Failing Washington Post attempts to get Grayzone editor jailed with error-filled smear piece
06/07/2024 // News Editors // Views

Though The Washington Post was forced to retract the first sentence and central premise of its nothingburger ‘expose’ targeting The Grayzone, pro-Israel operatives are using the malicious hit piece to demand a federal investigation.

(Article by Max Blumenthal republished from

The secret is out. Starting in 2020, for a period of less than a year, and well before ever joining the staff of The Grayzone, journalist Wyatt Reed appeared multiple times on PressTV, an Iranian state-backed international news service. You may have noticed it from Wyatt’s regular postings at the time highlighting these videos, or the “correspondent @PressTV” description that featured in his Twitter bio at the time.

For the Washington Post’s so-called “disinformation threat” researcher, Joseph Menn, this became a vitally important fact to highlight on a full page of a legacy newspaper whose banner motto boldly declares, “Democracy dies in darkness.”

After sending Wyatt a series of aggressively worded emails implicitly threatening to have him criminally prosecuted, and demanding to speak with his lawyer, the Washington Post employee relied on a series of hacked documents to “expose” what Wyatt never attempted to conceal: while beginning his journalistic career, he appeared on the Iranian news outlet Press TV several dozen times.

Incidentally, during this time, Wyatt received payment from such nefarious foreign outlets as CBS Weekend News and CBS This Morning, which correctly credited him as a journalist when airing the footage he gathered reporting from the frontlines of BLM protests.

Since joining The Grayzone in June 2023, Wyatt has not accepted a penny from any government-backed outlet. In fact, The Grayzone imposes far stricter rules on its employees than The Washington Post, which appears to have no such prohibitions on its employees moonlighting for government backed think tanks.

However, the case remains: for a brief period of time, four years ago, he openly appeared in reports for an Iranian outlet which employs Americans to this day.

So why, four years after Wyatt’s last appearance on Press TV, is the Washington Post targeting him, and only him, and even suggesting he should be jailed, despite the fact that dozens of Americans have reported for this same network?

The motive behind this malicious attack is abundantly clear: Wyatt now works for The Grayzone, and The Grayzone’s factual reporting has infuriated boosters of the Ukraine proxy war and members of Israel’s international propaganda network.

That is why the Washington Post’s demonstrably Menn-dacious correspondent falsely stated in the opening line of his smear piece: “Recently unearthed documents reveal that leaders of an online news site aimed at Americans have received money from both Russian and Iranian government media outlets.”

That bogus and defamatory line has since been publicly retracted by the Washington Post, undercutting Menn’s apparent agenda, which was to falsely insinuate Russian and Iranian sponsorship of The Grayzone.

Yet Menn’s tweet repeating the retracted claim has yet to be deleted. His unethical conduct prompted journalist Ryan Grim to declare, “Your article does not even remotely begin to substantiate the claims you’re making in this tweet. How is this tweet still up with this correction? The answer to who funds the Grayzone is soon going to be Jeff Bezos.”

Despite issuing a major correction, the Washington Post article remains loaded with falsehoods and twisted innuendo. For example, the caption of the article’s featured photo, which shows Vladimir Putin delivering a speech through a television screen, reads, “Russia has sought new ways to reach Americans through news sites and social media.” Yet nothing in the article substantiates any connection between this outlet and any such Russian propaganda initiative, because none exists.

Menn’s smear piece has nonetheless inspired a wave of disinformation from a segment of the Western foreign policy establishment determined to muzzle The Grayzone.

As the antiwar commentator Caitlin Johnstone pointed out, “the hit piece is having its intended effect; you see professional empire apologists all over Twitter today promoting the false claim that The Grayzone is funded by Iran and Russia. The empire’s information warriors now have one more weapon they can use to weaken public trust in dissident journalism whenever it presents an inconvenient narrative.”

Ellie Cohanim, who effectively advanced Israeli interests as former US Deputy Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism in Mike Pompeo’s State Department, exemplified the trend, falsely and libelously claiming on Twitter, “Max Blumenthal now documented to be on Islamic Republic of Iran’s payroll. A national security threat, he & @TheGrayzoneNews should be investigated.”

