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How anyone who questions the White Helmets narrative became victims of the Guardian propaganda machine

As many of our readers know the Guardian recently published an article by Olivia Solon making the claim that all criticism of the White Helmets in Syria was part of a disinformation program ‘propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government’.

The article exhibits minimal research, has been deconstructed and rebutted many times over (see here and here and here on our own site, and especially this article by Eva Bartlett), and is little more than a clumsy, mostly fact-free hit piece.

In terms of journalistic politics the fact it was given to Solon – a “technology journalist” with no previous experience in Syria or related matters, suggests it was an article in search of an author and may well have been passed down to Solon from more senior or experienced people who did not want their names associated with anything quite so flagrantly anti-factual – just in case (as seems possible) the entire White Helmets mythology were to collapse irretrievably and force even the MSM to stop calling them heroes and start calling them terrorist-enablers.

As usual with the Guardian’s most unapologetically propagandist stories, this piece produced a strong negative reaction, both in social media and elsewhere. Many people were appalled at the standard of journalistic integrity on display, and were quick to call for explanations.

None were forthcoming. In fact the Guardian went into the siege mode that seems to be its new default response to any serious challenge to its favoured narratives. If comments were ever open on the Solon piece they were quickly closed and disappeared. Letters of complaint, and even requests for space to make a reasoned reply to the libellous allegations went unanswered. Even when one of those directly attacked in the piece (Vanessa Beeley) sent in a response, there was nothing but silence from the official Guardian. – Though not from Solon herself, who took vociferously to social media and, in the words of Tim Hayward

allowed herself to promote her piece while simply blocking critical voices.

Unsurprising perhaps, but arguably a new low in terms of accountability. But that was not the end of it. Soon afterwards no less a personality than George Monbiot leapt into the fray, tweeting impressively insulting rhetoric against those who dared question the White Helmets as the heroes of the hour.

When challenged to rebut the evidence in their own propaganda of WH links with terrorists he responded memorably:

Yes, that’s right. George Monbiot, respected Guardian journalist, actually resorted to an only slightly more sophisticated version of “what’s the weather like in St. Petersburg?” Lowest common denominator trolling reinvented as serious analysis. George, if you’re reading this, it’s you, not Hayward and Robinson, who has disgraced himself here.

The irony is that while he was taking these schoolboy pot shots at her, Beeley was actually on the ground in Syria, risking her life again to document the real experience of the people there. But George and Olivia probably think she was in that overcrowded Russian troll house where everyone who ever questions, well – anything is now apparently based.

In response to these egregious smears by Guardian journalists together with a denial of a platform to reply, the ‘academic Working Group on Syria, Propaganda & the Media’ wrote a formal letter of protest to ‘Comment is Free’ at The Guardian on 23 December.

The Guardian didn’t publish or respond to it.

So they sent a follow-up letter on January 5, this time to the Guardian Readers’ Editor.

The Guardian didn’t publish or respond to that one either.

Well, in fairness, the Guardian Readers’ Editor must be pretty busy these days – editing Guardian readers and slipping their comments down that Memory Hole. So maybe he’ll get round to replying when he has a moment.

We are reproducing both these letters in a separate post. When or if the Guardian recalls its responsibilities to journalism enough to volunteer a reply to these courteous and reasonable requests we will let our readers know.

And before anyone asks – none of us in the troll house know what the weather is like in St. Petersburg – because we’re never allowed outside.


  1. Olivia should stick to more familiar subject matter, such as ‘Glamour’ which I suppose is make-up & sh*t like that?

  2. Seamus Padraig says

    And before anyone asks – none of us in the troll house know what the weather is like in St. Petersburg – because we’re never allowed outside.

    Your wicked sense of humor is appreciated, Catte.

  3. Mr Reynard says

    Now, who will sponsor the “White Helmets” for the next Nobel Piss Prize ??

  4. Ah, the White Wash of the Helmets another propaganda meme straight from the NATO Strategic Information Centre. The Russian’s have Troll Farms, or are they houses or factories. NATO has Strategic Information Centres for gods sake!

    From the Western MSM misinformation campaign be it offering support to the Nazis of Ukraine or Jihadists in Syria the sound bites are all too familiar. Evil Putin and evil Assad’s Barrel bombs delivering sarin gas, attacking moderate Syrian [head chopping] opposition, while Russian little green men are invading the land of the touchy feely female Nazis of the Azov Brigade and Pravi Sector nieces.

    This perception management has been going on for some considerable time and the Solon piece is one of the latest [if somewhat crude] examples. The difference now is that the heat has been turned up with scandal after scandal being exposed on the internet as fabrication.

    The freedom that the Guardian so laments as being lost is not true. The very opposite is the case. They are the media vehicle restricting ideas by the age old tactic of limiting free discourse and playing the player and not the ball.

    [edited by Admin to correct typo]

  5. Jen says

    Dear Catte,

    We understand that you don’t know what the weather is like outside Savushkina Street because we’re stuck in the troll house too.

    • Captain Kemlo says

      Lucky bugger! I’m in a basement at the Kremlin. Nowt but kasha…

  6. I stopped regular reading and writing to the Guardian when I found the Guardian Trust had a permanent representative from House of Rothschild. However, I continued to dip into the website now and then, just to check what they were up to. But ever since the new Soros-funded Guardian Trust, I ignore them entirely. This is my last comment on the bearers of a once great name. They are not worth my spit.

  7. The point is that the reality on the ground has caught up with and surpassed the propaganda praising the so called White Helmets. Coincidence simply cannot answer for the horrors that took place in Syria when only the White Helmets were present. One cannot keep suspending one’s own understanding of the facts, seen with one’s own eyes, when alternate propaganda is presented as the actual truth, even though the propaganda falls far short of reality.

  8. Paul says

    BBC R4 news today leads on a “gas attack in Gouta”. A rebel is able to give an interview in which there is a loud bang which he says is a shell that has just landed; others listening say it’s undoubtedly a shell being fired. Then an expert comes on and relates how this was the place 1000+ died in a Sarin gas attack in 8/13 and since Obama allowed them to cross the red line “gas attacks have become routine by the regime”. He very much hoped something would be done about it. Twice we were told Aleppo was only “lost” because the Regime resorted to gas attacks which were particularly important in flushing out rebels “because it seeps into basements”. Nobody suggested today’s “gas attack”, if it happened, which put 6 people needing medical attention for “minor respiratory complaints” might be rebel ammunition blowing up and certainly nobody was suggesting that the Jihadi fighters might consider surrender to save their families and stop slaughtering innocents in Damascus. Not far away hundreds are dying every day from disease, starvation and bombs; not a word on the BBC about that, even though it’s done with our OK and our equipment and expertise. The BBC has always lied but what is notable of late is just how badly they do it these days!

    • John A says

      Surely, the BBC also referenced ‘barrel bombs’ in the report, they invariably do?

      • Jim Scott says

        Barrel bombs and the Syrian Observatory for Terrorist Rights.

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