Bret Weinstein: Portland Demonstrators Weaponize Out-of-Context Video

00:03
first of all
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uh you know black block which is sort of
00:06
the
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a good number of the people that you
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know meet in parks at night at eight
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o’clock you don’t know what park it’s
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going to be if you’re a citizen unless
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you’re like
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watching you know the certain groups
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that announce it earlier in the day
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and they have their little they get
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together they do a little shield
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practice and then they
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they go out and they attack whatever
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they’re going to attack whether it’s you
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know the portland police union or
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the ice headquarters or a police station
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and they uh they have and i i think
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you’ve probably seen this
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uh they have dozens and dozens of people
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running around that says
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press right little a little on their hat
00:40
or on their shirt now
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obviously as a real press person i’ve
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never done that in my entire life but
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they do this for several reasons one is
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because uh
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in portland you’re not allowed to
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interfere with the press the press must
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be allowed to observe
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but they also film incessantly first of
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all they’re of the filming generation
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right everything
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is filmed and then they edit it very
01:00
carefully
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so that you see that they are always
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sort of victimized by the police or
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you know by a citizen that’s yelling at
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them meanwhile
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um if you are just trying to film
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because that’s your job
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uh they will just shout in your face
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over and over and over you’re not
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allowed to film you’re not allowed to
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film it’s like excuse me who
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who in the world said this you could
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tell me that but it’s not true
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i had my phone stolen i luckily got it
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back
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um because i was filming um but they are
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creating the narrative that seeps out
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into the media
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uh one thing i noticed too that they do
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um they they have these shields right
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that they build and has the anarchist
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system where it doesn’t and they go out
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and they
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kind of like set up they’re gonna
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they’re gonna defend themselves from the
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police
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but i don’t think that’s what it’s about
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at all it’s all about getting the
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picture
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of the police that cuts through these
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shields like a hot knife through butter
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because these kids
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are they are sort of ungainly for the
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most part
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and it’s basically to get another shot
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of them being
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victimized by the brutal gestapo that
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are the police
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that they are out to uh get rid of
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uh they’re not doing a terribly bad job
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of of
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making uh the police look bad if you
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want to believe their narrative
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yeah i i agree and it’s um it’s actu
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it’s absolutely terrifying
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to watch how the press handles what’s
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going on
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it doesn’t make the least effort to
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report what’s
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actually taking place in essence what
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happens is
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um you know actually there’s a have you
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seen a film
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i think it’s called a film unfinished
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yeah what it is is the nazis set out to
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make a propaganda film
in the warsaw
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ghetto
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and they never finished it and a modern
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director
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took the footage and reassembled it so
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you could see what the nazis were up to
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right and it was like take after
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take of some situation that made the
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jews and the ghetto
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look awful but it was like they would do
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the same scene
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you know 20 times right with the intent
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to get the one that looked worse
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and that the only thing you needed to
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see in order to understand what was
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really going on was that you know the 20
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takes

