Institute For Strategic Dialogue: Case Study in Media Astroturfing

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue released a report this week detailing their intelligence-gathering on what they call the Irish “far-right”. There is nothing new in this document, and it seems more like a compendium of their greatest hits already released through The Journal, rather than anything resembling an academic or professional document.

The report gives the following breakdown of “far-right” Telegram channels: 17 are ethno-nationalist, 7 are conspiracy theories, 6 are of “far-right influencers”, 2 are of “far-right political groups”, 1 is of “far-right literature/cultural content”, and the last is “doxing” (the act of collecting information and making it public). 

There is a serious lack of academic rigour here in that the report does not actually indicate who any of these groups are, though we can make obvious summations. And they will of course say they’re denying a platform to extremists or some other tripe, but that is only a half-truth.

They will not give that information because the stories, and boogeyman, they are building up will not hold under scrutiny. The report itself must not have even been proof-read before its publication, because on page 20 the authors state a political party’s banner read “protest the innocent, punish the guilty”.

Unable to recover from the full extent of their warping of reality, the authors seemed not to notice they spelt the word “protect” wrong. Not that what is actually in the report matters, what matters is how they influence and control the narrative through the media response.

Interestingly the ISD report alludes to “false claims” that they (ISD) are set up and directed or funded by Mi5, and states “none of these claims hold any truth”.

When ISD first reared its head on the media rostrum last October, It's been reported on the think tank’s genesis in the counterjihad mania of the 2000’s. It was originally bankrolled by the Zionist publishing magnate George Weidenfeld, known throughout his life for his proximity to Anglo-American and Israeli intelligence agencies.

Lord Weidenfeld appearing on "After Dark", 2 March 1991.jpg

It is a well-known open-secret that intelligence agencies around the world cultivate ties with the media in order to push and control narratives, this has been the case with journalism since its modern inception. In 1975 the Church Committee was set up by the United States Senate to investigate the CIA’s abuses and found the CIA had pernicious and secret relationships with upwards of fifty journalists. Carl Bernstein, an investigative journalist who was one of those who uncovered the Watergate Scandal that brought down Nixon, wrote a number of years after that the CIA’s campaign was much more widespread than even the US Senate had found.

Most recently, Ian Cobain, a journalist formerly with The Guardian and the Spectator, who has covered everything from Britain’s participation in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, to British involvement in the Loughinisland Massacre, stated that “Quilliam” (a policy think-tank on counter-extremism) was established by the Office for Security and Counterterrorism in the Home Office.

An unnamed source in the British intelligence community had something interesting to say about Quilliam: “a decision was taken to grant it acknowledged — but far-from-trumpeted — UK government funding. This was eventually judged within Whitehall to have been a mistake. “Should have run it from within the agencies. They do this sort of stuff all the time. And you never find out.” 

Ironically for an organisation designed to combat conspiracy theories, one of the staples of ISDs funding is a financial commitment by the Gates Foundation for just shy of $200,000.


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  • niall McConnell
    published this page in News 2021-04-18 16:36:08 +0100
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