WND editor warns: CNN preparing ‘imminent’ attack on alternative media

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CNN -- Wikimedia Commons

Remember what CNN did to the anonymous Reddit user who created the now-viral meme of President Trump body-slamming a CNN logo? That may be nothing compared to the attack the network is said to be preparing against alternative — read conservative or libertarian-leaning — media outlets.  On Thursday, Joseph Farah, founder, editor and chief executive officer of WND.com, warned that CNN — the cable outlet seen by many as the least-trusted name in network news, according to the results of a poll published in January — is set to launch what he called, “an all-out campaign by the network to discourage advertisers from working with independent news operations such as WND.com. Breitbart.com, DailyCaller.com and others.”

“How do I know?” he asked.  “I have it on good authority.”

“I’ve even heard from CNN Investigations in an email that strongly suggests the approach these fake, phony con men will be taking on their ‘story,'” he said, citing information he recently received from Simon Ostrovsky, who, Farah said, identified himself as a “reporter” for CNN Investigations.

Ostrovsky, by the way, joined CNN earlier this year after a stint at Vice:

Farah added:

“The story is looking at the issue of advertising on controversial, non-mainstream-websites.” Get the picture? CNN is “mainstream.” WND and other independent news and media operations are not. Right there that should tell you everything you need to know about the focus of this coming hit piece. CNN is in freefall. Its response is to attack the competition by telling its viewers not to look at sites like this one, but only at self-described “mainstream” media. Its response is to persuade advertisers not to associate with such “non-mainstream” and “controversial” media outlets. “Controversial?” How would you describe CNN? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black …

He also asks if three specific “controversial” commentators whose work has been published by WND are paid contributors. This is called, in my business (which happens to be the real news business for the last 40 years), the search for selective facts to buttress a pre-conceived narrative. I note that none of the questions about payment are related to commentators who would be considered “mainstream” by CNN – Democratic activists, “progressive” voices and well-known, familiar voices of common discourse and debate in America today. That betrays the motives and intentions of CNN with this upcoming smear: To paint the darkest, most sinister picture of media companies like WND. This is about systematic misrepresentation. It’s about stringing together convenient “facts” with a pack of lies and carefully calculated and highly produced distortion to mischaracterize what others do.

Ostrovsky, Farah wrote, wanted to know “how much ad revenue Google and other ad networks provide to WND. Why would he want to know that? I’ll let you figure that out.”

“Is this something you would be willing to speak about over the phone or in an email?” Ostrovsky reportedly asked.

Farah said he declined Ostrovsky’s inquiries: “I do not covet being quoted or misquoted by fake news CNN. I am not going to participate in your propaganda designed to squelch different points of view from being expressed in our nation. I have no desire to be a part of your nefarious and mischievous standard-less smut-peddling.”

It’s not the first time Ostrovsky has inquired conservatives about their online ad revenue.  In May, Pamela Geller said he ambushed her with the pretext of discussing falling ad revenue:

On May 17, a CNN reporter named Simon Ostrovsky contacted me, inviting me to be interviewed for a CNN Money program: “It’s about ad revenue on YouTube. I saw that you published a post about revenue dropping in YouTube, and you attributed it to Google and Facebook being left-leaning companies that were censoring alternate points of view. Would you be able to tell us how significant the impact has been and if it’s ongoing and if you see this as a wider campaign to undermine your message?”

Having a sense of what CNN was after, I responded: “Simon, Yes, the revenue drop has been drastic. Who else will be on? I am not interested in an ambush.” He responded with reassurances: “This would be a package, so it would not be a studio discussion with other guests. Just me and you, and I’d like cover a couple topics including the revenue on YouTube and AdSense and your views on why the changes are taking place and if you agree with the characterization of your content as advertiser un-friendly. Are those areas you are OK to talk about?”

Geller said she agreed to appear with Ostrovsky since she was involved in a lawsuit challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.  Ostrovsky, she said, “asked me to bring my laptop to CNN’s studios so that I could show him my Google AdSense account and Google Analytics, to show the precipitous drop in referrals from Facebook, Google AdSense, YouTube and related sources. I did. Ostrovsky saw that revenue from Facebook was down from $150 a day at this time six months ago to $30 a day now.”

She added:

But Ostrovsky had lied in his emails to me. He wasn’t really interested in how Facebook and the rest were censoring me at all. He had a thick stack of copies of posts that were 10 years old and older from my website. He was calling out my advertisers, claiming that I was inciting to war crimes and that these advertisers were supporting my incitement by placing ads on my website. “Advertisers should know what they’re supporting,” he said. He pointed to a 2006 headline in which I had called for bombing Gaza, because of the rockets they were firing at Israeli civilian installations. This was the basis for his claim that I was inciting war crimes.

After what appeared to be an extensive and contentious exchange, Geller said she walked out.

“CNN will not accept or allow my earning 30 bucks a day from AdSense. Even this pittance kills them, so they assign this tool Ostrovsky to go after my advertisers, the handful that they are,” she said.  This is the ‘reporter’ Farah said contacted him, and it’s fairly clear what he intended to do.

(Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, Geller endorsed Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad, a book written by this author and Adina Kutnicki, an investigative journalist based in Israel who also contributes to this site.)

Farah is absolutely correct in telling CNN to go pound sand.  For starters, it’s no one’s business what ad revenue WND or any other independent media site receives nor is it CNN’s business whether or not contributors are paid.

Second, if Farah is correct — and he usually is — such an act by CNN goes far beyond its threat to “out” an individual Internet user who created a meme. This hit, if it happens, would be nothing less than an open declaration of a propaganda war against conservative and libertarian media outlets — outlets that collectively reach millions of people — and rely heavily on ad revenue for their existence.

If CNN thought they got hammered over a meme, imagine the outrage that would ensue if they start targeting and attacking sites like this one in an apparent effort to shut them down.

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Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad
Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad – Source: Author (used with permission)

 

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