Which do you trust: CNN, or Tass?

Eric Zuesse

On Tuesday July 25th, Russia’s official Tass News Agency bannered “Diplomat blasts US media reports on Russia’s alleged arms supplies to Taliban: The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says a misinformation campaign is underway in the US media.” Tass reported:

CNN has become a propaganda instrument in a US misinformation campaign about Russia’s alleged weapons supplies to the Taliban in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry slams accusations over Russia’s alleged support for Taliban as absurd

“We have repeatedly said that a misinformation campaign is underway in the US media alleging that Russia is supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan and so forth. CNN is a reliable propaganda instrument used by relevant American structures in this game,” she told the Govorit Moskva radio station commenting on CNN’s allegations that it has evidence proving arms supplies to the Taliban from Russia.

Earlier in the day, CNN’s headline had been “Videos suggest Russian government may be arming Taliban”, and their reporter in Kabul interviewed anti-Russian officials from the U.S. and Afghan governments. The printed news-report opens as follows (and I add boldfaces here, to highlight the questions that are behind CNN’s headline-word “suggest” — the possible dubiousness of those alleged sources and assertions):

The Taliban have received improved weaponry in Afghanistan that appears to have been supplied by the Russian government, according to exclusive videos obtained by CNN, adding weight to accusations by Afghan and American officials that Moscow is arming their one-time foe in the war-torn country. US generals first suggested they were concerned the Russian government was seeking to arm the Afghan insurgents back in April, but images from the battlefield here corroborating these claims have been hard to come by.

CNN’s report continues:

Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of US Central Command, told a congressional committee in March he believed the Russians were seeking influence in Afghanistan.

I think it is fair to assume they may be providing some sort of support to (the Taliban) in terms of weapons or other things that may be there,” he said.

The CNN International video that automatically accompanies or comes on at this written online news-report, presents U.S. General John Nicholson (at 1:23 in that video) alleging some nation (but CNN International’s video of him speaking starts right after he has named the alleged country) is “arming belligerents” and that this “is not the best way forward to a peaceful reconciliation.” The CNN reporter then comes on and asks someone else about the alleged indications that Russia is arming the Taliban against the Afghan government and U.S. troops, “There’s no smoke without fire, is there?” The interviewee answers “Absolutely.”

Supporting evidence to back up their allegation, that’s supplied by CNN, consists only of one Taliban fighter, from a Taliban faction that is said by CNN to be fighting against another Taliban faction. This man there accuses Russia of having been the source of the other faction’s guns. As the printed news-report puts this: “‘The Russians are giving them these weapons to fight ISIS in Afghanistan, but they are using them against us too,’ he said.” If that allegation by the man is true, then Russia has been trying to help a Taliban group to kill ISIS in Afghanistan — not to kill Afghan government troops, or U.S. troops, there (such as the CNN report claims to be discussing). Moreover, if that man is telling the truth, then the Taliban faction against which his group is fighting is itself fighting against ISIS. The question as to whether that man’s own group supports ISIS in Afghanistan, was not raised there by CNN’s reporter. But, in any case, if that Taliban member’s allegation is true, then it wouldn’t be Russia against the Afghan and United States governments, such as the CNN headline is conveying and the CNN reporter claims to be discussing, but instead it would be Russia against ISIS that is the issue here. CNN’s headline instead presents Russia as being pro-Taliban, not Russia as being anti-ISIS (which — if the interviewed Taliban person is to be believed — was what had actually happened). And that is the only evidence CNN’s report provides.

