Both Italian RAI and Finnish YLE have a correspondent in Moscow. Yet, it would almost seem like they'd be stationed in two different cities, two different countries, and ultimately, even in two different universes. How is that possible? It comes down, in my opinion, to a series of cultural factors, including the attitude towards Russia, the political culture in the two countries, and also, to factors such as the professional ethics of journalists.
YLE told us that Jill Stein was a Russian asset in 2016; they told us as a fact (as we saw in their coverage of Assange's trial) that the Trump campaign worked actively with Russia and Wikileaks to hack the DNC; they told us that anti-war candidate Tulsi Gabbard was a Russian asset; they told us that Bernie Sanders was supported by Russia; they say Assange is a Russian asset; even refugees coming to Europe through the Northern route are Russian assets (sic); they tell us that Russia is trying to conquer the world and break our democracies. They tell us that everyone who's not Biden is a Russian pawn, fundamentally. Everyone who criticises Biden is swayed by the Russians; if any dirt comes out of Biden, independently from how truthful the dirt is, it is to be ignored, because it is Russia who really threw it out.
RAI told us that the Russiagate accusations were never proved (gasp!), they talk about the whole ordeal in terms of "political strategy" and last but not least they said that (double gasp!) Russia doesn't even have any preference on who's going to be in the White House, but they might have a slight preference for (TRIPLE GASP!) Joe Biden.
From Italian State Broadcaster RAI: "The Kremlin and the run towards the White House: In between Biden and Trump we wouldn't really know who to choose" 28.10.2020
From Finnish State Broadcaster YLE: "Explanation: Russia funds and promotes the Trump campaign through far-right accounts on social media; the extremities are driven further and further apart" 8.10.2020
Now, I personally do believe that the Italian correspondent from Moscow is actually more realistic in his representation of Russia; as my own political analysis of Russia in the context of international relations was the same (I also believe they are pretty neutral but if anything they'd rather get Biden as president, because Democrats are more likely to be able to present arms control treaties as a positive to their electorate, hence with a Biden presidency there'd be more chances for an extension to NewSTART for example). In this sense we need to explain, however, that there was indeed, in 2016, a preference from the Russians for Trump, but that is because, exactly like the Italian journalist point out, Trump might have represented a change from Obama's "cold war rhetoric". As pointed out in a op-ed penned by Paul Robinson, professor at the University of Ottawa, for RT, Trump's rhetoric awoke in many in Russia the hope, that there could be a substantial improvement in Russia - US relations, while everyone believed, that Clinton would just have continued the same "cold-war" strategy towards them (and I do also agree with his opinion, and right now everyone probably know that there is really no difference in between Trump and Biden, it's like McCarthy vs McCarthy).
"I believe I can get along with Vladimir Putin" - Trump at the Republican primary debate, 2015
What I think the Italian journalist is wrong about, is that Russiagate has been dead during these elections; if he'd be reading YLE (like apparently all of those part of the pro-NATO / pro-war think tanks are doing, even the Italian ones) he'd know, that Russiagate is alive and well (I mean come on mate, we just got like a 966 page report about the "Trump Russia collusion", which didn't present any proof whatsoever about anything, but which was taken seriously by almost everyone). And moreover, even RAI had to engage in some of the anti-Russia smears, even though to be fair, as we will see in the two examples I'll make in this text, they have at the same time tried to mitigate the effects on the population.
But to some degree, Sciur Innaro, you must know this as well; as the "Russia Disinformation" in the European context is to some degree coordinated; and there are pieces and smears which all of the European state broadcasters have to publish; and I realised that by looking at media with a long term perspective and cross-referencing different national outlets. A quick example; after the Russian constitutional referendum (Summer 2020) every single outlet (including both RAI and YLE) reported the results as: the referendum passed, turnout was high, process was legitimate, BUT the Russian media didn't talk about the fact that Putin would have been able to run again. Which is like saying "yes, the Russians went to vote in favour of the referendum, but they didn't know what they were voting for". Oh poor little Russians, perhaps they have some problems understanding the Cyrillic alphabet? Perhaps they didn't know how to find information on the internet? And how come then WCIOM (the Russian state's public opinion researcher) published results on public opinion on the constitutional referendum where one of the questions was "do you think that it is important, that we allow the current president to run again?" - 145 million idiots, who don't know their country as well as we do.
