Saturday, August 16, 2008

Russia deploys Western Media as a weapon

Pre-invasion, part of Georgia's deterrence against Russian aggression consisted of world opinion which would rally Western Nations to Georgia's defense.

As the invasion began, Russia deployed Western Media as a weapon against pro-Georgia world opinion.


Russia accomplished this via a series of tactical lies which comprised a kind of lily pad effect: the media frog leaps onto a lily pad lie and then takes days to uncover the lie - by which time another lily pad lie appears, and then another, et al.

The path of Russian lily pad lies is not nearly at it's end. Russia pre-planned their media logistics, tactics, and strategy just as carefully as they pre-planned their military logistics, tactics, and strategy.


John Bolton points to one successful outcome of Russia's media tactics:
"More troubling, over the long term, was that the EU saw its task as being mediator – its favourite role in the world – between Georgia and Russia, rather than an advocate for the victim of aggression…"


Why is Western Media vulnerable to the lag times needed to uncover lily pad lies?

Because of Western Media's amateurish predilection to report news in a vacuum.

For example:
Putin said he had humanitarian concern for the South Ossetians. Consider:

1) Had Putin's actions ever before displayed humanitarian concern for another nation? They had not. Did Western Media report this as a circumstance to be considered alongside Putin's claim of humanitarian concern? They did not. Here's how that could've been reported:
In past, "humanitarian concerns" have never been a clear source of Mr. Putin's actions.
2) Were there other ways of acting upon alleged humanitarian concern for the South Ossetians? There were.

Georgia was a democratic nation which needed many things. Georgia was ripe to be negotiated with - to the likely benefit of all sides. Did Western Media report this as a circumstance to be considered alongside of Putin's claim of humanitarian concern? They did not. Here's how that could've been reported:
Civilized nations can avail themselves of many options before rolling tanks. Mr. Putin rolled tanks.
Reporting partisan statements in a vacuum equates to reporting lies. This is true whether reporting a statement from Russia, or from any political or interest group. Western Media's lack of professionalism has made them into "useful idiots".

Below, in a quote I am reposting, Richard Fernandez argues that the news model itself, i.e. just the facts, is to blame. Maybe. Maybe the best news model necessarily equates to reporting in a vacuum.

However, I say lack of journalistic professionalism - and all that implies - is the problem. Richard "Wretchard" Fernandez:
One of the reasons that Russia and China spend so much effort on cyberwarfare is that Western information institutions — universities, the press and even the Internet — are so vulnerable to disinformation. The MSM in particular is structurally incapable of classifying and analyzing new information at a near real-time rate. It can be cyberherded easily. And because it is institutionally perpetually amateur, it often can’t even tell when it is being had.
More Richard Fernandez, in his own comment section:
most of our original material comes from the press and increasingly, onsite bloggers. The real significance of denial of service attacks on the .ge (Georgia) domains was to suppress original material, to preserve the Big Lie for as long as possible.
This is an important point. Russians made efforts - as a tactic - to prevent both media and bloggers from reporting on the truth or falsity of an alleged Ossetian humanitarian crisis which WaPo now (8 days after the invasion) reports never happened. Watch this quite amazing video (which proves nothing, but is amazing) of journalists who tried to drive from Gori, into Ossetia, only to be met by hostile fire. The Turkish journalists scream, in English: "Journalists! Press!" They didn't realize that info might have already been surmised, and might have already resulted in fire being directed at them. More Fernandez:
The Big Lie is eventually unmasked, but the process is lagged, by which time it has been supplanted by another Big Lie. And since the Press jumps like a frog, from lilypad to lilypad of subject matter, (not through personal incompetence but because of the way the news model works) then it is a perfect subject for disinformation. Putin just needs to leave a trail of lilypads …


Perhaps this 80 second video can influence public sympathy in favor of the Georgian people. The action is simple. The wound is minor, yet viewers will understand valor when they see it.

The West must fight back as best we can. This video is a weapon.

Update: Surreptitious BBC video of Russian troops in port city of Poti. A Russian spokesperson claims there are no troops in Poti. The BBC reporters fear they might be shot if they are found to be filming. The Russians show no signs either of abandoning Poti or of tolerating reporters.


Nancy said...

I started this eons ago, but never finished, so I think I'll just leave a few observations.

First off, I'm sympathetic to your point of view here, but if I were you, I'd add links to the underlying assumptions you begin with.

Anyhoo, yes, the media report in a vacuum. A healthy balance of right and left reporters and editors would be a good start in getting around that.

But there are also institutional biases that get in the way--the eagerness to jump on the next big story being one of them. It has a way of overshadowing the last big story in a big way.

My worry is that the Michael Totten version of the Georgia/Osettia story won't get fleshed out or even mentioned by the MSM. I'd hoped that collectively we were passed that sort of bobble-head nodding to imperial Russians. Looks like not.

Thanks for asking my opinion!

gcotharn said...

Thanks so much for the professional opinion. In future, I'll more carefully set up those tricky underlying assumptions. I feel like such hot stuff that a professional perused my post!

Nancy said...

Ha! You're funny. Well, on the off chance you're serious, just between you and me, there's very little difference between a professional and an amateur journalist--the main difference being a professional journalist makes less money than you do at your job.

The MSM in particular is structurally incapable of classifying and analyzing new information at a near real-time rate.

This is mostly true, and something I hope we see that change in the near future, but don't bet on it!