A shady website that claims “Russia is Manipulating US Opinion Through Online Propaganda” has compiled a blacklist of websites its anonymous authors accuse of pushing “fake news” and Russian propaganda. The blacklist includes over 200 outlets, from the right-wing Drudge Report to Russian govt. funded Russia Today to Wikileaks to an array of marginal conspiracy and far-right sites. It even includes some of the flagship publications of the progressive left, from Robert Scheer’s Truthdig to Counterpunch to Truthout to Naked Capitalism to the Black Agenda Report, a leftist African American opinion hub that is heavily critical of the liberal black political establishment.
Called PropOrNot, the blacklisting organization was described by the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg as “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.” The Washington Post agreed to preserve the anonymity of the group’s director on the grounds that exposure could result in their being targeted by “Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.” And it failed to explain what methods PropOrNot relied on to conclude that “stories planted or promoted by the Russian disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.” (Timberg also cited a report co-authored by Aaron Weisburg, founder of the one-man anti-Palestinian “Internet Haganah” operation, who has been accused of interfering in federal investigations, stealing the personal information of anarchists, online harassment, and fabricating information to smear his targets.)
Despite the Washington Post’s charitable description of PropOrNot as a group of independent-minded researchers dedicated to nothing more than protecting the integrity of America’s democracy, the shadowy group bears many of the qualities of the red enemies it claims to be battling. In addition to its blacklist of Russian dupes, it lists a collection of outlets funded by the US State Department, NATO and assorted tech and weapons companies as “allies.” PropOrNot’s methodology is so shabby it is able peg widely read and respected outlets like Naked Capitalism, a leading left-wing financial news blog, as Russian propaganda operations.