From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
You gotta spin it to win it
Icon media.svg
Stop the presses!
We want pictures
of Spider-Man!
Extra! Extra!

Truthout is a website providing news-and-views generally intended for left-wingers. As well as aggregating various blog posts and news from wire services, it produces its own commentary and some original reports.

Origins and people[edit]

Truthout was founded in 2001 as an alternative to the mainstream media, which its founders believed to be under the editorial control of corporations. Bill Ayers sits on its board of advisers[1] and Howard Zinn was among the founders.

Regular contributors of material include Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Mikey Weinstein, Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman, Paul Krugman, Bill Moyers, and Robert Reich. Other contributors include several wives of Truthout big-shots, such as Harriet Fraad, the wife of Board of Advisers member Richard D. Wolff,[2] and Susan Searls Giroux, the wife of director Henry A. Giroux.[3]

Business model[edit]

Truthout, being anti-corporate, accepts no corporate money or advertising. Instead, it relies on donations from its individual readers and supporters to cover its labor and operating costs.

One particular way it encourages donations is to designate a variety of books as "Truthout Progressive Picks." Excerpts from these books are then published as articles on Truthout, and copies of the book are offered free to people who make a donation of some minimum amount, usually between $25 and $40. Several administrators of the site, notably Henry A. Giroux, have had their books featured as "Progressive Picks." Some would suggest that all this is nothing more than promoting and advertising books that are sold by the site at a heavy markup, after the fashion of the store at WorldNetDaily.

Truthout also, despite publishing an article objecting to the "branding" of Occupy Wall Street,[4] sells Truthout-branded bumper stickers under the same plan.[5]

Editorial position[edit]

Truthout aims for a broad ideological tent, perhaps according to the Popular FrontWikipedia line of thinking. Its official line, insofar as it has one, is what is known by some of its adherents as "progressivism", the central narrative of which is that everything was more or less fine and dandy in the U.S. in the 1970s, but then corporations executed a coup, courtesy of Ronald Reagan, at which time the "middle class" began to be destroyed by an increase in the Gini coefficient.

This process, as it is described by the "progressives," is always just about to reach its climax,[6] with each dip of the stock market or economic slowdown regarded in turn as the final death throes of capitalism. Occupy Wall Street, which brought this view of things more into the public eye, was at first treated by Truthout as the beginning of a revolution – much like large segments of the mainstream media,[citation needed] with the real difference being that Truthout was hoping for revolution, while Fox News was looking for justification to send in the water-cannons.

Notable scoops[edit]

Truthout, whose Board of Advisers includes Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder Mikey Weinstein, was the first to bring to light information about a slide presentation making the rounds at the Air Force, intended to teach Christian servicemen about "just war" and other such theological theories before they were placed in charge of nukes.[7] This slide presentation, which house reporter Jason Leopold summarized as saying "Jesus Loves Nukes," was decommissioned shortly thereafter.[8]

Crank magnet[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Crank magnetism

As Truthout's major selling point is as an alternative to the mainstream media, they must necessarily position themselves as different from that media. Hence, their contributors often, as might be expected, put forth some of the waffle about how "the mainstream media doesn't do this" or "the mainstream media doesn't tell you that." For example, in 2011, the site published a piece revealing facts about Iceland that the mainstream media would not have told, such as that it was a member of the EU.[9] After this article was endorsed by Naomi Klein, fact-checkers went over it and found almost more errors in it than there were words.[10]

Additionally, its efforts to keep a broad-tent atmosphere mean that many of the articles it aggregates are from the more crankish segments of the left wing, including religious left figures such as Chris Hedges who go into Second Coming mode whenever somebody lifts a picket sign, hard green people paranoid about genetic pollution from genetically modified crops, and old-fashioned class-warriors tottering on the edge of conspiratorial thinking involving corporations and the CIA.[11] They also have reported some stories that were not factual. For example, a reporter claimed that Karl Rove was indicted on charges when in fact he wasn’t. The reporter continued to make the claim without evidence.[12]

External links[edit]