How BBC pushes propaganda about “Russian propaganda”

Posted: March 31, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

I love BBC. I really do. They are amazing when it comes to wildlife documentaries (used to be absolutely fascinated by those when I was a kid). The Essential Mix program on BBC Radio 1 often offers a fantastic variety of high quality electronic music (ahh! those legendary 1990s trance mixes by Paul Oakenfold!). Their TV show production, both old and new, is superb (A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Doctor Who, Sherlock, just to name a few). Can’t say the same about their news service, though. In fact, it is beyond revolting.

These days, I have the same problem with the British Broadcast Corporation as I have with the CNN: whenever I watch or read their news coverage, I get this feeling like somebody just opened up my skull and took a huge dump right inside my head. As I’ve been saying it before – I don’t like it when (pseudo-)journalists do that to me. I have my own sh*t there already.

Indeed, your BSmetre can go off charts when you consume content produced and delivered by mainstream media outlets.

I was thinking of doing something fun today. Let’s take one of the recent articles posted to the BBC web-site and see how they manipulate their audience by distorting information, omitting facts and just generally misinforming and talking BS.

For example, here is a nice article I came across recently. “Doubts cast on Russian TV’s navigator interview” by someone named Stephen Ennis (published on 03.12.2015):

While some of the points the article makes are sound and well-argued, the implications that the author draws, the omission of facts and general distortions make it such cheap propaganda BS.

Let’s take it apart, piece by piece.

Ennius begins with:

“The day after the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber in the vicinity of the Syrian-Turkish border on 24 November, pro-Kremlin TV channels showed an interview with a man they said was the plane’s navigator, Captain Konstantin Murakhtin.”

And right here, in the very first sentence, we get the first minor manipulation attempt. Since when did “in the vicinity of the Syrian-Turkish border” become synonymous with “in the Syrian airspace”? Though not technically misinformation, such wording deliberately blurs the information and draws reader’s attention away from the fact that the Turkish F-16 jet itself violated the Syrian airspace while downing the Russian plane. BBC tries to whitewash Turkey in such way to make Russia look worse?
But, okay, it’s a minor detail, let’s move on.

“Filmed from behind at the Humaymim airbase in Syria, the man categorically denied that the Russian bomber had at any time entered Turkish airspace or that it had received a warning from the Turkish air force, thus apparently adding extra weight to Moscow’s rebuttal of Ankara’s claims to the contrary.”

What Ankara’s claims to the contrary? Like that letter to the UN Security Council, in which they stated that the jet violated airspace for 17 seconds, from which, with the distance it flew provided, you can easily calculate that the plane flew at a speed of 391 km/h (waaay to slow to be true; ordinary passenger jets normally fly at 800-900 km/h, the military jets’ speeds normally exceeds 1000 km/h; so, the letter suggests that those on the Turkish side who were making this up are rather incompetent when it comes to the military aviation, like, really basic level incompetent)?

The fact that he was filmed from behind is easily explained by security measures. Like there have been incidents when certain groups were encouraging people to post personal information about Russian military personnel stationed in Syria and their families online, so that the religious extremists inside Russia could “take revenge on them under Sharia law”:
Plus, there is just a general set of rules regarding revealing the identity of those who participate in anti-terrorist operations (although, to be fair, I’m not sure whether it’s going to help in this particular case – the names and the photos of the two pilots have been all over the social media since the 24th of November; but still, the rules are the rules, I guess).

The article continues:

“Leading Western media generally took the interview at face value [too good we have BBC, an alternative media outlet that questions everything, eh? lol], with many quoting statements attributed to Murakhtin in their headlines. But there are credible grounds for questioning whether the scene shown on Russian TV was at all authentic and the man talking to journalists was indeed Captain Murakhtin. According to Russian media reports, Murakhtin was rescued in a night operation by Russian and Syrian special forces after ejecting from his Su-24 in northern Syria.”

