EDITORIAL: More Shameless Lies from Wired Magazine


More Shameless Lies from Wired Magazine

Writing on Pajamas Media back in September (Part I, Part II), our publisher Kim Zigfeld exposed some shameless dishonesty on the part of Wired magazine’s “military correspondent” David Axe.  Relying solely on the unsubstantiated reports of a shameless Kremlin shil without warning his readers of that fact, Axe tried to claim that because Georgia used artillery against Ossetia this proved it started the conflict.  It was total nonsense from start to finish, with no credible sourcing and no connection to real facts of any kind, as Kim’s devastating reports made quite clear.  Now, a colleague of Axe’s over at Wired is trying to sweep the whole ugly mess under the carpet.

As we reported in an editorial Monday, we are now seeing the predictable efforts of Kremlin propagandists to try to paper over the Putin regime’s total policy failure on Ossetia. Not one major nation of the world has recognized the annexation of Ossetia, not even erstwhile Russian allies like China, and the Kremlin’s action has prompted a whole new round of separatist activity in places like Inghushetia.  Playing upon those in Western Europe who are inclined to appeasement and would like to sweep Russia’s invasion of sovereign Georgian territory — including a sea base far from Ossetia — under the carpet, Russia is scrambling to obfuscate its misdeeds by any means possible.

Which brings us to a recent report by Wired’s Noah Shachtman, an Axe clone with a bizarre claimed twin expertise in “national security ” and “geek cultgure,” who states: “Our own David Axe was called a ‘Kremlin dupe‘ for daring to suggest in September that the narrative of the Russia-Georgia war more complicated than it at first appeared. Now, it’s starting to look like his accusers were the ones who were duped.”  This is a shameless lie.  Axe’s report had nothing to do with alleged human rights violations by Georgia, which neither Kim nor we have ever disputed. War is hell. Innocent people get killed by military recklessness. Georgia is certainly not immune from such conduct, nor is Russia, and we’ve never said anything to the contrary.

Kim’s report was about something else entirely, namely Axe’s claim that Georgia started the war in the first place. Axe wasn’t saying the Georgia conflict was “more complicated” than it appeared, he was saying he had proof Georgia started it and victimized Russia.  And Kim wasn’t even arguing Georgia didn’t start the war, although we (and she) certainly believe it didn’t.  She was simply arguing that Axe’s journalism was pathetically shoddy on two counts: First it relied on a highly questionable source without disclosing his conflict of interest. Second, it relied on factual claims that had no credible underpinning, and seriously mischaracterized them.  Schacthman totally ignores both these allegations, which have never been refuted — not even by Axe himself, who only took issue with Kim’s challenge to his credentials.

Schachtman also chooses to ignore the unquestioned proof that Russia used cluster munitions against Georgia and killed Georgian civilians, exactly the way Georgia is accused of doing in Ossetia.  He ignores the fact that Russia wildly exaggerated the number of civilians killed in Ossetia by Georgian forces, and he admits that only a small handful of such cases have actually been documented. He ignores the fact that Russia lied again, brazenly, when it characterized the damage Georgia did to the Ossetian city it attacked, and he ignores Russia’s naked imperialism in annexing Ossetia and invading Georgia proper, far from the conflict scene.  In other words, the story he tells is exactly the story the Kremlin would tell, if it could.

He relies instead on a report from the New York Times which we discussed in our Monday editorial.  That report does nothing at all to substantiate anything Axe wrote, nor does it contain any significant evidence of any kind that Georgia acted unilaterally when it attacked Ossetia.  The Times own editorial called the report “not surprising” and emphasized that it did nothing to justify Russia’s barbaric invasion of Georgia. All the report does is to raise the prospect that Georgia used excessive force when it attacked Ossetia, something that inevitably happens in war, especially when a tiny country is desperately trying to defend itself from a  huge aggressive neighbor.  Russia didn’t attack Georgia to stop human rights violations; Russia itself committed such violations during its attack, and has been repeatedly convictd of such violations in Chechnya by the European Court for Human Rights.  Russia attacked Georgia to free Ossetia from Georgian rule, to expel Georgian forces from Ossetia and to subjugate Georgia itself.

Now granted, no serious person is getting their information about war in Georgia from Wired magazine or a silly adolescent pretender like David Axe.  Nevertheless, this kind of wholly dishonest reporting directly serves the Kremlin’s interests, and it is up to the forces of the blogosphere to put a stop to it.

8 responses to “EDITORIAL: More Shameless Lies from Wired Magazine

  1. OK so excessive force against civilians by Georgia is excused because it is small and fighting Russia, but Russia can be pilloried for it….


    Everything you’ve said is false.

    Russia is being pilloried not for excessive force but for imperialism and violation of international law concerning borders. Georgia has never transgressed any borders of another country.

    We do not excuse Georgia. We only explain why Georgia’s actions, compared to Russia’s, are insignificant. Georgia is the victim, Russia the aggressor.

  2. There were witnesses to the initial incident on August 6th of this year.

    Please see here:


  3. Great catch, Osumashi, Michael Totten’s work has been more balanced, in depth and more accountable than any MSM journalist that has covered the ME the past few years.

    It’s worth reading his archives.



  4. I would guess that Shachtman never actually read the articles in question, but just gave a canned answer customized.

  5. Michael Totten remains the only Western reporter that I am aware who continues to pursue the line that an alleged Russian invasion preceded Georgian shelling of Tskhinvali. He bases that account exclusively on the testimony of Georgian-sponsored officials, so we inevitably need to take it with a pinch of salt.
    What is becoming more apparent to more people, however, is that is most likely that it was Georgia alone that attacked South Ossetia indiscriminately, disproportionately and almost certainly without provocation. That, at least, is the assessment of OSCE observers on the ground, who have routinely issued reports critical of Russian conduct.
    This is not to say that Russia’s response was not excessive and illegitimate, but it is just simply not correct to describe Georgia as the victim in this conflict. The Georgian _people_ have suffered and will probably continue to do so for the indefinite future, which is why it behooves the West to withdraw its political support for President Saakashvili to allow a more moderate and conciliatory figure to take his place.

  6. Two German observers would contradict you, Pat.
    Replace Saakashvili with whom? Someone pro-Russian? For many, that would seem the solution. In reality, it would be a disaster.
    The Russians backed the Ossetians; the Russians refused to let observers in; the Russians are feeding the press with unsubstantiated rumours. Why don’t make we Russia accountable for what it has done?

  7. Mr. Buchanan, what are you to say about August 2007 when Russia dropped a bomb within Georgia proper? If you ask me that was the first act of war.

    It burns me to no end that the media has completely forgotten about this among Russia’s other blatant attacks against the sovereignty of Georgia.

  8. “The Georgian _people_ have suffered and will probably continue to do so for the indefinite future, which is why it behooves the West to withdraw its political support for President Saakashvili to allow a more moderate and conciliatory figure to take his place.”

    Why does it behoove the west?

    The way I see it, Russia can react to muslim extremism in Chechnya however they see fit.

    Georgia reacts, and are immediately violated for acting the same way their neighborly Russians did.

    Hippocracy is controlled by the eyes of the manipulators.

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