Progressive reporter Glenn Greenwald points out that the false headlines got promoted on social media but not the retractions.
Glenn Greenwald was an ardent opponent of Donald Trump. He is a committed Liberal. But he is appalled by the accusations against Russia that are being made without evidence. He talked with Tucker Carlson about the way the Washington Post was blaming Russia when they published their story based on unnamed sources in intelligence agencies.
After that, the Washington Post doubled down on their fake news stories by publishing another that was much worse. As Glenn Greenwald wrote in the Intersect,
In the past six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.
The second story on the electric grid turned out to be far worse than I realized when I wrote about it on Saturday, when it became clear that there was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid” as the Post had claimed. In addition to the editor’s note, the Russia-hacked-our-electric-grid story now has a full-scale retraction in the form of a separate article admitting that “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility” and there may not even have been malware at all on this laptop
The key benefit of a story “going viral” is that it attracts many clicks through being shared on social media. The headlines went viral, but the editor’s note that has since been attached to each story never received the same attention.
After spreading the falsehoods far and wide, raising fear levels and manipulating U.S. political discourse in the process (both Russia stories were widely hyped on cable news), journalists who spread the false claims subsequently note the retraction or corrections only in the most muted way possible, and often not at all. As a result, only a tiny fraction of people who were exposed to the original false story end up learning of the retractions.
Glenn Greenwald shows that Washington Post editor Marty Baron promoted both stories on Twitter, directing a great deal of traffic to the newspaper’s website, but never tweeted about the retractions. Instead, he postured about the alleged fake news story about “Pizzagate” while his own stories were being exposed.
Greenwald also points out that “fake news” is typically defined in such a way (involving alleged intent) to make it definitionally impossible to accuse the mainstream media of being guilty of publishing it. But that self-serving definition is a lie.
Whatever the motives, the effects of these false stories are exactly the same as those of whatever one regards as Fake News. The false claims travel all over the internet, deceiving huge numbers into believing them. The propagators of the falsehoods receive ample profit from their false, viral “news.” And there is no accountability of the kind that would disincentivize a repeat of the behavior. (That the Post ultimately corrects its false story does not distinguish it from classic Fake News sites, which also sometimes do the same.)
If a liberal like Glenn Greenwald can see what is going on, then so can editors and reporters at the Washington Post and other establishment infotainment outlets. They know what they are doing!