I’m not sure which Russian media reports he refers to exactly, but the pilot got rescued by the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) forces. This information was first reported by the Al Mayadeen (a Lebanese news network) sources. Shortly after, it was confirmed by a Russian ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, in his interview to Europe 1 radio:

Who reported that the Syrian AND Russian special forces rescued the second pilot? Which Russian media outlets reported it? Please post links to the comments if you find some. Judging by the vibe on the Russian social media and in the blogosphere, Russian mainstream media reported everything correctly and the Russian general public knew well who rescued Murakhtin. Or did Ennius mean the initial Russian rescue team that got ambushed, because the militants on the ground were waiting for them? It’s unclear what this BBC journalist says.

“His pilot, Oleg Peshkov, was killed, possibly as a result of ground fire from Syrian rebels.”

Okay, here where it gets really messy with this “reporting”. It’s been known from day one that the pilot was murdered, in violation of Geneva convention, by Turkmen militants who shot at him while he was still in the air. There was a video of them celebrating the murder over the pilot’s dead body:

Video: U.S.-backed Syrian “moderates” scream “Allahu akbar” over body of downed Russian pilot

They even gave an interview to the Western TV crews (who got there suspiciously fast, by the way), in which they bragged about what they just did:

Their leader was identified as Alparslan Celic, a Turkish national, a member of Turkish ultra-national group known as Grey Wolves, and also a son of Ramazan Celic, a former mayor of Keban district in Elazig, Turkey:

‘Turkmen commander’ turns out to be Turkish nationalist

All this information has been verified and available to public for over a week, yet, on 03.12.2015, this, so called “journalist” writes a piece for BBC in which he says “Oleg Peshkov was killed, possibly as a result of ground fire from Syrian rebels”. Whitewashing Turkey (and, by extension, NATO) again? Also, notice how these mainstream media journos always refer to these scum as “Syrian rebels” (even though these particular terrorists are Turkmen, with a Turkish citizen being their leader, guarding the buffer zone through which various extremist groups, including ISIS and al-Nusra/al-Qaeda, get their supplies and reinforcements). Low.

“There are aspects of the interview with the man said to be Murakhtin that suggest it was staged or even in some respects doctored. A number of these were identified by TV director and producer Vera Krichevskaya in a report on liberal TV channel Dozhd on 30 November.”

Referencing a “liberal” TV channel Dozhd’, a media outlet that is financed by Western NGOs for the sole purpose of spewing pro-American, russophobic propaganda? K.
See, the issue with the media outlets like Dozhd’ is that they follow the US State Department line, as they are largely influenced by the BBG (Broadcasting Board of Governors), an organisation which was established to spread pro-American propaganda overseas. In their official reports, they admit that they’ve been having an “affiliate-type” relationship with Dozhd’ (page 12):
Moreover, in their congressional budget request for 2014, they explicitly state that their project, Voice of America (originally funded during the Cold War to spread Western propaganda to the socialist states), fed news content to Dozhd since as early as 2012 (page 69):
(note that this is only the information that is currently unclassified and, thus, available to the public, we never know to what extent things are actually done in reality)
In addition, it’s not entirely clear where Dozhd’ gets its financing from:

Project Pedro and Operation Mockingbird, anyone?

So, basically, the Western agencies invests into media outlets in foreign countries, feed them news content and then get their own mainstream media to reference and cite them as “independent and liberal media”? Nice. But nothing new, really. This propaganda method has been practiced for decades.

Needless to say that Dozhd’ frequently gets caught producing Orwellian-style fakes (not surprising, considering who feeds them the content).
But, anyway, let’s move on.

“First, the audio of the interview showed signs of heavy editing. “I can hear every join,” Krichevskaya said. The background noise fades in and out depending on who is speaking. The man said to be Murakhtin sounds as if he were in a studio rather than on an airfield.”

There is some merit to this.

“Second, he moves his head up and down as if he were consulting notes. What is more, some of the phrases he uses do not sound like spoken Russian. Krichevskaya singled out the phrase “our military medics work miracles”, which he uses in response to an inquiry about how he is feeling at the beginning of the interview. Finally, the behaviour of the journalists looks pre-arranged or rehearsed. As Krichevskaya points out, although there are around a dozen of them, they do not interrupt each other at all. Instead, they all put their question in order as if on cue.”

Again, that’s a common practice when dealing with sensitive matters, such as details of the anti-terorrist operations, information on the military personnel stationed overseas, and so on. Whenever officials speak to the press, they use speeches that were written in advance too (or, at least, they follow their dot points). No need to make a conspiracy theory out of this (as if BBC wouldn’t know of such practices).

