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Glenn Greenwald: MSNBC Intelligence Analyst Perpetuated ‘Fake News’ to Discredit WikiLeaks

An episode of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Oct. 13. (Screen shot via MSNBC)

In a new piece on The Intercept, journalist Glenn Greenwald reminded readers that it’s not threats of Russian propaganda they need to worry about, but mainstream media perpetuating lies in its effort to report on “fake news.”

Greenwald explains that, during the 2016 election, MSNBC “most aggressively amplified” the idea that Clinton campaign emails released by Wikileaks “were doctored or fabricated and thus should be ignored.”

“That the emails in the Wikileaks archive were doctored or faked—and thus should be disregarded—was classic Fake News, spread not by Macedonian teenagers or Kremlin operatives but by established news outlets such as MSNBC, the Atlantic and Newsweek,” Greenwald wrote. He then went on to highlight one instance in which MSNBC relied on an inaccurate source:

The most damaging such claim came from MSNBC’s intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance. As I documented on October 11, he tweeted what he—for some bizarre reason—labeled an “Official Warning.” It decreed: “#PodestaEmails are already proving to be riddled with obvious forgeries & #blackpropaganda not even professionally done.” That tweet was re-tweeted by more than 4,000 people. It was vested with added credibility by Clinton-supporting journalists like Reid and Frum (“expert to take seriously”).

All of that, in turn, led to an article in something called The Daily News Bin with the headline: “MSNBC intelligence expert: WikiLeaks is releasing falsified emails not really from Hillary Clinton.” This classic fake news product—citing Nance and Reid among others— was shared more than 40,000 times on Facebook alone. …

When Nance—MSNBC’s “intelligence analyst”—issued his “Official Warning,” he linked to a tweet that warned: “Please be skeptical of alleged #PodestaEmails. Trumpists are dirtying docs.” That tweet, in turn, linked to a tweet from an anonymous account calling itself “The Omnivore,” which had posted an obviously fake transcript purporting to be a Hillary Clinton speech to Goldman Sachs. Even though that fake document was never published by WikiLeaks, that was the entire basis for the MSNBC-inspired claim that some of the WikiLeaks documents were doctored.

But there’s more to the story: “The Omnivore” quoted by MSNBC “was a devoted supporter of Hillary Clinton,” Greenwald reported.

“In the Daily Beast, the person behind the anonymous ‘The Omnivore’ account unmasks himself as ‘Marco Chacon,’ a self-professed creator of ‘viral fake news’ whose targets were Sanders and Trump supporters (he specialized in blatantly fake anti-Clinton frauds with the goal of tricking her opponents into citing them, so that they would be discredited),” Greenwald explained. “When he wasn’t posting fabricated news accounts designed to make Clintons’ opponents look bad, his account looked like any other standard pro-Clinton account: numerous negative items about Sanders and then Trump, with links to many Clinton-defending articles.”

As critics said about the recent Washington Post story that cited the McCarthyite organization PropOrNot as a viable source, Greenwald argued that MSNBC should have easily seen through the false information.

“Indeed,” he wrote, “not only should it have been blatantly obvious that Chacon’s anonymously posted document did not impugn the WikiLeaks archive, but also the slightest research would have revealed that the person who manufactured the forgery was a Clinton supporter, not a ‘Trumpist’ or a Kremlin operative.”

“[U]ntil there is a clear definition of ‘Fake News,’ and until it’s recognized that Fake News is being aggressively spread by the very people most loudly complaining about it, the dangers posed by these solutions will be at least as great as the problem itself,” Greenwald concluded.

Read the full piece here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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