Yet, Italian state broadcaster RAI seems to try to avoid systematically portraying Russia like a bloodthirsty dictatorship; they seem to avoid saying that everyone who is not Biden is paid for by the Russians. And that is, because the Italians wouldn't really believe that, neither on the left or the right, isn't it. Let me explain you why I think so; Italy used to have a prime minister called Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi had the tendency to respond to every political critique and classify every political opponent (on the left) as a "communist". Towards the end of his time as PM, not even many right-wingers believed that anymore. And that is because, it is literally impossible that everyone who doesn't like you, or who is not you, or who criticises you is a "communist".
"Berlusconi in 1 minute" mashup video (yes, you can understand it even with no Italian language skills)
To contextualise the matter, the Italian Communist Party (PCI), was the most popular communist party outside of the Eastern Bloc. After WWII, not only the American Dream populated the Italian imaginary; the Soviet Myth went together with it. And Berlusconi himself was said to have excellent relationship with Putin (so his reference to communist was an internal matter of left vs right rather than having to do with actual Russia). In this sense, I am not surprised myself that as soon as Russiagate popped out, I raised my own eyebrows and looked upon it with suspicion (sidenote: ironically enough however, it wasn't the Communists who took down Berlusconi in the end, it was, according to communist Marco Rizzo, the same foreign policy blob who took down Enrico Mattei, because Berlusconi wanted to pursue an independent energy policy, which is ironic, given how in the 2010's Italians were upset because South Stream was taken away from them - you would have let Berlsuconi do his thing, we would have been the ones building a pipeline and reaping the financial revenues that that would have entailed, but oh well, I'm digressing here).
If RAI would start covering the US elections like YLE does, Italians would not believe it. The right-wingers would of course say that Trump didn't need Russia to get elected; and the left-wingers would not be prone to believe that Bernie Sanders was popular because of Russia's help either (because in my opinion, and this is my perception from having many left-wing friends in Italy, Italian left-wingers would have chosen Sanders over Biden, who's not even left-wing by Italian standards). If they'd say that populism and internal divisions exist because Russia is trying to destroy the Good Candidates and ultimately "our democracies" people on both the left and on the right would remember, that the Lega (Nord) was born in the late 80's, and was popular already throughout the 90's - so it was born before the Russian Federation even existed, and got popular when Putin wasn't even in power yet. Someone would eventually notice, and point out, that everyone who doesn't like Biden, who is not Biden, or who criticises Biden is defined as a Russian asset, and that that is ridiculous; and once the illusion is broken, there is no going back to it. A bit like when during WWII, the Italian population stopped believing fascist propaganda about the war; they all saw that the war was going badly, and there was no pro-war poster which could convince them that the reality was different than what it actually was.
On the other hand, it would seem like with the excuse that "YLE is so free" the Finns would believe anything you tell them about Russia. If tomorrow I'd write a piece called "Russia's master plan to steal all candies from European children revealed" they would just believe it, because YLE is so free, and free is used as a synonym for truthful (or realistic is a better word perhaps), even though the two things are actually not related at all (and we saw this with their coverage of the Assange case). And I've been thinking for a while how to define the attitude Finnish press has towards Russia, and the help came from an op-ed piece in RT, written by a Russian expat in the US, where I found the sentence:
Western ex-pats in Moscow who render the Russian reality through an orientalist lens
And this is it, in my opinion. This is exactly it. They see Russia like the Americans see it, and this is just about how the American government sees Russia. And the version of the American government is given by people who don't seem to be hanging around too much with the average local Russian population, when they are in Russia, isn't it?
So it is easy to see that Italian RAI would have not been able to sell Russiagate to the wider population, like YLE does; but in the article I quoted in the beginning we see that the RAI Moscow correspondent pushes himself further; in the article, he states:
A partire dal 2016, il Russiagate si era basato sul teorema (mai dimostrato) che Donald Trump fosse manipolato (se non addirittura ricattato) dai russi, che fosse una marionetta di Vladimir Putin. Dopo 4 anni, la realtà si è dimostrata ben diversa. Se è vero che gli USA si sono disimpegnati dalle crisi in Siria e Ucraina, dall’altra parte è stata semplicemente impressionante la serie di atti apertamente ostili alla Russia: crescente inasprimento delle sanzioni contro Mosca; attacco frontale al progetto del gasdotto siberiano North Stream; smantellamento del Trattato INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) del 1987; scontro diretto con Cuba, Venezuela, Iran e Cina (tutti legati alla Russia da importanti accordi politici, economici e militari).