Nothing in CNN’s report discusses whether the United States has been arming jihadists. There are, in fact, many reliable news-reports of the U.S. government itself arming Al Qaeda in Syria, in order to overthrow the existing Syrian government (which is opposed to control of the state by any religious sect or group; it’s the most staunchly secular government in the Middle East). On 11 December 2012, Bill Roggio, of Long War Journal, had reported that Al Qaeda’s Syrian organization, Al-Nusra, “has by far taken the lead among the jihadist groups in executing suicide and other complex attacks against the Syrian military [Assad’s government]. The terror group is known to conduct joint operations with other Syrian jihadist organizations.” The next day, Roggio reported that “29 Syrian opposition groups have signed a petition” saying “‘we are all Nusrah,’ and [it] urges their supporters to raise Al Nusrah’s flag (which of course is al Qaeda’s flag).” He linked there to a news-report in Britain’s Telegraph, which provided the English translation that Roggio was quoting from (the document itself having been in Arabic). On 17 April 2014, Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books reported that the Obama Administration was arming Al Nusra, but that it was taking measures to hide the fact by sourcing the weapons from stockpiles of second-hand arms in other countries. This arrangement was subsequently confirmed to be true, in Jane’s Defence Weekly, on 8 April 2016, headlining “Details of US arms shipment to Syrian rebels revealed”. All of those published sources — the Telegraph, London Review of Books, and Jane’s Defence Weekly — were non-U.S., but U.S.-allied (British, specifically). Then, on 2 July 2017, the Bulgarian newspaper, Trud, bannered in English, “350 diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists”, and presented there photos of transit documents on some of these weapons, which the Syrian government had just discovered in a warehouse in east Aleppo after the Syrian government had ousted Al Nusra from there recently. This Bulgarian article also described and documented the means that the U.S. government had gone through in order to veil the source of these weapons; some of the documents were U.S. government documents authorizing these arms-shipments to terrorist groups in Syria.

So, the question is whether it is CNN that is reporting credible news, or whether it is Tass that is doing so — or, perhaps, neither. (But, Seymour Hersh, Jane’s Defence Weekly, etc., are, in any case, documenting that the U.S. government supplies arms to Islamic terrorists, even if not to ISIS ones.) CNN’s report insinuates that Russia is arming Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan; it’s not alleging that Russia arms Islamic terrorists in Syria.

Tass is saying that CNN is a propaganda organization, and that Russia is not arming and never does arm Islamic terrorists. However, if Russia does arm terrorists (and is doing so not merely to fight against ISIS in Afghanistan), then would that be any different from what the U.S. is, in fact, doing? So, even if CNN’s reports do have a foundation in reality, what would then be the supposed difference between the two governments, which CNN seems to believe exists?

CNN and Tass disagree on a lot that they report, and the current example is representative of their disagreements, showing the typical differences between CNN and Tass, even if not necessarily differences between the two nations’ governments — though maybe that too.


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.

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  • andrew1212

    I don’t trust any of the MSM Dirty Dozen: CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, msnbc, NYT, WaPo, WSJ, AP, Reuters…They do NOT protect the public interest and willingly act as stenographers for the CIA and the PentaCon (and allow planted articles as well). They also commit the Sin of Omission and cave in to their corporate sponsors or dirty foundation money.

    Most people don”t realize the Associated Press is owned by the members who use their service–essentially, it is a pseudo non-profit which acts as an echo chamber for the MSM members.

    QUOTE: The AP is owned by its contributing newspapers and radio and television
    stations in the United States, all of which contribute stories to the AP
    and use material written by its staff journalists.

    The MSM Echo Chamber Effect was used against Bernie Sanders by the AP during the last CA primary–the AP published an article the night before the primary claiming Hillary had enough delegates to WIN–but there could be NO VOTE by delegates until the Democratic National Convention (which was 2 months later). The press all ran with the AP’s article–the Guardian, CBS, NYT, (etc)…

    I haven’t clicked on any of the Dirty Dozen MSM webistes in years–I consider them DEAD.

    Until We, the People all disregard these sites–they will keep leading the public by the nose to their constant supply of DISINFO.

    • cettel

      That’s so essential — a boycott of the paid ‘news’media. Journalism can never be an honest business — only a dishonest one — PR or “propaganda.” As things now are, there is no chance that democracy can function, can be real. All that can be real is the existing embodiment of George Orwell’s “1984” nightmare version of ‘democracy’.

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        • cettel

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  • Feudal Peasant

    I read many foreign news sources and some blogs from around the world, they have proven to be reliable over time. I do now and then check in with Google news and give them about 60 seconds, and that is only to see if they are still doing IT and because I still hold a US Passport.

  • Westcoastliberal

    TASS is right, CNN IS a propaganda channel, along with MSNBC, NBC, CBS. & ABC. RT is also a truth-telling news organization.

    • kimyo

      rt is pretty biased as far as climate change coverage is concerned (they never present the skeptic’s view). aside from that, i rarely find fault with their reporting on europe, israel, the pope, the ukraine. many of those worthy stories never get airtime on cnn/pbs/msnbc et al.

