There’s a thread going around on Twitter by Columbia University’s Sophie Fullerton advancing the claim that I have promoted crazy conspiracy theories about child “crisis actors” in Syrian war atrocities. Fullerton has me blocked on Twitter so I can’t respond to her there, but in her thread she brings up one of the most egregious instances I’ve ever seen of US war propaganda in the mass media, so it’s worth taking some time to unpack her claims here as a public service.
Fullerton has written for The Washington Post slamming social media users who travel to Syria and dispute the official mainstream narrative about what’s been happening in that country, and has served as an expert analyst in a Daily Beast hit piece on the progressive Gravel Institute for their scrutiny of US warmongering. So it’s fair to call her a spinmeister on the side of the US empire, and it’s probably fair to predict that her young career will bring her tremendous success and mainstream elevation as a result of this.
“It takes a special kind of evil to see what happened yesterday in Dnipro and immediately start doing PR for the perpetrator,” Fullerton tweets, with a screenshot of me saying it’s deceitful for people to talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine without also talking about the ways the US empire provoked and benefits from this war. “It should come at no surprise that this account built a following out of claiming Syrian children impacted by Assad/Russia atrocities were crisis actors,” she adds.
Fullerton’s thread has gained a lot of traction because it has been amplified by Olga Lautman, a Senior Fellow at the imperialist think tank Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) with a large following. CEPA’s donor list includes the US State Department, the CIA cutout National Endowment for Democracy, and the weapons manufacturers Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and General Atomics.
Fullerton uses the phrase “crisis actors” to evoke the image most people have of that term and what it means: conspiracy theories about actors pretending to have been wounded or otherwise involved in a false flag mass shooting or bombing incident, particularly Alex Jones’s infamous claims about Sandy Hook victims. Google defines “crisis actor” as “a person who takes part in a supposed conspiracy to manipulate public opinion by pretending to be a victim of an event such as a bombing, mass shooting, or natural disaster.” Imperial spinmeisters have a history of using the phrase “crisis actors” to smear skeptics of dubious claims by the US empire about what’s been happening in Syria as crazy conspiracy theorists who are the same as Sandy Hook deniers.
But for her evidence of my “crisis actors” conspiracy theorizing, Fullerton cites something very different from any such claim. She cites an article I wrote in 2018 titled “That Time CNN Staged A Fake Interview With A Syrian Child For War Propaganda“, and revealingly she includes only a screenshot of the top of the article rather than providing a link. She did this because the arguments made in the article are unassailable, and she doesn’t want people to see them.