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you know where it was like action you
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know um
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and so this is it has the same flavor
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where it’s like okay
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you’re going to have hour after hour of
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interaction
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between the police and the rioters
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and they’re going to cut to the 15
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seconds that if you just don’t see what
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happened right before and right after
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you’ll take this to be the police
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aggressing
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against the rioters
and the fact is the
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other story is
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right there ready to be reported but
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what i i don’t see
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is the national press anywhere no well
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you know it that’s interesting i didn’t
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see much national press uh when i was in
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the ground either in the federal in
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front of the federal building or when i
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was going out last week with them on the
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ground
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um you know there’s a lot of news going
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on in the country obviously
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uh portland is a story um but a lot of
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people i think
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are you know just relying on you know
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grabbing these clips from online and
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and most of it will grab the narrative
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that it’s like you know the
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the evil feds and the evil police and
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then of course
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unfortunately you have on the other side
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which they just grab the
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the absolutely worst thing that some
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protesters are
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demonstrated i’m calling them
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demonstrators now because if you call
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them protesters people are like are you
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kidding
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you’re gonna still run with that line if
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you call them rioters then you get
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they’re just out there peaceful
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protesting so i’m settling on
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demonstrators right now
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i want to come back to that but i
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finished your life and i want to okay
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i’m just saying you’ve got the other
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side of the press that goes too far
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i think sometimes which is like savage
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is coming to your city
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and it’s like okay guys you know the
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story you have this on outside like
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the story’s in the middle to them for
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the most part
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so that’s that’s been the story i’ve
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been trying to tell it anyway
05:06
demonstrators go for it
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well first of all i’m not so sure the
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story is in the middle
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um okay the story is not the version
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that either of the two now discontinuous
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elements of the press are reporting so i
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guess maybe technically it’s between
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them
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you have a really inconvenient video for
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their narrative right right now it’s not
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hard to catch an inconvenient video
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of their narrative because they’re
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constantly doing things to provoke and
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if you catch the provocation
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then the whole thing is over so what
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happens well
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they will demonize you they will
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demonize your publication
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and if all else fails they will just
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flat out lie about the nature of
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whatever it is
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you have produced and the point is it is
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not
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going to i call it implausible
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deniability
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and the idea is it’s constructed for
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people
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who want something to say and the point
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is it doesn’t matter how low grade it is
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they’ll give you the best thing they can
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give you to dismiss anything you want to
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dismiss
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right up you know through a lie if they
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have to
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and the point is if you’re msnbc and
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you’re trying to construct a story of
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peaceful protesters
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who are being attacked by trump’s feds
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yada yada
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then you just go through the thing and
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basically the point is you have an
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excuse for everything you don’t want to
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report
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and then you have a list of things that
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you want to amplify and you’ve created
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total fiction out of a kind of
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pre-rationalized editable content
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and we can’t live this way the fact is
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to be
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a an entity of the press to be
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journalistic you have to report things
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that are not consistent with the
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overarching story you’re telling
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when they happen and in this case um if
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you don’t do that what you get is a
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totally
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phony story right a totally phony story
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that’s very compelling
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because it’s made of video you can’t
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can’t walk in with your uh with your
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your your end like knowing oh i know how
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the story’s gonna you gotta let the
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story tell itself to you
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i think two things i think it’s ex i i i
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not only think
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it’s extremely irresponsible for any
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news organization
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or any entity at all to not report what
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they see
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to you know to trim the facts to fit the
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theory
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i think it’s extremely dangerous i i i
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know it’s extremely dangerous
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and it’s equally dangerous to to pacify
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the story
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to play down what’s happening it’s like
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and i
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you know you get this has sort of been a
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little like an insider baseball thing
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lately it’s like what’s the journalist
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responsibility
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is it to you know fight power is it to
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speak truth to power the journalist’s
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responsibility
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is to report what you see okay yeah
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we’re all going to have our little
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blinders
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i get it i get it you know but you
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should and that is something that
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i think has been in short supply in
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portland in my experience
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oh it’s been it’s been absent
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the danger couldn’t be greater i mean
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and i say this is somebody who’s
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now living in portland i’m watching the
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police
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um dwindle i’m watching them
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hamstrung i’m watching them fatigue i
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mean they are
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literally being attacked up in seattle
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you know it’s a
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different version of the same phenomenon
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we had an incident
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where quick drying cement of some kind
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was used to attempt to lock police into
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a building that was being set on fire
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that’s i mean
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that’s attempted murder right now i
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don’t know if this was symbolic
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or if they really thought the door was
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going to seal but i want
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people to think about what it is like to
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have a group of people
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demonizing the police as all cops are
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bastards
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as they are actually contemplating
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simulating hinting at uh suggesting
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murder of police right and
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demonstrating that actually you know
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what they were in the commercial
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district they were attacking government
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buildings
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they’re now in neighborhoods they are
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now revealing
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that they view the populace of portland
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as the enemy
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and the fact is there’s no way out based
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on
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courageous leadership our leadership our
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civilian leadership
09:38
in portland is absolutely out to lunch
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it has been coddling this it has created
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the phenomenon
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and there’s no alternative of people who
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are just even sensible
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so where does this go so a couple of
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things in terms of what they’re doing to
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the police i know they’re throwing these
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sort of um
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you know balloons now or paint balloons
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that have um
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grit in it so it’ll actually like damage
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the helmet or damage a windshield so you
10:02
can’t even like
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uh you can’t even clean yourself off to
10:05
see what you need to do
10:06
they also do things that that are so i
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mean you realize sometimes how young
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these people are they they they now
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throw like
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feces i i was there one night and the
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the cop was airing out the lobby of the
10:19
police station because they came in
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through a bucket of
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species and diarrhea i’m like so they
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actually did that like they all [ __ ] in
10:25
a bucket
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like like this is like incredible you
10:29
know that this is what you would think
10:31
is the way we’re going to change the
10:32
world is we’re all going to poop in a
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bucket
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it’s mental patient stuff and to do it
10:38
in the middle of a pandemic yes
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wow well you know they’re invincible
10:43
because they’re 20. but um one thing i
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did want to mention
10:46
i was speaking with someone uh who had
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knew a lot about black bloc and uh she
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was saying
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that because the optics are so important
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um they actually don’t want to kill
10:59
anybody
11:00
like they set the the cop shop the um
11:02
gesture center on fire
11:03
may 29th i wrote a story about a woman
11:05
that was works there’s trapped in the
11:06
basement
11:07
you talk about rubber cementing someone
11:09
in um
11:10
they actually know that killing someone
11:14
is going to be bad optics so they’re
11:15
going to keep that but here’s my
11:17
contention
11:18
and i’ve written about this this
11:20
movement has a glow
11:21
right and it glows and it glows and it
11:24
glows what
11:25
people are attracted to glow it’s not
11:27
always going to be someone that’s in
11:28
your little black block affinity group
11:31
it’s going to be mr bonehead over here
11:33
that is going to be a hero
11:35
or going to like just take it to the
11:36
next level you have no control over that
11:39
right right oh so i don’t accept this uh
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they know
11:43
for exactly the reason you just pointed
11:45
out some of them know
11:47
right but the very nature of this thing
11:49
the cellular nature of black bloc
11:52
and their central dogma
11:55
involves this euphemistically named
11:57
diversity of tactics thing
12:00
and the point is diversity of tactics
12:02
means
12:03
essentially look um we’re going to have
12:06
some
12:07
timid people they’re going to do some
12:08
protest stuff that’ll be good for the
12:10
optics we’re going to have some violent
12:11
people they’re going to do some thuggery
12:13
right and you know innovate something
12:16
and the point is
12:17
look you’re telling people that it’s a
12:20
diversity of tactics
12:21
you’re spray painting the wall with the
12:24
suggestion that police
12:26
deserve to be murdered right if somebody
12:29
takes your goddamn suggestion
12:32
right that’s on you you set this up and
12:34
the fact that you didn’t really
12:36
mean it is nothing right but they’ll
12:39
never but they’ll never
12:41
ever accept that right so okay joe
12:44
bonehead goes and he kills two cops
12:46
right but who’s gonna take
12:48
responsibility for that
12:50
why do we care what they accept
12:54
they are in violation of the law they
12:57
are
12:57
proposing things that are inconsistent
13:00
with the continuing of society
13:02
we have every right to shut this down
13:05
and you know what it’s going to look
13:06
like when it gets shut down
13:07
it’s going to be ugly so be it that’s
13:10
the nature of it
13:20
[Music]
13:20
you

