Joseph Goebbels hadn’t seen anything, yet, and neither had William Randolph Hearst. And right now, the corporate mainstream media (CMSM) in the U.S. is embracing the worst of both.

In recent weeks, we’ve several CMSM outlets in this country sounding the alarm about Russian cyberattacks and interference. Before the New Year weekend, it was a story in the Washington Post about Russian agents hacking into the U.S. electrical infrastructure through a virus-infected laptop in Burlington, Vermont.

It turned out that the laptop was not even plugged into the grid. WaPo has now retracted the story – but not before it had created a firestorm. Vermont Governor Peter Schumlin demanded a “a full and complete investigation of this incident,” while Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy warned of a “direct threat to Vermont,” and Representative Peter Welch proclaimed that “[The Russians] will hack everywhere…in pursuit of opportunities to disrupt our country.”

Now, Washington Post’s anti-Russian hysteria turns out to be much ado about nothing.

This comes hard on the heels of Obama sanctions against Russia in retaliation for alleged interference in U.S. elections – for which hard, irrefutable evidence has yet to be presented. That’s not stopping the CMSM from continuing in its attempts to whip up hysteria, however.

The recent WaPo article is not the first time the paper has printed inaccurate, misleading information. Even when such outlets later retract such stories, the damage has already been done. Are they just being sloppy and lazy, or are they doing this on purpose? If it is the latter, what is their agenda?

In order to answer that last question, we must start with another: Who benefits? When it comes to the WaPo, it is worth noting that its owner is none other than Jeff Bezos, who is better known as the founder and CEO of online retail giant Amazon. It’s worth noting that Amazon also provides web and security services to the federal government – including the Department of Defense.

Do you think that perhaps rising tensions with Russia might mean more demand for Amazon Web and security services?

This is just the tip of the iceberg where it concerns the CMSM. These corporate outlets will print and post any story that will support the agenda of the oligarchy that profits from it – and conversely, attempt to bury any stories that might hurt that agenda.

For example, it is no secret that media juggernaut Comcast is very much against Net Neutrality. In addition, it is supportive of any international trade deals that would give them ironclad control over copyright monopolies. Then, there is the case of Time-Warner, which controls CNN and the Huffington Post. Right now, Time-Warner is attempting to merge with AT&T, but has run into heavy resistance from legislators and drew criticism from both Presidential candidates.

There’s a clue for you. The CMSM has been giving Trump a free pass when it comes to his lies and distortions. Virtually nobody attempts to fact-check anything he says – and because of Trump’s vindictiveness against his critics and opponents, they have very little incentive to do so. They’ll even attack legitimate news outlets that attempt to present the truth, as happened to Al Jazeera – which shut down its U.S. operations last year. This is the same attack being waged against RT America now, as each anti-Russian story makes their presence and news broadcasts appear more suspect.

It is creating a bias that is hurting the 98% while doing even more to enrich the 2%.

What is most frightening is that most of this largely flies under the public radar. At least with FOX News, the bias and the agenda was plain to see. However, it now seems that the CMSM has learned something from Murdoch’s mistakes. They’ve been learning how to camouflage it all – and the implications for democracy are grave.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.