An Open Letter to Olivia Solon

by | Feb 11, 2018 | Newsletter | 35 comments

The Corbett Report Subscriber
vol 8 issue 05 (February 11, 2018)
Message From James
James Corbett presents at TEDxGroningenGreetings, Friends. Welcome to The Corbett Report Subscriber, the weekly newsletter for members of The Corbett Report website. My editorial is always available for free at, but this week’s subject is of such importance that I am opening this post up for everyone. If this information is of value to you, please help spread it to others. This work is made possible by the subscribers of this website. For as little as $1 per month you can help to keep this work coming. If you haven’t yet, please sign up for a Corbett Report membership by clicking here.

by James Corbett
February 11, 2018

As attentive Corbett Report viewers will already know, The Guardian was the recipient of the highest dishonor of the year this year: The award for “Fakest Fake News Story of the Year 2017” at my First Annual REAL Fake News Awards (aka “the Dinos”). Specifically, the dishonor was bestowed on The Guardian’s San Francisco-based technology reporter, Olivia Solon, for her breathtaking contribution to the annals of establishment fake news hackery, “How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine.”

The report, for those who have not read it yet, is as exactly what you would expect from an establishment stenography institution like The Guardian: The so-called “Syrian Civil Defence,” aka the White Helmets, are pure and virtuous; anyone who questions them is an anti-imperialist activist/conspiracy theorist/troll with support from the Russian government; no criticisms of the group are valid and they’ve all been refuted by reputable fact-checkers like Snopes; blah blah blah, etc., etc. As I say, you know exactly how the story goes…but you should read it anyway. It really is a perfect snapshot of the template that the MSM uses to discredit any and all opposition, and it would have been incredible effective…in the 1950s, when people still trusted the mainstream media. (Protip: no one trusts the MSM anymore!)

This being the age of the internet, though, it’s impossible for fake news stories like this to fly with an increasingly informed and connected public. When The Guardian ran its hit piece on the independent researchers like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett and Tim Anderson, all of whom are countering the mainstream White Helmets / Syria narrative, they simply responded on their own websites and social media and in interviews on independent media sites, probably reaching more people in the process.

One of the highlights of this response came in Eva Bartlett’s rebuttal of The Guardian smear job, “How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria.” In that report, Bartlett published Olivia Solon’s actual emails to Bartlett when Solon was seeking comment for her article. Stop what you’re doing and read those emails right now.

If you ever wanted to know how the sausage is made, here it is in all its gory glory: Leading questions. Accusations. Taunts and insults framed as innocent inquiries. It’s like Solon went to the same school of journalism as Cathy Newman.

As attentive Corbett Report viewers will also know by now, I released my own response to Solon’s hit piece this past Friday: The White Helmets Are A Propaganda Construct.

At the end of  the podcast I note: “Olivia Solon was contacted for comment on this report, but she did not respond to the request.” That’s right, of course I offered Solon a right of reply to the piece that I was writing about her story. In fact, I did even more than that: I very closely copied her own email’s style, format, and even some of her questions. Sadly, though, Solon did not see fit to reply to my query.

So, in an effort to reach her via a different outlet, I am releasing my email to Solon as an open letter. If anyone out there happens to be in contact with her, perhaps you could pass these questions along? Thanks!


FROM: James Corbett
TO: Olivia Solon
SUBJECT: Media request re: The White Helmets

Hi Olivia,

I am a reporter in Japan and I’m planning to publish a report on February 9 about the “journalists” who believe that the White Helmets are crusading heroes and the independent reporters who are seeking to expose that lie.

Your reporting is featured in this report and I’d like to include your voice within it. I am including the key parts of the report which will call your own reporting into question below. It would be great if you could respond to them by 12 noon Japanese time on Friday, February 9th (2 days from now). I will be sure to carefully consider any comments you make. If you do not choose to respond to the numbered points by Friday I shall proceed on the basis that you have no comment you wish to make.

