Δευτέρα, 10 Ιουλίου 2017

Moon of Alabama: Syria - The Alternet Grayzone Of Smug Turncoats

July 10, 2017

Syria - The Alternet Grayzone Of Smug Turncoats

Max Blumenthal is a well connected and known author who has done work on the Palestinian cause from a somewhat leftish perspective. He is also an arrogant and ignorant showman.
Blumenthal currently edits the Alternet Grayzone project. In their recent writings he and his co-writers profess to dislike the al-Qaeda led opposition in Syria. Yet it is exactly the same opposition they earlier vehemently supported.
Yesterday the Real News Network interviewed Blumethal on his recent piece about CNN's al-Qaeda promotion. The headline: Max Blumenthal on How the Media Covers Syria. During the interview Blumenthal laments the failure of progressive media on Syria:
In my opinion, they have abrogated their mission, which should be to challenge mainstream narratives and particularly imperial narratives on issues like Syria. I understand there are massive human rights abuses by the Syrian government, but that's not reason enough to not explore what the West's agenda, the Gulf agenda is for that country, what the consequences are, to actually get into the geopolitical issues. Instead, we've seen Democracy Now propagate generally a regime change narrative. I don't believe they actually have a line on Syria. It's more a fear of actually taking on the official line. I haven't found a single article in the Intercept challenging the regime change line on Syria.
Blumenthal is outraged, OUTRAGED, that "progressive" media peddle the Syria conflict along "the official line".
Yet in 2012 Max Blumenthal resigned as columnist from the Lebanese paper Al Akhbar English because the paper did not write along "the official line". He publicly (also here) smeared and accused his Al Akhbar collegues for taking a cautious or even anti-opposition position on Syria. They challenged the mainstream narratives while Blumenthal, with his resignation and his writing about it, solidly aligned with the imperial project. Back then he himself went along "the official line". Then as now the Real News Network helped him along:
I noticed that it was publishing op-eds by people like Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, who were just openly apologetic of the Assad regime, if not cheerleading Assad as this kind of subaltern freedom fighter leading what she called a front-line resisting state, or Sharmine Narwani, the blogger who was nickel-and-diming civilian casualty counts, [..]
This just was really too much for me.
My problem was that the opinions at Al-Akhbar's website in support of the Assad regime, which I've identified specifically by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb and Sharmine Narwani and by the editor-in-chief, Ibrahim al-Amin, were not based on any journalistic fieldwork. They're based on poring over YouTube clips, looking at textbooks, or really disturbing citations by Amin of anonymous regime sources, including documents that he cited which he referred to as investigations of people detained for trafficking weapons.
At that time Max Blumenthal was sitting in the U.S. stenographing Syrian opposition propaganda. Yet he accused Sharmine Narwani and other writers living in Lebanon and Syria of lack of journalistic fieldwork and of "poring over YouTube clips". Narwani wasn't amused by his ignorance:
I have made two trips to Syria in the past six months – the first to interview a wide range of domestic opposition figures, most of whom have spent years languishing in Syrian prisons; the second just a week ago, to spend time with the UN Observer team and learn about the changed military landscape throughout the country. No journalistic fieldwork? How would Max know? He has done none on Syria, yet he presumes to condemn the dogged pursuit of truth by others.
Al Akhbar early on recognized the foreign sponsored insurgency in Syria for what it is. Max Blumenthal took the easy route of joining the anti-Syrian propaganda train. Even worse - he publicly smeared the writers at Al Akhbar who were searching for the least harmful solution for Syria.
Now Max Blumenthal has found an outlet that pays him for writing along the very line he condemned when he resigned from Al Akhbar. Nowhere do I find an explanation by Blumenthal for his change of position. No public apology for smearing his former colleagues has been issued by him.

Max Blumenthal's sidekick and often co-author at the Grayzone project is Ben Norton. In his own latest piece Norton blames various pundits and main stream media for pushing for regime change in Syria. Conveniently he does not mention that he himself wrote along that line.
In January 2015 Norton accused the Syrian government of besieging Palestinian refugees in a suburb of Damascus: ‘No to martyrdom by hunger in Yarmouk camp’: Palestinian refugees protest Assad’s siege. Norton had never set a step inside of Syria. His reporting was solely based on opposition talk and videos.
