US Empire

Top 20 The Grayzone stories of 2019: From Venezuela coup attempt to Russiagate delusions, information warfare to new cold war

2019 was a big year for The Grayzone. We traveled the world and broke many stories, exposing the empire’s schemes and deceptions. As a direct consequence, we faced an unprecedented wave of attacks, censorship attempts, and repression. Here is a list of our top 20 reports.


1. Exposing Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó

We begin with this exposé, by Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen, of US-backed coup leader Juan Guaidó and his regime-change puppeteers, at a time when he was unknown even to most Venezuelans

2. Debunking lies about burning US aid in Venezuela coup attempt

Max Blumenthal blew up another interventionist deception while reporting from inside Venezuela in February. He revealed how right-wing Venezuelan hooligans burned trucks full of US aid while Washington claimed that Maduro did it. (The New York Times finally got to the story weeks later.)

3. Reporting in Honduras on 10-year anniversary of US coup

We traveled to Honduras to cover the uprising against a US-backed narco regime. Anya Parampil interviewed the opposition leader Manuel Zelaya, the former elected president who was ousted by a right-wing coup.

We also visited the home of renowned activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered by a state-linked, corporate-backed paramilitary. We sat down with her mother for an interview.

4. Questioning the Hong Kong protests and Cold War 2.0

Dan Cohen ripped the lid off the Hong Kong protests, revealing the xenophobia, mob violence, and millions of dollars of US government backing behind the made-for-TV movement. This was one of our most popular print investigations of 2019, and showed how the insurgency is part of a larger Cold War 2.0 aimed to destabilize and balkanize China.

5. Arrest, and exculpation, of The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal

Ben Norton covered the arrest of The Grayzone founder and editor Max Blumenthal on false charges fabricated by right-wing Venezuelan opposition activists. The US government eventually dropped its case against Max after Secret Service records that would have likely exposed the State Department’s collaboration with violent opposition hooligans mysteriously disappeared.

6. Dissecting Russiagate with Pushback

We launched the show Pushback with Aaron Maté in 2019. Aaron dissected the Russiagate hysteria with the meticulousness of a surgeon.

7. Exposing far-right US-backed Bolivian coup leaders

Before Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho was known in the US, Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton exposed him and his movement as a fascistic and racist separatist front notorious for its violence against indigenous citizens.

Jeb Sprague also showed how the military and police forces behind the far-right coup that overthrew Bolivia’s democracy had been trained at the notorious School of the Americas and served as attachés in FBI programs.

8. Uncovering plans for potential US military intervention in Venezuela

Max Blumenthal’s revealed that the hawkish DC think tank CSIS had held a secret meeting of US coup plotters, Guaidó opposition figures, and rightist Latin American officials, in which they discussed the logistics of a potential military intervention of Venezuela. This The Grayzone report was brought up at the United Nations by Venezuela’s legitimate delegation.

Max also uncovered a 2010 memo from the US-funded regime-change organization CANVAS, which trained Juan Guaidó and other top Venezuelan opposition coup-mongers. The bombshell document proposed exploiting electricity outages — the kind of blackouts endured by Venezuela during Washington’s coup attempt.

9. Challenging cartoonish new cold war propaganda against China

Ajit Singh and Max Blumenthal revealed two highly dubious studies, one authored by a fanatical right-wing evangelical on a “mission” against China, as the key sources of the uncritically repeated story of China detaining millions of Uyghur Muslims.

Before that, Ben Norton and Ajit Singh showed how many of the Uyghur opposition groups invariably relied on in Western corporate media reporting were in fact funded by the US government and have a history of extreme right-wing views. They also showed how this is all part of information warfare aimed at Beijing.

The Grayzone also showed how absurd, thinly sourced corporate media reports claiming China is harvesting the organs of live dissidents ultimately originate from baseless rumors spread by the fascist Western-backed cult Falun Gong, which worships Donald Trump and is a key proxy in the new cold war.

10. Interviewing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

In the midst of the US coup attempt against Venezuela, Max Blumenthal held a wide-ranging interview with President Nicolás Maduro, who revealed how John Bolton advanced numerous plans to assassinate him.

11. Unmasking State Department ‘socialists’

Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal revealed how the annual so-called Socialism Conference, which was sponsored by the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Jacobin magazine, and publisher Haymarket Books featured a cast of US government-backed regime-change activists and seminars demonizing Cuba and Nicaragua. The subjects of the piece responded with a tantrum.

12. Exposing the harms of US/EU sanctions on Syria

Max Blumenthal and Anya Parampil traveled to Syria to see firsthand the grievous harm caused by US and EU sanctions on the country. They also interviewed average Syrians who described the hell of living under Western-backed Salafi-jihadist insurgents.

13. Revealing Venezuelan opposition’s massive corruption scandals

Anya Parampil broke the story of how the US-backed right-wing Venezuelan opposition was scheming to sell off their country’s most valuable foreign asset, Citgo. Despite initial opposition denials, her report was confirmed weeks later.

Anya’s exposés on Venezuelan coup official Ricardo Hausmann even resulted in him resigning from his job at the Inter-American Development Bank — but only after he threw an infantile WhatsApp tirade.

14. Reporting inside post-coup Bolivia

Wyatt Reed provided on-the-ground post-coup coverage of Bolivia for The Grayzone, interviewing Evo Morales’ potential successor and revealing how the right-wing junta was viciously hunting activists and journalists who resisted it.

Ollie Vargas also reported for The Grayzone from inside post-coup Bolivia, telling the story of how indigenous activists from Evo Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party base ousted the military junta from their community.

15. Covering the OPCW Syria scandal, amid mainstream media blackout

The Grayzone was one of the very few media outlets to cover the corruption of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). At Pushback, Aaron Maté reported extensively on the OPCW whistleblowers and leaks, which suggested the watchdog’s discredited report on the alleged gas attack in Douma was doctored.

16. Nicaragua recovers after surviving US-backed coup attempt

The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton traveled to Nicaragua on the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. They showed how the country and its democratically elected leftist government are thriving after a violent US-backed right-wing coup attempt in 2018.

17. Digging into disinformation network the Integrity Initiative

Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames exposed the inner workings of, the Integrity Initiative, an international disinformation campaign backed by the British and American governments, NATO, and right-wing foundations.

18. Exposing Syrian pro-war lobby posing as ‘human rights’ groups

Max Blumenthal showed the so-called Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), which corporate media outlets frequently rely on, works hand in glove with the opposition and receives support from foreign states that are waging war on Syria, while openly lobbying for US military intervention.

Ben Norton joined Max in part two, looking at how the corporate media has been amplifying the work of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), a Western government-funded regime change group whose investigators collaborated with al-Qaeda and its extremist allies to drum up prosecutions of Syrian officials.

19. Complicating the narrative on Lebanon protests

Rania Khalek’s on-the-ground investigative series on how the US was seeking to turn Lebanon’s anti-corruption protest movement against Hezbollah generated a major debate in the country, and provoked fury from supporters of the imperial effort.

20. Exposing fascist Bolivian coup leader on Red Lines

By the end of 2019, we were able to launch the show Red Lines with Anya Parampil. She reported on fascist Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho’s failed charm offensive at a US government-funded think tank in Washington, DC.

New year message

The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal concluded 2019 with a message reflecting on the year and on the attacks on independent and alternative media.

“We faced a wave of unprecedented attacks from a tightly coordinated echo chamber of think-tank hacks, Russiagate quacks, hipster-imperialist punks, marks, dupes, neocon kooks, and regime-change spooks,” Max explained.

But we will continue 2020 stronger and more determined than ever.

To our readers around the world, we are deeply grateful for your support!

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