In the past few years I have noticed something of a pattern. Those who complain the loudest about Russian ‘disinformation’ are often the most inaccurate in their own depictions of reality. You can see this in my review last week of Timothy Snyder’s latest book. Likewise, I noted three years ago in my review of Peter Pomerantsev’s book ‘Nothing is True and Everything is Possible’ that Pomerantsev distorts reality every bit as much as the Russians he complains about. Pomerantsev also produced a report with Michael Weiss entitled ‘The Menace of Unreality’ about Russian ‘misinformation’ which, as I wrote, was very much ‘a case of the pot calling the kettle black’ given that the report was full of misinformation itself. Then there’s our own beloved Chrystia Freeland, complaining about Russian disinformation because of stories about her grandfather, stories which are true and which therefore make her own statements on the matter disinformation. And so on. You get the picture.
The same phenomenon, I think, applies on the Russian side. Russian TV contains lots of complaints about Western ‘fake news’, but generally speaking those who complain the most about it are those whom I trust the least.
And then, of course, there’s the Donald, who also loves to scream about fake news, while being a completely unreliable source of information himself.
I don’t think that any of this is coincidence. People who complain that others are spreading disinformation are likely to be people who are very confident that they themselves are absolutely right and that people with other points of view are therefore wrong. But an excessive belief in one’s own absolute correctness is likely to be associated with extreme opinions and a closed-minded attitude, and so with being wrong.
So, here’s my observation on this matter, which I might term ‘Robinson’s law’:
‘There is a inverse correlation between the quantity and volume of somebody’s complaints about disinformation and the truthfulness of that person’s own pronouncements.’