Others did fieldwork. Three month before Norton published his piece Sharmine Narwani had written about her recent visit to Yarmouk:

At the entrance of the camp, I was greeted by armed Palestinians who are part of a 14-group ‘volunteer force’ formed for the purpose of protecting Yarmouk and ejecting the rebel fighters deep inside the camp.
The stories these fighters tell me is nothing I have read in English, or in any mainstream publication outside Syria. Theirs is a story that is black-and-white. Thousands of Islamist fighters invaded and occupied Yarmouk on December 17, 2012, and Palestinians and Syrians alike fled the camp, literally beginning the next day.
The Syrian government wasn't besieging hungry Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk. Most of those had long moved away from the camp. It was isolating al-Qaeda  groups who had taken control of the camp by force. Professor As'ad AbuKhalil accused Norton of lying about the real situation:
Ben Norton on Yarmouk camp
This article seems to reproduce word-for-word the talking points of the Syrian exile opposition. In the case of the Yarmouk camp, there are two killers: the Syrian regime and the Nusrah front and other Bin Ladenites on the other side. The residents are victims of both sides. Norton does not mention the role of the rebels in using the camp for their won ends, and in shooting at aid convoys.
There was plenty of information available that the Yarmouk camp was an al-Qaeda occupied zone. Ben Norton ignored it and instead parroted opposition propaganda.
Norton is now accusing other media of doing what he did over several years of the Syria conflict: falsely attributing every calamity in Syria to the government while repeating the taking points of the head-chopping Takfiris and the forces behind them. Nowhere have I found an apology or explanation by Norton for his change of sides.

Another author at the Alternet Grayzone project is Rania Khalek. She lately had some trouble for taking a stand against the armed insurgency in Syria. It came after her own turn on the issue.
Last month Khalek lambasted the media for ignoring the misdeeds of the opposition: Ignored By Western Media, Syrians Describe the Nightmare the Armed Opposition Brought Them
American media outlets from right to left seem to imagine that there is a democratic mass movement living in Al Qaeda’s Idlib. Or they insist that the uprising was always moderate and democratic until Assad’s bombs transformed protesters into armed and radical insurgents, a common talking point that permeates any discussion of Syria.
Yet in late April 2011 the same Rania Khalek wrote (also here) along the "common talking point" she now condemns. She (falsely) accused the media of missing the alleged misdeeds of the government against the "protesters". She pushed the "common talking point". Her witness of the media missing the news were the same media she accused of missing it:
Dear Media:
I thought I would take it upon myself to fill you in on the less newsworthy items that you missed.
Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has stepped up his deadly crackdown on protesters as well, by unleashing the army along with snipers and tanks to open fire at demonstrators.
In her rant about the media missing the news, Khalek links to an Associated Press news piece reproduced at the Guardian site. In it an anonymous witness makes the government-is-shooting claim. It seems to me that the one who missed the really newsworthy issue, the anti-Syrian propaganda campaign, was Khalek herself.

Even in the first days of protests in Syria the Saudi financing behind the exile opposition and the "protests" was already well documented. On April 9 2011 12 soldiers were killed and 23 wounded in a confirmed ambush in Banyas, Latakia. This was freely available neutrally sourced information. The "resistance" in Syria was obviously not peaceful or spontaneous but well financed by sectarian outside forces. It was organized, violent, militarized. It flashed up at the borders in Latakia near Turkey in the north and Deraa near Jordan in the south well before it migrating further into the country. A sure sign that cross border support and supplies played a significant role.
It was also quite clear how the situation was going to develop. As I predicted on April 25 2011:
The most likely scenario is massive sectarian strife with salafi-Sunni attacks on minority Christians and Alawites. Unlike in Egypt there is no sign that the army will abandon the ruling government. [...] There is no sign that a majority or even significant minority of Syrians has any interest in violent regime change.
My current assessment is therefor that the regime will now put up a bit of a fight and, if it can stomach to do that harshly enough, it will win this fight.