Media can help fight misinformation, says Harvard’s Joan Donovan

THANKS TO GLOBE-SPANNING SOCIAL PLATFORMS like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, misinformation (any wrong information) and disinformation (intentional misinformation like propaganda) have never been able to spread so rapidly or so far, powered by algorithms and automated filters. But misinformation expert Joan Donovan, who runs the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, says social media platforms are not the only ones who play a critical role in perpetuating the misinformation problem. Journalists and media companies also do, Donovan says, because they often help to amplify misinformation when they cover it and the bad actors who create it, often without thinking about the impact of their coverage.

There is clearly more misinformation around than in previous eras, Donovan tells CJR in a recent interview on our Galley discussion platform, because there’s just a lot more media, and therefore a lot more opportunity to distribute it. “But quantity never really matters unless there is significant attention to the issue being manipulated,” she says. “So this is where my research is fundamentally about journalism and not about audiences. Trusted information brokers, like journalists and news organizations, are important targets for piggybacking misinformation campaigns into the public sphere.”

Donovan’s research looks at how trolls and others—whether they are government-backed or freelance—can use techniques including “social engineering” (lying to or manipulating someone to achieve a specific outcome) and low-level hacking to persuade journalists and news outlets of the newsworthiness of a specific campaign. “Once that story gets picked up by a reputable outlet, it’s game time,” she says. Donovan and other misinformation experts warned that the Christchurch shooter’s massive essay about his alleged justification for the incident in April was clearly designed to get as much media attention as possible, by playing on certain themes and popular topics, and they advised media outlets not to play into this strategy by quoting from it.

