Category: Media

Grayzone Project articles and reports on the corporate media

Clint Watts’ World: How America’s top Russian disinformation expert pushes disinformation to justify censorship

When I challenged the high tech flim-flam man behind the Hamilton 68 Russian bots tracker, he ducked my questions. Then his fans asked me if I was a Russian asset.

By Ilias Stathatos

“Nothing is as evil as what Russia manages to pull off… We [Americans] just focus on extremists. Everything I have seen is democracy promotion. I haven’t seen the US creating fake personas.”

These were the words of Clint Watts, a self-styled counter-terror expert who has emerged through the passion play of Russiagate and hailed as “the pre-eminent experts on Russian influence operations via social media.” Watts has warned that computational propaganda has placed America on the verge of civil war, and suggested before a Senate panel that censorship of online media might be necessary.

“America’s war with itself has already begun,” Watts proclaimed earlier this year. “We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.” 

Watts is currently on a book tour that has seen him earn fawning prime time treatment from Bill Maher while avoiding uncomfortable questions from the public about his work. In fact, Watts has not encountered a single critical question since he released his book, “Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News,” this May.

And he should have, given his record. Watts was the moving force behind the Hamilton 68 Russian bot tracker, which maintains a dashboard claiming to expose Russian influence on everything from the NFL’s anti-police violence protests to the anti-fracking movement to the Parkland shootings.

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Ilias Stathatos is a journalist. He has reported for numerous Greek print and online media, focusing on international news and labour journalism. He was the London correspondent for two national newspapers, an Investigative Journalism fellow at the University of London and is currently based in New York. You can reach him @ilistathatos

From Reagan to Rahm: A long list of public figures Jake Tapper must condemn for ties to Farrakhan

Jake Tapper attacked Keith Ellison for over four minutes over his association with Farrakhan. It’s time he demonstrate some moral consistency and condemn Ronald Reagan, too.

By Hamzah Raza

On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld President Donald Trump’s Executive Order supporting a ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries, especially those in the crosshairs of American foreign policy. The five Republican judges decided that it did not matter that Trump had been touting plans for a Muslim ban for over three years, and essentially ruled that their own right-wing ideology superseded reason and the rule of law. Comparisons to notorious SCOTUS decisions allowing for the internment of Japanese Americans and the perpetuation of slavery were abound in discussions of the ban.

In the midst of the fallout from the ruling, prime time CNN personality Jake Tapper hosted Rep. Keith Ellison, one of only two American Muslims in Congress, for what on the surface seemed like a chance to respond to the court. Tapper then spent a grand total of 65 seconds talking to Ellison about the Muslim ban before revealing his true priorities.

As soon as Ellison mentioned Donald Trump’s “bigotry,” Tapper immediately changed the subject to demand that Ellison condemn Louis Farrakhan, though he has already publicly addressed the issue. Ellison helped organize Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995, an event that was also attended by former President Barack Obama and hundreds of thousands of Black men with a wide array of political views. Today, Ellison is a Sunni Muslim with absolutely no ties to the Nation of Islam. Ellison explained this point ad nauseam for nearly four minutes before Tapper abruptly terminated the interview.

The interview revealed how little Tapper cared about the massive blow to civil liberties and his lack of concern for another escalation in the war on immigrants. Though he markets himself as one of Trump’s toughest foes in the media, Tapper seemed to have little interest in defending the values of the Constitution as they pertain to religious freedom. Instead, he seemed fixated on undermining those American Muslims who have dared to assert themselves in politics by using one of the cheapest and most well-worn tactics in the book.

Continue reading “From Reagan to Rahm: A long list of public figures Jake Tapper must condemn for ties to Farrakhan”

Hamzah Raza studied Religious Studies and Economics at Vanderbilt University and has contributed to the Grayzone Project since its inception.