How did The Daily Beast and Rolling Stone become two of the most aggressive smear factories of the US neoliberal establishment, and did US intelligence play a role?
This article was part of a three part series originally published in The Defender on US intelligence infiltration of neoliberal media outlets.
On Oct. 14, 2016, The Daily Beast published a surprisingly candid retrospective on the CIA’s historic recruitment of media assets.
“Other journalists were threatened and blackmailed into cooperating with Mockingbird,” the article noted, “and many were given falsified or fabricated information about their actions in order to engender their support for the CIA’s mission. The program has never been officially discontinued.”
At the time, the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast was John Phillips Avlon. Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown had launched the popular online news site in 2008. By the time she exited five years later, a soured merger with Newsweek had left The Daily Beast whimpering rather than roaring. Avlon’s arrival changed all that.
Avlon has all the credentials of the CIA’s iconic gentleman spy, including an old moneyed family with military pedigrees, a Yale education, and a missionary globalist zeal toward foreign policy and international affairs.
John Avlon, Sr. was chairman of a New York real estate company and a trustee of the George S. Patton Museum Foundation. Born in 1973, young John attended Milton Academy prep school in Massachusetts before earning his B.A. from Yale and an MBA from Columbia.
Curiously, both Avlon’s Wikipedia page and that of his best friend, the aristocratic spook Matthew Pottinger, note that the two are childhood best friends and Milton schoolmates, as if this lifelong partnership is an essential fact in evaluating both men’s lives.
Writing for the New York Sun in 2005, Avlon describes Pottinger — one of America’s top spies — as “like a brother to me.” Pottinger made his bones as a journalist — and, probably, as an espionage operative and propagandist — while working as a lead reporter for Reuters and the Wall Street Journal in China before serving as a U.S. Marines intelligence officer in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2010, Pottinger co-authored an intelligence analysis with Michael Flynn — “Fixing Intel: a Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan” — published through the Center for a New American Security, a front group for Pentagon and intelligence agencies and military contractors that critics have branded “the military-industrial think tank complex.”
Rising through the ranks, Pottinger by 2017 became a member of the National Security Council under Donald Trump. Flynn, by then Trump’s National Security Advisor, appointed Pottinger as NSC’s Asia director.
Advocating a tough stance on China, Pottinger became Deputy National Security Advisor under globalist John Bolton on Sept. 20, 2019 — eight days after, according to current National Security Agency estimates, the Wuhan virus began circulating in China.
Pottinger’s wife, Dr. Yen Pottinger, is a virologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and was one of the first public advocates for social distancing.
After Trump left office, Pottinger joined yet another intelligence agency-linked think tank, the Hoover Institute, as a Distinguished Fellow. Coincidentally, Avlon is married to Margaret Hoover, who sits on the board of overseers of the Hoover Institute at Stanford. Margaret Hoover boasts a litany of foreign policy and intelligence agency credentials, including as former adviser to the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Avlon began his own rise to prominence with hawkish foreign policy, security state sympathies, and some obscure counterterrorism credentials of mysterious pedigree. His claims as a security and intelligence expert won him a job as speechwriter for New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
After the 9/11 attacks, Avlon prepared the mayor’s testimony to Congress on Homeland Security and Giuliani’s address on counter-terrorism to the UN General Assembly. Avlon served as Giuliani’s chief speechwriter and deputy director of policy during his 2007-08 presidential campaign. Mayor Giuliani was by then CEO of a private security and intelligence consulting firm. Giuliani credited the Manhattan Institute with masterminding a substantial part of his platform.
When Avlon joined The Daily Beast a month after its inception in 2008, he was simultaneously a senior fellow at the right-wing intelligence agency-linked think tank Manhattan Institute which advocates for interventionist foreign policies to achieve U.S. global hegemony. By the way, Ronald Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, founded the Manhattan Institute in 1977 — three years before he began orchestrating the CIA’s “War on the Poor” in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
The Manhattan Institute received funding primarily from conservative foundations and major corporations — including Pfizer, Philip Morris and the Koch brothers — to advocate for deregulation of multinational corporations, and expanded power for intelligence agencies and the national security state.
