Brandon Martinez / Non-Aligned Media
So Jonas Alexis has ended our debate about Putin and Russia with this, failing to address most of my arguments, including the most basic point which is that he and others in the “alt-media” have extreme confirmation bias and double standards when it comes to negative reporting about Russia’s role in Syria and Putin generally.
With regards to the Syria conflict he accepts, without much fuss, any reporting from any source about Western coalition wrongdoing, ISIS wrongdoing, rebel wrongdoing, etc., but when reports flow in about Russian malfeasance or Assad excesses he goes into damage control apologist mode and either declares that these stories are all lies using non-sequitur arguments (X was untrue, so Y is also untrue), or demands exorbitant amounts of proof that he would never ask for on the other end.
He dismisses as frivolous my bringing up of the fact that his editor, Gordon Duff, admittedly prints mountains of deliberately false or inaccurate information (40% of what he publishes he says) on the VT website which, despite this shocking admission, Alexis continues to support and write for. But this point was simply meant to highlight that Alexis has no standards when it comes to the credibility of alternative media sources so long as they print his articles or share some of his viewpoints, yet he scoffs at and writes off as untrustworthy any outlet deemed too “mainstream” or not sufficiently in alignment with his own politics and views. This is not intellectually honest. Alt-media is perhaps more honest about certain things, but when it comes to sacred cows like Putin, Assad, Trump, the Palestinians, the Jewish question, etc., these outlets morph into caricatures of Fox News.
He tries to wiggle out of his obvious attempts at denying Russia’s civilian casualties in Syria, timidly acknowledging that “it would be irrational” to believe none have been killed in the Russian campaign. But he continues to be dismissive of the figure of 2,000 dead civilians from Russian airstrikes even though the same monitoring group reported 1500-2400 civilian victims of the Western coalition, demonstrating that it is impartial about recording civilian casualties from both sides in the air war. He provides no reason for dismissing this figure other than that he just doesn’t want to believe it and that Russia, the bastion of moral virtue that it is (sarcasm), would never kill civilians intentionally (Alexis is obviously clueless about Putin’s brutal war in Chechnya which killed tens of thousands of civilians or the apartment bombings that Putin is implicated in). By not addressing it he continues to imply that all of these civilian deaths (at least the ones he accepts are real) by Russia’s hands are just “accidental” and “collateral damage”. Even if true, as I noted, Alexis would excoriate the US six ways to Sunday for 2,000 victims (or any amount of victims) of “collateral damage,” but when it’s Russia’s doing, he dusts it off and confidently moves forward with endless streams of pro-Russian, pro-Putin propaganda.
He claims I used a straw man by saying that he said that “the civilians” (meaning all civilians) support Assad and Russia, which I pointed out cannot possibly be true. But he did use those words – he probably meant to say “the majority” of Syrian civilians but he left out key information from the equation, which is that the “election” he used to “prove” that “the civilians” overwhelmingly support Assad (and by extension Russia) was the first one to take place under the Assad dynasty since they took power in 1970, and it took place only in Assad-controlled areas which amounted to about half the country. And a big portion of the population had already fled the country as refugees by this time and couldn’t vote. I doubt civilians living in areas that have undergone Russian and Syrian bombardment would feel the same way about Assad and Putin as those who haven’t been subjected to those bombings. But this is not the main issue anyway.
Alexis does not address how he repeated the false trope that Victoria Nuland “explicitly admitted” to spending five billion dollars to “incite insurrection” in Ukraine’s Maidan square showdown with Yanukovych. What she actually said was that the US invested five billion in Ukraine since its independence in 1991 – meaning over a period of 23 years where there have been many changes of leadership/government in that country (being a democracy). It was not an exclusive lump sum delivered to protesters in 2014 as Alexis and many others continue to erroneously imply. I’m not defending Nuland or the US, but this is another example of alt-media laziness and confirmation bias. Where was the attempt at verification here?
He makes a big stink about my pointing to how many in “alt-media” circles throw around the figure of 66 million dead at the hands of Stalin, and how they do this casually despite that figure being impossible to verify. He claims he doesn’t support that number so I am so very wrong about him and his work. But that wasn’t the point at all of my bringing that up. The point was made in relation to his extreme skepticism over the figure of 2,000 civilians killed by Russia in the Syria war. He says this figure can’t be “proven” and should be dismissed. But then, testing for consistency, I asked him if he can prove or verify if 2,200 Palestinians were killed by Israel in the last Gaza war and how he would go about doing that. Additionally I asked if he made any attempt to “verify” this Gaza death toll or did he just repeat it because it agrees with his world view? He didn’t mention this part and didn’t answer the questions. Obviously the latter is true, demonstrating that he has a major double standard when it comes to “evidence” of things that make his political heroes look bad as opposed to people/countries/organizations that he already despises.
With Russia Alexis uses the same tactic that Israel uses to rebuff exposures of their civilian casualties in Gaza: ad hominem attacks on the source of the information rather than addressing in any substantive way the information itself. Israel repeatedly says that the UN and the various NGOs that compile the ghastly death figures in Gaza are “biased” against Israel, have links to Arab governments or the EU, etc. Israel dismisses the entire UN organization as “biased” against Israel, so anything it reports about Israel’s misconduct is glibly disregarded by Israel and its blind supporters. Similarly, Alexis dismisses as “biased” any and all media outlets, organizations, and individuals that report anything negative about Putin and Russia, who he is admittedly a big, if not the biggest, fan of.
Despite these shortcomings I think Alexis is a bright guy and a good writer. His earlier work on Zionism and Bolshevism is especially interesting. But I feel as he becomes more alarmist about the prospects of “armageddon” or “World War III,” his analysis and writing has significantly devolved into blind partisanship and hero worship that is out of touch with reality.