Translation (mine): Starting from 2016, Russiagate was based on the theory (never proved) that Donald Trump was manipulated (if not directly blackmailed) by the Russians, that he was Vladimir Putin's marionette. After four years, reality showcased itself as very different. While it is true that the United States have disengaged from Syria and Ukraine (they have not, in Syria they're still sitting over Syrian oilfields; and they are still sending hundreds of millions of weapons to Kiev - my note) on the other side the amount of hostile acts towards Russia was simply humongous: more and more sanctions were imposed on Moscow; a frontal attack over the Siberian gas pipeline North Stream was carried on; the dismantling of the 1987 INF Treaty (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) happened; and a direct confrontation with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and China (all having an important political, economic and military ties with Russia) was exacerbated.
Let this sink in:
Starting from 2016, Russiagate was based on the theory (never proved) that Donald Trump was manipulated (if not directly blackmailed) by the Russians, that he was Vladimir Putin's marionette.
This, this is revolutionary. Especially for me, because I read also Finnish YLE, and in YLE, Russiagate is real. Yet, the Italian journalist is correct; Russiagate was never proved. I've been examining myself all of the documents; proof for any of the accusations was never provided. I read the Mueller report, I read the latest 966 pages senate report (even though I'm more interested in the disinformation materials than I am about the American internal political processes) and the only proof provided is "the DNC says so" (and we mentioned already that Speaker of the House Pelosi has made substantial investments into the private company which "discovered" the hacking - and that the same company makes generous donations to the Democratic Party itself) . Ok, I see your "the DNC says so" and I rebut that there is a teapot orbiting around Jupiter, and your telescopes can't see it because it's too tiny. Good luck disproving that, science. Now, if I would go about disproving Russiagate, I would have to write an entire book, but luckily for me, dissident left-wing American journalist Aaron Mate' did that already for me.
Aaron Mate' debates a NYT journalist over the validity of the latest senate report (2020)
As for the validity of Mate''s analysis, I shall mention that more than one article penned by him was published on Le Monde Diplomatique, the monthly supplement which deals with international relations and international diplomacy of respected French newspaper Le Monde. As for Le Monde Diplomatique's stance on Russiagate,
Le Monde Diplomatique, "AFTER THE MUELLER REPORT, THE FIASCO OF RUSSIAGATE Media Chernobyl: since the election of Mr. Donald Trump, the global journalistic elite has propagated a conspiracy theory according to which the Kremlin would control the White house. An investigation pulverised this lucubration. Has the circle of reason become completely paranoid?" May 2019.
I guess an image is worth more than a thousands words, occasionally. And this is Le Monde Diplomatique, not Russie Aujourd'hui.
Aaron Mate', however, concentrated his debunking over painstakingly debating and analysing the report's every little detail; while the RAI journalist, being Italian, used rhetoric: while they tell us that Trump is controlled by Putin, the reality is that Donald Trump's policy towards Russia has been aggressive and hostile. And, the logic here is solid. If you tell me that the Kremlin controls the White House, then the logical consequence of this would be that the White House would pursue policies which would benefit the Kremlin. Which hasn't happened. I would invite YLE journalists to delineate and explain which policies, in their opinion, has Donald Trump pursued which benefited Russia. Can you get one move Trump did, that benefited the Kremlin in any way? Where's the causal connection here?
The Finnish journalists would then of course answer, that the Kremlin's whole point is to sow disunion in the United States (a bit like according to Goebbels, the whole point of the Bolsheviks was to sow disunion in Nazi Germany); yet it is not Trump who wrote the 1994 crime bill, which made it possible for US police forces to arrest disproportionately more black Americans than white Americans; it was written by Joe Biden. And it is this bill and decades of bipartisan mismanagement in the justice field which stand at the origins of the current BLM protests and racial tensions; not Trump. Trump would enter in politics in 2016, a whopping 22 years after Biden wrote the 1994 crime bill. And moreover, this reasoning implies that Putin cares more about "sowing disunion" in the United States than he cares for getting favourable policies towards his country. Now, this is simply unbelievable. If Putin would have to choose in between getting Russia a better deal, and getting the US in a civil war, he'd choose to get Russia a better deal. This is a no brainer.