The hit piece has since been shared by other prominent political figures in the US, with the former head of the short-lived Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz – who is now a registered foreign agent – declaring that the Washington Post had shown “what we’ve assumed for years is true: according to hacked documents, a Grayzone contributor received thousands from Iran and Russia.”

In the following days, Israeli media picked up on the attack piece, with a Haaretz writer falsely claiming that what she called “A damming [sic] new report from the Washington Post” revealed “the managing editor of a contentious online news site’s simultaneous financial ties with both Russian and Iranian government media outlets.”

That lie was reframed even more explicitly by Mossad-adjacent Benjamin Weinthal in Israel’s i24 News, which aggressively libeled The Grayzone in a June 6 headline as a “pro-Hamas outlet being funded by Iran and Russia.” Weinthal previously boasted of spinning out lies to defame Blumenthal in a 2017 hidden camera investigation.

Weinthal went to cite Abraham Cooper, an operative of the Likud-linked Sheldon and Miriam Adelson Foundation and Simon Wiesenthal Center director, stating that the since-corrected Washington Post piece “raises important questions that need to be addressed by relevant agencies of the government and maybe bi-partisan hearings on the Hill.”

The same article also featured a quote from notorious rabbi-turned-dildo-salesman Shmuley Boteach, who declared that The Grayzone’s Jewish editor-in-chief, Max Blumenthal, “is a twisted, deranged, and unhinged antisemite… There must be a thorough investigation and if Blumenthal is guilty, he must be arrested and imprisoned for FARA violations.”

Journalist Mark Ames suggested that the hit piece was designed to level just enough innuendo and specious insinuations of foreign support to trigger a federal investigation. “Based on the sourcing/media here,” Ames tweeted, “you get the sense Langley & DC press corps are so frustrated that their ‘disinformation’ hex cast upon [The Grayzone] has had no effect, so they’re trying to summon the Feds to shut [The Grayzone] down.”

If it was not clear from the reaction to the Washington Post’s smear that its author was acting as a conduit for Western intelligence agencies hellbent on silencing The Grayzone – and to even see its staff locked in prison – his sources gave away the game. Indeed, nearly every source cited or quoted by Menn is directly funded by, or apparently involved with, the US government. Some are also sponsored by arms manufacturers which have raked in record profits through the Ukraine proxy war and Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

At no point did Menn inform his readers that his sources were state funded pro-war entities.

WaPo smear guided by NATO-backed outfits, shady alleged FBI informant

One of Menn’s key sources, who claimed credit for helping him shape his article, is a shady online troll named Neil Rauhauser. Generously described by The Washington Post as an “activist disinformation researcher,” Rauhauser’s blog now features a post titled, “Major Public Success: Grayzone & PressTV,” in which he bragged: “We have landed a fine hit on the Grayzone goon squad.” Rauhauser went on to claim he had collaborated with Menn on the hit piece since early April, revealing that the story “took two months to shepherd through reporting and editorial.”

Rauhauser has apparently served as a “confidential human source for the FBI” who has urged political allies to “habitually employ deception” and “encourage self-harm at all levels for unwanted contacts.”

In 2022, journalist and digital rights activist Barrett Brown described Rauhauser as “an FBI co-operator who also worked with the FBI in a private corporate sort of partnership called Infragard.” Though Infragard bills itself as a mere “non-profit organization,” the ACLU has argued the group is “closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations — some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers — into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI.”

Other government-backed sources deployed by the Washington Post’s Menn to attack The Grayzone include:

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, or ASPI. The Post cited the Canberra-based think tank in a bizarre non-sequitur about Chinese influence operations on the Solomon Islands – an issue completely unconnected to The Grayzone.

As this outlet has reported, though ASPI describes itself as a “an independent, non-partisan think tank” — a characterization echoed by outlets like the Washington Post — the think tank is actually a state sponsored propaganda front that has played a central role in hyping a new Cold War with China. Indeed, ASPI was founded by the Australian government in 2001 and is funded by the country’s Department of Defence, NATO and the US Department of State – not exactly independent institutions.

ASPI is also sponsored by weapons manufacturers, including Raytheon Australia, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman which have raked in billions in profits from the wars in Ukraine and the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Atlantic Council

Emerson Brooking, co-director of the Atlantic Council’s so-called “Digital Forensics Research Lab,” told the Washington Post that a few dozen appearances on PressTV were sufficient to prove that Wyatt Reed “has deep ties to Iranian state media.” And now, he declared ominously, Reed was “working for an organization that we also know is a destination for narrative laundering from Russia.”

