Note just how far things have deteriorated. The Washington Post on Dec. 25 ran a piece, "Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options," citing FBI sources to the effect that one "Alice Donovan," who wrote several pieces for Counterpunch over the past year, was actually a "probable Russian troll." Although her initial e-mail to Counterpunch said "I'm a beginner freelance journalist," the implication is "she" (who knows?) was really part of a Kremlin-directed propaganda campaign. In a retort, "Go Ask Alice: the Curious Case of 'Alice Donovan'," Counterpunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair responds with one of the most refreshingly blatant displays of cynicism we've seen in a while:
Let's say the writer had a "pro-Russian" bias. Does this matter? Every writer carries some kind of bias. Some big-time columnists and policy wonks have written with a bias toward torture and preemptive nuclear strikes. This writer's pieces don’t advocate hostilities with the US. Indeed, quite the opposite. If anything the stories show a bias against war and for peace, a bias which may be enough to raise suspicions in this attenuated environment.
Two points. The first retort is a vile exercise in "Whataboutery." If big-time wonks defend torture and nuclear strikes, then it's OK for Counterpunch to run Kremlin propaganda, apparently. So much for the notion of the "alternative media" actually taking a higher standard than the dreaded "MSM," and actually providing an, um, alternative. No, instead the idea seems to be that if they can run sinister propaganda, so can we. (Russia, lest Counterpunch readers forget, also employs torture, and has a nuclear "first strike" policy.)
But, second point… Do the writings of "Donovan" actually show a "bias against war and for peace"? Let's take a look at the Counterpunch website and see. Oh wait, we can't. "Her" stories all seem to have been removed. But one, "US-led Coalition Airstrike On Assad's Forces Was Not Accidental," is replaced wth an "Editor's Note" stating that, "We have since determined that the article was actually written by Sophie Mangal, co-editor of Inside Syria Media. We apologize to Ms. Mangal for the mis-attribution." Review it at the Inside Syria Media site, and it is the typical trumpery for the genocidal dictatorship of Bashar Assad. After a completely misleading portrayal of the May 2017 air-strikes on Assad's forces (nobody had ever claimed they were "accidental"), Mangal concludes with a more serious distortion: "It is sheer cynicism to strike against those who really fight ISIS terrorists. But this doesn't come as a surprise either in Syria or in the world."
As we've had to point out in response to such malarky before, both Assad and ISIS are overwhelmingly fighting the Syrian opposition forces. Yes, they have also fought each other, but that is clearly a secondary priority for both of them! (Not to mention that Assad has abetted the rise of ISIS by buying their oil.)
So this is the kind of "bias against war" in what Donovan wrote (er, plagiarized) for Counterpunch? No thanks. Nothing is more sickening than pro-war "anti-war" jive.
Both Counterpunch and WaPo say that "Donovan" also wrote for the sinister-wacky Veterans Today, which is hardly surprising. But it is pretty hilarious to hear St. Clair dissing Veterans Today as "a cranky conspiracy site." His own Counterpunch has identically abysmal standards, even providing a soapbox for Bouthaina Shaaban, official public relations flack for the Assad regime. We've noted before the political overlap between Counterpunch and Veterans Today, both enamored of the paleocon right. The former still tries to maintain some pseudo-left creds, even as it has become reliably reactionary. We've been pointing this out for years, but we fail to see how anyone can now miss it.
One explanation for the blindness is the ingrained Russophilia on the "left," an ahistorical Cold War holdover. We can already hear the accusations that our headline referencing "Kremlin propaganda" is "red-baiting." How long can this illusion persist? Putin's Russia is today thoroughly capitalist and far closer to fascism than communism. Its state apparatus obviously connived in bringing our own wannabe fascist Trump to power. Wake up and smell the vodka. This persistent error among self-identified progressives points again to an emerging Red-Brown Politics—the incredibly dangerous notion of a left alliance with fascism.
Counterpunch is today a more pernicious exponent of the post-truth era than any of the "MSM" outlets we're all supposed to love to hate. Stop treating it as a legitimate source.