After the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, the Institute formed a Center for Tactical Counterterrorism at the request of the NYPD. Later renamed the Center for Policing Terrorism, its goal was to train law enforcement and intelligence officers to become “first preventers” of future mass-casualty attacks by blending intelligence gathering/analysis with traditional policing methods.
The center has an overseas liaison program that places NYPD intelligence officers in foreign countries to gather intelligence and share information with officials in the host country. The Center published white papers on intelligence fusion centers, local counterterrorism strategies, and intelligence-led policing. (In 2008, it was absorbed into a National Consortium for Advanced Policing.)
Dick Cheney chose the Manhattan Institute as his venue to deliver a major foreign policy speech justifying the Iraq War in 2006. That same year, President Bush also selected the institute for a speech advocating dramatic expansion of executive powers, and praised the organization for supporting “pro-growth economic policies that really sent a clear signal.”
The Manhattan Institute’s City Journal listed Judith Miller as a contributing editor. You might recall Miller as the hawkish New York Times journalist known for her deep CIA connections and for peddling false information about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction in support of the CIA’s expansionist warmongering. (Miller went to jail for her role in illegally outing undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame in revenge for Plame’s husband’s opposition to the Iraq war.)
The Manhattan Institute maintained a “health policy” team focused on dismantling the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — a bugaboo, back then, to Big Pharma. (Today, Big Pharma considers the thoroughly captured FDA an indispensable subsidiary.) Manhattan Institute’s “Project FDA,” was assigned to transform the agency into a bridge for innovative medicines “on the cusp of a radical transformation,” aimed at getting “new scientific advances” to patients more quickly. Manhattan Institute’s aggressive advocacy of the biosecurity agenda coincided with Bill Gates announcing the “Decade of Vaccines,” and the founding of Moderna and its novel mRNA approach to medicine.
This was the right-wing, corporatist, imperialist, war-mongering, pharma-friendly think tank that served as Avlon’s base as he worked himself up to political editor, executive editor and then managing editor of the supposedly liberal The Daily Beast, and then built the online paper into a powerful ideological agent of 21st-century recasting of liberalism.
In 2013, President Barack Obama quietly signed a bill that neutralized the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, thereby lifting the bans that formerly prohibited the CIA from propagandizing Americans. That repeal, according to journalist Leah Anaya, legalized “government-regulated news” in our country, and unleashed the CIA to use “legalized psychological war ops being run on the American people.”
The change in the law, Anaya says, “allowed the government to gain assistance [for] not-so-popular policies, ushering in a whole new world of government freedom to serve up propaganda to Americans on a silver platter.” For the first time in the CIA’s history, Operation Mockingbird was suddenly legal.
After President Trump’s election, The Daily Beast amped up the CIA’s anti-Russia agenda — and the need for censorship — as the key tenets of the emerging liberal ideology with a series of articles exposing how the Russians had used Facebook to promote Trump rallies in 17 American cities.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. met with Avlon in 2018 after The Daily Beast made a series of attacks on him over his skeptical stance on certain vaccines. Kennedy argued that The Daily Beast articles were error-ridden and unfair. Avlon refused to allow Kennedy the traditional “right to reply” that formerly applied across the publishing spectrum when a newspaper attacks a well-known individual by name.
Kennedy described Avlon as congenial but immovable. Kennedy recalls:
“He had a photo of my father in his office and was very friendly, but refused to allow me to publish a letter or any other response to the various slanders, or to correct multiple factual errors. Avlon’s stubborn refusal to grant this standard gesture of basic journalistic decency suggested to me a hidden agenda. I assumed Daily Beast was probably receiving some stream of advertising revenue from Pharma. It never occurred to me, back then, that this might be an intelligence agency agenda.”
In May 2018, Avlon announced he was leaving The Daily Beast to become a senior political analyst and anchor at CNN. There he would join another famous media Yalie, Anderson Cooper, who offers a slightly more plausible explanation than Markos Moulitsas (see part 1) for his early-career decision to leave the CIA: “It was less James Bond than I hoped it would be.”