But then of course, we need to notice that the unfavourable policies towards Moscow which RAI mentions would not be described the same by YLE. The INF crumbling, that was Moscow's fault (I debunked that); North Stream is a tentative from Moscow to subjugate Europe (I debunked that) and Venezuela, Iran, China and Cuba are all Evil Countries and they deserve everything they get (this is why they are allied with Evil Russia, and I will debunk this as well). The United States tells us so, hence it must be true. And everyone who disagrees is a Russian asset. "Journalism", they call it.
And the difference in between the Italian journalists and the Finnish journalists is just that; the Finns just parrot what (certain) American media says, the Italians research by themselves. This is possible in part because Italy is not obliged to get their news from the three main news agencies (Reuters, AP, AFP) as RAI works with ANSA, Italian news agency (fifth biggest in the world), even though they recently partnered with AP (in 2014 I believe, the same year when American Politico.eu took over exclusive reporting of the EU instead of European PressEurope, by direct decision of the unelected Commission) which is probably where the compulsory-to-publish information operations come from. In another instance it seems to be clear, that when the Italians are given the guidelines for the next information operation, they still look at it critically in its political and long term context. They might publish it, but at times it is clear, that they don't believe it themselves. And we will here make two examples; the first, the campaign waged against anti-war Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard; the second, the campaign according to which the Talibans would have allegedly received money from Moscow to fight against America. We'll first discuss why these are most likely information operations; then we'll see why it is clear, that the journalists of one outlet have a wider comprehension of the issues than the journalists of the other outlet, then we'll discuss the issue of credibility to the wider public, and we'll conclude by pointing which outlet is most realistic and why realism in news giving doesn't actually have to do with freedom of writing everything you want. Let's go!
Case study 1: Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset.
How do we know that this is a smear?
Because Clinton herself, after realising that her accusations were backfiring (and we'll discuss why) changed her version "I didn't mean Russian asset, I meant Republican asset".
How do we know that this is planted?
1. Because except the for the "Russian asset" this event (Clinton talks to a podcast) wasn't at all relevant in the framework of the presidential race, also given that Gabbard had low approval ratings (higher than Kamala Harris' ratings though).
2. Because the Finnish article and the Italian article are almost completely identical, except for the photo and some small sentences which are semantically studied by the Finns to make Gabbard like a true Russian asset and semantically studied by the Italians to make it sound like a smear.
Italian Rai, 19.10.2019
Finnish YLE, 19.10.2019
The photos already give an idea of the different approach the Italians and the Finns gave to the news; to the Italians, it was about "Clinton says" (Clinton is in the photo); to the Finns it was about "Gabbard is" (Gabbard is in the photo). The titles are also interesting; the Italians chose to say that Gabbard is the Russians' favourite (which is not illegal; the Russians can have a favourite candidate) while the Finns say that Gabbard is being coached by the Russians (which is illegal).
The content (the fact) is almost the same; Clinton spoke to a podcast and said that "one candidate from the Democratic field is a Russian asset, the Russians are grooming her to become the candidate for a third party and steal the votes from the Democratic Party" (and we recall here already that Yle accused Bernie Sanders of the same, later on in the year).
However, by reading the two articles, we easily understand that the Italians have actually done some extra research on the topic, while the Finns have not. The Finns repeat Clinton's words and keep on stressing (three times in the article) that Gabbard is the Russians' favourite, that she's been already accused of being a Russian asset, and that she showcases clearly that she has ties to the Russians. They close by remembering everyone that Jill Stein, the green candidate during the 2016 elections, was also accused of being a Russian asset (accuses which were debunked in full, but YLE doesn't mention that, no true Russiagater would ever doubt any of the accusations moved to Russia). The Italians cite at least one extra source other than the podcast (The Hill) who according to them, has observed that Gabbard's statements get taken on and retweeted by bots linked to Moscow (Russians liked her apparently). Besides reporting Clinton's words, they give an idea of who Gabbard is; they say she is a veteran of the Iraq war who runs against the current American foreign policy establishment, but that she's polling at 2,1%.
