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JBANC Conference | 18Apr2015 | Paul Goble et al  [01:12:14]

Up North
Published on 20 Apr 2015

Archived JBANC panel on Kremlin propaganda and disinformation from April 18, 2015 YouTube live feed. Image limitations due to YouTube live feed compression.

Kremlin Propaganda and Disinformation

[00:00 -- 04:55] Paul Goble: We are not even prepared to call what Putin is doing aggression or invasion. Putin has understood how to utilize the news media -- balance vs. objectivity. Can we counter the disinformation without spreading it? And who is going to counter it?

[04:55 -- 15:00]  Christopher Walker: Three points -- assumptions; how Russia has confounded the assumptions; failure of imagination. In 1995, the prospects for the media looked pretty good. China would develop economically and democratize. Internet would open communication. Instead, there was a decline in the serious news industry. We did not forsee how the authoritarian powers would reorganize themselves. Second point: We are drowned in information. Russia has invested enormously in media infrastructure. But outside Russia, Putin's image is abysmal and eroding. Point three: People were dismissive of RT, but are now concerned about its influence.Media now seemlessly includes RT propaganda in its news coverage. Peter Pomarentsev: "Vladimir Putin hallucinated the Ukrainian war into being." We need to rethink the bounds of our imagination to counter this.

[15:00 -- 25:18] Jamie Kirchik: Purpose of Russian propaganda (RT, etc.) is to confuse and distract. Gives voice to conspiracy theories -- Alex Jones (911), Galloway, etc. RT is on TV all over the world.

[25:18 --  35:50] John Schindler: Worked in counter-intelligence for many years -- makes connections, which other people don't see -- coincidences? Russians have been spreading disinformation for years, but now the Internet gives them a huge advantage. 20 December is Cheka Day in Moscow -- they actually honour and  celebrate the repressive organs -- it is the Russian's mother's milk. Prefers term "special" war rather than "hybrid" war, at which the Russians excel. We have to have the will to fight back. The people around Putin tend to believe their own propaganda. KGB had no difficulty penetrating the Whitehouse at all times. Example of Nixon Watergate scandal where Brezhnev nixed the KGB agents reports.

[35:50 -- 44:40] Liz Wahl: Used to work for RT, but resigned. Much of the information on RT is true, but distorted. Ukraine issue was especially bad -- Nazis, fascists, Little Green Men = local defense forces. Young people seem to be especially vulnerable to disinformation about U.S. society. Troll factories in Russia.

[44:40 -- 49:25] Paul Goble: The difference between opinion and fact has been obliterated. We are responsible for this, not the Russians. Western journalists are allowed to cover Ukraine from Moscow. Putin has exploited our failures, rather than have invented anything new. Question: What can we do about it?

[49:25 -- 52:10] Christopher Walker: RFE/RL has been gutted. Need to provide democratic views

[52:10 -- 54:50] Jamie Kirchik: Problems in places like Hungary, Czech Republic. It is not difficult to refute this -- you just have to do it. State Department and NATO do this, but the general news media does not. Why aren't we on the offensive?

[54:50 -- 58:05] Liz Wahl: The media must respond to disinformation immediately -- spread awareness of the techniques used by Russian propaganda. When you Google an issue, articles by RT is usually at the forefront.

[58:05 -- 59:30] John Schindler: We are short of funds, short of imagination and desparately short of seriousness. The Russians are deadly serious about this; we simply are not. Not optimistic -- immense bureaucratic cautiousness. Must have a partnership with NGOs in the lead. Seriousness is what is required.

[59:30 -- 01:00:05] Paul Goble: Questions?

[01:00:05 -- 01:03:15] Facebook is white noise. Is there a book on the subject? How would you advise someone of the older generation to go about this?
John Schindler -- you need to be on social media. Not hard to get informed, if you have open eyes.
Paul Goble -- "Menace of Unreality" by Peter Pomarentsev and Michael Weiss.-- available online. "Nothing is true and everything is possible". "Strategy of Subversion" by Paul W. Blackstock. "Anything" by Natalie Grant.

[01:03:15 -- 01:10:00]
John Schindler -- you need to be careful there "You've just cited Kremlin propaganda".
Paul Goble -- We have to get serious. We created Voice of America in 1942 to Germany and later to Soviet Union. Now we broadcast on FM stations located on Russian territory, such that they have veto on content. (Have to go back to short-wave.) Need direct home-satellite broadcasting to Russia and Eastern Europe. The Internet is cheap, but it is not sufficient. Must develop a capacity in a multitude of languages.
Christopher Walker -- Despite Kremlin crackdowns, you still have extraordinarily courageous people gettin information to citizens of Russia. Example of Russian soldiers deaths in Ukraine.

[01:10:00 -- 01:10:00] What about American TV? We re-broadcast Putin's 4-hour diatribe -- with no rebuttal.
Jamie Kirchik -- An example of an expert on the Ukraine-Russia issue, who has never set foot in Ukraine.