The evidence that outside forces pushed an organized armed insurrection under the disguise of "peaceful protests" was there for everyone to see. It was possible to anticipate where this would lead to. Yet Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek did not care to look for facts. They were fiercely on the side of the opposition even as the opposition killed random people and government followers left and right. Now, as the fates of the sides have turned, they sanctimoniously oppose their former favorites. Now they lambast other writers for repeating the sorry propaganda they themselves proffered for years.
In his recent RNN inteview Max Blumenthal proclaims:
[The other side of the narrative] hasn't happened in progressive media. It's why we're pushing, why we're trying to fill the void at the Grayzone project at AlterNet and provide a critical perspective on what the U.S. and its allies have been doing in Syria and what the consequences could be. I think we're probably the only progressive outlet that's consistently doing that.
Oh - f*** you Max.
The BlackAgendaReport 21centurywire, Shermine Narwani and many, many other outlets, including Moon of Alabama, have consistently written on Syria since day one. They immediately recognized the sectarian insurgency for the imperial project that it was and never fell for the "peaceful demonstrator" scam Blumenthal and his fellow hacks propagandized.
Blumenthal knows this well. His piece about the "White Helmets" for Alternet Grayzone was obviously sourced (if not plagiarized) from earlier work by Vanessa Beeley and other authors at the above sites. To then market Alternet Grayzone, which only exists a year or so, as "the only progressive outlet that's consistently" "provide[s] a critical perspective" is worse than marketing talk. It is an outrageous lie.
Any writer, me included, can err in the evaluation of the available facts. One can learn of new facts and one's opinion can turn out to be wrong and change. But one obligation to readers is to stay honest, to admit when one went wrong and to explain why ones opinion has changed. A certain humbleness is an essential ingredient of good writing.
Yet none of that can been seen in the output of Blumenthal and his fellow writers. No apology has been issued by him to the colleagues at Al Akhbar who he publicly smeared and accused. Neither Norton nor Khalek have explained their change of position. Blumenthal now publishes pieces based on the archive material of those progressive outlets which have long had a critical view on the Syria issue. Yet he claims that no such outlets exit.
If they are helpful for the cause Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek are welcome to join those writers who all along published against the imperial designs for Syria. It would feel much better through if their newly discovered "progressiveness" on Syria would not have the distinct smell of mere opportunism.
Posted by b on July 10, 2017 at 11:16 AM | Permalink
Egyptian Daily Releases Documents of Saudi Crown Prince's Support for ISIL, Al-Qaeda
Posted by: TJ | Jul 10, 2017 11:32:01 AM | 1
Great article! My only quibble would be over the final sentence, which might have been put more strongly as say '... more than mere opportunism: the stench of the kind of dastardly so-called 'journalism' that has been indispensable to the empire's wars of aggression, covert bloodly subversions, and the death and maiming of millions.'
Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jul 10, 2017 11:42:34 AM | 2
More fine work, b. Thanks for the corrective on Blumenthal, in particular.
Posted by: anondooronron | Jul 10, 2017 12:03:04 PM | 3
Thank you for this very principled stand in the cause of true journalism, b.
These are the worst kind of people, the ones who believe in nothing, except their own aggrandizement. They will serve any master, and ride any bandwagon. All people are redeemable and can change, but not to admit one's former errors shows it as empty posturing. As it is wisely said, you don't go down for the crime, you go down for the cover-up.
Posted by: Grieved | Jul 10, 2017 12:06:14 PM | 4
thanks b.. blumenthal seems schizophrenic...
Posted by: james | Jul 10, 2017 12:09:02 PM | 5
It was the Arab Spring Kool-Aid. Many on the left thought the Zeitgeist was going to magically transform politics in the region. They tended to lump Syria in with Bahrain; they also cheered when Gaddafi was lynched. Some of us here at MoA were guilty of cheering on Morsi's ouster in 2013. Legitimate revolutions have a tendency to become doormats for enormous counterrevolutions.
Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 10, 2017 12:09:12 PM | 6
ot - @1 tg.. i was wondering how long that would take....nothing like an internal feud among ex friends... ""A leaked document in Qatar's embassy and a letter to Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on October 26, 2016, show Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed's support for certain key al-Qaeda members in the Arabian Peninsula,"
Posted by: james | Jul 10, 2017 12:13:57 PM | 7
Hypocrisy of stenographers (especially those sitting in Beirut and reporting on Iraq/Syria)on display:
Posted by: Yul | Jul 10, 2017 12:27:18 PM | 8
Thank you!!!