"I applied to the CIA and I went all the way to the end, I mean it was to the point where I was going to sign papers to become Clandestine Services… I’ve never had any problem with the CIA. I’d have no problem working for them." -Markos Moulitsas, 2006 https://t.co/kLae6WHPNT
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) April 18, 2022
A young blogger cashes in with the military-industrial complex
In January 2014, shortly after Avlon took The Daily Beast’s helm, he recruited Noah Shachtman as his executive editor. Upon Avlon’s departure, Shachtman succeeded him as The Daily Beast’s editor-in-chief.
Shachtman graduated from Georgetown University before matriculating to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After working as a staffer for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, Shachtman turned to freelance journalism.
Of his beginnings, Shachtman recalls:
“I’d been a tech reporter for a while. After Sept. 11, 2001, I got more interested in the defense beat and was writing more stories on that topic. And I just noticed there was a real dearth of information out there for regular people that weren’t in the military-industrial complex.”
In January 2003, Shachtman founded a blogging website called DefenseTech.org, which quickly emerged as one of the web’s chief resources on military hardware. In November 2004, Shachtman sold his blog operation for an undisclosed sum to Military Advantage Inc., operator of the Military.com website specializing in military career services.
Wired: a CIA redoubt
Shachtman had already been writing for Wired when he was hired onto the magazine in 2006. Wired magazine, founded in 1993, quickly emerged as the face of the CIA-sponsored dot-com boom: “The magazine’s embrace of a privatized digital universe made it a natural ally of the powerful business interests pushing to deregulate and privatize American telecommunications infrastructure,” writes Yasha Levine in his 2018 book “Surveillance Valley: The Secret History of the Internet.”
The magazine’s initial funding came from MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, whose brother John Negroponte was the first director of National Intelligence, notorious for his sponsorship of Central American death squads.
Wired’s central function was to “scrub every last particle of progressive thinking from reporting on the then-developing online world and to promote a pro-military/pro-corporate/pro-intelligence agency view within the digital media and technology community,” according to an interview Kennedy had with tech entrepreneur Ken McCarthy, who lived and worked in San Francisco in the 1990s and organized the first conference on monetizing the web.
Wired quickly earned notoriety as a clearinghouse for intelligence agency chatter. Prior to Wired, Mondo 2000, the Bay Area’s original tech and culture magazine, reflected the progressive, idealistic viewpoints of many of the pioneer tech innovators.
In contrast, Wired, which appropriated Mondo 2000’s look and feel and no small number of its employees, glorified military and intelligence agency celebrities and corporate CEOs. Wired gained snowballing prominence in the early 2000s at the same time that the CIA launched its investment firm, In-Q-Tel, to infiltrate the tech industry and put Silicon Valley on steroids with easy terms and government contracts. Timothy Leary described Wired as “the CIA’s answer to Mondo 2000.”
Wired is also the fountainhead of a movement called “Transhumanism,” which advocates for the integration of human beings and machines. The movement’s most vocal supporters include key Silicon Valley billionaires and engineers and the CIA. The aspiration of transhumanism is idealistically described as “liberating humanity from biological restraints” — using AI, novel therapies like stem cells and nanobots, vaccination and subdermal chips.
Jacques Ellul, an early pioneer, described transhumanism’s elegant capacity for top-down control of humanity in his book, “The Technological Society”:
“For the psychocivilized society, the complete joining of man and machine will be calculated according to a strict system, the so-called ‘biocracy.’ It will be impossible to escape this system of adaption because it will be articulated with so much scientific understanding of the human being. The individual will have no more need of conscience and virtues. His moral and mental furnishing will be a matter of the biocrats’ decisions.”
Inside military groupie Noah Shachtman’s “Danger Room”
Shachtman’s escalating fascination with international espionage and spy weaponry, the military-industrial complex, surveillance, coerced vaccination, U.S. imperialism, and the rising national security state seems anathema to the core values of traditional liberalism and democracy.
But wait; it gets worse: In February 2007, Shachtman announced in the Huffington Post:
“I’m starting a new blog for Wired. It’s called Danger Room. And it’ll cover ‘what’s next in national security.’ But we won’t just be talking about gear — although you’ll get more than your fair share of killer drones, electronic weapons, and nuclear threats, don’t worry. We’ll look at new strategies, new thinking, and new tactics in national security, as well. And we’ll follow the personalities and politics surrounding these developments. Because within a military-industrial complex that chews up a trillion dollars a year, there are plenty of power struggles, both behind the scenes, and in front of the cameras. To start things off, we’ll talk to one of the most influential figures in military research today: Tony Tether, head of DARPA, the Pentagon’s way-out science and technology arm. Ordinarily, he’s reluctant to speak with the press.”