Now to give you an idea of who Gabbard is, I invite you to watch her video presentation (it's about 1.30 minutes, not too long)
Tulsi Gabbard electoral promotion, 2019
So what obviously Hillary Clinton (and YLE) dislike about Tulsi Gabbard, is the fact that she was the only Democratic candidate running on a non-interventionist foreign policy proposal (in the video she openly criticise regime-change interventions). Both YLE and Clinton in fact, probably see the fact that slave auctions in Libya have moved on-line as progress; you see, this is what our bombs did, they brought digitalisation in Libya. Or perhaps it is not like that; but as an anti-war person I cannot see why exactly the Finns loved the intervention in Libya (fully orchestrated by Clinton, and approved by Obama) so much. We addressed this previously; the fact that NATO decided to just bomb Libya to then disinterest itself fully about it, made it so that the country, without any peace plan, and without proper political forces to speak of, descended into civil war. And more than this; by failing to secure weapons warehouses and stocking places, NATO allowed said weapons to travel downwards towards Nigeria, where (surprise surprise) Boko Haram resurged. It was a complete disaster. It was Hillary Clinton's warmongering disaster. The Italians of course know that, as Italy was obviously not in favour of the intervention (given the country's geographical location). But then again, contrary to reality, the Finns also have accused Russia of being the ones escalating and causing Clinton's war in Libya, while the Italians know, that Italy and Russia (and other countries) are acting as mediators, given their contacts with ALL parties to the conflict. Both the Italian and the Russian Foreign Ministries have confirmed this fact (but heaven forbid, the superior Finnish journalists would ever bother check and research the operate of the Russian or Italian actual institutions, especially when America offers a prête-à-publier version). Libya was an American disaster which countries like Russia, Italy, Germany, Algeria and Morocco are trying to fix.
And the irony is, I am 100% sure that if I'd show this presentation video to the average Italian left-winger and I'd tell them that this is the favourite candidate of the Russians, I would actually increase their liking for the Russians, as the Italians are on average against war. And this is why the NYT, which first published the story, retracted the accusations couple of days later (Clinton meant "Republican" not "Russian"); because it backfired. Everyone who knows Clinton's pinch for invading foreign countries would have thought that maybe the Russians aren't so bad after all. So they switched to accusing Tulsi of being a Republican asset because she often went on Fox News (especially on Tucker Carlson show) to complain about the war. Evil, Evil Tucker Carlson, systematically complaining about the war (and while I disagree with his political positions, I have to admit he's been consistent not only in complaining about the war, but he also spoke in favour of Assange).
But neither YLE nor RAI actively followed the story, and rectified the claim - and that is because, in my opinion, they didn't publish the same article about the same minor candidate on the same day because this was a relevant news; they published it because they were told to publish a smear against Russia, so neither of them bothered following up.
Do I think Gabbard was a Russian asset, as in, was she actively working with the Russian government to destroy our democracies? No, in my opinion she was just an anti-war candidate who was challenging the warmongering foreign policy blob in Washington, and that's why she got backlash from Hillary Clinton, the Queen of Warmongers. And that's why outlets in Europe had to report this non-news in my opinion, because as the only anti-war candidate in the Democratic field, she deserved the Mark of Shame (being a Russian asset) exactly like Assange did, for having uncovered American war crimes. So next time you think about Tulsi, you won't think about her anti-war stance, you'll think about Russia. Exactly like with Assange; you don't think about the war crimes he uncovered, you think that he's working with the Russia.
Were the Republicans trying to gain advantage by giving her so much airtime? Yes and no. Yes, because they did give her a lot of airtime, when she was obviously the Democratic hopeful that the DNC hated, because of her anti-war views. But also no, because to be fair, while I disagree with Carlson political opinions, he has been consistently speaking up against the war every time he got the chance (yes, he even went against Trump, for the Syria bombings of 2018, contrarily to the NYT, which praised Trump for them in 2017, perhaps the only time the NYT represented Trump as a human being). So I personally do believe that his anti-war stance, wether because of economic, moral or ethical consideration, is honest. And perhaps the question here is another one; why isn't Fox "Fake" News afraid of letting their audience know that the war is bad, but the Democratic Party is?
Some more material on the case:
Evil Fox News daring to criticise Hillary Clinton for her warmongering foreign policy.