Posted by: vanessa beeley | Jul 10, 2017 12:31:26 PM | 9
Excellent post. Shame on other journos.
Posted by: Pvp | Jul 10, 2017 12:43:17 PM | 10
His papa:
New Hillary Clinton Emails: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sidney Blumenthal Urged Libya Military Action
Posted by: Anon | Jul 10, 2017 12:50:18 PM | 11
@9 Vanessa?!
Seriously, if you're the REAL Vanessa Beeley, then I am honoured to be in your company. I hold you and Eva Bartlett in the highest regard - you are TRUE journalists... TRUE heroes
And thank you for your efforts on behalf of the truth and the plight of innocents in the Middle East
Posted by: xLemming | Jul 10, 2017 12:54:48 PM | 12
@12 addendum... and you too b! Vielen Dank!
Posted by: xLemming | Jul 10, 2017 12:56:29 PM | 13
It is beyond me why Norton the low intellect gets such a large following. I guess people really do just follow whoever they feel spouts their desired narrative and never use their brain properly or question writers critically. Norton is currently also on a rampage to promote and excuse the Venezuelan military junta's actions, totally disregarding the facts on the ground, the history of Chavism of the last 19 years (I doubt he ever was in Venezuela or speaks Spanish at all). If this is journalism then I know why I stopped following it.
Thanks for pointing him and Blumenthal out, there are many more like them on the left.
Posted by: Alexander P | Jul 10, 2017 1:09:35 PM | 14
It was the Arab Spring Kool-Aid. Many on the left thought the Zeitgeist was going to magically transform politics in the region....
Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 10, 2017 12:09:12 PM | 6
How about half-full glass view? Perhaps we should cheer Blumenthal, Norton etc. for having a better view of the situation even before the Kool-Aid did not leave their system completely. This stuff can kill, so recovery may be long and with reversals.
By the way, generalizations are slippery. Some Beirut-based media, like al-Masdar News, take notes from SAA and allies (although now al-Masdar has some frontline correspondents on its staff too). Sometimes I wonder how it works. Are some of Beirut cafes only for supporters of one side or another, or there is some civil exchange?
Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 1:12:20 PM | 15
As the opportunity for regime change in Syria slips away, the fake progressives are now permitted by the PTB to reverse their former course.
There is no need for them to recant their former testimony. An insufficient number of their readers are paying attention. Some have forgotten that which was earlier reported. It is offensive that "Assad Must Go" (regime change) could be posited as a liberal/progressive worldview. (Though Obama & Clintons were painted as liberals.)
It is right and just to call out these phonies. They will read about themselves here and worry a bit. Thanks to our host for the research and details.

Posted by: fast freddy | Jul 10, 2017 1:25:11 PM | 16
Great expose b
But treating them as 'journalists' seems rather too kind. They seem to be part of the propaganda effort that wants desperately to control the narrative. It isn't surprising that this new stage of the conflict requires a fresh effort.
IMO, a new primary narrative developing from what had been a secondary narrative: Assad's brutality caused the rise of a brutal opposition. Good Folks(tm) are fighting against both the extremists and Assad. They need protection from US and other states.
How to effect that protection? International support (led by USA) for Safe Zones, autonomous (self-governing) areas, Sunnistan, etc.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 10, 2017 1:35:13 PM | 17
To the list of the many wise voices who saw the Syrian "revolution" for what it was from the get-go, I would suggest adding http://willyloman.wordpress.com/
Posted by: frances | Jul 10, 2017 1:39:47 PM | 18
Embarrassed to say I had forgotten Max's previous "stand" on Syria. I follow Norton and Rania also.
They really do owe us an explanation of why they changed their tune. Deeper knowledge of the situation? Or is it really just opportunism now that the tide has changed in favor of Assad? I did see a video of a panel with Rania after she had been to Syria in the last few months.
At any rate, I will have to be more careful of using their assessments so freely in my blogging, etc.
Thanks for this trenchant reminder to beware of facile commentary.

