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CounterPunch

CounterPunch is a far-left magazine that advocates for government-controlled healthcare, higher taxes, and environmentalist positions. The magazine has been criticized from both right-of-center and left-of-center publications for its hostile and one-sided approach to covering issues related to Israel.

History and Affiliates

Founding

CounterPunch was created as a newsletter in 1993 by Ken Silverstein. Silverstein left CounterPunch in 1996 but is still affiliated with the magazine. [1] In 2019, CounterPunch suggested to its readers that they financially support Silverstein and his publication, the Washington Babylon, in a project targeting U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R—FL) that alleged with no supporting evidence, that a teenage Rubio had knowledge of a family member’s illicit activities, and that payments for routine chores were meant to buy his silence. [2]

Post-Silverstein Years

In 1996, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Claire took over CounterPunch from Silverstein. [3] Cockburn was previously a writer for the left-wing Village Voice. Cockburn was dismissed from the publication in 1984 after accepting a $10,000 grant from the Institute for Arab Studies,[4] which created a potential conflict of interest, given Cockburn’s strong criticism of Israel. [5] Cockburn passed away in 2012, leaving St. Claire as the sole editor-in-chief of CounterPunch. [6]

St. Claire is an environmentalist and animal liberation advocate who specializes in covering topics on the environment, conservation, and climate change. [7] In 2011, St. Claire wrote the introduction to Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance, a book published by CounterPunch that claims that zoos are exploitative and oppressive human institutions. The book argues that accidental human deaths involving zoo animals are not accidents, but intentional acts by animals in response to alleged mistreatment by humans. [8]

Policy Positions

Government-Controlled Healthcare

CounterPunch advocates for government-controlled healthcare and has called upon the United States to adopt healthcare policies from socialist countries such as Cuba. [9] CounterPunch has praised the work of Don Fitz, a professor of environmental psychology, who wrote a book on Cuba’s healthcare system. [10] Fitz sits on the editorial board of Green Social Thought, a far-left environmentalist publication. [11]

Elsewhere, CounterPunch has published articles that criticize U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I—VT) for not unconditionally supporting a government-controlled healthcare system. [12] During the 2020 Democratic presential primary elections, Counterpunch criticized Sen. Sanders for suggesting that he could accept a a healthcare policy plan that would expand Medicaid but keep private health insurance, rather than adopting a government-controlled model. [13]

Support for Antifa

CounterPunch has written numerus articles support in support of Antifa, a left-wing extremist movement that violently opposes groups it considers “fascist,” including center-right conservatives. [14] The magazine was quick to defend Antifa when the Trump administration announced that it would designate Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization. [15] CounterPunch has gone after both conservative and center-left critics of the Antifa. [16] The magazine claims that conservatives blindly oppose Antifa because of the group’s anti-free market positions, while center-left groups have been criticized for labeling Antifa’s willingness to destroy property and engage in violence as nihilistic politics. [17]

CounterPunch has further argued that the Trump administration “[took] plays right out of the fascist playbook” and that under such conditions, Antifa’s violence must be excused. [18] CounterPunch has claimed that the Trump administration was fascist because it allegedly replaced bureaucrats with political loyalists, opposed increased unionization, and enforced immigration laws against illegal immigrants. [19]

Controversies

Anti-Semitism

The Forward, a left-of-center magazine, has criticized CounterPunch for holding anti-Semitic positions. The Forward pointed out that CounterPunch has previously claimed that “many of the familiar neo-conservatives…hav[e] ‘dual loyalties,’ making policy decisions in the interests of the State of Israel as much as the United States,” and that Counterpunch has published articles entitled “Zionism As A Racist Ideology.” [20]

Spreading Russian Propaganda

During the 2016 presidential campaign and 2017, CounterPunch published 5 articles by Alice Donavan, who was later revealed to be an alleged Russian disinformation intelligence agent closely monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). [21] Some of Alice Donavan articles published by CounterPunch, by the organization’s own admission, took on the perspective of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, but were nonetheless published for their alleged “bias against war and for peace.” [22]

References

  1. Proyect, Louis. “A Descent Into Big Oil’s Inferno” CounterPunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/09/a-descent-into-big-oils-inferno/ ^
  2. “Support Ken Silverstein’s Investigation of Sen. Marco Rubio at Washington Babylon” CounterPunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/11/support-ken-silversteins-investigation-of-sen-marco-rubio-at-washington-babylon/ ^
  3. Proyect, Louis. “A Descent Into Big Oil’s Inferno” CounterPunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/09/a-descent-into-big-oils-inferno/ ^
  4. Margolick, David. “CRITIC OF ISRAEL ON THE VOICE GOT AN ARAB INSTITUTE GRANT” New York Times. January 12, 1984. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/12/nyregion/critic-of-israel-on-the-voice-got-an-arab-institute-grant.html ^
  5. Margolick, David. “CRITIC OF ISRAEL ON THE VOICE GOT AN ARAB INSTITUTE GRANT” New York Times. January 12, 1984. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/12/nyregion/critic-of-israel-on-the-voice-got-an-arab-institute-grant.html ^
  6. “About” CounterPunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/about/ ^
  7. “Jeffrey St. Claire” Muck Rack. https://muckrack.com/jeffrey-st-clair ^
  8. Hribal, Jason. “Understanding Class and Species” CounterPunch. June 27, 2011. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.counterpunch.org/2011/06/27/understanding-class-and-species/ ^
  9. Whitney, W.T. “Healthcare for the People: the Cuban Experience” CounterPunch. September 11, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021.https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/09/11/healthcare-for-the-people-the-cuban-experience/ ^
  10. Whitney, W.T. “Healthcare for the People: the Cuban Experience” CounterPunch. September 11, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021.https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/09/11/healthcare-for-the-people-the-cuban-experience/ ^
  11. “About GST” Green Social Thought. http://greensocialthought.org/content/about-gst ^
  12. Bolton, Peter. “What Bernie Sanders Gets Wrong About Healthcare” CounterPunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/08/02/what-bernie-sanders-gets-wrong-about-healthcare/ ^
  13. Bolton, Peter. “What Bernie Sanders Gets Wrong About Healthcare” CounterPunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/08/02/what-bernie-sanders-gets-wrong-about-healthcare/ ^
  14. French, David. “Antifa Just Showed Its True Colors. Again.” National Review. August 28, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/08/antifa-berkeley-violence-harms-political-culture/ ^
  15. Jacobs, Ron. “In Defense of Antifa” CounterPunch. June 2, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/02/in-defense-of-antifa/ ^
  16. Jacobs, Ron. “In Defense of Antifa” CounterPunch. June 2, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/02/in-defense-of-antifa/ ^
  17. Jacobs, Ron. “In Defense of Antifa” CounterPunch. June 2, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/02/in-defense-of-antifa/ ^
  18. Jacobs, Ron. “In Defense of Antifa” CounterPunch. June 2, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/02/in-defense-of-antifa/ ^
  19. Jacobs, Ron. “In Defense of Antifa” CounterPunch. June 2, 2020. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/02/in-defense-of-antifa/ ^
  20. “Student Mag Doesn’t Shy From Tough Issues” Forward. November 3, 2006. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://forward.com/opinion/letters/7406/letters-november-3rd-2006/ ^
  21. Entous, Adam. The Rise and Fall of a Kremlin Troll. The New Yorker. July 19, 2018. Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-rise-and-fall-of-a-kremlin-troll ^
  22. St. Claire, Jeffrey and Frank, Joshua. “Go Ask Alice: the Curious Case of ‘Alice Donovan’” CounterPunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/25/go-ask-alice-the-curious-case-of-alice-donovan-2/ ^
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