Fake News University

When conducting a psy-ops war there are multiple obvious advantages to controlling mass media narratives. It has been verified that at least 400 members of the press were bought and paid for operatives of the CIA back in 1977 (SOURCE). It’s fair to presume that this number has only increased over time.

Here’s an excerpt from journalist Carl Bernstein’s investigative report originally published in Rolling Stones magazine:

Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go‑betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without‑portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring‑do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full‑time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.

Bernstein’s research was extensively verified, but if you have any doubts about the CIA’s ties to the media then I invite you to research the Church hearings of 1975, during which CIA Director William Colby was called to testify about what would later be referred to as Operation Mockingbird. Colby’s refusal to answer key questions on record spoke volumes:

Sig Mickelson also openly admitted that his news agency regularly cooperated with the CIA while he was President of CBS News in the 1950’s.

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Sig Mickelson, who was president of CBS News in the 1950’s, said yesterday that his organization had cooperated with the Central Intelligence Agency to the extent of “sharing information” under implied instructions from William S. Paley, chairman of CBS Inc.

Mr. Mickelson was responding to statements made Thursday in a newspaper interview by Richard S. Salant, who said that when he became president of CBS News in 1961 he severed all the organization’s ties with the C.I.A.‐that had existed in Mr. Mickelson’s administration.

“I didn’t raise an eyebrow about cooperating back then.” said Mr. Mickelson, who is now president of Radio Free Europe‐Radio Liberty.

While it’s true that corporate media primarily lies to benefit their advertisers (defense contractors, pharmaceutical companies, etc) and to repeat CIA-talking points, not every article they publish is fake. So how do we know which ones are real? How can we separate the real journalists from the propagandists? This requires surprisingly little research and basic critical-thinking skills.

Say you come across this CNN article, for example:

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When dealing with “news” it’s important to take note of whether or not an article blindly relies on the word of U.S. intelligence officials or if they have additional citations or actual documentation to back it up. If you read the full article with a critical lens it’s clear that it’s based only on a Pentagon briefing document, meaning a summarized memo with talking points was released by the Pentagon to the media. We know Cohen didn’t get his hands on the the actual intelligence report because he acknowledges that it remains classified. Right off the bat we can discern that this article is suspect.

Cohen writes that “the name of the foreign government that made these payments remains classified but two sources familiar with the intelligence confirmed to CNN that it refers to Iran.” Who are these two sources and what exactly does he mean when he says familiar? For all we know those were just a couple of CNN interns.

But wait, didn’t the corporate media, including CNN, recently report that it was Russia who paid the bounties to kill American troops…? Yep. In fact, the most recent CNN article about the alleged Russian bounties was written just six weeks prior to the story about the Iranian bounties. What are the odds?

I wonder who wrote it?

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Oh look, it’s our highly-skilled story-teller! Coincidence?

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Once again, the same vague referencing of sources was used in his article. Instead of saying definitively that Russia had offered bounties to kill U.S. soldiers, Cohen wrote that there was intelligence indicating that this was the case (meaning it was open to interpretation) and cites yet another unnamed source familiar with the situation. Same muddying language. Even the headline itself says the White House was warned about potential Russian bounties. All of this ambiguity is intentional because it provides Cohen (and CNN) some wiggle room to back pedal if and when the story were to be exposed as fake news.

The Grayzone’s award-winning truth-teller Aaron Maté and Max Blumenthal did, in fact, debunk the Russian bounties story and did so the very same day:

No wonder Cohen wrote a new version of essentially the same exact story just a few weeks later, but replaced Russia with Iran. I could go on and on about Cohen’s fake news articles for CNN, but let’s dig in to who this propagandist is.

Here’s Cohen’s “About” page from CNN.com:

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I went to Cohen’s LinkedIn page to compare and found that CNN omitted that Cohen was also trained in Austria at The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change in 2010:

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Also interesting is that his top endorsed skill on LinkedIn, based on this screenshot I took on August 17, 2020, happens to be storytelling. You’d think a journalist’s top skill would be, I dunno, journalism? Or maybe reporting? Or even just writing? Nope. Hell, his second most-endorsed skill is Final Cut Pro! 

