Facebook is adding a new feature wherein a group that the Washington Post calls an ‘independent third party fact checker’ will decide whether stories are real or fake, and flag ones the group decides are fake.
WaPo leaves out of its report that the ‘independent fact checker’, the Poynter International Fact-Checking Network, receives funding from a US government-funded group, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which award-winning, independent journalist Robert Parry and author William Blum document was created to perform tasks previously performed by the CIA.
NED was created when “[t]he Agency was getting an exceedingly bad name, and it was causing the powers-that-be much embarrassment”, notes Blum.
Parry notes that CIA director William Casey helped establish NED as a “U.S. government-funded organization” to “support groups inside foreign countries that would engage in propaganda [ie fake news] and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly”, including “regime change”. At the time of the group’s creation, Casey ensured that “the language barring the participation of CIA personnel” was “struck from the bill”.
The president of NED, neocon Carl Gershman, pointed out that “[i]t would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the C.I.A. We saw that in the 60’s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.” As Blum documents, the US has overthrown or attempted to overthrow more governments than any other nation. Most of these, he notes, have been democracies, such as the government of Honduras, which the Obama/Clinton regime helped overthrow in 2009, according to Clinton’s autobiography, and has been kept out of power through the use of death squads to kill human rights activists like Berta Caceres.
Blum further notes that “Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.’”
The NED currently “dispenses more than $100 million a year in U.S. government funds”.
Blum notes that NED’s fake news and other operations in foreign countries include funding “selected political groups [including terrorists] … book publishers, newspapers, [and] other media”, and that “NED typically refers to the media it supports as ‘independent’ despite the fact that these media are on the US payroll.” Indeed, the US government (and Western corporate media generally) does not refer to media outlets funded by other governments, such as Russia, as independent, raising questions about whether the US is being honest with its definition of the word ‘independent’. (Also see Blum’s piece for a list of foreign elections the NED has, to use the current buzz-word, ‘hacked’.)
Likewise, the Washington Post flatly refers to the NED-funded Facebook ‘fact checking’ group as ‘independent’, even though WaPo does not refer to media groups funded by foreign governments, such as Russia, as independent.
Probing further, we may also ask whether being funded by US oligarchs (who, according to the biggest Ivy League studies, largely control the US government) merits being flatly referred to as ‘independent’.
The Poynter group lists eight funding sources on its website. Apart from the US government-funded propaganda, election-hacking, and regime-change outlet NED, it is funded by the Reporter’s Lab of Duke University, an institution founded and still largely funded by an endowment from “tobacco and electric power industrialist” James Buchanan Duke. The main staff at the Reporter’s Lab have worked for business or government funded US outlets The Washington Post, Politifact, Tampa Bay Times, and NPR, which is funded by both the US government and US corporations, and which Blum documents has employed former US-government propagandists in upper management positions.
The remaining six funding sources, or the individuals who started the endowments, for the ‘independent’ Poynter group are described in Wikipedia as
- “an American businessman” (Arthur Blank, worth over $3 billion)
- US “businessman and media mogul” Roy H. Park (“known for creating the Duncan Hines brand of packaged food products and for his television/radio/newspaper conglomerate”)
- “American business magnate” Bill Gates (worth over $80 billion)
- eBay founder, Nevada resident and billionaire Pierre Omidyar, who has also started The Intercept
- Hungarian-American “business magnate” and “political activist” George Soros (worth over $20 billion)
- Google, which Wikileaks has illustrated is a virtual arm of the US government, and which research by respected psychologist Robert Epstein determined was attempting to influence the election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
As Dr. Noam Chomsky, a well-known media expert who teaches classes on US government at MIT, has asked of the US corporate/government fake news system generally, what interests might a rational person expect to be served by the ‘fact checking’ of this ‘independent’ organization?
The WaPo article further quotes a spokesman for the Poynter group as noting that it will not be investigating what he called ‘legitimate’ media outlets, but only fake ones that promote ‘hoaxes’.
Chances seem good that US corporate/government outlets such as the Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, and the government itself, which are some of the main promoters of fake news hoaxes, including that Iraq was threatening the US with WMD – probably the most deadly example of a fake news hoax thus far in the twenty-first century – will never be determined by the Poynter group to be ‘illegitimate’ media outlets whose reports must be flagged.
Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter who focuses on global force dynamics and has served as a cross-cultural intermediary for the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.