1. That the White Helmets are an organization of crusading heroes who are above reproach – they are, in your view, a politically neutral organization of everyday Syrians who have valiantly saved tens of thousands of lives.

2. That you rely nearly exclusively on The Syria Campaign for your “expert analysis” of the White Helmets and their trustworthiness despite The Syria Campaign’s admitted role as a PR firm lobbying for the White Helmets. You also completely ignore or exclude reporting on the Syria Campaign, its murky origins, its anonymous donors, and its ties to groups promoting regime change in Syria.

3. You believe that all opposition to the White Helmets is part of a smear campaign that is being coordinated by the Kremlin. Do you still believe this?

4. You attack the work of independent reporters who have done on-the-ground investigative journalism in Syria and come to differing conclusions about the White Helmets, calling them “anti-imperialist activists,” “conspiracy theorists” and “trolls with the support of the Russian government.” At the same time, you fastidiously ignoring the similar conclusions reached by:

  • John Pilger, one of the most celebrated journalists and documentarians of the past half-century
  • Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer
  • Gareth Porter, the award-winning journalist who has contributed to Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, Al Jazeera, Salon, The Huffington Post, Alternet and countless other outlets
  • Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times correspondent and, ironically, recent contributor to The Guardian.

Can you please identify which category of “anti-imperialist activists,” “conspiracy theorists” or “trolls with the support of the Russian government” that Pilger, Giraldi, Porter and Kinzer fall into? (Please categorize each one individually.)

5. That you think that Assad is manically killing his own population and deploying chemical weapons on his own country, knowing that this is the one “red line” that would ensure an invasion of Syria by outside forces, because he is a deranged, bloodthirsty maniac and likely suicidal.

I also have a few questions for you:

1. You are described as a “technology reporter based in San Francisco” who would appear to have absolutely no background, expertise or training in international geopolitics. Why do you believe you were assigned these stories about the White Helmets and what makes you think you are qualified to report on them, despite seemingly never having set foot in Syria?

2. Do you believe that members of the White Helmets have openly advocated for, appeared with, or even fought for listed terrorist organizations, as their own social media profiles make abundantly clear?

3. Even if you believe the White Helmets are faultless heroes, do you believe it is possible that there are jihadis and terrorists in their ranks, and that their work is promoted as part of a cynical operation to rally Western support for increased military intervention in Syria? Or is it all above board, in your opinion?

4. Could you briefly outline your training as an investigative reporter?

Kind regards,
James Corbett


Well, there it is. And if Olivia Solon does read this post, perhaps I can use this opportunity to ask her a few follow-up questions:

1. What do you think of The Guardian’s uncritical reporting of the (admittedly completely fictitious) “Syrian sniper boy” video and why did you not include critical reflection of that incident in your article’s lengthy treatment of the White Helmets’ Mannequin Challenge video?

2. Assuming you are paid by The Guardian for your…*cough*…”reporting,” what can you tell us about the paper’s financing and how that might help to influence a pro-interventionist editorial position at the paper? And can you elaborate on any potential conflicts of interest that might arise from The Guardian’s relationship to The Doc Society, which promotes various White Helmet documentaries?

3. Do you think the public should take The Guardian seriously as an objective arbiter of the truth about the White Helmets given that its editorial board is on record lobbying for the White Helmets to win the Nobel Peace Prize?

4. Why do you think that Beeley and Bartlett were reluctant to answer the questions in your email?

Thanks again for your time, Olivia Solon! I will now start holding my breath while waiting for your reply…

Recommended Reading and Viewing

Recommended Reading

Mattis Admits No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas – Newsweek
Vaccine Blamed For Sterilization of 500,000 in Kenya – TFTP
A more reasoned polar bear article (but myths persist) – PolarBearScience

Recommended Listening

Remembering Robert Parry with Patrick Henningsen, Mike Robinson

Recommended Viewing

Let’s Go Confront The Prime Minister! Behind The Scenes With PFT
Donating $800 for Human Trafficking Survivors via Steemit
How the Internet Redesigns your Mind

Just For Fun

The stupidest police sketch ever leads to an actual arrest…


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  1. It’s funny how Olivia Solon hides behind the perceived legitimacy of The Guardian so that she can act like she is standing on the higher ground, is entitled, and can send condescending emails with loaded questions to actual journalists. If it were not for the Guardian, no one would know who she was and she would have no legitimacy whatsoever (she still doesn’t have any even with her title of Guardian journalist). This is what the Dinosaur Media is all about, perceived legitimacy because they have millions of dollars in resources and have fancy websites and TV studios, even though their “reporting” sucks.

