one hell of a claim. If you were to make it, you’d probably be expected to supply evidence to back up your accusation. That’s only reasonable.
Well, CNN don’t feel the need. Two days ago they reported this story verbatim, here. Under the headline:
Exclusive: Fake black activist accounts linked to Russian government
Now, the headline doesn’t say HOW these accounts were linked to Russia, or indeed who linked them. But that’s OK, because neither does the body of the text. There’s not a single link, source or piece of evidence cited at all. The only basis for the claim is:
two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN
That’s it. In total. They never say who these two sources are (leaving the very real possibility they don’t even exist), they never say what their supposed “knowledge of the situation” is. They tell us nothing of any note, and have the gall to put “exclusive” in the headline.
“Some guy said so” is NOT an exclusive.
The Guardian then took this one step further down the path of insanity – they reported that CNN had reported, that 2 guys told them something. Their headline…
Did Russia fake black activism on Facebook to sow division in the US?
…at least has the decency to use a question-mark, although none of that implied doubt makes into the body of the article. They don’t mention that CNN never provided any evidence of this claim, or CNN’s anonymous sources. Instead they choose to focus on whether or not it sounds plausible. After providing soundbites from professors who study “Russian interference in elections”, and referencing the Soviet Union’s supposed support of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, they decide that it does sound plausible. And since it’s plausible…it’s probably true. Right?
No reference to the keystone questions of journalism – who, when, where, why, how. No reference to evidence or sources, or agendas. Just a vague analysis of the plausibility of a rumor started by CNN on the basis of two anonymous sources with “knowledge of the situation”. This is the modern method of spreading propaganda – through a concerted effort of repetition without evidence, you can turn a lie into a “fact”.
That is the cancerous absurdity of today’s “journalism” in a nutshell.