Six years later, DARPA awarded up to $25 million towards the development of Moderna’s mRNA vaccines. In January of 2018, DARPA launched an emerging-pathogenic-threat program that considered funding a substantial gain-of-function research study at the Wuhan lab in China.
Shachtman cast himself as an inveterate defense and intelligence industry insider.
In 2008, Shachtman described his Danger Room Debriefs as being “where we ask smart folks in the military, intelligence, and homeland defense fields to outline some under-the-radar security issues — and point the way towards potential, often-unorthodox solutions.”
Early in 2010, Shachtman self-promoted his achievements thusly:
“When the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center wants to ‘improve its situational awareness and common operating picture,’ the action officers there ‘monitor’ Wired.com’s Danger Room and Threat Level. That’s according to a couple of DHS ‘Privacy Impact Assessments’ spotted by USA Today and Newsweek’s Declassified blog.”
Shachtman’s pieces increasingly examined the intersection between big tech and the military-industrial complex and transhumanism. He probed “DARPA’s Next Grand Challenge: Build Us Lifelike, Humanoid Robots” (April 5, 2012).
He examined how “the Defense Department’s best-known geek” (DARPA director Regina Dugan) was stepping down to take a job at Google (March 12 and March 14, 2012). There Shachtman revealed how “the investment arms of Google and the CIA both put cash into Recorded Future, a company that monitors social media in real-time — and tries to use that information to predict upcoming events.”
By June of 2012, the New York Times was celebrating Wired’s success in militarizing Silicon Valley’s dominant ideologies. Wired “has found a different audience of readers who are not coming from the programming circles of Silicon Valley,” the paper noted.
The Times wrote:
“They are technology enthusiasts spread across military bases and mazelike corridors of the Pentagon. In the five years since Wired.com started its Danger Room blog, it has attracted a steady following in the national security community. The blog has 35,094 Twitter followers, makes up 10 percent of the traffic on Wired.com, and has broken stories as geeky and alarming as the one on a virus spreading through drone cockpits and ‘burn pit’ trash disposal exposure in Afghanistan. Danger Room appears to be reaching readers the military sometimes has trouble connecting within its own ranks.”
“‘They clearly have an audience in the Pentagon,’ said Geoff Morrell, who worked closely with a former Defense secretary, Robert Gates. He said the blog’s stature helped persuade the Pentagon to cooperate with Wired on a 2009 cover article about Mr. Gates.” (Gates had served as CIA Director between 1991 and 1993 during the first Bush administration.)
The article described Shachtman as a sensitive military groupie, “the blog’s editor and a self-described ‘technology geek,’” being “pleasantly surprised when general so-and-so shakes my hand and says he’s reading the blog.”
Shachtman has enjoyed the broad international peregrinations that Langley favors in its agents and assets.
According to an online biography:
“During his tenure at Wired, he patrolled with Marines in the heart of Afghanistan’s opium country, embedded with a Baghdad bomb squad, pored over the biggest investigation in FBI history, exposed technical glitches in the U.S. drone program, snuck into the Los Alamos nuclear lab, profiled Silicon Valley gurus and Russian cybersecurity savants, and underwent experiments by Pentagon-funded scientists at Stanford.”
While still writing his blog for Wired, Shachtman became a nonresident fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institute.
The same biographical profile continued:
“Shachtman has spoken before audiences at West Point, the Army Command and General Staff College, the Aspen Security Forum, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, Harvard Law School, and National Defense University. The offices of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and the Director of National Intelligence have all asked him to contribute to discussions on cyber security and emerging threats. The Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS, ABC News, and NPR have looked to him to provide insight on military developments.”
A March 2011 Harvard Law School conference featured Shachtman moderating a panel on “Defense and Deterrence in Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare.” At the beginning of March 2013, he moderated a panel at Yale Law School’s Tracking and Biometrics Conference on “Nontrespassory tracking: Biometrics, license plate readers, and drones.”