  2. A very scorching open letter in a sarcastic mirroring form to be sure but likely having the effect of water on a ducks back as far as the Solons of this world are concerned. These soulless monsters, and that IS what they are, that turn out the MSM’s propaganda, misdirection and obfuscation, for their thirty pieces of silver, are the weaklings of this world who look to psychopathic strongmen to give them refuge for their dead soulless simpering sycophantic but in nature vicious being. They are the bully boys hangers on. These Solons are the ones who turn their former best friends or a family member over to the authorities to save their own placement. They are the snitches and suck holes that become, due to their elevated status as published reporters, it bears repeating, soulless monsters.This even though they could never admit this to themselves that there is a black “hole where their soul should be” – Lily Allen.

  3. Thanks, James!!!! I needed a good belly laugh today!! Your letter had a car full!

    I think we should share the breath-holding, since it may (read “assuredly will”) be a long siege. I am going to start a movement to have people relieve you for 1 minute at a time every day. We only need 1438 more people (besides yourself and yours truly), and no one will have more than 1 minute per day, and yet you still keep your word (“by proxy” counts, right?). 🙂 My envisioned campaign, “SAVE James Corbett, One Minute at a Time!!” should go viral, don’t you think?

  4. One of my favorite parts:

    “Can you please identify which category of “anti-imperialist activists,” “conspiracy theorists” or “trolls with the support of the Russian government” that Pilger, Giraldi, Porter and Kinzer fall into? (Please categorize each one individually.)”

    I’m sure I’m not the only able to get more than one good laugh from that one; still laughing on my third reading.

  5. This woman is getting way, way too much publicity. She’s completely immaterial.

    What I’d like to divert your attention to is the “debate” linked to by James, between Jordan Peterson and Cathy “so, you’re saying” Newman. I don’t appreciate that debate for its information value, most of which I already was familiar with, but for the way this man handled himself under duress by an illogical tower of the party line. His conduct was stellar.

    If you haven’t seen it, please do, it’s half an hour well spent.

    • The YouTube comments section is well worth it too. Lol

      • I love this comment…
        sending best wishes to the poor moron getting paid to delete comments on this video lol

        • Haha that’s classic. I like this one:

          Peterson: “The apple is red.”
          Host: “So you’re saying all green apples are bad then? What gives you the right to say that?”

    • I do see your point, but in my world people of no importance are given no merit. James is of course spot on with his letter, but to whom is he talking really? How many Solon fans will get to read this and be influenced by it? Does Solon even have any fans? I hope I’m wrong when assuming that this number very strongly leans to zero.

      Regarding the “we” bit, I think it all boils down to compartmentalization. This woman appears to know what she’s supposed to know and her brains wouldn’t have it any other way. Further, is propagandist to be blamed for the propaganda or the propagandized? Is it not correct to state, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?

    • Excellent example!! Well done, Jordan Peterson!
      She could not offend him! Freedom of speech vs. right to offend.
      Accused him of “Whipping people up into state of anger”. Ha ha!
      Thanks, going to listen to this guy without all the ridiculous interruptions. What he said resonated with me…

      Thanks mkey, for introducing him to me!

      • All credits go to our host here, I just randomly clicked a link. And what a link it was.

  6. Great job James! Humorous and Very Effective. Copying her style is a brilliant way of handling such ‘beings’ as it reaches their vulnerable, narcissistic inner-core and often results in a flight-fight response. Studies on psychopaths indicate that they do react violently, when cornered. Will you be putting this on You Tube?

