The Latest Tenor in the Blame Russia Chorus

David Schraven is the latest star tenor in the Blame Russia Chorus. His website, correct!v.org, began right about the time that MH17 went down with a grant of 1 million euro per year for three years from the Bröst Foundation, an organization formed with a gift of €300 million from Anneliese Bröst, a billionaire heiress. Schraven’s credentials appear to be pretty good, but the timing of correct!v.org’s startup, the extremely generous funding from Mrs. Bröst’s foundation and the similarly opportune startup timing of the website, bellingcat.com, which he uses as part of his evidence, make me think twice about trusting his work. We are all aware of how funding can influence both the goals and often the data of pharmaceutical research, for example.

correct!v.org is a data-centric investigative journalism outfit. It is newly formed; this article that announced its formation was written on – wait for it – July 17, 2014 –  the date MH17 went down! The man in charge of the latest Blame Russia article is David Schraven, founder of correct!v.org. The article takes 35 minutes to read even without checking out Schraven’s anonymous sources like “Rupert Smid.” He and his team (writers Marcus Bensmann and David Crawford and editors, Daniel Drepper, Jonathan Sachse, Benedict Wermter and Julia Brötz) have pinned it on a Buk operated by the 53rd Russian Air Defence Brigade.

In addition to its own investigative stuff, the Schraven article uses “research” done by Elliot Higgins, well known for his suspect social media approach to finding the “bad guys” guilty by chasing all over the web for Buk sightings. Higgins is behind bellingcat.com, which is critiqued by this WikiSpooks article. Elliot Higgins founded bellingcat on July 15, 2014, two days before MH17 went down. Before then he was on Twitter as @BrownMoses and ran the Brown Moses blog. Higgins appeared to work faster than light and found photos of a “Buk on a Truck” only one day after (or, was it, egad, July 17?) the tragic downing that killed 298 passengers and crew. There is much to suspect about the accuracy of this work and the quickness with which this first photo was found.

David Schraven (via Wikipedia):

“Since 2010 he is head of investigations at Funke Mediengruppe (ed. – see below) one of the largest European media holdings for regional newspapers including Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.” “He was the founder of the German Newspaper “taz ruhr”. Later he worked as a reporter on energy issues for the Axel Springer Group.” (Axel Springer founded Axel Springer GmbH in 1946 – see below also for more info on Springer’s flagship tabloid, Bild) “Then in 2010 he went on with his researches as head of investigations at Funke Mediengruppe.” (See below also)

Springer founded Bild in 1952, a photo tabloid paper like the Sun, complete with nudity, sensational news, etc. It was attacked by the radical left in the late 60’s for its political opinion. Bild is Conservative by German standards. Very pro-State of Israel. Very, very popular. Bild stories are often based on dubious evidence. Wiki describes the tabloid as “unabashedly conservative and nationalist.”  Funke Mediengruppe, the new name for the publishing company that was owned by the Bröst family, having been founded by social democrat Erich Brost. Funke bought out the Bröst shares in 2012. Read this for more on the interesting history of Brost and Funke. Anneliese Bröst (see above) inherited her fortune from Erich Bröst, her husband. She died in 2010.