Every so often I encounter an article by Aussie astrologer cum political blogger Caitlin Johnstone and shake my head. Her writing is sensationalist, excessively crude and she shamelessly caters to a whole range of political groups ranging from the left to the rebranded version of American fascism aka the “alt-right” (henceforth referred to as ‘fascism’ or ‘American fascism’).
With a book released just before Christmas and a daily podcast, her writing career seems to be moving full-swing ahead.
Indy writers have to find a creative way to somehow make a living and there are worse things than crude writers, online trolls, and bullies.
But is Johnstone really independent?
Over the spring and summer of 2017, Johnstone begged progressives to collaborate with the fascist rape-apologist Mike Cernovich and promoted a green-brown alliance between yet another fascist — Robert “child sex slave colonies on Mars” Steele — and former Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.
In one of her several pleads, Johnstone claimed American fascists “are mostly decent people with a solid moral code”.
Yep, you read that correctly.
This careless statement is in obvious contrast to a range of killings, assaults and other forms of bigotry inspired by the rise of American/Trumpian neo-fascism. A recent report compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center titled ‘The Alt-Right is Killing People’ summarizes some of this data.
Happily, and as a likely result of reporting in Counterpunch, the Progressive Army, and other outlets, the Green Party wisely dropped Johnstone as a political commentator.
After this episode, I hoped Johnstone would either abandon politics (at least as it relates to the left), start writing for Breitbart News or revert back to astrology.
“I’m a leftist because I’m a leftist on the left and my leftism is sooooo left that I’m more left than the Left…now shut the fuck up and collaborate with the right!” – Eric Draitser on Johnstone
But Johnstone’s writings are still a danger. This is not because of their obvious sensationalism and shilling for many of the worst elements in society, but because she consistently claims to represent a leftist perspective, which reflects very poorly on true leftists and their agendas.
In fact, she has avoided culpability for- and even denied her shilling for white nationalists, and still frequently signal boosts Mike Cernovich, Cassandra Fairbanks and a host of Trump-stomping neo-fascists.
Consortium News/ Russia Insider
Consortium News, a media outlet that has gained respect mostly due to its founder’s work, the celebrated journalist Robert Parry (RIP), just picked up Johnstone as a regular contributor.
As if on cue, a recent report by the author of ‘Against the fascist creep’ Alexander Reid Ross revealed that Consortium News fiscally sponsors Russia Insider, whose editor Charles Bausman published a 5000-word vile, anti-Semitic screed titled ‘It’s time to drop the Jew taboo’.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Johnstone has been featured in Russia Insider in the past.
Nat Parry, the current editor of Consortium News and the son of Robert Parry, has dismissed my questions regarding Consortium News’ long-standing (at least since 2015) associations with Russia Insider and his outlet’s promotion of Johnstone and Gilbert Doctorow, who published a complementary anti-Semitic letter to Bausman’s racist screed.
By the way, just in case you want to contribute to Consortium News or Russia Insider — they share an address in Arlington, VA.
The plot thickens — enter WikiLeaks
There’s a deeper question about Johnstone. If she really is a fascist, why doesn’t she just come out with it? What is she trying to gain by claiming she’s on the left, yet consistently promoting American fascists like Cernovich and Steele, Trump bootlickers like Cassandra Fairbanks, and libertarians like Ron Paul?
Bottom line — what political voice does she channel?
And then it hit me: Johnstone is not shilling for an organized fascist outfit, but serves as a strut in a network that claims to own a truth that transcends politics and is especially averse to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party — WikiLeaks.
A quick analysis of her pieces clearly reflects this notion. Over 35 articles contain ‘WikiLeaks’ in their titles or hashtags, with 18 additional ones centered around WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange. The pieces all contain unreserved, and highly favorable endorsements and promotions of Assange and WikiLeaks.
Highlights include titles such as: ‘Julian Assange is a planetary hero’, ‘Julian Assange has balls the size of Antarctica’, ‘Why Julian Assange is the most important person in the world right now’ and a love poem she simply called ‘Julian’.
An analysis of her positions on American politics, Syria, libertarianism, the two-party system, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, whistleblowers, the CIA, NSA, Chelsea Manning, Donald Trump, a collection of conspiracy theories and of course her fetish to team up with white nationalists also indicate that she is toeing the WikiLeaks, i.e. Assange’s, party line.
In fact, the late WikiLeaks party were deregistered in Australia for procedural reasons. Many lost confidence in them at least partly because of their overtures to the xenophobic white nationalist Australia First Party, whose chairman Jim Saleam is a former neo-Nazi.
Coincidentally, or not, Israel Shamir is a regular contributor to Russia Insider, an outfit that, as stated, is fiscally sponsored by Johnstone’s new writing home — Consortium News, which has consistently published pro-Assange/WikiLeaks articles.
“Be the troll you want to see in the world.” – Julian Assange
The fact that Johnstone is a WikiLeaks and Assange superfan, to say the least, scrupulously caters to Assange’s ego, and parrots WikiLeaks agenda to a tee, now on a media outlet that promotes Assange (with the affiliated Russia Insider publishing his colleague Israel Shamir), strongly suggest an ongoing and active relationship between the two, i.e. that she may be a WikiLeaks asset.
In any case, Johnstone serves as Assange’s mouthpiece, whether as a paid shill or not. They cross promote each other and endorse the same type of libertarian, Strasserist, “anti-establishment”, counterrevolutionary philosophy, and share too many associates for their relationship to be left unprobed.
Assange himself has a history of promoting fringe Aussie media that are favorable to WikiLeaks, such as Juice Rap News, and as today’s piece in The Intercept shows, Assange encourages trolling, an online behavior that Johnstone has been working hard to perfect.
Would it really be surprising if he and/or WikiLeaks were actually working to promote Johnstone, whether by consistently retweeting her work, pushing her into Consortium News and other outlets?
Not at all. In fact, it makes sense.
As such, it is absolutely crucial for people on the left to approach Johnstone’s agenda as inextricably tied to WikiLeaks, Assange and Consortium News/Russia Insider.
This article was originally posted on Medium.