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Sat Oct 5, 2019, 11:35 AM

Jane Mayer: The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine

The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine
How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment.


By Jane MayerOctober 4, 2019


.........the turning point in the Biden coverage, it appears, was in late 2018, when Trump’s private lawyer and political advocate, the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, got involved. That winter, Giuliani began speaking to current and former Ukrainian officials about the Biden conspiracy theory, and meeting with them repeatedly in New York and Europe. Among those officials was Viktor Shokin, a former top Ukrainian prosecutor who was sacked in March, 2016, after European and U.S. officials, including Joe Biden, complained that he was lax in curbing corruption. Shokin claimed that he had lost his powerful post not because of his poor performance but rather because Biden wanted to stop his investigation of Burisma, in order to protect his son. The facts didn’t back this up. The Burisma investigation had been dormant under Shokin. But in March, according to NBC News, Giuliani gave the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, a packet of Trump Hotel folders containing the purported evidence against Biden, including Giuliani’s interview with Shokin and his strategy to spread the Biden story, “including segments being placed on Fox News.” Before long, this explosive, politically useful legend took on a life of its own in America’s conservative media.

.............

Anyone trying to track the Ukrainian conspiracy stories that were eventually embraced by President Trump is likely to get mired in the same echo chamber of right-wing news purveyors that misinformed voters in 2016. A pivotal source of the allegations against the Bidens, for instance, is the Government Accountability Institute, a Florida-based opposition-research operation that was founded by the former Trump political adviser Stephen Bannon—the same conservative nonprofit that ginned up questionable stories about the Clintons during the last Presidential campaign. In both instances, much of the coverage of the scandal was kicked off by Peter Schweizer, a longtime conservative political writer who is an editor-at-large at Breitbart News and the president of the Government Accountability Institute. Since its founding, in 2012, the group has largely been funded with millions of dollars in tax-exempt donations from the family foundation of the New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Mercer, who was a major donor to Trump’s 2016 campaign. In the organization’s most recently available I.R.S. tax filings, for 2017, Mercer’s daughter Rebekah is listed as the board chairman.

............

By May, the mainstream media, including the Times, had picked up on the story about Biden and Ukraine. Although the Times’ piece ran under a headline pointing out that that the scandal was being “promoted by Trump and Allies,” and, midway, noted that there was no evidence of criminality, critics attacked the paper for reprising the Uranium One playbook. “It’s precisely what we saw in the last election,” Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and the co-author of the recent book “Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics,” told me. Benkler argues that when a publication with the Times’ credibility pays any attention to a fringe conspiracy theory, it “provides enormous validation”just by covering the story. “I don’t fault the Times for doing a story,” he said. “But it’s not like the nineteen-sixties anymore, when there were just three TV networks. You live in a country where a large part of the population is susceptible to propaganda. There’s a new editorial responsibility to be much more careful and not bury the denial.”


By mid-summer, the Times and other mainstream outlets, most notably Bloomberg News, had more or less knocked down the conspiracy theories. By then, Trump was so invested in the counterfactual narrative that he was demanding that Ukraine’s new President provide confirmation of it, as the whistle-blower’s complaint relates. Or, as documents released by Congress earlier this week revealing discussions between his emissaries to Ukraine put it, “Potus really wants the deliverable.” With Trump facing the prospect of impeachment in the House of Representatives, it appears that he is a casualty of his side’s own disinformation. “Whether Trump and Giuliani are dupes of their own propaganda I can’t say. But the timeline is completely consistent with that,” Benkler said. “Either way, it proves that running an Administration based on Hannity is dangerous.”


https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-invention-of-the-conspiracy-theory-on-biden-and-ukraine

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Reply Jane Mayer: The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine (Original post)
kpete Oct 5 OP
hot2na Oct 5 #1
spanone Oct 5 #2
rusty fender Oct 5 #3
highplainsdem Oct 5 #4
superpatriotman Oct 5 #5
FakeNoose Oct 5 #6

Response to kpete (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 12:13 PM

1. Bravo Jane Mayer

This is an important piece to understanding the propaganda machine that has taken over right wing thinking. Conspiracy theories can and will be manufactured out of whole thin air as long as mainstream publications like the New York Times pick them up. It doesn't even matter that the story conspiracy theory is debunked, once it gets printed it creates legitimacy to the conspiracy theory.

Serious Journalism publications such as the NYT and Washington Post has to be very careful in this environment. This is how Trump got elected in 2016 by smearing Hillary Clinton, and this is how Trump and his fellow propagandists (Guiliani, FOX, the entire GOP, Breitbart, etc.), are trying to do it in 2020.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 12:14 PM

2. K&R...

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 01:36 PM

3. "dupes of their own propaganda"

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 01:48 PM

4. Tweet from Laurence Tribe minutes ago, recommending this article:

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 01:53 PM

5. Mercers are pure scumbags

A Family Affair

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 02:31 PM

6. K & R bookmarked

Jane Mayer is always worth the time to read!
Thanks for posting

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