  • slorter

    Did not the United States arm terrorists against the Russians in Afghanistan; that is what started the whole ball rolling!

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  • Jed Grover

    The empire is threatened and lying! Its sad and frustrating to witness day in day out. We are literally funding a murderous mafia who wears a pretentious superficial ideological face. One has to question the intellectual capacity or lack of in the general public with the knowledge of just these documents. “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values.” It has since been criticized for advocating its aggressive policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare and highlighting its possession of “weapons of mass destruction”. Recall Judy Miller’s NYT article selling Bush’s WMDs? How about those incubator babies?

    That PNAC prior to 9/11 spelled out the deviant strategy of removing seven ME nations (Iraq, Syria, Iran and Libya, Lebanon, Somalia and Sudan.. Americans highlighted their stupidity by not connecting the dots to these manufactured crisis. Now we’re caught up in a cowardice diabolical Drone warfare with Full-spectrum dominance and Washington’s wishes to bring India under its ‘Space Command’ so that all its military will be run through the Pentagon space warfighting satellite program. A term ‘interoperability’ has been coined to describe the process where all allies must have suitable tax payer funded warfighting systems that can be technically run through the US Space Command system. In the end this means the US is controlling the deadly tip of the spear because no other nation has all the satellites and ground stations around the globe that give Washington the ability to see everything on Earth, hear everything, and ultimately target every place on the planet.

    The recent formation of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) alternative economic institution would loan money to developing countries and not exploit them the way western bankers do using the IMF and World Bank as their tools of domination. The west is not happy about BRICS and thus we saw the leader of Brazil was recently dethroned in a coup essentially orchestrated by Washington. The US-NATO alliance is not happy to currently see many nations around the world begin to stand up against this long run of western imperialism. The BRICS nations are calling for a multi-polar world and the US demands to remain as the unipolar leader of the planet. Washington appears willing to go to war to defend its collapsing empire. We have been the world’s real aggressor for some time now. The neocon Zs have proven their track record which is evil. GREED delivered its goods. Its not likely to render any positive results for America as a so-called democracy and its sleeping sheeple. Immunity must be outlawed. Germany had Hitler and we have Capitalists & Bankers. Leader of the world my arse! Brute enforcer ….. do what we say or die.

  • Taras77

    CNN has become the laughing stock for everyone:

  • Brabantian

    Google’s new censorship platform, now online, lets you test for yourself how you will be censored on the web as making ‘toxic commentary’ … The project is called ‘Perspective’ … a horrifying joint enterprise of leading multiple known media criminals of the world

    It’s also a project of Google Inc – Alphabet’s ‘Jigsaw’ – formerly ‘Google Idea Groups’ – run by Jared Cohen, long accused by Veterans Today of being a child-murdering war criminal, with Google Ideas named repeatedly as having helped smuggle chemical weapons into Syria, & helping murder Syrian children with US-intel-tied attacks falsely blaming Assad

    To test the degree to which your words qualify for censorship – the ‘toxicity level’ ranging from 0 to ‘total toxicity’ of 100, you can go to this CIA-Google web page, scroll down a bit to the big box that says, ‘Type here to see the potential effects of what you’re writing’

    The media ‘fact base’ for Google’s new censorship tool are:
    – The CIA’s Wikipedia, run by ex-pornographer & friend of Israeli Presidents Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales, accused in court filings & reports to EU police agencies, of making Wikipedia ‘anonymous’ so child-rape criminals, & intel agents from the USA & Israel, can continuously plant false information & attack their victims
    – The New York Times & UK Guardian, both long known for CIA ties & dis-information, & both accused in court filings of accepting bribes to create ‘Fake News’ for child-rape & extortion criminals who have political connections
    – The Economist magazine also tied to the CIA establishment, sponsored by Pearson plc media, which is also named in court filings as involved in paying bribes for Fake News – to the UK Guardian & New York Times of course – for crimes involving Pearson plc executives
    UK court filing naming all of the above is here:

    • 200 Years Together


  • LeseMajeste

    I DON’T trust any media outlet or alleged scribe that still pukes out the BS that Bin Laden and some Ayyyrabs pulled off 9/11. By now, anyone who still subscribes to that propaganda is either too far gone to help or is getting paid to LIE.