Ex-Press TV reporter at center of WaPo’s smear campaign against Grayzone

By Maryam Qarehgozlou

In another desperate bid to muzzle alternative media that has been exposing Western complicity in wars, The Washington Post recently published a hit piece targeting The Grayzone news outlet.

The article alleged that The Grayzone is financially backed by Iran and Russia to “spread falsehoods.”

Authored by Joseph Menn, the article claimed to have “exposed” The Grayzone’s journalist Wyatt Reed’s ties with Iran’s state media, relying on what it said were hacked emails and quotes from sources either anti-Iran elements or linked to the US government or arms manufacturers.

The oldest newspaper in Washington, owned by pro-Israel business tycoon Jeff Bezos, insinuated that since Reed, now a managing director at The Grayzone, appeared on Press TV many years ago, he is on the Islamic Republic’s payroll.

The piece went as far as to suggest that he should be jailed for reporting for the Iranian news channel.

The Washington Post report repeated the same claims about Reed’s reporting for Russia’s state-run news agency Sputnik.

Reed, for his part, has never hidden his work for Press TV. At the start of his journalistic career in 2020, Reed appeared on Press TV several dozen times and openly tweeted his reports. The “correspondent @PressTV” was also featured in his Twitter bio at the time.

“For weeks, we’ve been waiting to see how they would target us. Now we know. Congrats to the @washingtonpost’s ‘Digital threats reporter’ on this earth-shattering reporting on my appearances on Press TV years before I edited Grayzone,” Reed wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, last week.

“How could they possibly have figured it out?” he added.

Dan Cohen, an American journalist and filmmaker, also took to X to assert that The Washington Post’s “sloppy attempt” to discredit independent journalism only highlights the media group’s own corruption.

“The Washington Post is targeting Grayzone journalist @wyattreed13 for having previously worked for Iran state media outlet Press TV and Russian state outlet Sputnik, as if that’s somehow a breach of journalist ethics,” Cohen wrote in a post.

He said The Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe has a fellowship at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a permanent war think tank funded by the US State Department and Pentagon.

The editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal, responded that supporters of the Israeli war on Gaza and the Western proxy war in Ukraine are angry with The Grayzone and Reed because of their truthful reporting.

“The motive behind this malicious attack is abundantly clear: Wyatt now works for The Grayzone, and The Grayzone’s factual reporting has infuriated boosters of the Ukraine proxy war and members of Israel’s international propaganda network,” he said.

‘Embarrassing’ correction

Stung by the backlash, The Washington Post was forced to retract some of its allegations. While the story initially claimed that editors of The Grayzone had received payments from Iranian media, it soon corrected the story, saying only Reed received such payments.

“Less than 24 hours after @JosephMenn’s hatchet job on @TheGrayzoneNews landed, WaPo has been forced into a massive and deeply embarrassing correction,” Kit Klarenberg, a British investigative journalist and contributor to the Press TV website, wrote in a post on X.

“Other egregious distortions and falsehoods remain extant. But it’s a start. And certainly the foundation of future legal action,” he added.

Reed also said in an X post that more corrections are expected in the coming days.

“The ‘journalists’ attempting to get me jailed for journalism just had to issue a major correction to their hit piece. Expect more in the coming days as we expose the US government cutouts, pro-Israel zealots, and federal informants they relied on to target us.”

Bogus claims

Despite the correction, the piece is still filled with false, twisted, and distorted accounts. For example, the author of the article, Menn, claims Blumenthal did not answer emails seeking comment. However, Blumenthal said in a post on X that he received no emails.

“Unless Menn can prove that he emailed me and I somehow missed it, this is malicious conduct that demonstrates reckless disregard for journalistic ethics,” he said.

Blumenthal added that if he had received any emails from Menn, he would have stated clearly that Reed reported for Press TV three years before he joined The Grayzone and that Wyatt’s position at The Grayzone was created through “a public, grassroots crowd-funding campaign” in which readers pooled together small donations.

“I would have also stated that The Grayzone does not accept funding from any government, unlike nearly every intel front Menn quoted against us,” he added.

According to Blumenthal, these facts would have undermined the entire premise of Menn’s “malicious” smear piece, which may be why he did not email him.

WaPo quotes NATO-backed groups

Blumenthal also revealed that Menn’s key sources for the article included Neil Rauhauser, a “shady online troll” who is also believed to be an FBI informant, and some NATO-backed outfits.

The article cited the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, or ASPI, a Canberra-based think tank funded by Australia’s Department of Defence, NATO, and the US Department of State.

The Atlantic Council, the semi-official DC think tank of NATO, is another source cited by The Washington Post, which has taken in substantial funding from the US Department of State, EU states, and arms manufacturers.

It also quoted Ali Herischi, personal lawyer of Masih Alinejad, a US-based, exiled Iranian rabble-rouser who is on Washington’s payroll for instigating anti-Iran sentiments inside and outside the country.

Alinejad has advocated for Israeli military attacks on Iran and received $305,000 from the US government for her work at Voice of America, the US state broadcaster, between 2015 and 2019.

“At no point did Menn inform his readers that his sources were state-funded pro-war entities,” Blumenthal said.

Misinforming readers

The Washington Post story also alleged that The Grayzone is spreading misinformation by reporting “widespread Israeli attacks against its [settlers] on October 7” when Hamas carried out Operation Al-Aqsa Storm into the occupied territories.

However, the newspaper conveniently failed to inform its readers that Israeli media have corroborated The Grayzone’s assessment that the Israeli military explicitly ordered attacks on Israeli settlers who had been taken captive on October 7, killing many.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last month that Israeli Gen. Barak Hiram ordered an Israeli tank to shell a home in Kibbutz Beeri filled with over a dozen Israeli captives on October 7, killing all but two.

Desperate attempts

According to Hermela Aregawi, a US-based independent journalist, the targeting of American journalists who challenge mainstream narratives is likely to ramp up ahead of the US presidential elections.

“If you read beyond the headline, the ‘editor’s ties’ are that… ‘The files appear to show that the Iranian broadcaster paid [journalist Wyatt] Reed for occasional contributions to its programming’…. The reality is US outlets, UK outlets, Qatar (Al Jazeera) etc. pay some of their contributors for their analysis,” she wrote on X.

Journalist Mark Ames also said that the piece was a desperate attempt to trigger a federal investigation against independent journalists.

“This is the second WaPo hit piece against Grayzone this year. Based on the sourcing/media here, you get the sense Langley & DC press corps are so frustrated that their ‘disinformation’ hex cast upon [The Grayzone] has had no effect, so they’re trying to summon the Feds to shut [The Grayzone] down.”

The Australia-based anti-war commentator Caitlin Johnstone also said on X that The Grayzone staff worked for foreign media outlets like Press TV because there are no major Western media outlets that platform dissident voices like theirs, who “criticize the Western empire and its actions.”

“The Washington Post is one of the worst propaganda rags ever to exist in any country. If I’d published such an article for such a depraved empire propaganda outlet, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:


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