Dissident left-wing journalists Max Blumenthal and Aaron Mate' discuss the story - notice how the story is defined as "McCarthyan"
Oh and of course, Tulsi Gabbard had to be smeared because she literally tore to shreds Kamala Harris (for whom the 25th amendment has just been amended by Congress):
The ten minutes which had all America obsessively googling "Tulsi Gabbard"
Yet because I can read the both languages, and I know the editorial lines of the two outlets, I can tell you; you read the Italian article and you think that ok, this is a smear Hillary threw out because Tulsi, a minor candidate with little chances to actually become the candidate, was going against the establishment, while you read the Finnish article and you think that ok, this is yet another Russian tentative to destroy our democracies. EH.
Case study 2: the Russians paid the Talibans to kill Americans
How do we know the story is bogus ?
The United States and allied forces (including Italian forces) went to Afghanistan to fight against the Talibans (and Italians know, if they're not fully demented). The Talibans have wilfully, independently and consistently killed Americans for twenty years now. The main strategic goal of the Talibans has been for the past twenty years to get foreign troops out of Afghanistan. Like General Robert McKenzie, the US officer in charge of military operations in the whole of the MENA area pointed out, this accusation "lacks causality" -> it makes no sense. The Talibans didn't need Russian money to be convinced to kill Americans, as they've killed Americans for the past twenty years by themselves. I mean, can anyone tell me, when did exactly the Talibans would have become a peace-loving, Americanophile association? This whole story makes just about zero sense.
How do we know that this story was planted, and all outlets had to write about it?
This story came out contextually to a vote which was happening in the US senate, whose goal was to end the war in Afghanistan . Proposing this resolution was Republican senator Rand Paul. So in this sense, we can see how this story was pushed out to sway public opinion in favour of the war (we need to be there, because the Russians are paying the Talibans to behave badly).
Rand Paul debates in favour of the end of war in Afghanistan, July 2020.
So, let's now compare how the Finns and the Italians reported on it.
RAI, 30.06.2020 "NYT: Trump was informed in February about the Russian money used to kill American soldiers"
YLE, 27.06.2020: "Russia paid for the attacks on American troops, the NYT sources say"
Already from the photos and the title we can see that once again, the Finns and the Italians have a completely different view on the matter. The Italians' photo represents Trump and Bolton - this is an internal, shady squabble. The Finns' photo represents American troops - this is about the safety of the troops. In the Italian title, it is the NYT which claims that Trump "knew about the bounties". In the Finnish title, the sources (fully anonymous) tell the NYT that the Russians have paid the Talibans to kill Americans. The Finnish title personifies the sources; the Italian title avoids doing that (they'd never survive Italian public scrutiny if they did, plus, imagine if in Italy they'd start to use "anonymous sources" as a real thing; they'd be in a political crisis every other day, and we'll probably change government even faster than we are now - Italy had 67 governments in 75 years).
The subtitles are interesting because here YLE is trying to give an idea of neutrality, by presenting Russia's denial, and this idea of neutrality might work in the immediate but given the greater context (the fact that YLE is one of the worst Russiagate paddlers around) it is actually devised to reinforce the truthfulness of the American claim (America [good guy] says this happened, Russia[bad guy] denies). In the Italian subtitles, on the other hand, Bolton's claim is briefly outlined and then his opposers' denial is outlined: and it is the Pentagon and the White House who say that the claims are false (one American politician who lost his position claims that this story from the NYT happened, other American institutions deny the truthfulness of the claim).
And given that the Italians are telling the truth, about the Pentagon and the White House's national security advisor denying the NYT claims, the first sentence in the Finnish article "American intelligence services believe, that Russia paid the bounties" is a lie. There is about zero possibility that the Pentagon (or the military) would come out saying that the accusations are nonsensical ("lack causality") if the intelligence actually had processed and deemed the information truthful. The department of Defence says that no corroborating evidences were found; yet to this Finnish journalist two anonymous sources (and no proof of the actual payment, as the NYT didn't actually present any proof) are more convincing than the Pentagon itself saying that there is no evidence that the bounties were ever paid.
Official statement from the Pentagon, 29.06.2020
This Finnish journalist would have known this, if he would have done some research on the topic (or if he would have just thought about how illogical the claim sounded, but to realise that, you need to actually know something about Afghanistan, and I doubt he did know anything about Afghanistan). But he saw
and of course he didn't even think to investigate the claim - it's MOSCOW AGAIN! So already from the fact that the first sentence (which is the basis over which the whole article is founded) is a lie, we can declare this article complete garbage. The whole foundation of this article, that the accusations are true and the Russians actually paid the money (two anonymous sources said that, and there is no proof - by the way, did you know that the tea inside the teapot orbiting Jupiter is black vanilla favoured tea? My alien source told me). He goes on saying how many Americans died in Afghanistan (as a good pro-war Finnish leftie, he doesn't even think to critically evaluate the presence of the American troops in Afghanistan, they've been bringing peace and joy for twenty years! They're the victims, the poor things!) he mentions other misdeeds that Russia might or might have not committed elsewhere, and he concludes by saying that the Soviet Union was already being bad in Afghanistan, yet he forgets (surprise surprise) to mention that the Soviet Union went to Afghanistan on the invitation of the Afghan government, given that some other country was arming rebels to try to enact a regime-change (*cough* Syria *cough*).
In the Italian article however, they systematically debunk the whole story. They report the NYT claims, and they say that "the newspaper has spoken to two sources claiming that the dossier was given to Trump" (which implies, that the dossier is not available for the public to see). In the paragraph straight after, they quote the National Security Advisor who says that Trump was never briefed, as the claims were not corroborated. In the third paragraph they quote the Pentagon's statement I showcased above, and they say that the Pentagon doesn't believe the story either. In the fourth paragraph (and this to me is the cherry on top) they quote the Washington Post's version of events: Trump wasn't briefed because the CIA was afraid of telling him, given that he likes Putin so much. Now this is smart, because exactly as YLE cited the Embassy of Russia in the United States to reinforce the idea that the NYT was telling the truth, so RAI uses the WaPo to reinforce the idea that the claims were bogus. I mean, the CIA was too scared to tell Trump? An intelligence agency which runs intercontinental torture programs is afraid to go and tell the President that the Russians are killing American soldiers? This sounds absolutely ridiculous (and in the previous paragraph, they explained that the Pentagon doesn't believe that the story has a proper causal foundation already, so they debunked the foundations of the story itself before giving the WaPo's version of the events).
What we have to address here is why did the Finns believe the NYT's claims but the Italians didn't? This comes down, in my opinion, to professional ethics. When you are a newspaper, and you have a scoop, you need to present some proof. This might happen in two manners: either you have a whistleblower (an anonymous source) who passes on secreted documents and you publish the documents, but protect the source (the source stays anonymous, but the documents are available for all to see) OR you have someone who was an insider in a situation / institution who comes out talking about some misdemeanours which happened in the institution while he/she was part of it (so you don't present any document, but you have someone who comes out and openly challenges the bad practices). The NYT's "scoop" had neither; they said that there are some anonymous sources who saw some documents, but neither the sources nor the documents are available for the population to see. Literally, there's a teapot orbiting Jupiter. We say that someone says that there are some documents which say. This is literally the fair of accusations built up in the air. No serious journalist would take this as absolute truth without doing some independent research. And in fact, the Italians went to see, what actual institutions (the Pentagon, the White House) thought about the matter; while the Finns went to see how many poor Americans were killed in Afghanistan.
So, on one side we have a completely unverified story; on the other side we have the Pentagon, the military, the White House and the Talibans themselves stating that the story itself was bogus.
Going Underground exclusive: Taliban spokesperson confirms "we are fully committed to chase all foreigners out of our country". Do we believe them? Yes, there are good grounds to believe them. The twenty years long war in Afghanistan, where the Talibans themselves were the main enemy of the foreign troops, would seem to prove the commitment of the Talibans to get the foreigners out of Afghanistan.
And there is even more to this story; as with a little bit of journalistic research, we indeed can get to know who's (allegedly, for now) paying the Taliban and thus allowing the killing of more American servicemen and women. As correctly reported by Russian RT and American NPR, in late 2019 a legal procedure was started at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. A group of families of deceased soldiers and veterans sued a bunch of Western corporations for paying "protection money" to the Talibans; protection money which went on to finance attacks on American soldiers. And contrarily to the NYT "scoop" they have witnesses, they have documents, they have experts in economics corroborating their story; in other words, they have proof.
The link to the original document was kindly provided by NPR. As you can see, there is someone paying the Talibans, and it's not the Russians.
Not one single Russian in this list. Uh-oh.
And for who would want to know more about the economics of the Taliban, podcast Freakonomics dedicated a whole episode about it, with experts (economists and journalists who spent decades in war zones) and interviews to CEOs of companies who worked in Afghanistan. Recommended especially for journalists who are prone to believe a story with no proof whatsoever, and which doesn't even make sense in the greater context of the Afghanistan conflict.
The second difference relates to conception of "free press". The Italian government, it would seem, supports the idea that
Open and free media landscape with divergent opinions and ideas is a key aspect in democratic and stable societies. For media to be most effective in serving their communities, the range of broadcasters, print and online platforms must reflect the diversity and range of opinions of their audiences.
And in this sense, Italian press is indeed really free, as you can literally find a journalistic outlet representing pretty much all opinions. So if you want to understand the Italian political panorama and Italian media, you need to understand which bias they have, because they all hold (openly) a bias. When you go to the newsagent and buy the daily paper, you know wether you're buying a left-wing or a right-wing paper. In this sense it is easy to imagine that when it comes to researching the media panorama of foreign states, the Italians would apply the same logic. Italian journalists wouldn't probably consider Fox News "Fake News"; they would consider it "pro-Republican party""; they wouldn't consider CNN "True News"; they would consider it "pro-Democratic party" (and this would IMHO be proved by the fact that they quite often use and reference The Hill, which notwithstanding its slight right-wing bias, is on average more realistic than others, IMHO). RAI, however, as the State Broadcaster, should be neutral, and this is why when they write articles they outline the positions of both sides (like we've seen in the coverage of the Taliban bounties). And I'm sure that this is what they're doing, because all kids are (should be) taught how to write a newspaper article in high-school (because in the final exam, you can choose to write it). And what they teach kids is: to be neutral, you need to avoid deciding which one is the truthful version, and you need instead outline what each side claims. The "neutral" journalist doesn't own the truth, the neutral journalist showcases what all sides claim. By reading YLE, it is clear that Finnish journalists believe that they are, indeed, the arbiters of truth; the coverage of the United States is just an endless litany of partisan support for the Democratic party. And in the case of Russiagate, they are propagating this conspiracy theory as the truth, and they don't even allow anyone to debate them on the topic, because of course, anyone who challenges Russiagate itself is a Russian; the difference in between my version of Russiagate (that it is a hoax) and YLE's version of Russiagate (that it is true), is that their version is believable exclusively when it's the only version presented; while my version includes showcasing the both versions and critically evaluating which side seems to be more realistic. And if you please, this is a very big difference.
In this sense we can conclude by saying, that Le Monde Diplomatique was correct after all - Russiagate is nothing more than a media Chernobyl. It's an unproved conspiracy theory which challenges logic and common sense. (Some) French have realised that, the Italians have realised that, and I'm here anxiously waiting for YLE journalists to actually start doing journalism, rather than whatever they're doing now. They are so free, in YLE, they can write everything they want; pity that what they choose to write about war, Russia and America is mostly lies and conspiracies.
I'm fully willing to debate publicly any Russiagate "expert" from YLE, but I betcha they won't take up the offer, they'll just panic and say I'm an unwitting Russian pawn or something (or most likely they'll say I'm a witting pawn, given the name of this website). Oh well.
POST SCRIPTUM 2
Or perhaps, the Italians are more realistic in their coverage of Russia because we actually have many Russian women hanging around the country, as Italian men and Russian women marry a lot, apparently. So imagine the situation. Like every other family, the Italo-Russo family also watches the news while sitting at dinner. They start Russiagate. At the third accusation, the wife rolls her eyes and says: can't you see they're just accusing whoever they don't like of being paid for by Russia, come on. After dinner the husband, during his routine evening call with la mamma tells her (we love talking about politics). His mother tells her husband. Her husband goes on facebook. THEY ARE LYING TO US!!1!!1!! How long does it take from 1 to 60M in the Fibonacci sequence? Probably just about the same time the whole nation would need to see the claim and realise that it is, after all, pretty realistic.