Next stop: hyper-interventionist Foreign Policy magazine
In June 2013, Shachtman announced he was moving on. “GOODBYE, WIRED. GOODBYE, Danger Room. These have been the best years of my work life; for the longest time, I couldn’t even imagine doing anything else. But the moment has finally come for something new. I’m starting today as an executive editor at Foreign Policy magazine.”
During his short-lived stint at Foreign Policy magazine, Shachtman authored pieces about the Obama administration’s infighting on cyber leaks, and the fury of tech industry executives over revelations that the National Security Agency had infiltrated Google and Yahoo, “making off with private communications of millions of their customers.” Shachtman exploited his deepest connections and published in October 2013 the revelation that intelligence veterans said President Obama had to be aware that “foreign leaders were being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, and principally the NSA.”
McCarthyite lies and hypocrisy. @ForeignPolicy’s longtime editor in chief signed on last year to lobby for the UAE to the Hunter Biden-like tune of $50k a month. https://t.co/vQ4E8gNAbO
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 12, 2019
The Daily Beast recruits intel propagandist Shachtman
Somehow, the powers that run The Daily Beast decided to recruit, as its editor-in-chief, this oddball with his admiration for covert activities, electronic surveillance, killer drones, high-tech weaponry, celebrity generals and cloak-and-dagger cyber ops. Before long, the news site was receiving acclaim for breaking key stories that supported the CIA’s pet narratives, including Russia’s involvement with planting “fake news” during the 2016 election process.
“There are tons of examples of Russian propaganda,” Shachtman said in 2017. “And a lot of that was unearthed by The Daily Beast. The Senate Intelligence Committee mentioned five things that we had broken.”
“We used our tech teams and resources and our well-sourced people like Spencer [Reiss] to nail down” a Ukrainian fellow living on Staten Island who ultimately led to The Daily Beast’s tracing “the weird propaganda effort out of Saint Petersburg and purporting to be Americans interacting on Facebook.”
These anti-Russian slanders — true or not — are among the CIA’s central obsessions.
(I do not argue that Putin didn’t meddle in the 2016 election, only that U.S media has made no effort to question the CIA’s own role in generating and amplifying related propaganda.)
Shachtman boasted of The Daily Beast’s work with Spencer Reiss, a former Wired editor and Newsweek foreign correspondent who sponsors annual conferences in which Big Tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, Satya Nadella, Jack Ma, Tim Cook and Eric Yuan rub shoulders with military contractors and pharmaceutical titans.
Like its bookend, Daily Kos, The Daily Beast not only promotes stories that glorify Big Tech but polarize and inflame political divisions including those between Democrats and Republicans, and Blacks and Whites, and that push COVID-19 fear narratives.
By the late summer of 2021, the site was no longer making any pretense about where it stood. In an opinion piece headlined “Lefties Planted the Anti-Science Seed Fueling Vaccine Skepticism,” (Aug. 23, 2021) The Daily Beast assailed “biotechnophobia” about GMO foods as having inspired the health disinformation campaign around COVID-19.
Then, in the fall, The Daily Beast initiated a hard sell for an authoritarian-style future: “One Thing Will Save Us From These Suicidal Lunatics — Mandates” in order to “save lives and protect our unvaccinated kids” (Sept. 26, 2021).
This was followed by “It’s Time to Get Personal, and Nasty, With Vaccine Resisters” (Oct. 17, 2021) and a hit piece against the Organic Consumers Association “The Green New Deal Activists Spreading Deadly Vaccine Lies” (Oct. 24, 2021), and then a call to require childhood vaccinations: “Fear, Myths, and Complacency Stand Between Kids and the End of the Pandemic” (Nov. 2, 2021).
By this time, Noel Shachtman had found a greener pasture. But clearly, his legacy remained very much alive. And Rolling Stone was about to dance to the same tune.
Co-opting the counterculture: is Rolling Stone the latest face of Operation Mockingbird?
On July 15, Rolling Stone announced Shachtman “will lead content, editorial strategy and manage [its] illustrious staff.” Among its initial bows to Shachtman’s ascendancy, Rolling Stone removed from its website, after 16 years, a 2005 article called “Deadly Immunity” written by Kennedy.
