Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shocking: Newsweek journalist claims US intelligence fed him false Putin-Trump conspiracy

An error made by a Sputnik News editor has revealed shocking information that US intelligence agencies may actively be trying to manipulate the presidential election, while also spying on Sputnik's staff of US citizens. 

Last week, a 29-year-old American writer and editor for Sputnik News was duped by a viral — but out-of-context — screenshot from the WikiLeaks release of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. The screenshot contained an excerpt from a story on Benghazi by Newsweek columnist Kurt Eichenwald, misattributed to Hillary Clinton's long time confidante Sidney Blumenthal. The Sputnik writer, Bill Moran, jumped on what he thought was a scoop, and published an article based on the misattribution. 

Moran realized his error less than 30 minutes after publication and quickly deleted the story, which had accumulated around 1,000 views. It was an honest mistake. 

By the time the story was pulled, however, the same viral tweet had made its way to someone in Donald Trump's campaign, and the candidate quoted the screenshot at a rally that day in Pennsylvania, claiming that Blumenthal himself acknowledged Clinton's culpability for the 2012 attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. 

This perfect storm of human error resulted in a new Newsweek piece by Eichenwald, pushing a massive conspiracy theory and accusing Sputnik News — and therefore the "Russians" — of working with the Trump campaign. The story was dramatically headlined, "Dear Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin: I Am Not Sidney Blumenthal."
"I am Sidney Blumenthal. At least, that is what Vladimir Putin — and, somehow, Donald Trump — seems to believe," Eichenwald wrote. "And that should raise concerns not only about Moscow's attempt to manipulate the election but also about how Trump came to push Russian disinformation to American voters."
Eichenwald was then invited to make the US mainstream media rounds; CNN, NPR and others happily granted him a platform, without reaching out to Sputnik for a comment. It must be noted that several journalists — many of whom, to put it mildly, don't always agree with Sputnik — considered it their duty to report inconsistencies within Eichenwald's story. Buzzfeed's John Passantino was quick to point out that Trump was actually reading quotes from the same viral tweets that the Sputnik web editor initially read — rather than from the Sputnik article that appeared hours later. 

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