The Atlantic Council is the semi-official DC think tank of NATO, and has taken in substantial funding from the US Department of State and EU states, a who’s who of arms manufacturers, as well as from robust democracies like the Saudi and Emirati monarchies. It even accepted $250,000 from Burisma, the corrupt Ukrainian energy company that was paying Hunter Biden $80,000 per month while the Atlantic Council was simultaneously courting then-Vice President Joe Biden.

current and former intelligence officials”

In a particularly revealing passage, the Washington Post’s Menn attempted to minimize constitutional protections provided to journalists, writing, “The First Amendment guarantees free speech rights even for Americans believed to be spreading foreign propaganda. But current and former intelligence officials say Americans’ tolerance for information paid for by foreign actors has made disinformation one of the most critical threats to U.S. democracy.”

In other words, faceless spooks get veto power over the US Constitution by simply invoking the specter of “disinformation.”

Attorney Ali Herischi

Quoted by the Washington Post on US sanctions against Iran, Ali Herischi is the personal lawyer of Masih Alinejad, a US-based regime change activist who has advocated for Israeli military attacks on her former country of Iran. Alinejad received $305,000 from the US government for her work at Voice of America, the US state broadcaster, between 2015 and 2019.

Accusing The Grayzone of misinformation, a dying paper spreads misinformation

While turning to US government assets to misinform his audience about The Grayzone, the Washington Post’s Menn simultaneously accused this outlet of spreading misinformation.

Without linking to any of this outlet’s articles, Menn claimed we “allege widespread Israeli attacks against its own citizens on Oct. 7” and that the “article by Blumenthal distorted the material from sources it cited, Israelis complained, conflating separate incidents to make it seem that troops repeatedly fired indiscriminately at Israelis near Hamas targets.”

In deferring to random Israeli complaints, the Post correspondent failed to inform his readers that Israeli media has corroborated The Grayzone’s assessment that the Israeli military explicitly ordered attacks on Israeli citizens who had been taken captive on October 7, killing many.

In January 2024 – nearly four months after The Grayzone’s initial expose on Israeli friendly fire orders – Israel’s most widely read newspaper, Yedioth Aharanoth, reported that the Israeli military had instructed its personnel to deploy the so-called “Hannibal Directive” on a mass scale on October 7, authorizing the killing of Israeli citizens held captive by Palestinian militants, and destroying 70 vehicles with the knowledge that many contained Israeli passengers.

And as Haaretz reported, Israeli Gen. Barak Hiram ordered an Israeli tank to shell a home in Kibbutz Beeri filled with at over a dozen Israeli captives on October 7, killing all but two. The Grayzone was among the first English language outlets to report on this scandalous incident.

The Washington Post concluded its shoddily constructed smear piece with yet another obscene misrepresentation of The Grayzone’s reporting. According to Menn, a story co-authored by this journalist and Wyatt Reed “attack[ed] celebrity chef José Andrés for trying to feed Palestinians in Gaza via a jetty made with rubble that the authors said would include ‘genocidal biomatter.’”

In fact, our article criticized Andrés and his World Central Kitchen for constructing the jetty out of the rubble of Gaza City homes destroyed by Israeli bombings, and without the permission of their Palestinian owners. As the headline of the article clearly stated, “US State Dept’s favorite celebrity chef builds Gaza aid dock with stolen rubble.”

The supposedly humanitarian initiative triggered a minor scandal among Gaza residents, who expressed outrage that a Western NGO had appropriated their property for a clearly doomed aid initiative after they had been forcibly displaced by an Israeli military that was coordinating at the time with Andrés’ team.

Menn’s crude distortions of The Grayzone’s reporting highlight the malicious agenda behind his sloppy smear piece, and raise serious questions about the competence of the Washington Post’s editorial staff.

On almost the same day the Washington Post published its attack on this outlet, the paper abruptly fired its editor-in-chief, Sally Buzbee, and implemented a desperate plan to prevent its complete dissolution. “We are losing large amounts of money,” Washington Post publisher Will Lewis lamented during a June 3 staff meeting. “Your audience has halved in recent years. People are not reading your stuff. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore.”

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