The war in Ukraine has been dominating headlines for more than a month, but it is still hard for most Americans to grasp what is going on. In part, that’s because most of what is coming out of Kyiv and Moscow is war propaganda. But it’s also because the US ruling class is once more waging information war—against domestic critics and internal enemies.
You can hardly blame the Ukrainians for inventing stories about fighter pilots who single-handedly downed scores of Russian aircraft. The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is trying to keep up morale on the home front while soliciting support from Western leaders to fend off Vladimir Putin’s onslaught. For those in power, lying is part of the logic of war.
What isn’t normal is the all-out effort to promote Ukraine’s cause in America—an effort grafted on to a long series of ongoing propaganda campaigns deployed by US institutions and industries against the same target: the American public. These campaigns have used the same methods, personnel, platforms, and even catchwords to deceive, harass, and punish working- and middle-class Americans to the benefit of the country’s increasingly powerful ruling oligarchy.
To help their chosen candidate, Joe Biden, unseat President Donald Trump, Silicon Valley giants blocked an October 2020 New York Post exposé about influence-peddling by Biden’s son Hunter. Fifty former top US intelligence officials characterized the Post’s reporting as Russian disinformation, a claim echoed unanimously and uncritically by prestige outlets. The New York Times repeatedly called the Hunter Files “unsubstantiated,” while National Public Radio’s managing editor for news, Terence Samuels, huffed that “we don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories.”
Yet even as the Times acknowledged last week that the Hunter emails uncovered by the Post were indeed authentic, the same tech firms are banning videos and stories that contradict the US political establishment’s official Ukraine narrative for the same reason: American spies claim it’s Russian disinformation.
By Lee Smith
About Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a Compact columnist and the author, most recently, of The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President.