ICYMI: I went to prison for leaking state secrets. Now, I want to make sure sources are protected.

Before she joined the Shorenstein Center at Harvard last year, Donovan was a member of the research group Data & Society, where she led the Media Manipulation Initiative, mapping how interest groups, governments, and political operatives use the internet and the media to intentionally manipulate messages. Data & Society published an extensive report on the problem last year, written by Syracuse University media studies professor Whitney Phillips, entitled “The Oxygen of Amplification,” with advice on how to cover topics like white supremacy and the alt-right without giving them more credibility in the process.

“Sometimes, I want to throw my hands in the air and grumble, ‘We know what we know from history! Journalists are not outside of society. In fact, they are the most crucial way the public makes sense of the world,” Donovan writes in her Galley interview. “When journalists pay attention to a particular person or issue, we all do… and that has reverberating effects.’” As part of her postdoctoral research, Donovan looked at racial violence and media coverage in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Ku Klux Klan was active. “The Klan had a specific media strategy to cultivate journalists for positive coverage of their events,” Donovan says. “As journalists pivoted slowly to covering the civil rights movement with a sympathetic tone, Klan violence rises—but also public spectacles, torch marches, and cross burnings. These acts are often done with the potential for media coverage in mind.”

Sometimes, I want to throw my hands in the air and grumble, ‘We know what we know from history! Journalists are not outside of society. In fact, they are the most crucial way the public makes sense of the world.

Sign up for CJR‘s daily email

While mass shootings are clearly newsworthy, Donovan says, the internet introduces a new dynamic where all stories on a topic are instantly available to virtually anyone anywhere around the globe. And the fact that they are shared and re-shared and commented on via half a dozen different social networks means that “journalists quickly lose control over the reception of their work,” she says. “This is why it is even more crucial that journalists frame stories clearly and avoid embedding and hyperlinking to known online spaces of radicalization.” Despite this kind of advice from Donovan and others, including sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, a number of media outlets linked to the Christchurch shooter’s writings, and at least one even included a clip from the live-streamed video of his attack.

When it comes to what the platforms themselves should do about mitigating the spread of misinformation and the amplification of extremists, Donovan says the obvious thing is that they should remove accounts that harass and use hate speech to silence others. This “would go a long way to stamping out the influencers who are providing organizing spaces for their fans to participate in networked harassment and bullying,” she says. On YouTube, some would-be “influencers” use hate speech as a way to attract new audiences and solicit donations, Donovan says, and these attempts are aided by the algorithms and the ad-driven model of the platforms. “These influencers would not have grown this popular without the platform’s consent,” she says. “Something can be done and the means to do it are already available.”

On the topic of the recent Christchurch Call—a commitment to take action on extremism signed by the governments of New Zealand, France, Canada, and a number of other nations, along with tech platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter—Donovan says that until there are tangible results, the agreement looks like just another pledge to do better. “These companies apologize and make no specific commitments to change. There are no benchmarks to track progress, no data trails to audit, no human rights abuses accounted for.” Something the Christchurch Call also doesn’t address, Donovan says, are the fundamental incentives behind how hate groups are financed and resourced online, “thanks to access to payment processIng and broadcast technologies at will.”

The First Iraq War Was Also Sold to the Public Based on a Pack of Lies

Polls suggest that Americans tend to differentiate between our “good war” in Iraq — “Operation Desert Storm,” launched by George HW Bush in 1990 — and the “mistake” his son made in 2003.

Across the ideological spectrum, there’s broad agreement that the first Gulf War was “worth fighting.” The opposite is true of the 2003 invasion, and a big reason for those divergent views was captured in a 2013 CNN poll that found that “a majority of Americans (54%) say that prior to the start of the war the administration of George W. Bush deliberately misled the U.S. public about whether Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction.”

But as the usual suspects come out of the woodwork to urge the US to once again commit troops to Iraq, it’s important to recall that the first Gulf War was sold to the public on a pack of lies that were just as egregious as those told by the second Bush administration 12 years later.

The Lie of an Expansionist Iraq

Most countries condemned Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But the truth — that it was the culmination of a series of tangled economic and historical conflicts between two Arab oil states — wasn’t likely to sell the US public on the idea of sending our troops halfway around the world to do something about it.