Posted by: LindaJ | Jul 10, 2017 1:50:17 PM | 19
The people being eviscerated here are living in the American bubble and believed what they were being told until they fought through it to find their own position on Syria. They should be commended for it. The only legitimate criticism is that they apparently have not explained the process that led them to change their position, though Rania has on Facebook at least. They should be celebrated for eventually breaking from the pack, which takes no small amount of courage living in the U.S. Fire should be directed at those who still push the U.S. narrative.
Posted by: Joe Lauria | Jul 10, 2017 1:58:14 PM | 20
Excellent article! To be completely fair, Rania Khalek has at least tried to explain her changed Syria stance, during an interview with Mint Press News. https://youtu.be/0p_8cbjtda4?t=2m59s As for Norton and Blumenthal, nothing.
Posted by: Greg M | Jul 10, 2017 2:07:07 PM | 21
https://gsm1988.blogspot.com/2017/07/robbie-martin-and-credibility.html Here is an article I wrote in which I talk about Blumenthal, Khalek, and Norton and their respective 180's with regards to Syria. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0caTUA-yRAQ&t And here is a podcast about the matter.
Posted by: Greg M | Jul 10, 2017 2:09:53 PM | 22
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/sep/13/egypt-libya-hollywood-film Max Blumenthal within two days of the Benghazi Attack wrote an op-ed for the Guardian placing blame on a film critical of Islam, which became the Clinton State Department's official narrative. Max's father Sidney emailed the article to Hillary, who responded with "Your Max is a Mitzvah!" http://gawker.com/which-friend-of-sid-blumenthal-did-hillary-try-to-hook-1745354641 http://images.gawker.com/srw2ejwpjexx9cj4nnym/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636.png
Posted by: Greg M | Jul 10, 2017 2:14:31 PM | 23
I find myself in the seemingly difficult situation (w.r.t. this issue, anyway), that I greatly admire Max Blumenthal for his strong ant-Zionist stance and, of course, a great admirer of b for his progressive, anti-imperialist position.
Posted by: chet380 | Jul 10, 2017 2:20:58 PM | 24
Trump is planning provocative operations in Syria

Posted by: nmb | Jul 10, 2017 2:23:51 PM | 25
Jun 7, 2017 Father Of Omran: armed groups used my son for propaganda by HANDS OFF SYRIA
Posted by: Brian | Jul 10, 2017 2:24:29 PM | 26
During 2015-16, longtime, stalwart commentators at CommonDreams.org (I wrote as EnemyofWar) daily wrote very critical comments about the large stable of faux-progressive writers and Dem-party sycophants using readily available facts and reason to call-out such writers for what they were doing--Knowingly lying in the service of Imperial Propaganda Promotion. Our thanks from CommonDreams.org was to be censored then blacklisted--banned--from commenting: My account's "suspended" until 1 July 2153!! Moyers, Winship, Blumenthal, Kolhatkar, Escow, and many more, including CD's staff writers, were outed as little more than HRC promoters, faux progressives, obfuscators and liars. And the Troll Wars were intense. The vast majority of outstanding commentators who'd been with CD since its inception were banned despite having the Truth on our side.
In a way, Russia did "interfere" in the election--Its media printed truthful stories contradicting what the so-called progressive/alt-left media was publishing, and we used those factual articles to make our case against HRC; Sanders, after he turned; Dem-Party; and especially Obama and his posse of criminals. If you wanted to get the dirt on the latest leaks about the DNC, then you read RT, Sputnik, Fort Russ, or other English-language publication. News about what was actually happening in Ukraine, Syria, and the very undemocratic actions of the EU, PACE, and NATO, often could only be found in those and other alt-media--many later falsely accused of producing Fake News. Irony became golden when the political spectrum flipped about October when The American Conservative published articles more progressive than the so-called progressive media.
Yesterday, my wife's 24 year-old daughter posted a video of George Carlin's skit "The Sanctity of Life," which proved to be an excellent sermon--she hadn't heard it either, although I'm well versed in Carlin's work. These turn-coat writers are often within his skits, not necessarily as individuals since he doesn't name them. I do think Carlin had the correct approach--use of honest cynicism to point out the numerous contradictions existing within Western Culture--which ends up educating and benefiting the audience. Perhaps when it comes to criticizing the Press, we ought to take an hour to revisit Carlin's 1999 National Press Club performance and note its relation to today's realities, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB9SkT-wtso
Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 10, 2017 2:24:43 PM | 27
I'm with you Piotr @ 15. I think it's a good thing that most on the left have come around. I think the point of b's post is to question Blumenthal's claims of superiority on the issue. Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street had many of us believing momentarily that systemic change was at hand. There's a great lesson here. When things are looking hopeful expect a massive reaction.
