Bryan MacDonald is a journalist. He worked in Dublin for many years, for Ireland on Sunday and the Evening Herald. He was also theatre critic of The Daily Mail for a period and a news, features and opinion writer. He now mainly covers Russia.
There are things every journalist should endeavor to accomplish every day. These include changing their socks, brushing their teeth, avoiding cliche and steering clear of ‘whataboutism‘. While there’s never an excuse for mishandling the first three, I’ve always felt there could be times when the latter is justified. This is one of them.
As you probably know, Wikileaks has been publishing thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private servers recently. They’ve ranged from the tedious to the sublime. And the mainstream US media hasn’t given them the coverage they deserve.
That’s because the masters of the media universe have, pretty much collectively, decided to back Clinton in the campaign to elect the next American President. This isn’t a secret. Bernie Sanders scares the wits out of their, predominantly, billionaire owners and Donald Trump frightens pretty much everybody in the US Establishment.Thus, Hillary, although thoroughly disliked by many prominent hacks, has been selected as the least harmful option.
Anyway, last weekend, the latest release of Clinton correspondence suggested that, in 2012, web giant Google designed an interactive tool to encourage Syrian rebels to bring down the Damascus government. Ironically, Google was founded with the motto “Don’t Be Evil.” Incidentally, they dropped this mantra from their code of conduct last year.
Now, unlike some who feign expertise on the region, I’m happy to admit that I’m no Middle East scholar. However, I’d like to believe that I’ve a functioning moral compass. And helping to violently destabilize a country and assisting ISIS and Islamic extremists to take control there sounds pretty evil to me.
According to Wikileaks’ data grab, Clinton’s advisor, Jake Sullivan, told the former Secretary of State “FYI — this is a pretty cool idea,” before forwarding an original email written by former Clinton adviser Jared Cohen. Cohen, who was no longer attached to Clinton then, had moved on to become President of Jigsaw – Google’s New-York based policy think tank, formerly known as Google Ideas.
In his correspondence, Cohen revealed that he’d enlisted the help of Al Jazeera to broadcast the tool in Syria: “we are partnering with Al-Jazeera who will take primary ownership.”
Hold it right there now. Al Jazeera? Mixed up with Google and the US State Department in a project to sway Syrian officials to betray President Assad?
The Golden Apple
Now, if I told you how many articles a day I read about Russia, you’d probably call me a saddo and, with good reason, tell me to get a life. However, I like to get everyone’s point of view, even people I don’t agree with or don’t consider legitimate Russia experts. As a result, I wind up consuming copious anti-RT rants weekly. So numerous are they, that some people appear to make a living out of writing them. That means I have to break my rule and digest the forbidden fruit of ‘whataboutism’ here.
Let’s cast our minds back to 2014. The Ukrainian Civil War is raging. The countries’ eastern regions are revolting against the US-backed regime installed after the Maidan Coup. Imagine that, amidst all this, RT hooks up with the Russian Foreign Ministry and Yandex (Russia’s largest search engine) to produce an interactive tool pressuring Russian-speaking Ukrainians to defect to the rebel side. Given that Russian is the first language of almost everyone in eastern and southern Ukraine, this would have been reasonably influential.
As people tend to adopt a herd mentality in times of crisis, highlighting defections in Donbas and Lugansk could feasibly have provoked copycats in places like Kharkov, Nikolaev and Odessa. In this scenario, a couple of years later, somebody hacks Sergey Lavrov’s email servers and an email is published from his private account outlining the plan?
How does the Western media, the State Department and the EU react? Does the Atlantic Council call for RT to lose its broadcast license in America? Are there multiple hearings in the US Congress about Russia’s Dastardly deeds? Do some Henry Jackson Society-linked MP’s suggest banning RT in Britain?
The only feasible answer is: Do bears like to defecate in woodland?
RT would be destroyed. The story would be headline news across the western media.
Yet, for the reasons I outlined above, the same NATO-area press has, largely, buried the Clinton-Al-Jazeera-Google story. I’d normally say it’s sad, or heinous, or appalling, or whatever you’re having yourself. But this is something they’ve done with their eyes wide open.
Skeptical readers – i.e. most readers these days – know that there never was any such thing as completely unbiased journalism and – note the paradox – there’s even less now.
Nevertheless, the fact that most of the mainstream western media has ignored, or buried, a massive story like this is astonishing.