So we were given a variation of the “domino theory.” Saddam Hussein, we were told, had designs on the entire Middle East. If he wasn’t halted in Kuwait, his troops would just keep going into other countries.

As Scott Peterson reported for The Christian Science Monitor in 2002, a key part of the first Bush administration’s case “was that an Iraqi juggernaut was also threatening to roll into Saudi Arabia. Citing top-secret satellite images, Pentagon officials estimated in mid-September [of 1990]  that up to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border, threatening the key US oil supplier.”

A quarter of a million troops with heavy armor amassed on the Saudi border certainly seemed like a clear sign of hostile intent. In announcing that he had deployed troops to the Gulf in August 1990, George HW Bush said, “I took this action to assist the Saudi Arabian Government in the defense of its homeland.” He asked the American people for their “support in a decision I’ve made to stand up for what’s right and condemn what’s wrong, all in the cause of peace.”

But one reporter — Jean Heller of the St. Petersburg Times — wasn’t satisfied taking the administration’s claims at face value. She obtained two commercial satellite images of the area taken at the exact same time that American intelligence supposedly had found Saddam’s huge and menacing army and found nothing there but empty desert.

She contacted the office of then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney “for evidence refuting the Times photos or analysis offering to hold the story if proven wrong.” But “the official response” was: “Trust us.”

Heller later told the Monitor’s Scott Peterson that the Iraqi buildup on the border between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia “was the whole justification for Bush sending troops in there, and it just didn’t exist.”

Dead Babies, Courtesy of a New York PR Firm

Military occupations are always brutal, and Iraq’s six-month occupation of Kuwait was no exception. But because Americans didn’t have an abundance of affection for Kuwait, a case had to be built that the Iraqi army was guilty of nothing less than Nazi-level atrocities.

That’s where a hearing held by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in October 1990 played a major role in making the case for war.

A young woman who gave only her first name, Nayira, testified that she had been a volunteer at Kuwait’s al-Adan hospital, where she had seen Iraqi troops rip scores of babies out of incubators, leaving them “to die on the cold floor.” Between tears, she described the incident as “horrifying.”

Her account was a bombshell. Portions of her testimony were aired that evening on ABC’s “Nightline” and NBC’s “Nightly News.” Seven US senators cited her testimony in speeches urging Americans to support the war, and George HW Bush repeated the story on 10 separate occasions in the weeks that followed.

In 2002, Tom Regan wrote about his own family’s response to the story for The Christian Science Monitor:

I can still recall my brother Sean’s face. It was bright red. Furious. Not one given to fits of temper, Sean was in an uproar. He was a father, and he had just heard that Iraqi soldiers had taken scores of babies out of incubators in Kuwait City and left them to die. The Iraqis had shipped the incubators back to Baghdad. A pacifist by nature, my brother was not in a peaceful mood that day. “We’ve got to go and get Saddam Hussein. Now,” he said passionately.

Subsequent investigations by Amnesty Internationala division of Human Rights Watch and independent journalists would show that the story was entirely bogus — a crucial piece of war propaganda the American media swallowed hook, line and sinker. Iraqi troops had looted Kuwaiti hospitals, but the gruesome image of babies dying on the floor was a fabrication.

In 1992, John MacArthur revealed in The New York Times that Nayirah was in fact the daughter of Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the US. Her testimony had been organized by a group called Citizens for a Free Kuwait, which was a front for the Kuwaiti government.

Tom Regan reported that Citizens for a Free Kuwait hired Hill & Knowlton, a New York-based PR firm that had previously spun for the tobacco industry and a number of governments with ugly human rights records. The company was paid “$10.7 million to devise a campaign to win American support for the war.” It was a natural fit, wrote Regan. “Craig Fuller, the firm’s president and COO, had been then-President George Bush’s chief of staff when the senior Bush had served as vice president under Ronald Reagan.”

According to Robin Andersen’s A Century of Media, a Century of War, Hill & Knowlton had spent $1 million on focus groups to determine how to get the American public behind the war, and found that focusing on “atrocities” was the most effective way to rally support for rescuing Kuwait.

Arthur Rowse reported for the Columbia Journalism Review that Hill & Knowlton sent out a video news release featuring Nayirah’s gripping testimony to 700 American television stations.