That's why we should be cautious about the recent good news in Iraq and Syria. A peg to hang our hat on though is that all the contradictions in the U.S./Saudi position are becoming more and more difficult to manage.
Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 10, 2017 2:25:11 PM | 28
In the meantime, one has to congratulate Pentagon, CIA or whoever for recruiting genuine moderates to take over south-eastern Syria from the hands of ISIS. As we know, "vetting" is a difficult process, and training in the use of modern weapons and the principles and benefits of democracy is not easy. It reminds me a cartoon showing a person with a cart full of goodies in supermarket line for "Express: 10 items or less". The cashier asks "Are you an English major who cannot count or a math major who cannot read"?
In this case, the students showed to be a bit short of the fighting spirit (presumably, with good marks in civics classes) and surrendered ca. 10 villages and more than 1000 sq miles of Syrian Desert to SAA in 12 hours. Before you criticize their driving skills (why the full 12 hours?), you must know that this is a difficult terrain with lava fields etc.
Strategically, with possible additional advances in the near future, Druze-majority Sweida governorate will be secure from the east, and smuggling routes to the three remaining opposition enclaves in the Damascus area will be several times longer.
Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 2:29:47 PM | 29
So the "eviscerated" ones were hapless victims of the American bubble and brainwashed to believe whatever the bubble bubbled at them, until at least they "fought" their way (heroically!) out of the bubble "to find their own position on Syria" and are now being doubly victimized by being "eviscerated" instead of being properly "celebrated" for their extremely extraordinary and courageous feat of escaping, and then publicly signalling having achieved, deprogramming from the matrix while still residing within the confines of
the matrix and vulnerable to its punitive genius. ....hmmm. One might grant you one point: that bs can fertilize subsequent loveliness, flowers and the like.
Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jul 10, 2017 2:39:09 PM | 30
It would seem that if Max B. has "turned" wrt Syria, then the turn is AWAY from the regime-change crowd. It also seems that he has been at least mildly truthful about Apartheid Israel.
Does he not get some points?
Posted by: ACitizen | Jul 10, 2017 2:43:16 PM | 31
xLemming@12 Re: the 'real' Vanessa Beeley - I would say yes.
Posted by: PavewayIV | Jul 10, 2017 2:47:40 PM | 32
this site is normally a fantastic breath of truthtelling. But this story is needlessly nasty. Who cares how someone like Max came around to changing his mind. The point is he got there, and is now fearlessly telling the truth. He's an ally, and squabbles like this are toxic and pointless ...
Posted by: Paying Attention | Jul 10, 2017 2:51:43 PM | 33
I think for these three people, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek, first and foremost they care about being perceived in public as being on the "the right side of the issue" and market themselves as mavericks. In late 2016, the pack leader must have finally recognised that they were all shilling for the eventual losing side (congratulations) and so a collective decision was made to pivot away from shilling for Western and Gulf-backed terrorists in Syria for fear their reputations as 'mavericks' may never recover from that crushing defeat. What can't be erased however, is that every so-called "journalist" who pushed the Arab Spring-Neoliberal-R2P fabricated line on Syria since 2011 and disseminating MSM and Guardian propaganda - they themselves played a role in promoting the West-Gulf Proxy War against the people of Syria and thus played a instrumental role extending this bloody conflict - and therefore one can say, metaphorically or not - like the MSM operatives who did the same - they have the blood of Syrians on their hands. Clearly, for 4 years they were promoting, unwittingly or not, a fraudulent narrative on behalf of the international criminal syndicate who started and propagated this war in Syria. What's even more egregious though - is that they were nasty - they went out of their way to actually attack other independents who at the time could see right through the idiotic Arab Spring-Regime Change narrative. This is the mark of a psychopath, and birds of a feather flock together. If they said they were too stupid to know what was really happening, you just might believe it. But a proper mea culpa? With that level of arrogance, it's doubtful.