  7. James: I am in total agreement with your analysis of the White Helmets situation, and with the style and substance of your response to Olivia Solon. My problem with the entire debate is, in essence, epistemological. While you certainly managed to hoist Ms. Solon with her own petard, in what way will anyone not already convinced of the truth of your position be influenced? Ms. Solon’s supporters will certainly accuse you of the same intransigent ignorance with which you (rightfully, in my opinion) accuse her. At the end of the day, it seems to me that all of what supposedly passes for “rational discourse” between human beings ends up being a Mexican standoff. I am not – repeat, NOT – criticizing either the style or the substance of your journalistic oeuvre, which I find unfailingly bracing, virile, and perspicacious. I would however, greatly appreciate a short video (or a link to previous thoughts) summarizing your views on why you think ordinary human beings are capable (or even desirous) of distinguishing between truth and falsehood. (I assume you believe such, or you wouldn’t be doing what you do.) Again, this is not a trick question. It’s just that when I bring your videos and articles to the attention of people about whom I care, I get a cynical response like, “Well, that’s just one opinion,” as if, to paraphrase Hamlet, “There’s nothing true or false except thinking makes it so.” If careful journalistic integrity is no longer appreciated or even recognized – i.e., if the majority of people don’t even care about truth any more or if they can’t recognize it when they see it – then how do you manage to do what you do every day? Many thanks for your kind consideration.

  8. LMAO!!! BRILLIANT, James! And a question I would love for the fake reporter, Oliva Solon, to answer is “how can you sleep knowing that your war-promoting efforts would likely cause the murders of thousands more innocent families – like yours?”

  9. I was laughing and laughing as I read Corbett’s letter!

  10. It astounds me that Salon can sleep at night knowing that she helps to kill children and destroy lives with her perversions of the facts.
    …or Salon has cold-blooded psychopathic tendencies which give her great pleasure to see the unjust suffering of others.

    • Not to give her a whitewash, but I don’t think she’s a thinking human. Not that she can’t become one, if Mars gets into Jupiter and other galactic events align we may get to see just that. It would be one rough awakening, surely.

      • I think you are right. Her bones would turn into a soup of quivering jello if she came to terms with the evil she has done.

  11. The molding of a new U.S. culture
    A Millennial Job Interview
    (3 minutes)

    Ever since 9/11, I have noticed an accelerated decline with the cultural integrity in the United States.

    One aspect that contributes to this decline are the continual wars. There are now many, many veterans of these wars. It is generational. I run into them all the time. They have been shaped and molded. And this meme is contagious with often an attitude of “protect America from the terrorists”.

    My Boss on my current job served 2 tours in Afghanistan, 2 in Iraq, and one in Jordan (working Syria). Special forces. When talking to him about it, I was gently trying to bring in some light. I said: “Syria, not long ago, was once the 5th safest nation in the world.”
    He responded: “Not anymore. Assad gassed his own people.”
    I told him that I researched that incident and the whole thing doesn’t make any sense, it doesn’t add up…”I think it was part of a Black Ops”.
    He came back with: “I have classified clearance and still do. If it was a Black Ops, I would know about it.”
    I just shook my head and mumbled “Well, the whole thing doesn’t add up.” I knew that the guy was too far gone. And changed the conversation to work related.

    Another recent anecdote.
    A lady customer and I were talking about the new tax code changes. I explained how the standard deduction doubles in 2018. (Basically, each adult gets an extra $6k, but can no longer viably itemize a lot of paperwork deductions on Schedule A.)
    She started touting the Trump train and ridiculing the media. I jumped on board about the MSM being a crock. I segued the conversation to 9/11 and Building 7 (Her husband being a veteran of Iraq and family attitude of “we have to keep terrorists away”.) I gave her the keywords “Ed Asner Mystery of Building 7” to watch which she said she definitely would. However, she said, “I don’t know if I can believe that the U.S. did 9/11.” I responded, “Well, one thing is certain… 19 Muslims did not do 9/11.”
    It was a nice sane conversation…no arguing…just communication.