As Tom Regan noted, without the atrocities, the idea of committing American blood and treasure to save Kuwait just “wasn’t an easy sell.”

Only a few weeks before the invasion, Amnesty International accused the Kuwaiti government of jailing dozens of dissidents and torturing them without trial. In an effort to spruce up the Kuwait image, the company organized Kuwait Information Day on 20 college campuses, a national day of prayer for Kuwait, distributed thousands of “Free Kuwait” bumper stickers, and other similar traditional PR ventures. But none of it was working very well. American public support remained lukewarm the first two months.

That would change as stories about Saddam’s baby-killing troops were splashed across front pages across the country.

Saddam Was Irrational

Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait was just as illegal as the US invasion that would ultimately oust him 13 years later — it was neither an act of self-defense, nor did the UN Security Council authorize it.

But it can be argued that Iraq had significantly more justification for its attack.

Kuwait had been a close ally of Iraq, and a top financier of the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980, which, as The New York Times reported, occurred after “Iran’s revolutionary government tried to assassinate Iraqi officials, conducted repeated border raids and tried to topple Mr. Hussein by fomenting unrest within Iraq.”

Saddam Hussein felt that Kuwait should forgive part of his regime’s war debt because he had halted the “expansionist plans of Iranian interests” not only on behalf of his own country, but in defense of the other Gulf Arab states as well.

After an oil glut knocked out about two-thirds of the value of a barrel of crude oil between 1980 and 1986, Iraq appealed to OPEC to limit crude oil production in order to raise prices — with oil as low as $10 per barrel, the government was struggling to pay its debts. But Kuwait not only resisted those efforts — and asked OPEC to increase its quotas by 50 percent instead — for much of the 1980s it also had maintained its own production well above OPEC’s mandatory quota. According to a study by energy economist Mamdouh Salameh, “between 1985 and 1989, Iraq lost US$14 billion a year due to Kuwait’s oil price strategy,” and “Kuwait’s refusal to decrease its oil production was viewed by Iraq as an act of aggression against it.”

There were additional disputes between the two countries centering on Kuwait’s exploitation of the Rumaila oil fields, which straddled the border between the two countries. Kuwait was accused of using a technique known as “slant-drilling” to siphon off oil from the Iraqi side.

None of this justifies Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. But a longstanding and complex dispute between two undemocratic petrostates wasn’t likely to inspire Americans to accept the loss of their sons and daughters in a distant fight.

So instead, George HW Bush told the public that Iraq’s invasion was “without provocation or warning,” and that “there is no justification whatsoever for this outrageous and brutal act of aggression.” He added: “Given the Iraqi government’s history of aggression against its own citizens as well as its neighbors, to assume Iraq will not attack again would be unwise and unrealistic.”

Ultimately, these longstanding disputes between Iraq and Kuwait got considerably less attention in the American media than did tales of Kuwaiti babies being ripped out of incubators by Saddam’s stormtroopers.

Saddam Was “Unstoppable”

A crucial diplomatic error on the part of the first Bush administration left Saddam Hussein with the impression that the US government had little interest in Iraq’s conflict with Kuwait. But that didn’t fit into the narrative that the Iraqi dictator was an irrational maniac bent on regional domination. So there was a concerted effort to deny that the US government had ever had a chance to deter his aggression through diplomatic means — and even to paint those who said otherwise as conspiracy theorists.

As John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago and Harvard’s Stephen Walt wrote in 2003, “Saddam reportedly decided on war sometime in July 1990, but before sending his army into Kuwait, he approached the United States to find out how it would react.”

In a now famous interview with the Iraqi leader, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam, “[W]e have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” The U.S. State Department had earlier told Saddam that Washington had “no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait.” The United States may not have intended to give Iraq a green light, but that is effectively what it did.

Exactly what was said during the meeting has been a source of some controversy. Accounts differ. According to a transcript released by the Iraqi government, Glaspie told Hussein, ” I admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country.”

I know you need funds. We understand that and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.

I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60’s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.

Leslie Gelb of The New York Times reported that Glaspie told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the transcript was inaccurate “and insisted she had been tough.” But that account was contradicted when diplomatic cables between Baghdad and Washington were released. As Gelb described it, “The State Department instructed Ms. Glaspie to give the Iraqis a conciliatory message punctuated with a few indirect but significant warnings,” but “Ms. Glaspie apparently omitted the warnings and simply slobbered all over Saddam in their meeting on July 25, while the Iraqi dictator threatened Kuwait anew.”

