Max Blumenthal, the editor of independent media outlet The Grayzone, was secretly arrested on October 25 in a “SWAT-style” morning raid on his Washington D.C. home. He was held in D.C. Central Detention Facility for two days incommunicado, without the ability to communicate to the outside world, having been refused a phone call. He claims to have been shackled by his hands and ankles for some time and kept in a series of cages and cells. Blumenthal was arrested on a five-month-old assault charge stemming from an incident that took place during the D.C. Venezuelan Embassy siege.
A Venezuelan opposition supporter, Naylet Pacheco, claims that Blumenthal kicked her in the stomach several times during a conflict between the embassy protectors and supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaído, who proclaimed himself President of Venezuela in January. At the time of the incident, The Grayzone was publishing a series of investigative reports and news updates that contradicted the Trump administration’s narrative, noting how much of the supposedly grassroots uprising, was, in fact, funded by Washington and exposing the corruption and violent tactics of opposition members. The warrant for the charge had initially been rejected. It was, however, revived later without Blumenthal’s knowledge.
“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arrangement. I have nothing to fear because I’m completely innocent of this bogus charge,” he said. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the DC police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.”
A War on Dissent
When asked for comment, political comedian and TV show host Lee Camp told MintPress News that this was the latest example of the government trying to silence dissenting opinion and controlling the media:
“This is the continued descent into a fascist state. When the US government is arresting journalists in dramatic fashion clearly because their reporting is threatening to the power elite, then what else can one call it?”
Corporate media largely applauded U.S.-backed regime change efforts in Venezuela, refusing to even call them a “coup” and instead preferring to frame them as a people’s “uprising,” taking the same line as the Trump administration that they claim to “resist.” Many of those same media outlets have also begun to partner with the government in a stated effort to fight fake news. The primary consequence of which has been to undermine and reduce the reach of alternative media, a vital counterweight to the corporate message. In response to a call to arms in the Washington Post, algorithm changes to Facebook, Google, YouTube, Bing, and others have led to independent news sites being de-ranked, disincentivized, and sometimes, deleted.
Despite his ordeal, Blumenthal has still been treated better than others who ran afoul of the U.S. government. Chelsea Manning is still held in prison, Edward Snowden is in exile, while Julian Assange, whose condition in solitary confinement is deteriorating, faces a highly uncertain future. On Assange, mainstream media largely applauded his April arrest, describing it as a “long overdue” (Washington Post) and “satisfying” (Saturday Night Live) detention of an “anti-American” (National Review) “narcissistic” (Washington Post) “Internet Troll” with an “outsized view of his own importance” (the Times) leaving his “voluntary confinement” (the Daily Beast) to finally “face justice” (Daily Mail) for his “indisputable crime” (New York Times). …