Why go back that far to change the past? Kennedy’s piece was about thimerosal in vaccines. He had constructed the article around the previously secret transcript of a clandestine 2000 meeting between 52 pharmaceutical chieftains, academic researchers and public health bureaucrats in a remote Georgia retreat center known as Simpsonwood. The Simpsonwood transcripts show the participants plotting strategies for hiding a 1,135% elevated risk of autism among vaccinated children — compared to unvaccinated — disclosed by an alarming internal CDC study of the government’s largest vaccine database.
Rolling Stone and Salon had both extensively fact-checked Kennedy’s controversial piece prior to publishing it. Under pressure by pharmaceutical companies, Salon removed Kennedy’s article in 2011 citing undisclosed “factual misinformation.” Rolling Stone steadfastly defended the article as factually accurate for an additional decade until shortly before Shachtman’s arrival. In an article headlined “How the Anti-Vaxxers Got Red-Pilled,” writer Tim Dickinson announced: “The story no longer appears on Rolling Stone’s website.”
In that same article, Dickinson states:
“Exploring conspiracy theories and mass delusion can inadvertently popularize misinformation. So inoculate yourself with facts: The novel vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are revolutionary and take advantage of our own cellular machinery to safeguard recipients against future coronavirus infection.”
While excoriating Kennedy for painting Bill Gates “as a reckless and unaccountable billionaire pulling the strings of global institutions,” Dickinson goes on to warn that: “The mass delusion of conspiracy-theory belief also constitutes a public-health crisis.”
Rolling Stone pushes Big Pharma disinformation
In addition to removing Kennedy’s piece, Rolling Stone quickly made itself the ideological gatekeeper for the medical cartel’s official dogmas on COVID. In its Sept. 3 edition, it published a story headlined: “Gunshot Victims Left Waiting as Horse Dewormer Overdoses Overwhelm Oklahoma Hospitals.”
The alleged “horse dewormer” was ivermectin, a Nobel Prize-winning broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication determined by hundreds of front-line physicians and 87 peer-reviewed) studies, to have clear life-saving efficacy against COVID-19.
Ivermectin has posed an existential threat to the COVID vaccine enterprise since federal law prohibits the granting of Emergency Use Authorization to any vaccines if an FDA-licensed remedy like Ivermectin already exists to treat the target disease.
The “vaccine-only” proponents in government, pharmaceutical and media circles mobilized in a lockstep campaign to discredit the treatment. Continuing Pharma’s disinformation thrust, Rolling Stone published a photo the magazine claimed to depict a long line of gunshot victims waiting outside an Oklahoma hospital where, according to Rolling Stone, patients poisoned by ivermectin occupied every available bed. The photo was a fake. Bloggers exposed it as a seven-month-old picture of people waiting for COVID shots. The hospital itself debunked and denounced the article, saying it had treated no ivermectin overdoses. Rolling Stone refused to retract the article or apologize.
An opinion piece in the Washington Examiner called Rolling Stone’s report a “hoax,” adding, “But the public didn’t know this until after the article went viral, amplified and spread all over the country by an all-too-eager news media, including MSNBC, Yahoo!, the New York Daily News, Newsweek and Business Insider. Like Rolling Stone, none of these outlets thought to pick up a phone and double-check [the] story. The failure here is collective.”
Rolling Stone also unleashed attacks on the guitar icon Eric Clapton after the singer confided that his hands had become paralyzed following vaccination. The headline gives insight into Rolling Stone’s degree of objectivity: “Eric Clapton’s Anti-Vaccine Diatribe Blames ‘Propaganda’ for ‘Disastrous’ Experience.”
Once Shachtman took the reins, the magazine followed up with, “Eric Clapton Isn’t Just Spouting Vaccine Nonsense — He’s Bankrolling It,” which inspired coverage across Big Pharma’s media echo chamber.
NBC News cruelly trumpeted: “Eric Clapton’s Covid vaccine conspiracies mark a sad final act.” The Los Angeles Times, owned by pharmaceutical titan Patrick Soon Shiong, parrotted: “Eric Clapton likes these anti-vaxxers so much that he’s bankrolling their band.”