“The physical condition of the man said to be Murakhtin does not tend to suggest someone who has recently survived an ejection and spent a considerable time out in the open… [blah, blah, blah] … He has a noticeable limp, but otherwise appears to move fairly freely. He does not show obvious signs of pain or discomfort… [blah, blah, blah] … As Keir Giles, an associate fellow of Chatham House, told BBC Monitoring, the man in the video looks “remarkably well for someone who has just ejected”.”

So, the man “has a noticeable limp, but otherwise doesn’t show obvious signs of pain or discomfort”? Well, it would be remarkably strange if a trained and experience military pilot, who, in addition, received instructions prior the interview, would behave like a crying girl (or a soccer player) in front of cameras.

“On 30 November, state news agency RIA Novosti reported that Murakhtin would be spending a month in a Moscow hospital, where he had been visited by his wife. It quoted a former officer as saying this is standard practice in ejection cases. But, according to data from media monitoring organization Medialogiya, the main Russian state TV channels did not report this news. It seems odd that they would not want to keep viewers informed about the progress of a man who is officially a decorated war hero.”

So, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported it, but the “main Russian state TV channels” did not? I don’t really see BBC having an argument here. What does it imply? By the way, Ennis doesn’t report when he accessed the Medialogiya data. Was it on the 30th as well, two hours after RIA released this news? Besides, even if it’s true that the major TV channels didn’t report on this, what’s strange about it? Does Ennis of BBC imply that they all should have made an extensive reportage, showing the hospital, stating its address and the exact hospital wing where the pilot (who just returned from an anti-terrorist mission) will be kept, so anyone could come and visit him?

“The operation that apparently led to Murakhtin being rescued has been given fairly cursory treatment on state TV. Channel One’s flagship weekly news programme Voskresnoye Vremya described the operation in a report captioned “All for One”. But the actual rescue of Murakhtin occupied a fairly minor part of the report and was overshadowed by a much more dramatic sequence about Russian journalists coming under fire in Syria. The equivalent programme on official channel Rossiya 1, Vesti Nedeli, gave the rescue even shorter shrift.”

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the details of such operations are not immediately disclosed to the public and, therefore, are not accessible to the press? BBC is more than welcome to provide full and insightful report into the details of the rescue operation that was conducted by the SAA forces in Syria, if they know something the Russian media doesn’t.

“There are sound operational reasons why the Russians would not want to divulge details of the rescue mission [finally some indications that the author has a bran!]. It is nevertheless strange that they have not made more of a propaganda splash about it.”

A BBC “journalist” feels confused and surprised that they didn’t make more of a propaganda splash out of sensitive information. It’s rather ironic, if you ask me.

“It is equally odd, perhaps, that the journalists in the “Murakhtin” interview show no curiosity about his experiences: how did he feel, for example, when he knew he was parachuting into enemy territory?”

It is equally odd, perhaps, that the BBC “journalist” doesn’t go further in telling what else he feels confused about and doesn’t state that he finds it odd that they didn’t ask the pilot his wife’s name and what schools do his kids go to.

“This tends to reinforce the impression that the interview was staged simply to achieve the propaganda purpose of providing apparently firsthand corroboration of Moscow’s claims that the Su-24 had not violated Turkish airspace and that its crew had received no warnings.”

Reading this BS article tends to reinforce the impression that it was written purely to whitewash a NATO member Turkey and to further slander Moscow.

“Leading western media generally took the “Murakhtin” interview at face value [unlike you, Ennis, a BBC’s critical freethinker]. But pro-Kremlin media have a proven track record of dubious reporting and even outright fakery, including inventing identities and using bogus witnesses. In April 2014, two of Russia’s leading TV channels ran reports featuring the same man in a hospital bed in Ukraine. But in one report he was a pro-Russian victim of Ukrainian nationalists and in the other he was a German citizen who was funding Ukrainian nationalists. A few months later, state news agency TASS and other Russian media were found to have been quoting a phoney German professor.”