    • Thanks for the anecdotes and keeping up the good fight!
      I know it can be very frustrating.
      I often have greater success reaching the less educated ones than the well-read ones. 🙁

    • We had a bit of nationalist bating these days as the hated (I assume) Serbian president came on an official visit. Now, I personally don’t like this guy because he appears to be a nationalist warlord wannabe. But, what I am certain of beyond reasonable doubt is that he’s as representative of his people as “our” (ridiculous) president is representative of my conationals.

      There are radicals on both ends of the spectrum and they won’t go easy, they play on emotion, fear and unsettled (as if that were possible) debts. These nationalist leaders use them to further control the masses and invoke patriotism to rally the troops.

      What was interesting is that this time around “our” president gave some lip service to domestic nationalists which was quite a head turner since she otherwise took every oportunity to align herselft with the same. Must be a political trade of sorts.

    • However, kudos to you for your tireless attempts to reach out. Faith is very strong with these people.

    • Today at work I met a lady customer who had Peace stickers (no war) on her car. I told her that I loved her bumper stickers and we started talking about all these insane wars. I mentioned that I marched with Cindy Sheehan when she was here. The lady liked hearing that.

      Of course, I brought up “The Corbett Report” by James Corbett. I told her that he had recently done a great piece about Syria. Before she left, I emphatically insisted that she watch “How Big Oil Conquered the World”, …”one of the best documentaries you will ever see”.
      She said she would.

      • Thank you as always for your tireless efforts in spreading the word, HRS. You are appreciated.

  12. I’d like to offer my free peanuts from the comment gallery. 🙂

    First of all Eva Bartlett had a lot of spunk to publish her private e-mail for all to see! Once it was published however it was fair game for James to use.

    How would you react though if a personal e-mail of yours was published online and then someone who you don’t know wrote to you
    about that e-mail’s contents, using its general form?

    Olivia Solon is a senior technology reporter for Guardian US.
    The vast majority of her articles stick pretty closely to technology-related matters.

    In this case, she over-stepped her boundaries quite a bit.
    There is a technology element to this story, to be sure, but it is not
    the prime area of focus.

    She was clearly navigating uncharted waters.
    And made quite a mess of it in the end.

    Moral of the story?

    • While you go down the mainstream, it’s difficult to get reprimanded no matter how badly you mess up?

      • I think you meant to say “not to get reprimanded…”?

        • Wouldn’t then that be a double negative?

          • OK I get what you were saying now. 🙂

  13. James, it is frustrating to hear people say ‘That’s Your Opinion’ or ‘We do not know True News from Lies, so why bother?’ or ‘How will this information help you?’ They are neither interested in a discussion nor in researching it for themselves.

    Moral Relativism: The view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right and wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person’s individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves.

    Vulgar Relativism: Similarly, rejects the standards of absolute and universal application while deceivingly projects values of tolerance, impartiality, justice and equality by putting factual information and misinformation on an equal footing. It relies heavily on assumptions, opinions and feelings which further muddy the water. Derogatory terms as ‘Detail-Oriented’ are hurled at persons who want to search for the truth while psychometric assessments pigeon-hole leaders into big picture persons, strategic, action-oriented, visionary and not detail-oriented. Since the ‘Pen is Mightier than the Sword’, numerous media-outlets including publications, productions, conferences etc. enforce these ‘scientific findings’.

    The following examples are in relation to Vulgar Relativism:

    Media: I believe, the mainstream media best projects this moral degradation when the interviewee/s are chosen to represent apposing views on serious moral issues. I have often noticed that the mis-informants are dominant and shout-down opposing-views when cornered while the Interviewer shows partiality towards them. I do not expect the Interviewer to take sides but I do not believe that moral-decadence should be flaunted as an alternative view. Further, since society usually admires the winner, as we are programmed to do, this misinformation and misinterpretation is filtered down to a dumbed-down public who do not have the ability to critically-think for themselves and they then spread it, as byte-sized MEMES, to the sheeple. Some such intentional comments that can have serious, negative, moral repercussions are as follows:

    Madeleine Albright: ‘500,000 Dead Iraqi Children Was Worth It’.
    Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: ‘We came, we saw, he died.’ And the list goes on.