I think it's worth pointing out also that ALTERNET receives funding from the usual suspects, including Cloud Mountain Foundation https://www.activistfacts.com/foundation/1172-CloudMountainFoundation/, the New World Foundation (closely tied to the Clinton set and New York's liberal elite)and in the past Alternet has taken large sums from Open Society Institute (George Soros) of George Soros. So the work these people are doing is being subsidized by some of the biggest establishment cash dispensers in the US. You cannot really call yourself a "journalist" if you are on the establishment's foundation payroll. To suggest otherwise is quite disingenuous.
The fact that RT America has these clowns on their shows should be an embarrassment for RT.
I doubt any of them care though because it pays the rent, and that's all that seems to matter these days. And I hear the rent in Brooklyn is expensive - and because he's East Coast liberal pseudo royalty, Max needs to be living in an acceptable zip code.
What a bunch of frauds and cheap copycats.
Posted by: Max B's Gimp | Jul 10, 2017 3:01:53 PM | 34
Paying Attention@33 - "Who cares how someone like Max came around to changing his mind."
I do, for one. You make it sound as trivial as someone changing their clothes.
"...The point is he got there, and is now fearlessly telling the truth..."
He changed his shirt? Fearlessly? Wow... what a damn hero. Sounds like contract writing, not journalism.
"...He's an ally, and squabbles like this are toxic and pointless ..."
You're thinking of an echo chamber and confirmation bias. 'Squabbles like this' are what journalism and the critical thinking process are all about. It has little to do with whether you like the particular shirts Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek are wearing today.
Posted by: PavewayIV | Jul 10, 2017 3:22:55 PM | 35
Max Blumenthal left the "American bubble" long time ago. He wrote a number of books very critical of Israel, and while I have not read them, because of his association with Mondoweiss, I think he was close to anti-Zionist "one state" position. He was not one of the "constructive critics of Israel" longing for good old days of Mapai domination, before the wretched Revisionists took over.
The mechanisms of effectiveness of "Cool Aid" are more varied than simply opportunism. In a conflict like Syria, especially in early stages, there is no "objective information". If someone was "sure who is right" early on, it can be a lucky turn of his/her preconceptions. Assad AbuKhalil (Angry Arab) was perhaps objective, but his stance was "pox on both houses", and this is tad too convenient.
Back to Max. His work on Palestine was much better than "somewhat leftish perspective". And one that topic he is not ignorant. Showmanship for a good cause is not a vice. However, since he is a good writer, I would greatly appreciate an introspective essay "My years as unwitting imperialist flak". Subtitle: It can happen to you, or to your loved ones.
Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 3:29:10 PM | 36
This "they evolved, saw the light, changed their position" is a nice story. But it may be overly hasty, not nasty, to delay embracing them as newly minted exemplars of gutsy honest journalism.
The heart of the matter is this: are these previous either witting and slick and thus sinful propagandists (likely), or unwitting thus dupes and inadvertent and ignorant propagandists, (unlikely), now converted to becoming genuine, full fledged truth seekers and truth tellers? Or is their 'adjustment' a mere tactical veneer?
An extended period in purgatory would seem more appropriate than immediate applause or a public hanging.
Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jul 10, 2017 3:33:04 PM | 37
Thank you for this post. I have not had the details at my fingertips, but I clearly remember Blumenthal shilling for the mainstream western view of the Syrian conflict. I also have noticed that he recently changed his tune. Blumenthal seems like an opportunistic snake. I didn't like his take on the Alison Weir affair either.
Posted by: RudyM | Jul 10, 2017 3:40:17 PM | 38
B. may be right, but I do recommend watching https://youtu.be/0p_8cbjtda4?t=2m59s (posted by 21), because Rania Khaled explains quite reasonably her earlier position and the change she underwent in her opinions. It is detailed and interesting. (I do agree with her that sometimes it is easy to fall under the spell of relentless US propaganda, since it is very effective. Reminds me of a time, when - reading only the NYT in the 1990s - some of us thought that Yugoslavia's Milosevic deserved swift action. Yes, we were totally duped.). Granted, she should have known better being from the region... but better late than never!
