Unauthorized Disclosure

As a special presentation from "Unauthorized Disclosure," here is the full interview CNN correspondent Drew Griffin conducted with J. Ray Sparks, the chief operating officer of Maffick Media, and Rania Khalek, a contributor to In The Now, which is owned by Maffick Media.

On February 11, the interview took place in Berlin, where Maffick Media is based. Short clips from the interview were used in a video report, and several quotes were included in a print report that appeared on CNN.com on February 15 under the headline: “Russia backs a viral video aimed at American millennials.”

Maffick Media management became aware that CNN was contacting associates of Maffick. They reached out on February 5 to Curt Devine and Donie O’Sullivan, two reporters that were trying to uncover dirt on Maffick Media.

Sparks indicated they would be willing to make individuals available to CNN and shared facts with CNN that related to their funding from the Russia government and the editorial structure of In The Now.

The interview offers a rare window into the mind of a US establishment journalist, who only is able to see the world through the framework of "Russia must be responsible for pockets of dissent in the country" or "the Kremlin must be behind whatever is wrong with America's current politics."

We expect this to become an important artifact of the "Russiagate" era in US history.

Direct download: CNNInterviewMaffickInTheNow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm EDT

Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola put together this response to CNN's report on a Russia-backed video company, where Rania works.

A U.S.-funded think tank in Germany, the German Marshall Fund, went to CNN, and together, they convinced Facebook to suspend video channel pages that are owned by Maffick Media—including Soapbox. (You may have seen Soapbox videos from Rania, such as this one on Venezuela.)

Rania recounts how CNN went digging for dirt on Maffick Media. Management eventually reached out to CNN and informed them that they knew what CNN journalists were doing. They granted CNN access and agreed to answer just about any question CNN had about the company.

Kevin describes the German Marshall Fund, who is affiliated it, and why it is significant that the think tank came after In The Now. It is far less transparent in its promotion of a Hamilton 68 "tracker" to uncover alleged Russian influence operations than Maffick Media is with their videos.

Rania and Kevin note that CNN's investigation was pretty poor. They did not turn up much of anyhing, but they achieved censorship, which is what matters. This has real ramifications for Rania and whether she may keep her job.

Even more significantly, CNN keeps churning out reports that fuel panic over all things Russia because it is profitable. Russia and the U.S. control 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. Instead of contributing to a world that can support peace between these two powerful countries, CNN serves the agenda of U.S. intelligence and military officials.


Further Reading

How CNN Led Facebook To Censor The Pages Of Russia-Backed Video Company And Manufactured A News Story

Direct download: ResponseToCNNHitPieceOnRania-SpecialEpisode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06am EDT

Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola are joined by Christina Schiavoni, who is a food sovereignty activist and doctoral researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. She has engaged in solidarity work in Venezuela and focuses on food issues, and she lived in a working class community in Caracas from early 2016 to 2018.

Schiavoni describes how she became involved in activism around food sovereignty in Venezuela. She addresses the issues of food shortages and who owns most of the major food companies. She also grapples with the lack of diversification in Venezuela's economy.

Later in the interview, Schiavoni talks about food aid that is handed out to poor and working class Venezuelans by the government. She outlines the impact of sanctions and provides an explanation for why the government may not want to allow the humanitarian aid from President Donald Trump's administration to enter Venezuela.

Direct download: S6E6edit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47am EDT

Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola welcome author Barry Eisler to the show. He spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, and he has written several best-selling espionage novels. His most recent book is The Killer Collective.

During the show, Eisler talks about developing the story for Killer Collective. He is an avid reader and supporter of independent news media and describes how news headlines and perspectives from these sources influence his work.

Eisler recently tweeted, "I could spend all day tweeting about Putin hysteria. It’s become that omnipresent. For many liberals, there are no other frameworks for understanding reality anymore. Putin the Puppet Master has eclipsed everything else." He talks about this framework, as well as "information laundering," which establishment news media outlets do constantly.

Direct download: S6E5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49pm EDT

Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola are joined this week by educator and journalist Roberto Lovato. In 2015, he wrote the article, "The Making Of Leopoldo Lopez," for Foreign Policy.

Recently, he contributed a piece to Latino Rebels on the appointment of Elliott Abrams to represent the Trump administration as special envoy to Venezuela (particularly, the opposition).

Lovato, who is of Salvadoran descent, describes the dread he experienced when the former State Department official implicated in massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s was given a job by President Donald Trump's administration to help advance their agenda in Venezuela. He recalls bearing witness to a mass grave.

Later in the show, Lovato recalls what happened to him when he went to Venezuela to report on Lopez, the opposition leader who is a folk hero to many international human rights groups and Western media outlets. He highlights when he was threatened by a member of the opposition. When he returned home, a State Department employee gave him a creepy phone call.

Lovato also highlights some of the individuals in the opposition, who have ties to neo-fascists.

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Direct download: S6E4edit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41am EDT