People see their own nation, and foreign nations, through the filter of the press that’s available to them; so, if that filter is systematically distorting (distorting in ways that most of the others similarly do), then democracy cannot function, public opinion can be manipulated and warped; and wars might even start that shouldn’t — something Americans have tragically been experiencing lots of, during recent decades, such as when we invaded Iraq in 2003 (just to cite the most famous of many examples).
A typical Reuters ‘news’ report will be examined here, in order to determine how high the journalistic standards of the Reuters ‘news’ organization actually are. Reuters is an internationally respected ‘news’ organization, as reliable as any major ‘news’ organization in the U.S. and Europe — thus, it’s a good source to provide a case-example.
The particular report, dated Thursday, April 16th, is titled “Russia blames U.S. for security crises and turmoil in Ukraine.”
Its first sentence is a simple and true statement of fact:
“Top Russian officials accused the United States on Thursday of seeking political and military dominance and sought to put blame on the West for international security crises, including the conflict in east Ukraine.”
The second sentence is anything but factual: it is instead contemptuous of the Russian speakers and of what they said, yet offering no evidence that what they said was false, nor is it offering evidence in support of the report’s own contemptuous attitude toward them:
“Evoking Cold War-style rhetoric, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said a drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West was a threat to Moscow and had forced it to react.”
This sentence implicitly accuses Russia of “Evoking Cold War-style rhetoric,” with supposedly no reason for Russia to do so. The secondary implication here is that Russia and not the U.S. instigated the current restoration of Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. It also implicitly asserts that there was and is no real “drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West,” and no real “threat to Moscow” that really “had forced it to react” against America’s takeover of Ukraine as a client-state hostile towards Russia next door.
This second sentence is, unfortunately, a string of lies, as will now be documented:
Here is proof that Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department told the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on 4 February 2014 whom to get to be appointed to rule Ukraine once the then-sitting democratically elected Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, will be overthrown, which occurred 18 days later, on 22 February 2014. In other words: 18 days before the overthrow, she actually chose Yanukovych’s replacement.
Furthermore, the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor has called this overthrow of Yanukovych “the most blatant coup in history.” All knowledgeable and honest people acknowledge that this overthrow was a U.S. coup that installed the current pro-U.S. and rabidly anti-Russian client-state-government in Ukraine. No one denies that Ukraine borders Russia, and that to Russia it would be an extremely dangerous place for the U.S./NATO to place nuclear missiles aimed at Moscow ten minutes away. No one denies that when the Soviet Union’s dictator Nikita Khrushchev tried to do something similar to this in the opposite direction (i.e., against the United States), in 1962, by placing missiles in Cuba, that was then validly taken by U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to be an existential threat to the United States, and cause for nuclear war unless reversed by the Soviet leader. Consequently, this sentence by Reuters is, essentially, a vicious lie, a historical distortion, against Russia, covering up for a U.S. government that really is taking aggressive actions against Russia (the overthrow of their next-door-neighbor and subsequent arming of it and economic sanctions against Russia), to which Russia is defensively responding — as it must do.
Furthermore, no one denies that Obama’s agent on Ukraine, Victoria Nuland, has even acknowledged (7:43 on this video) that “we have invested over five billion dollars” to prepare this coup to yank Ukraine into the U.S. orbit. Furthermore, when, right after Yanukovych’s overthrow, the EU sent its own investigator to Kiev to find out whether Yanukovych’s government had initiated the violence that had caused his downfall, they found, to their shock, that it was instead “someone from the new coalition [that had already replaced Yanukovych]” who actually did it; i.e., Washington — definitely not the EU itself, but also not the Yanukovych government (whom we blamed for it).
Furthermore, the day before the wikipedia account says that the Maidan demonstrations against Yanukovych even started, a member of Ukraine’s parliament actually had already described in detail the operation that already was functioning inside the U.S. Embassy to organize the coming Maidan demonstrations; organization of those demonstrations had actually begun in the Spring of 2013, well before the alleged start, and even before the alleged precipitating event.
The rest of the Reuters article quotes what it alleges to be provocative allegations from the Russians, such as a Russian’s statement that, ”It’s clear that measures taken by NATO to strengthen the bloc and increase its military capabilities are far from being defensive.” No actual evidence is presented that’s contrary to any of those Russian allegations against NATO.
Then, it closes with a vague statement from NATO, alleging “Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine” — ‘aggression’ that’s unsupported in this ‘news’ report.
So, the article closes with an entirely unsupported allegation of “Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine,” which comes at the end of a string of innuendos and unsupported propaganda to cause uncritical readers to believe that Russia is instead the side that’s spreading unsupported propaganda — against the U.S.
But, obviously, if Russia were to be spreading propaganda here, then it is actually extraordinarily well-supported on a factual basis, including even videos of the events themselves — irrefutable and unrefuted high-quality documentation. And this means that it is truthful ‘propaganda,’ if it can authentically be called propaganda at all (which is a question of how one would define that term).
It is up to the reader here to determine “How Reliable Is Reuters?” and “how high the journalistic standards are of the Reuters ‘news’ organization.” My purpose has been simply to supply the evidence on the basis of which those questions can be rationally answered: they can be rationally answered only upon the basis of the evidence, which has been presented here — and which the Reuters ‘news’ report ignores altogether.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.