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“Corruption” as a Propaganda Weapon
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2016-04-21 13:30:08

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Source:

Sadly, some important duties of journalism, such as applying evenhanded standards on human-rights abuses and financial corruption, have been so corrupted by the demands of government propaganda – and the careerism of too many writers – that I now become suspicious whenever the mainstream media trumpets some sensational story aimed at some “designated villain.”

Far too often, this sort of “journalism” is just a forerunner to the next “regime change” scheme, dirtying up or de-legitimizing a foreign leader before the inevitable advent of a “color revolution” organized by “democracy-promoting” NGOs often with money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy or some neo-liberal financier such as George Soros.

We are now seeing what looks like a new preparatory phase for the next round of “regime changes” with corruption allegations aimed at former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The new anti-Putin allegations – ballyhooed by the UK Guardian and other outlets – are particularly noteworthy because the so-called “Panama Papers” that supposedly implicate him in offshore financial dealings never mention his name.

Or as the Guardian writes: “Though the president’s name does not appear in any of the records, the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage. The documents suggest Putin’s family has benefited from this money – his friends’ fortunes appear his to spend.”

Note, if you will, the lack of specificity and the reliance on speculation: “a pattern,” “seemingly,” “suggest,” “appear.” Indeed, if Putin were not already a demonized figure in the Western media, such phrasing would never pass an editor’s computer screen. Indeed, the only point made in declarative phrasing is that “the president’s name does not appear in any of the records.”

A British media-watch publication, the (which criticizes much of the work done at The Guardian), headlined its article on the Putin piece as “the Panama Papers cause Guardian to collapse into self-parody.”

But whatever the truth about Putin’s “corruption” or Lula’s, the journalistic point is that the notion of objectivity has long since been cast aside in favor of what’s useful as propaganda for Western interests.

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Ted Rall: Campaign Coverage
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2016-01-25 11:14:55

The Caucus Paradox: Why Iowa Matters, but Not So Much Its Citizens
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: National Politics

2016-01-20 14:48:45

On February 2, national media and presidential campaigns will decamp from Iowa. The state’s citizens will be freed from the barrage of political advertising, and its media outlets will need to figure out how to fill their news holes.

Ted Cruz or Donald Trump will likely “win” the Republicans’ secret-ballot caucus, with Marco Rubio having an outside shot. Hillary Clinton is poised to “beat” Bernie Sanders in the Democrats’ preference-group caucus system.

And in the short term, those relatively clear results will matter about as much as their grand-scheme relationship to each party’s eventual presidential nominee – barely at all. Instead, the media, pundits, campaigns, and donors will all parse the outcomes against conventional-wisdom guesses about how the candidates were supposed to do.

This muddle partly explains why Iowa and other small early-voting states regularly have their prized positions at the front of the process called into question, criticized, and mocked. In September, for instance, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus told the National Journal that Iowa and New Hampshire should watch their backs after 2016. “I don’t think anyone should get too comfortable,” he said. “I don’t think there should ever be any sacred cows as to the primary process or the order.”

The quadrennial arguments against Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina – the four pre-Super Tuesday states – are familiar: These states are small in population, are unrepresentative of the country as a whole, and exercise an outsize and undue influence over the process of selecting nominees and therefore the president. (See sidebar.)

The criticism of Iowa’s role is amplified because of its first-in-the-nation status and the fact that it’s a caucus state – meaning that poorly attended party meetings with weird (or “quirky” or “arcane”) processes set the table for the remainder of the campaign.

On the other hand, those same criticisms form the foundation of the case for Iowa’s role: The relatively sparsely populated state and its caucus meetings represent a small-scale proving ground for candidates – their organizations, their fundraising, their ability to connect with voters one-on-one, and their stomach for local cuisine. If you can’t do well in Iowa, the thinking goes, you’re not going to do well in the country as a whole.

Yet both sides of the argument ignore a fundamental truth of modern presidential politics: Even if Iowa remains the first contest in the presidential-selection process moving forward, the state’s voters are playing an ever-diminishing role. As much as the state sets in motion the story of the presidential campaign, its people don’t much matter.

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Ted Rall: At Least They're Honest
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2016-01-15 16:14:47

Ted Rall: Too Far?
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2015-12-28 17:15:03

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