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Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites

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Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

 

Craig Timberg, a Washington Post reporter with an interesting history (which we’ll get to shortly), doubled down last night with a new article suggesting that Congressional legislation may be coming to further crack down on independent journalists not properly adhering to the dogma of Washington. Timberg has become the deserving piñata of writers like Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, Max Blumenthal of AlterNet, Robert Parry at Consortium News and numerous other writers at alternative media.

Timberg and the Washington Post, which is owned by the billionaire CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, are being stridently called out as McCarthyites for an article published on Thanksgiving Day that cited unnamed “experts” at a shadowy group called PropOrNot to smear 200 alternative media sites as tools of Russia. The blacklist included some of the most informed and courageous voices on the Internet like Naked CapitalismTruthoutCounterPunch, and Truthdig, where the brilliant Chris Hedges, part of a New York Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002, regularly asks the uncomfortable questions — like this one:

“When we look back on this sad, pathetic period in American history we will ask the questions all who have slid into despotism ask. Why were we asleep? How did we allow this to happen? Why didn’t we see it coming? Why didn’t we resist?”

Theories abound as to why Timberg would write such a shoddily sourced article and smear some of the best writing and thinking on the Internet. One line of thought is that corporate media is struggling to survive financially and needs to take out its competition. Others see something far more nefarious. Max Blumenthal sums it up this way at AlterNet:

“Fake news and Russian propaganda have become the great post-election moral panic, a creeping Sharia-style conspiracy theory for shell-shocked liberals. Hoping to punish the dark foreign forces they blame for rigging the election, many of these insiders have latched onto a McCarthyite campaign that calls for government investigations of a wide array of alternative media outlets.”

The Black Agenda Report’s Executive Editor, Glen Ford, builds on Blumenthal’s theory, writing:

“Had Clinton won the election, she would have begun a campaign of repression against the Left along the same national security lines as the Washington Post article, with that paper probably leading the propaganda charge.

“The Obama administration and Post owner Bezos are quite tight, politically. Back in 2013, when Obama was still trying to reach a ‘grand bargain’ with the Republicans in Congress, he proposed lower corporate tax rates as a way to spur economic growth, and showcased the Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a model — despite the deplorable working conditions, low pay (less than $12 an hour, to start) and heavy use of part-time and contract workers at the plant. His White House economist, Gene Sperling, told the press, ‘We should be looking for other avenues of progress, other grand bargains that can be for middle class job growth.’ Bezos closed the deal on the Washington Post the same year. His paper is clearly the go-to media for the Democrats’ brand of fascism, which is crazily cloaked as an anti-fascist crusade.”

The Black Agenda Report was also listed on the 200-website blacklist as a tool of Russia.

The Thanksgiving Day article by Timberg currently has 14,800 reader comments, many heaping ridicule on Timberg and the Post. A comment from “dmarney” illustrates the intellectual savvy of the Post’s readership:

dmarney 11/29/2016 6:42 PM EST

“A fake news story about fake news sourced to fake researchers writing in a now-fake news organization that once brought down a sitting US president with investigative journalism back in the day when cynics still ran the place.

“You can’t make this stuff up.”

Another commenter with the name, Room V, writes:

“Now WaPo reduces itself to being merely a McCarthyite rag. The black list produced by the shadowy group Propornot and shamelessly promoted by this former newspaper includes online publications such as truthout, truthdig, and consortiumnews, each of which practices journalism to a degree no longer seen at this location. People should turn their backs on the preachers of the New McCarthyism.”

Many of the articles trashing Timberg refer to him as a “technology reporter” for the Post because that’s currently the description under his articles. His background is far more complicated. For starters, his agent, Gillian MacKenzie, states on her web site that she “was a five year term member of The Council of Foreign Relations.” The Co-Chair of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) is Robert Rubin, the Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton who played a major role in the deregulation of Wall Street and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which set in motion the historic financial collapse in 2008. CFR’s Corporate Program includes approximately 200 multi-national corporations.

Timberg’s official bio shows that his earlier tenure at the Washington Post included a stint as Bureau Chief in Johannesburg where he covered political crises in Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. He later became Deputy Editor for National Security and finally moved to his current post as Technology Correspondent. But when we say “technology,” we’re not talking about laptops. In this 2013 C-Span video, Timberg talks about facial recognition technology being used by law enforcement for surveillance. In this 2014 C-Span video, Timberg interviews Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, on the revelations of the NSA’s mass surveillance program. The interview is conducted at the right-wing Cato Institute – a nonprofit that was secretly under the partial ownership of the Koch Brothers for decades.

Timberg’s father, the late Robert Timberg, had been a political writer at the Baltimore Sun and author of two books on the Vietnam War. The earlier work, The Nightingale’s Song, traced the lives of five of Timberg’s fellow Naval Academy graduates: Senator John McCain; Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North; Navy Secretary and Senator Jim Webb; and National Security Advisers John Poindexter and Robert McFarlane. (North, Poindexter and McFarlane were central figures in the Iran-Contra scandal.)

We have our own theory about these McCarthyite attacks coming on the heels of the discrediting of the Democratic National Committee as a propaganda outlet for continuity government in Washington and a saboteur of Senator Bernie Sanders’ genuinely populist campaign for President. Many of the web sites that made it onto the blacklist were those that carried in-depth reports on the WikiLeaks’ emails that opened a heretofore closed window on the Wall Street corruption inside the Democratic Party.

When Wall Street On Parade broke the bombshell story from the WikiLeaks emails showing that an executive from the collapsing, corrupt and massively bailed out Wall Street mega bank, Citigroup, was making key hiring decisions for President Obama’s first term, we expected to see the story quickly move to the front page of the Washington Post. Instead, it has yet to see the light of day there. The same is true for the New York Times. Both the Post and Times editorial boards endorsed the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, for President. An article documenting with actual emails how Wall Street continued to control the reins of power in Washington, even during an epic economic crash it had created, was apparently censored by both papers.

WikiLeaks, which made these emails available in the public interest, was included on the 200-website blacklist. The Washington Post and New York Times, which withheld this blockbuster story from their readers in an outrageous form of censorship, did not make the cut as a propaganda tool.

This article originally appeared on Wall Street on Parade.

CounterPunch Magazine

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