    Other Disciplines: Vulgar Relativistic Social-Programming has been introduced into every discipline, such as fine arts, sculpture, music, literation, even the sciences have not been spared as in Global Warming, Big Pharma. The humanities and particularly the social sciences are pioneers in this field. It has also crept into our education-system with the “No Child Left Behind Legislature And Policies’ which has lowered the education standard by raising marks, passing everyone, irrespective of skills and efforts and inflating the ceremonies around graduation. Some years ago, an Alberta professor was fired from a post-educational institution because he gave his student a fail-grade. Another education-example is from the book 1984 which is part of the Alberta Grade Eleven Curriculum. A student told me that class-discussions revolved round the protagonist and the consequences of eating the sugar. Since there were no right or wrong answers, many students concluded (or were led to conclude) that he should not have taken the sugar and would not have been punished. There was no critical-discussions on the purpose of the prohibition or its justification. Programming of this sort is intended to train others into obedience, guilt and fear, akin to institutional indoctrination. The very word ‘critical’ has a negative connotation.

    You Tube Video ‘Globalist Agenda’ For a Dumbed Down Domesticate by Alan Watt (not Alan Watts) encapsulates the many social ills of consumerism and of Western Society with special reference to social-programming. The video was produced in 2007 and is dated in relation to Global Warming but most of the remaining information is very relevant. Though by now, we are familiar with the subject-matter through varied sources, he has condensed it into one video with the narration fittingly expressing urgency and hope.

    Journal: Extract from a paper called ‘On the Truth in Vulgar Relativism’ from Aporia vol. 24 no. 2—2014, written by W. Ashley McMurray

    ‘The worst of it is that subjectivism is not just an inconsequential intellectual flourish or badge of theoretical chic. It is used to deflect argument, or to belittle the pretensions of the arguments of others. Claims that something is without relativistic qualification true or false, right or wrong, good or bad, risk being derided as expressions of a parochial perspective or form of life—not as a preliminary to showing that they are mistaken whereas something else is right, but as a way of showing that nothing is right and that instead we are all expressing our personal or cultural points of view. The actual result has been a growth in the already extreme intellectual laziness of contemporary culture and the collapse of serious argument throughout the lower reaches of the humanities and social sciences, together with a refusal to take seriously, as anything other than first-person avowals, the objective arguments of others.’ —Thomas Nagel

    James, do you plan on making a video on how to respond to relativistic comments such as ‘that is your opinion’ when the facts are glaring them in the face. There should be more exposure on Vulgar Relativism and the harm it is doing to our emotional well-being, particularly in the areas of self-confidence, guilt, decision-making, quality of life, career and the gamut of psychological issues that stem from low self-esteem.

  14. Sorry, I mixed up the YouTube videos. The one I intended to include above was ‘What A Way To Go: Life at the end of Empire (full movie). It is a truth video with solutions which encapsulates the many social ills of consumerism and of Western Society. The video was produced in 2007 and is dated in relation to Global Warming but most of the remaining information is very relevant. Though by now, we are familiar with the subject-matter through varied sources, he has condensed it into one video with the narration fittingly expressing urgency and hope. The You Tube Video ‘Globalist Agenda’ For a Dumbed Down Domesticate by Alan Watt (not Alan Watts) talks about social programming.

  15. maga – “Make America Great Again”
    That’s right. Kill or dominate everyone.

  16. Corbett Report’s Recommended Viewing
    Corbett has a video entitled “How the Internet Redesigns your Mind”.

    That YouTube Channel, What I’ve Learned, is well worth exploring.
    Topics include: “Salt”, “Why is it so Easy to be Thin in Japan?”, “Fat”, “Fasting”, “willpower”, “focus”, and more.

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