Disinformation – false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumours) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
(Main image from photo by Marko Blazevic from Pexels)
It feels strange to find that I, a 64-year-old English chap living an innocuous life in an English shire, am apparently now an integral part of the Team Kremlin disinformation machine.
I should start by saying that I don’t know how Mr Putin transmits the Russian narrative to me – perhaps by microwave. But it must be happening because I find many aspects of stories like the Skripal poisoning here and Russiagate in the US endlessly troubling.
Moreover, I admit that I’ve blogged and tweeted to that end. Not only to my one follower on Twitter but also to the zero readers of this blog.
I guess I’m such a slavish follower of the Kremlin line and/or useful idiot that I can’t tell the difference between wishing to apply critical thinking to a perplexing situation and being a full-on purveyor of Moscow-supplied fake news.
The thing is, I can’t imagine how Putin planted the idea in my mind that the chemical used on the Skripals wasn’t a military grade nerve agent. You see, I am sure the reason it can’t be novichok is because I used to work for a major manufacturer of biological warfare protection equipment.
If it was really novichok, and in a doorknob-slathering amount, the Skripals would have dropped dead within yards of their house. Or, if the perps hit them in the Mill pub or Avon playground – which is quite likely – they’d have dropped dead there. Novichok would have created carnage, with deaths and permanent injuries among first responders, paramedics and others.
So the novichok angle is, frankly, bollocks. I have blogged several times about the likelihood that the substance was very likely Carfentanil or a similar synthetic opioid. That fits the symptoms as well as the Skripal’s successful response to treatment for fentanyl overdose (duh), and the low fatality rate: one in five victims.
Carfentanil also makes for a plausible connection between Petrov and Boshirov and Sergei Skripal: read the comment by ‘Jim’ here for details.
Unfortunately for me, only a fully paid-up Kremlin hack could conceive of such an alternative explanation – and then only if it was provided by an army of bots and trolls — as breathlessly explained by the BBC in “Sergei Skripal and the Russian disinformation game.”
You got me bang to rights, Auntie. I’m just a trained journalist with a several-decade career after that in PR and communications, 60-plus years under my belt and a still-functioning brain. I couldn’t possibly disagree with the Skripal story as relayed by the UK legacy media all by myself. There must be a secret connection through which I receive scripts from Grizodubovoy str. 3, Moscow.
Hilariously, the BBC’s Exhibit One in its Russian disinformation story – the initial flurry of questions about identical timestamps on the CCTV stills of Petrov and Boshirov at Gatwick issued by the police – looks increasingly like evidence of British disinformation.
Someone has shown pretty conclusively that the police, for reasons known only to themselves, did a bit of mickey mouse cropping and tilting of the pictures to make it look like they were from different CCTV cameras, when in fact both Russians went under the same chute camera one after the other, as they said in their TV interview.
It’s clear the stamps are not on the original video, as there’s a bit of the CCTV system’s date/time overlay showing at the bottom of one of the stills. Perhaps the police issued images with curious time stamps as bit of a jape, to rattle conspiracy theorists’ cages. In that case, what should we call their stills – disinformation? Or since it comes from our side, maybe that should be ‘fake disinformation’.
GRU cyborg pussy transmitter?
Look, I know I’m only saying this because the Russian secret service switched my cats for cyborg-pussies who transmit subliminal messages to me, coded into their meows, but exactly which side is, as the BBC accused Russia of doing, working “… to spread and amplify multiple narratives and conspiracies around cases like the Skripal poisoning”?
The Russian state’s line has always been simply: ‘We had nothing to do with what happened to Sergei Skripal. And Petrov and Boshirov are not agents of the GRU’.
The British government and media on the other hand have been extremely generous with narratives and conspiracies around the case. The poison was in the car vents; in food; on the door handle. It was a highly-pure military nerve agent. No, it was degraded, which is why it didn’t kill. The Skripals must have ingested it. No, all they needed was a tiny drop on their skin. Etc. Etc.
As for conspiracies, the UK government has failed to produce a jot proof that the Skripal poisoning was a state operation. They just assert that it is ‘plausible’ that the Kremlin would do such a thing.
That is an ‘anything goes’ argument if ever there was one. It’s is no more or less plausible that the full might of the Russian secret service really was behind the incident at Prezzo in Salisbury on Sunday. Certainly, the Sun was immediately on the Prezzo case, providing the waiting British public with totally trustworthy information.
“Putin tried to kill me with rat poison” blared the paper’s front page, over a story novichok-full of tedious ‘sources believe’ and ‘it is thought that’ shitweasel said to come from British state sources.
You couldn’t make it up. Except that the Sun did. Or at least it trotted out what it paid the couple for. Which turned out to be a shedload of tripe foisted on the willing tabloid by a convicted criminal and his Israeli-national (though Russian-descended) partner.
When faced with a real fact about an incident in Salisbury – i.e. this one was 100% bogus – the Sun pulled the story from its website.
But not before its readers, and those of the other reliable, trustworthy media, had been treated to a blaze of rampant speculation in which the words Russia, novichok, incident and Salisbury got chucked around like 3MF capsules at a hedge fund’s summer party.
Like Goebbels said, it’s all about taking every opportunity to trot out the desired associations over and over again.
“If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” ~ Joseph Goebbels
As of Thursday 20 September, four days after the Prezzo deception, the BBC still hasn’t updated its report stating that the woman the Sun spoke to is Russian.
Auntie Beeb. Rupert Murdoch. You tell me: who is trading disinformation? There is a huge hole in the Skripal novichok story that you refuse to address.
The Salisbury substance behaved nothing like novichok and everything like Carfentanil. Why do you and all the other UK national media continue to refer to it as novichok as a fact. When are you going to ask the government to explain the ocean-wide gulf between the actual effects of the Salisbury substance and the known signature of novichok (which again are almost certain death within minutes or at best massive debilitating damage to the central nervous system)?
Honestly, mild-mannered middle-aged blokes like me aren’t asking these questions because we’ve fallen for Kremlin disinformation. It’s because they’re totally fucking obvious to everyone outside a national newsroom.
“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” ~ Joseph Goebbels
Anyway, must dash. The cat is calling from the kitchen. Either she wants food or she’s relaying the text of my next blog from Grizodubovoy Street in meow code.