Was it even remotely possible that Eric Clapton suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccines, and wanted little more than to share his experience? Apparently not possible, according to these media companies.
In an obsequious Oct. 17 puff piece, the Washington Post, now owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, hailed Shachtman’s arrival as a “milestone” for Rolling Stone, adding that “If reinventing an iconic magazine means taking aim at music’s sacred cows and finding ways to shout from the rooftops, both Noah Shachtman and [CEO] Gus Wenner seem ready to do just that.”
Rolling Stone rushed in full throttle to tout the official line on the pandemic. A Sept. 25 article declared “the NBA’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Trying to Push Around the League — and It’s Working.”
An Oct. 20 headline asked, disapprovingly, “Will a City Mandate Cause Thousands of Unvaccinated L.A. Cops to Walk off the Job?”
On Nov. 16, Rolling Stone explained: “How Conspiracy Theorists and Eric Trump Turned Nashville’s Most Famous Hotel into Anti-Vax HQ.”
Probing investigative journalism at Rolling Stone has now devolved into stories like “The Best Face Masks for the Delta Variant.”
Shachtman’s editor adds this shameless caveat:
“Products featured are independently selected by our editorial team and we may earn a commission from purchases made from our links; the retailer may also receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.”
A Nov. 27, Tim Dickinson article announced: “The Omicron variant discovered in South Africa may be a super-spreadable mutant. Here’s what you need to know.”
“What happened to the Rolling Stone we all fell in love with?” asks Ska superstar Dicky Barrett, lead singer for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
“Rolling Stone was once the most popular forum for agitation, skepticism and dissent. It was the voice of the counterculture engaged in political rebellion against entrenched and vested interests, and particularly against, the military and the CIA’s anti-democratic corruption. What happened to the ‘Rage Against the Machine?’ Today, it seems, Rolling Stone is ‘the Machine.’”
By controlling the traditionally liberal media outlets, the CIA and the pharmaceutical cartel have led the Democratic party to abandon its core constituencies. Polling shows that rank and file union members and Black Americans overwhelmingly oppose COVID-19 mandates, and many are rushing to join the resistance.
On July 8, writing in the African-American news blog Black Agenda Report, Public Radio Editor Riva Enteen asks why the “U.S. ‘Left’ Has Repositioned Itself on the ‘Right’ — Aligned with Capital, War and Repression”:
“Why is it that most of those who were concerned with the far-reaching civil liberties implications of the Patriot Act after 9-11 now trust the FBI and are thrilled that Silicon Valley is censoring all but established ‘truth?’ Why is it that the ‘educated’ class in this country is particularly all in for censorship? What about the enlightenment principles of skepticism, critical thought, inquiry, and free speech—all the qualities ‘liberals’ used to stand for? Thinking for yourself is now a dangerous form of radicalism.
“[T]he most dangerous component of ‘MSM’ fake news is arguably propaganda by omission. The public cannot make informed decisions, and take appropriate action, when the crimes of ruling elites are kept hidden by a complicit media.”
Enteen observes that the mainstream media has devolved into the modern iteration of Mockingbird, promoting the CIA’s biosecurity agenda—which conflates terrorism with vaccine hesitancy, and leverages the orchestrated fear of germs to expand state authority.
Glenn Greenwald concurs, pointing out that, under the CIA’s new post-COVID era rubric, “Domestic Violent Extremists” [DVEs] are “those who oppose capitalism and all forms of globalization… derived from anti-government or anti-authority sentiment,” and “opposition to perceived economic, racial or social hierarchies”… DVEs are “subject to a vast array of domestic surveillance and monitoring by the CIA and other intelligence agencies—in the name of fighting ‘domestic terrorism.’”
The current domestic War on Terror has already provoked billions more in military spending. “And Silicon Valley apparently is tasked with deciding who the domestic terrorists are,” adds Enteen.
The CIA’s consolidation of power over mainstream media and social media may be on the verge of accomplishing the agency’s ultimate ambition: after 70 years engineering coups d’états against the world’s democracies, the CIA, this year, may have finally achieved the ultimate triumph — the controlled demolition of American democracy and the obliteration of our Constitution.