There is no dispute about one crucially important point: Saddam Hussein consulted with the US before invading, and our ambassador chose not to draw a line in the sand, or even hint that the invasion might be grounds for the US to go to war.

The most generous interpretation is that each side badly misjudged the other. Hussein ordered the attack on Kuwait confident that the US would only issue verbal condemnations. As for Glaspie, she later told The New York Times, ”Obviously, I didn’t think — and nobody else did — that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.”

Fool Me Once…

The first Gulf War was sold on a mountain of war propaganda. It took a campaign worthy of George Orwell to convince Americans that our erstwhile ally Saddam Hussein — whom the US had aided in his war with Iran as late as 1988 — had become an irrational monster by 1990.

Twelve years later, the second invasion of Iraq was premised on Hussein’s supposed cooperation with al Qaeda, vials of anthrax, Nigerian yellowcake and claims that Iraq had missiles poised to strike British territory in little as 45 minutes.

Now, eleven years later, as Bill Moyers put it last week, “the very same armchair warriors in Washington who from the safety of their Beltway bunkers called for invading Baghdad, are demanding once again that America plunge into the sectarian wars of the Middle East.” It’s vital that we keep our history in Iraq in mind, and apply some healthy skepticism to the claims they offer us this time around.

Joshua Holland was a senior digital producer for BillMoyers.com and now writes for The Nation. He’s the author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @JoshuaHol.

Official Homeland Security Twitter Account: Anti-Media Tweet

There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’

With testing, treatments and vaccine trials ramping up, we are far better off than the media report.

In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a “second wave” of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.

While talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable. Every state, territory and major metropolitan area, with the exception of three, have positive test rates under 10%. And in the six states that have reached more than 1,000 new cases a day, increased testing has allowed public health officials to identify most of the outbreaks in particular settings—prisons, nursing homes and meatpacking facilities—and contain them.

Lost in the coverage is the fact that today less than 6% of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus. Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000—down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May. And in the past five days, deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago—and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting.

The truth is that we’ve made great progress over the past four months, and it’s a testament to the leadership of President Trump. When the president asked me to chair the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the end of February, he directed us to pursue not only a whole-of-government approach but a whole-of-America approach. The president brought together major commercial labs to expand our testing capacity, manufacturers to produce much-needed medical equipment, and major pharmaceutical companies to begin research on new medicines and vaccines. He rallied the American people to embrace social-distancing guidelines. And the progress we’ve made is remarkable.

We’ve expanded testing across the board. At the end of February, between Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labs and state public health facilities, the U.S. had performed only about 8,000 coronavirus tests. As of this week, we are performing roughly 500,000 tests a day, and more than 23 million tests have been performed in total.

We’ve also vastly expanded our supplies of crucial medical equipment. In March, there were genuine fears that hospitals in our hot spots would run out of personal protective equipment like N95 masks, gloves or, even worse, ventilators for patients battling respiratory failure. The Strategic National Stockpile hadn’t been refilled since the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009, and it had only 10,000 ventilators on hand.

Since then, we’ve increased the supply of personal protective equipment by the billions. Our administration launched Project Air Bridge—a partnership between the federal government and private companies—that, as of June 12, had conducted more than 200 flights from overseas to deliver more than 143 million N95 masks, 598 million surgical and procedural masks, 20 million eye and face shields, 265 million gowns and coveralls, and 14 billion gloves. In addition, we’ve worked with the private sector to ramp up ventilator production. Today, we have more than 30,000 ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile, and we’re well on our way to building 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. No American who required a ventilator was ever denied one.

We’ve also made great progress on developing therapeutics and a vaccine. Last month, the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences announced it would donate about 940,000 vials of its new drug remdesivir to treat more than 120,000 patients in the U.S. Under Operation Warp Speed, the federal government is already funding research into multiple vaccine candidates, and we are well on our way to having a viable vaccine by the fall.

But our greatest strength is the resilience of the American people. From the outset of this pandemic, the American people have stepped up and made great personal sacrifices to protect the health and safety of our nation. And it’s because of their embrace of social-distancing guidelines that all 50 states have begun to reopen in a safe and responsible manner.

The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different. The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success. We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering.