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Anatomy of a fake news campaign: Media spreads lie from US govt-funded Korean outlet that Kim Jong-un died

Corporate media outlets spread fake news claiming North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had died. The lie originated with a Seoul-based website funded by the US government’s regime-change arm the NED.

by Ben Norton

Part 4 - Yet another “dead” foreign bogeyman shows up on TV

Then on May 1 – the same day VICE News claimed there was a 99 percent chance Kim was dead – the house of cards came crumbling down, as DPRK state media published photos of the leader cutting a ribbon at a fertilizer plant.

Now that it is indisputable that the rumors they amplified were totally unfounded, some of the aforementioned news outlets have scrambled to edit their headlines and leads to soften the language, noting there was still confusion at the time. But archived links do not lie.

And the fact of the matter is it was apparent from the beginning, to anyone with a brain, and the capacity to think critically outside of the corporate media bubble, that the rumors should not be trusted.

Actual experts, or even just expats in Korea who tweet in English, could tell from the get-go that this campaign was bogus.

Critics also pointed out out that “Hyangsan Hospital – the hospital where Daily NK said Kim had undergone heart surgery – ‘is similar to a community clinic and isn’t a facility where operations or surgeries can be performed.'

But one didn’t need to be a Korea specialist to recognize the pattern of disinformation. Anyone who is even mildly familiar with the practically non-existent standards of media reporting on North Korea knows how these fake news cycles work, and knew not to jump to conclusions.

In a refreshing albeit rare example of cautious skepticism, the media watchdog Fairness In Accuracy and Reporting (FAIR) called out corporate media outlets for spreading these rumors without any solid evidence, even before Kim appeared on state TV.

And while impressionable Western journalists were heavily circulating the fake news, South Korea’s government made it clear, “Kim Jong Un is alive and well. He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected.

Chinese media outlets also emphasized from the beginning of the disinformation campaign that it was clearly false. But their insistence was dismissed as “Chinese propaganda.”

This was not even the first time that rumors went viral claiming Kim Jong-un had died. Back in 2012, a strikingly similar similar fake news frenzy erupted when social media posts alleging Kim had passed away were momentarily amplified by mainstream outlets.

The latest paroxysm of propaganda was hardly the only regime-change disinformation campaign blown out of the water in recent weeks. In April, The Grayzone documented the wave of bogus corporate media stories claiming Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was dead – before he, too, appeared on TV very much alive.

Indeed, the deployment of fake news is of a part with a larger strategy of information warfare aimed at nations that refuse to bow to US domination.

From the waves of dubiously sourced reports about China’s supposed “concentration camps” full of millions of Uighur Muslims, to unhinged warnings of Russia’s supposed plans to hack the US electrical grid in the dead of winter, to lurid stories of $750 condoms in Venezuela, to breathless presentations of Iranian nuclear weapons files, the program is always the same: lie without shame and shrink away after the deception is revealed for what it is.

Because by then, the damage has already been done.

***

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