Presuming that CNN omitted part of his educational background for a reason, I looked up The Salzburg Academy and this is what I found on the Overview page:

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The Saltzburg Academy blatantly advertises that it instructs future journalists on how to “reframe curricula and research”. Since when does curricula or research need to be reframed? Journalists are supposed to report the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because the truth speaks for itself. That’s real journalism. Reframing would only be necessary if the intention were to alter or otherwise manipulate a narrative. Sounds like this was where Zachary Cohen became such a talented storyteller.

Research who exactly is writing a corporate news article and it becomes easy to discern whether or not that person is a corporate shill and/or a stenographer for U.S. Intelligence. And it’s quite clear that Zachary Cohen is both and cannot be trusted as a reliable source. Automatically disregard any and all of his articles if you come across one. 

Eventually you will narrow down a dozen real journalists/commentators who back-up their stories with actual evidence. Stand by them and be skeptical of any others that you aren’t familiar with until you’ve dug into their history and work experience. Do your due diligence. It’s shameful that journalists have to be vetted like this, but when a majority are in fact lying to those without power to benefit those who have power, it has become a vital necessity to properly discern the truth. 

To get you started, here are a few that I highly recommend: Chris Hedges, Max Blumenthal, Aaron Mate, Glenn Greenwald, Abby Martin, Jimmy Dore, Jeremy Scahill, Matt Taibbi, and Lee Camp.


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I originally intended to end this post, but I opened up a whole other can of worms and felt I’d share. Subsequent digging about the The Saltzburg Academy revealed that their propagandist-training organization was run by the even larger Saltzburg Global Seminar (SGS), which Wikipedia describes as:

A non-profit organization that hosts programs on global topics as diverse as healthcare, education, culture, economics, geopolitics, LGBT issues, justice, and sustainability. Its objective is to “challenge present and future leaders to solve issues of global concern” through programs held at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria, and in other locations throughout the world. It has hosted more than 500 sessions, consisting of more than 30,000 participants from 169 countries, since its establishment in 1947.

Founded in 1947? 30,000 participants? 169 countries? Imagine 30,000 Zachary Cohen’s running around out there. That’s a tremendous amount of global, post-WW2 influence! How much, exactly? Here are just a few notable Saltzburg Global Seminar alumni who run the world:

  • Kofi Annan – Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006.
  • Warren E. Burger – 15th Chief Justice of the U.S. 
  • Hillary Clinton – Well, shit.
  • Jim Yong Kim – Nominated by President Obama as the 12th President of the World Bank. (2012-2019)
  • Kim Campbell – 19th Prime Minister of Canada. 
  • Giuliano Amato – 48th Prime Minister of Italy.
  • Mamphela Ramphele – One-time Managing Director at the World Bank. (2000)
  • Pascal Lamy – Director-General of the World Trade Organization. (2005-2013)
  • Sandra Day O’Connor – As Supreme Court Justice, O’Connor cast the decisive vote in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore case, effectively awarding George W. Bush the Presidency.
  • Lubna Olayan – Multi-billionaire Chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank (2019) and sits on the Advisory Board for Citigroup.CARLIN.jpg
  • Jean-Claude Trichet –  President of the European Central Bank. (2003-2011)
  • John Tusa – Managing Director of the BBC World Service, the world’s largest news broadcasting company of its kind. (1986-1993)
  • Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga
    6th President of Latvia.
  • Kevin Rudd – 26th Prime Minister of Australia. (Dec 2007-Sept 2013)
  • Heinz Fischer – President of Austria. (July 2004-July 2016)
  • Anthony Kennedy – U.S. Supreme Court Justice. (1988-2018)
  • Gennady Burbulis – Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. (1991-1992)
  • Stephen Breyer – Supreme Court Associate Justice. (1994-present)

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