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not familiar with the reports he refers to. Yes, it is true that some Russian media outlets occasionally produce fakes, but it’s rather amusing to hear this kind of accusation coming from the likes of BBC. BBC is gross and horrendous in this regard, perhaps even much more so in comparison to the Russian state media.
Staging chemical attack reports in Syria, digitally altering sound in eyewitness testimonies, deliberately using old footage in their reports and documentaries, with paid actors playing victims, and so on:

Apart from outright fakes, there are also multiple accounts of gross censorship. For instance, BBC has been caught editing Scottish PM interview responses:

BBC release statement over cut out of Alex Salmond’s answer

… as well as cutting out bits and pieces out of the interview with the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yankovich, in which he talks about Crimea and Donbass:
… cutting a Palestinian doctor off air when he accused BBC of bias and misreporting:

… censoring their own report with MH17 eyewitness testimonies:
… as well as misreporting obvious sarcasm as a serious response in order to make East Ukrainian/Novorossia rebels look bad:

Note that these are only the instances I was able to think of straight away. I’m pretty sure that if you spend a couple of hours digging deeper and researching it all properly, you’ll be able to find dozens more of such fakes and misreportings. And that’s only BBC. There are also CNN, Fox News, Sky News, ABC, and so on, all faking and brainwashing their audience in a similar manner. So, BBC complaining about Russian state media is rather bizarre. “Who are you to f#cking lecture me?” – as Lavrov would say.

We continue:

“Then there is Carlos, the Spanish air-traffic controller and Twitter user, who according to several pro-Kremlin media was supposed to have had evidence that the Malaysian airliner MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian warplanes. The only problem is that Carlos does not actually seem to have existed.”

So, who said that this “Carlos” was supposed to have had evidence about MH17? His Twitter or the Russian media? To what extent do you have to disrespect your audience to manipulate in such way? The information was coming from that Twitter account, not from Russian media (Russian media merely cited it, and so did numerous alternative media outlets in the West):

By the way, in regards to MH17 (mis)reporting, how about that phantom “Russian supplied BUK” that does not actually seem to have ever existed? All Western mainstream media outlets (including BBC) were going crazy with this conspiracy theory from the very beginning, despite the fact that nobody actually saw the said BUK, and all the “evidence” that exists in support of it is just a few unverifiable, poorly dated videos and a couple of photos (some of which are proven fakes). BBC never asked why the US State Department, instead of providing solid forensics data on MH17, like the satellite images, which they have, keeps peddling this cheap conspiracy theory, citing dodgy “social media reports” (the majority of which are either provided directly by the Ukrainian Security Service, SBU, and are proven fakes, or are badly photoshopped images from “anonymous users”):
MH17 – ‘Buk launch photo’s’ are cheats

MH17 – Paris NO Match

The article concludes with:

“The “Murakhtin” interview may not be fakery on this level, but there are grounds for thinking that it should be treated with a good deal of caution.”

Great point, Ennis! Thanks for the advice!


Seriously, what’s up with all this cheap propaganda? BBC hasn’t always been that bad. Even their 2008 reports on Russia-Georgian conflict were well balanced in comparison to the majority of Western mainstream media outlets. Nowadays, however, it’s impossible to read them without fear of giving yourself a concussion with facepalms.

There is a saying: “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger that to produce it”. It seems as if people in the Western mainstream media have been taking advantage of this law. If they state a single lie, you would have to write a paragraph explaining and elaborating on why the statement is false. If they write a paragraph worth of BS, you would have to write an article to refute it all properly. If they write, say, a BBC article, you would have to write a long post to address all the things that they either distorted or lied about (this post, for instance, is way over 3000 words long, and I had to use links with further elaborations on the points I was making, because it’s impossible to fit everything in here). Now, what if it’s a massive 10-pages long pseudo-research piece in the Washingtonpost, NYT or The Economist? Not many people would find time and strength to read a complete and elaborative debunking of such work (and I’m not even talking about the amount of time it would take to disassemble something like that properly, piece by piece).

And there isn’t really any other way to deal with such BS. What else should others do? Lie in response? Not the best strategy (especially considering that the Western mainstream media has perfected such propaganda techniques over the past 100 years and has more resources to propagate its BS).

But, seriously, this systematic, institutionalised russophobia is rather irritating. The sad thing is that many people who don’t consult alternative sources still believe it.


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