Piling fake news about Peevski on Facebook

Media analysis over a two-year period shows: at least one lie about the lawmaker a day

What do a young chess champion and our publisher, MP Delyan Peevski have in common? Do not rush to say “nothing” or dismiss the entire notion with the wave of a hand. The thousands of internet trolls laboring 24/7 in service of their shadowy masters obviously view the matter differently.

This army, for example, recently authored the epic manipulation that the young lady with tremendous talent was denied scholarship by the Sofia Municipality because of lack of funds, whereas Peevski’s personal protection by the National Service for Protection (NSP) is somehow paid for by the state. Every sensible person would see through such brand of cheap propaganda, which throws together two completely unrelated news items in order to sling dirt on someone. The Sofia Municipality, just like any other body of local government, does not pay the costs for the NSP’s services. Moreover, it has its own budget and makes autonomous decisions on its allocation.

However, instead of facts the piece offers its readers photos of the young girl holding a championship cup, the official denial of her scholarship application and… Peevski.

This staggering illustration of a media manipulation was concocted by the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev’s loyal pawn Georgi Georgiev of the pseudo-civil association Boets (and abbreviation that in Bulgarian translates as “fighter”). And even though the media is awash with articles revealing sound evidence about the connection between the Bulgarian Madoff and the aforementioned NGO, the readers were spared this particular information in Georgiev’s article. This is no coincidence. Vassilev and his friends, the oligarchs Ivo Prokopiev, Sasho Donchev and Ognyan Donev, have reasons to detest Peevski. With their legislative initiatives, the lawmaker and his fellow Movement for Rights and Freedoms MPs have thwarted more than one scheme designed by the oligarchs to defraud the state and the citizens. The outlets in our media group systematically, backed by documents and official data, expose the ugly truth about the oligarchs and their shady deals. We also show the real faces of their mouthpieces from the Fake News Factory in an effort to inject some light in the muddy waters of the Bulgarian media environment, which has been turned into a swamp.

This is why the latest wave of manipulations made for the general public’s consumption are quickly gathering speed on a platform different from traditional media outlets – social media. The Fake News Factory’s flagships have long been unmasked as lackeys of the political and economic circles pulling the strings behind the scenes. And as the latest media market research (incidentally, commissioned by the oligarchs themselves – editor’s note) shows, the sales of publications like Sega and Capital have not only hit rock bottom but are digging even deeper. In a nutshell, no one is willing to pay to read their manipulations and propaganda articles. And this is bad for their oligarchic publishers because if no one reads their media outlets they are deprived of the means to inundate the public consciousness with lies serving their own interests. And when that happens, all masks fall.

A well-known notorious fact is that the behind-the-scenes clique’s main rule is for their articles to not answer the main journalistic question – who is speaking? If one is aware of who is presenting certain information, one would know whether to trust it or not. For example, if the one speaking is an MP candidate who barely scraped over the 2% mark at the last general elections with their party, founded and funded by discredited individuals like Ivo Prokopiev and Sasho Donchev, this person should hardly be presented as a law expert, right? And yet, Hristo Ivanov and many of his fellow unsuccessful MP candidates are often introduced strictly as experts by the Fake News Factory, while the talking heads themselves spread fabrications in service of the oligarchs and attacking the latter’s enemies.

But the question “Who is paying for and ordering the media propaganda in service of these circles” will soon be answered. The media law amendments recently passed by the National Assembly and originally proposed by Peevski and his colleagues Velislava Krasteva, Yordan Tsonev and Hamid Hamid create legal basis for the illumination of the shady financial flows that have been going to certain media outlets over the past few years and feeding such propaganda. This development was a hard blow for the oligarchy, which has been hiding behind the scenes for years and secretly pulling the strings on the public agenda. Meanwhile, social media is being masterfully used by those same circles as a People’s Court and a brainwashing instrument. The inconvenient people are being pointed a finger at and lampooned in order to undermine the truths they reveal. At the same time, the oligarchy’s chosen ones are glorified as martyrs to the cause of freedom of speech and democracy. It is a ridiculous cry that is nevertheless getting increasingly entrenched in the public consciousness. And the public, awash with so much dirt is forgetting to ask – who is talking and where is the evidence to support their claims?

And so, in the focus of this latest and hitherto largest-scale propaganda attack stands the eternal foe of the oligarchy Delyan Peevski, a publisher and lawmaker hated by the backstage political players and their pocket pen-pushers and one who in the last decade has won more support from the voters than all of the oligarchy’s GMO parties could muster together. A simple analysis of the media content shows that over the span of the last two years the Fake News Factory has generated at least one fake news item a day to smear our publisher and MP of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

Our fact sheet is based on the headlines survey over the period from November 2016 to November 2018 as indexed by the Google search engine. A keyword search for “Delyan Peevski” yields over 1,000 results, with two-thirds of those produced by the Fake News Factory and containing everything from open lies to texts where one true fact is wrapped in a cobweb of false information. This is done without bothering to check facts, look for evidence or even try to sound logical. False news is spewed as if carbon-copied and, what is even worse, is copy-pasted without a semblance of a critical eye by all sorts of known and unknown websites. The rest of the manipulations are concocted by internet trolls who spew the same type of cheap and absurd but resonant populist slogans as in the case of the chess player’s scholarship. You might wonder why they do this. Because the texts generated in Facebook are also indexed by Google and so, if one enters “scholarship student” in the search engine, the name of Peevski will inevitably pop up. As you probably guess, these media manipulations are also reproduced in the websites of the Fake News Factory, whose only goal is brainwashing.

This is why the media outlets of the Telegraph Media publishing group started bringing to light the websites that play the role of “railway yards” for the assemblage of fake news. Their list is incomplete and is constantly changing because new “cogs” are set in operation while others are held back in wait for the next attack.

The campaign is a natural continuation of the fight against fake news that we alone started in Bulgaria almost two years ago. Currently the topic of media manipulations is in vogue and many oligarchs have tried to harness it in order to reap dividends. However, some years ago our media group was like a solitary soldier in the war against the phenomenon of publications posing as a standard of fair journalism whilst shamelessly lying to us with impunity. Today, after hundreds of examples of the fake news that inundate thanks to these publications, the time has come for us to take the next step.

This is why in the coming days the names of the publications caught in spreading open lies, propaganda, fake news or simply unverified information will be reported on our pages. Because our society has to show zero tolerance to these phenomena, no matter if they are the result of paid “creative writing”, someone’s dictation, a talking point of the oligarchy or just being too lazy to check leaked information and therefore reproducing it thoughtlessly. The reason is that journalists are keepers of the two most important public values – truth and freedom. And if we want to have high-quality mass media in Bulgaria, something different than the oligarchy’s machines for lies, these two values must go hand in hand.

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