Canadian Media spreads Absurd Study to fear monger about "Russian Disinformation".
The Canadian Media has been spreading a ridiculous russiagate claim based on an absurd "study".
The Canadian media has been fearmongering over supposed “Russian disinformation” targeting Canadians. CTV News ran an article titled Canada target of Russian disinformation, with tweets linked to foreign powers, The National Post ran an article titled Canada target of Russian disinformation, with tweets linked to foreign powers and Global News ran an article titled Calgary study finds Canada has been targeted with Russian disinformation with tweets linked to foreign powers. All of these articles are based on a study from the University of Calgary that I will debunk in this article.
The articles on this study in the Canadian media claim this study shows that Russia is intentionally targeting Canada with misinformation, but this is not what the study says at all. The study does not show Russian accounts targeting Canada but instead provides a list of journalists and commentators mostly in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. that dissent from the mainstream orthodoxy on Ukraine.
The list includes many prominent journalists and commentators. Many of them such as Glenn Greenwald, John Pilger, and Aaron Mate have won awards for their reporting. The study gets basic facts about these reporters incorrect. For example, this chart claims John Pilger is based in Canada when a basic google search shows he is based in Australia. The study has Ben Norton’s location listed as “international” when it is easy to find he is based in Latin America.
The article gives no evidence at all that Russia is spreading disinformation in Canada but instead lists five narratives that it deems as “Russian disinformation” and attacks accounts that he claims are parroting these narratives.
The five narratives that the authors of the study claim are disinformation are not only perfectly legitimate opinions but mostly factually true.
The study claims the five narratives of “Russian disinformation are
Implying NATO expansionism legitimizes the Russian invasion
This itself is a strawman as most of the people listed in this study do not argue that NATO expansion excuses Russia’s invasion but instead argue that it led to the invasion. This argument has been made by many foreign policy experts from across the political spectrum. Anti-imperialist scholar Noam Chomsky who is the most cited living academic has said
The expansion of NATO, with Ukraine joining, is a strategic threat to Russia, which any Russian leader would react to. That is well understood
Realist scholar John Mearsheimer has argued has said that
The Russians are reacting to the West attempt to make Ukraine a western bulwark on Russia's border
From the Russian point of view, this is categorically unacceptable. It represents an existential threat, and that is what has precipitated the crisis.
Even Henry Kissenger has argued that NATO expansion would lead to conflict between the West and Russia as well as conflict between Russia and Eastern Europe.
2. Portraying NATO as an aggressive alliance using Ukraine as a proxy against Russia
To deny NATO is an aggressive alliance is to deny reality. NATO destroyed Libya based on lies bringing slave trade to the once-prosperous African country. NATO invaded and occupied Afganistan for 20 years all the time lying about the gains they were making. NATO killed 500 civilians with their bombing campaign in Serbia. On the claim of NATO using Ukriane as a proxy against Russia, this is something multiple U.S. government officials have admitted they are doing. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff has said the U.S. arms Ukraine
so that we can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here”.
Democrat Seth Moulton has said :
We're fundamentally at war, although it's through a proxy, with Russia. And it's important that we win."
Senator Joe Manchin has said the U.S. goal is to eject Russia from Ukriane entirely and eventually remove Putin from power.
Democratic House Majority leader Steny Hoyer has said “We’re at war” (with Russia).
3. Promoting a general mistrust in institutions and elites
This one is just ridiculous. All journalists should be skeptical of institutions and elites. This one is too ridiculous to warrant a response.
4. Suggesting that Ukraine is a fascist state or has extensive fascist influence
The idea that Ukraine is a fascist state could be fairly described as false but the fact that Ukraine has extensive fascist influence is undeniable. It is so undeniable that even the pro-NATO think tank the Atlantic Council has acknowledged that Ukraine has a problem with far-right violence and that the state has done nothing to prevent it. Foreign Policy magazine has reported that “a sizeable portion of Kyiv’s current government — and the protesters who brought it to power — are, indeed, fascists”. The influence of the far-right in Ukraine is so extensive that they successfully threatened the Ukrainian president to back off from implementing the Minsk accords, a main promise of his campaign.
5. Promoting a specific mistrust of Canada’s Liberal government, and especially of Prime Minister Trudeau
Similar to the third point, this is something all journalists should do. The mainstream Canadian press consistently questions the liberal government on issues such as the SNC Lavalin scandal and the WE charity scandal, according to this the Canadian Press is parroting “Russian disinformation” by questioning their government.
The study conclusion goes on to list a series of other claims that they factored into what constitutes “Russian disinformation” and like the previous five, they are all factually correct. They include
The West propping up fascists in Ukraine
This is undeniable. Mainstream Canadian media has reported that Canada’s military-trained neo-nazis within Ukraine’s military. The Nation magazine in 2016 reported that the U.S. Congress removed a ban on weapons going to the neo-nazi Azov battalion in Ukraine after pressure from the pentagon.
The West having no moral high ground to condemn the invasion
Nations such as Canada, the US, and the UK trying to force Europe into this conflict to benefit materially.
Again this is undeniable. Jacobin magazine has reported that the arms manufacturers will make $17 billion in revenue from Biden’s latest aid bill alone. There is no doubt the west is refusing to end this war diplomatically because of the profit arms manufacturers will make from it (i.e. benefit materially). As the University of Ottawa’s Ivan Katchanovski has pointed out, the west could have easily prevented this war by negotiating the implementation of the Minsk accords and promising Ukrainian neutrality yet chose not to. The U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson traveled to Kyiv to stop diplomatic talks between Putin and Zelensky. There is no doubt the West is doing everything they can to continue this conflict in part because of the massive benefit to the military-industrial complex.
All the study shows is that independent western journalists have done accurate reporting on Ukriane and that they are popular with Canadians on Twitter. Yet the Canadian media has run with this narrative as if it in any way proves that Russia is targeting Canada with “misinformation”.
Of course, the researcher behind this study has received 2.4 million from Canada’s military.
This study will of course be used to push for more censorship of dissident media in Canada. As journalist Dimitri Lascaris said
Almost certainly, this study will now be cited by warmongers and militarists in Canada’s Parliament and corporate media as grounds for engaging in even more aggressive censorship of those who oppose the West’s disastrous meddling in Ukraine.
The west’s proxy war in Ukriane has seen an unprecedented attack on the free speech of those who dissent. The word “misinformation” no longer means false information but factual information that goes against the west narrative. As Joe Lauria of consortium news put it
For disinformation warriors the source appears to be everything. If it comes from Russian or Chinese media it has to be false and if it comes from Western media regarding foreign affairs it has to be true.
They are operating on the shallow assumption that Western governments really are motivated by humanitarian concerns and spreading democracy rather than pursuing economic and geopolitical interests often in the most brutal manner.
Jackson Hinkle, Mint Press News, Consortium News, Caleb Maupin, Wyatt Reede, and Alan Macleod have all been banned from PayPal for dissenting from the mainstream narrative on Ukraine.
The U.S. DHS set up a disinformation governance board headed by Nina Jankowitz, a woman who has pushed endless pro-war lies and defended Ukrainian neo nazis .
The Grayzone has recently reported on leaked documents that shows British “journalist” Paul Mason trying to work with the security state to censor the anti-war left.
No doubt this study will be used to continue this long campaign of censorship against the anti-war left.