Posted by: GoraDiva | Jul 10, 2017 3:48:21 PM | 39
Surely you must realize that the US is fighting ISIS etc. It has always been fighting ISIS. I, for one, look forward to glorious Hollywood epics depicting the true extent of the US fight against ISIS, and the equally glorious parts played by western media pundits.
Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 10, 2017 3:48:55 PM | 40
I have a lot of time for Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal, mostly because of their anti Zionist views, and commend them on their change of mind well illustrated in this interview with Chris Hedges.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6C249jh7wQ
Posted by: harrylaw | Jul 10, 2017 3:52:45 PM | 41
the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. his dad is (was?) a bigshot in the clintonian circle and there's nothing they love more than disguising lust for neoliberal regime change (in the name of their god The Market) as "concern" for whatever group they can convince to stage a color revolution before getting bombed when it doesn't go quickly or smoothly enough. they all love narratives as opposed to reality which is why they also continue to pretend the israelis are rational actors who can be dealt with as human beings.
speaking of which, gilad atzmon (another writer who wasn't tardy to the party and has written about the syrian regime change scam for years) has long documented blumenthal's hypocrisy and holier-than-thou attitude as part of the "anti-zionist zionist" crowd. makes sense that max would want syrian "freedom" from assad in the welcoming arms of the "resistance". just as he thinks the palestinians can be "rescued" by the 6 or 7 members of the israeli "left" who are so selfless they only want to keep the land stolen before 1967. saints among men!
it's probably part of the "third way" mentality that affects his father and the other clintonian mental defectives. they think they can "rise above" any ingrained conflict and be the Smartest Guys in the Room. they focus less on reporting what's happening than "i'm saying this and you're not - what's your problem, brah!?!?!" it's an odd form of pissing contest.
Posted by: the pair | Jul 10, 2017 3:55:29 PM | 42
@34 well said on all points. identical to what i might have posted had the caffeine kicked in yet.
Posted by: the pair | Jul 10, 2017 3:57:50 PM | 43
B asks why such a turn around or partial turn around in people's assessment.
According to my theory, and it was validated tens of times, such a unexplicable change of narrative happens when operation "suppress " such a narrative existing and documented on independent mafia fails and hence they aim to control it, and that what Blumenthal is doing, controlling moderates narratives, whitewashes what needs to be whitewash while finding villains among those already discarded by vested imperial interests. He is simply acquiescing to what majority already know trying to twist is as a damage control and fog of war confusion operation, erase inconvenient traces and links.
Of course any sane person parsing internet would have known by 2012 what was going on, even probably before Assad himself, even Russia agreed for election of new Syrian leader, knowing true support for Assad among population, but that had to be suppressed by people like Blumenthal.
It was like in case of housing collapse already reported by real estate agents in late 2005 sales drop 30% to 70% while prices reported growing, all in the background of MSM great housing market propaganda.
Posted by: Kalen | Jul 10, 2017 3:59:02 PM | 44
Snefjella@ 37: But it may be overly hasty, not nasty, to delay embracing them as newly minted exemplars of gutsy honest journalism.
It is not like one can control the admission to The Institute for Gutsy Honest Journalism. In the absence of an introspective confession, one can only guess what tactical consideration influenced people like Max. From the little I could observe, within the milieu of leftist opponents of the State of Israel as it exists (a combination of arts, sciences, grotesque superstition and cruel oppression) there was a challenge for "intellectual honesty", avoiding the error of pro-Soviet Communists and fellow travelers of Stalin years. "Do you deny the crimes of Baath regime or you do not"? In those years I frequently read a website of that nature where I have encountered this controversy. I am guessing that both that group of Israeli writers, and Max, while non-conformist, did not abandon the hope of "reforming the system from within". In itself, I think that this is the correct sentiment, but it carries risks. Like a nurse working with patients during a deadly epidemic, one can suffer from an intellectual infection.
Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 3:59:08 PM | 45
Norton and Blumenthal were either anti Gov or pro opposition, then went radio silent for AGES, and it seems like they both swapped about 5 months ago, once the course of events was decided. It's like all those NYtimes journalists who figured out Iraq was bad after a few hundred thousand people were dead. Fucking dipshits
Posted by: Pespi | Jul 10, 2017 4:05:19 PM | 46

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