Yet again, corporate media has been caught delivering Fake News, as the Washington Post — responsible for deeming the entirety of alternative media Russian propagandists and falsely claiming the U.S. Intelligence Community found Russian hackers responsible for meddling in the presidential election — boldly declared The Russians hacked Vermont’s power grid, putting the nation in peril.
But it just didn’t happen, the Department of Homeland Security says.
“While our analysis continues, we currently have no information that indicates that the power grid was penetrated in this cyber incident,” DHS assistant for public affairs J. Todd Breasseale said in a statement cited by Politico.
Although the Washington Post sounded the alarm with an article titled, “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say,” suggesting the nation’s power supply stood at risk to be taken down, the outlet has since been forced to retract the claim — because, literally no evidence supports the assertion.
A note from the editor now graces the article, clarifying that, “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.”
City-owned utility Burlington Electric Department raised concerns after ostensibly discovering malware on a laptop — the same variety of malware listed as possibly linked to Russia in a disclaimer-laden report from DHS and the FBI — but the utility and DHS have since explained the computer was not connected in any way to the power system.
“A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials,” the Washington Post claimed, boldly adding, “it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.”
As seems to have become audacious routine for the Post, only threadbare evidence was provided to back up the claims, and the article’s hysterical content could have easily taken an unaware public by surprise — perhaps exactly as it was designed to do. But as Breasseale noted,
“The laptop was not connected to the affected organization’s grid systems. In fact, the organization performed immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal partner authorities,” but the department’s “analysis remains ongoing.”
Even before the addition of the Post’s editor’s note, The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and a few independent media outlets immediately called out the article’s reckless yellow journalism as pure Red Scaremongering — apparently a decided trend the outlet has championed in recent months.
In fact, the Post has published a number of wholly false claims, beginning on November 24 with an article underhandedly maligning some 200 alternative and independent media organizations as intentional or hapless agents of the Russian government for printing pro-Russia propaganda to subvert the election in favor of Donald Trump.
After going viral, that article — citing a nascent and seemingly prepubescent website, PropOrNot — subsequently bore an editor’s note essentially claiming plausible deniability since the outlet didn’t bother including a link to its source. Considering the lack of due diligence on the part of the Post and other mainstream media organizations who parroted the piece, its contents — bearing literally no evidence of the Russian propaganda claim — constituted an attempt to libel independent journalism.
When that attempt to conflate alternative media — and basically any outlet who had dared not lionize Hillary Clinton — with The Russians backfired, the Post went a step further and published an article asserting the CIA had found evidence Russian hackers had penetrated systems to throw the election for Trump.
However, this piece also lacked evidence save for the statements of unnamed and thus unverifiable CIA officials — the article, itself, contradicted the boldness of the claim, noting the 17 agencies comprising the Intelligence Community disagreed and therefore no official report would be forthcoming.
“Time after time after time, we are seeing this fake news coming out in the Washington Post,” former British MI5 intelligence agent, Annie Machon, told state-run outlet RT. “And every time they put these fake stories out they have to put [out] a disclaimer afterwards. But of course, the seed is then sown.”
Given the current atmosphere from the outgoing Obama administration, and its dual agenda to smear The Russians and shirk blame for Clinton losing the election, the Post’s Chicken Little-ism hardly comes as a shock.
As The Free Thought Project previously reported on the laughable claims of Russia hacking the Vermont power grid, the Washington Post’s parent company, Time Warner, has donated significantly to Clinton’s political campaigns.
Perhaps even more telling, the Post’s current owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, landed a $600 million contract with the CIA the same year he purchased the media outlet, albeit for an ostensively separate project.
Incidentally, after Obama signed into law the creation of what, in essence, amounts to an official government propaganda arm, the Post made the stunning announcement that — despite the scorned, habitual penchant for publishing Fake News — the outlet had turned so “profitable” in 2016, it would be hiring five dozen additional journalists.
Whether the aforementioned constitute coincidence or not, the Washington Post’s continued foray into McCarthyism — with little or no proof to back its claims — embodies dangerous, irresponsible writing devoid of journalistic integrity on which it is supposed to adhere.
Simply put, one of the most vocal critics of Fake News is guiltiest of publishing the sort of Fake News that could have serious consequences.