Ugly Face of ‘Civil Journalism’

March 30, 2019

On social media the influence of bloggers, also referred to as civil journalists, has become a factor to reckon with.

This is certainly the case with the dossier ‘Malaysian Boeing MH17’, a subject on which blogger Marcel van den Berg and I collide with each other on a regular basis.


The reason for the short delay of this update is readers not knowing Marcel’s blog would probably think it’s an April’s fool joke. Sadly, Marcel is dead serious.

“Max van der Werff and RT journalist start crowdfunding for MH17 documentary”

I told Marcel to change his fraudulent fake news headline. He did:

“Max van der Werff and supposed former RT journalist known for disinformation start crowdfunding for MH17 documentary”

I then told Marcel to change his second fraudulent fake news headline. He did:

“Max van der Werff and former RT journalist known for disinformation start crowdfunding for MH17 documentary.”

“Former RT journalist” Yana Yerlashova is exactly what we communicated in our MH17 documentary series Kickstarter pitch and Yana eloquently explains why she left RT.

But as we all saw, Marcel knows better. Until, finally, he sent an email to RT for clarification and got a reply.

Marcel now wants you to have a look at Yana’s new work which according to Marcel looks like a continuation of RT-like disinformation.

Your Kremlin Disinformation Troll kindly facilitates Marcel’s wish, but since Marcel is known for changing his webpages without properly informing his readers, I decided to freeze in time his latest version of facts in this PDF-version.

My original article continues here:

“Max van der Werff and RT journalist start crowdfunding for MH17 documentary”

Sigh. Let’s start with the headline.

Marcel claims Yana Yerlashova is a journalist still working for Russian state sponsored channel RT. It is flabbergasting Marcel dares to publish this outright lie in a headline. Fact: Yana resigned at RT in December of 2018. In the Kickstarter pitch for a documentary serie called -‘MH17 – 5 years on’ I literally ask Yana:

“You used to work for Russian state TV RT. Why did you decide to leave RT and become an independent journalist?”

As you heard in the video, Yana replies:

“That’s a good question, Max. You see, with all the craziness in geopolitics nowadays, I believe, I will be much more effective as an independent journalist. Because anything, and I mean anything that comes from Russia is considered propaganda in the West. And I want to be free of any labels. I really want to be heard. I always did my job honestly and stand by very word I said in my previous documentaries.”

Yana perfectly understands and knows first hand how brainwashed many westerners are. She did not leave RT because there is anything wrong with the channel, she just wants to communicate more effectively.

Instead of admiring Yana for giving up her comfortable and secured life, Marcel prefers to copy/paste some outdated information from the internet and frame Yana as a liar. Marcel assumes Yana is lying and does not even do a fundamental check by contacting Yana and RT with a request for clarification.

This can only have three causes, Marcel van den Berg:

1) is extremely incompetent as a fact checker
2) has malicious intend
3) both 1) and 2)

Marcel of course must retract and correct his false claim in public.

*UPDATE April 1 2019*
Headline changed! Some additions too. Here is the new version
Malicious Marcel doubling down. His lies and bluff will be called.

7 more fails in an article with less than 450 words !?

A tweep with illustrous call sign Deus Abscondis sent me a list with allegedly 7 more failures in Marcel’s article. For reference, here is the link to the complete document.

FAIL 1 – Marcel claims: “Yerlashova states she left RT to become an independent journalist. However her name is still listed as an employee at the RT website.”

FAIL 2 – Marcel claims: “Also her Linkedin page shows she is currently working for RT.” INCORRECT ASSUMPTION

FAIL 3 – Marcel claims: “And her Facebook page shows she is currently working as ‘Author and Director’ for RTD Documentary Channel.”

FAIL 4 – Marcel claims: “The claim of being independent suggest both are not linked to any organization and are also unbiased. That is a false claim.” FACTUALLY INCORRECT as per FAIL 1-3 above.

FAIL 5 – Marcel claims: “Van der Werff visited the area where MH17 crashed twice. At one occasion he initially denied cables could be seen from an apartment building. However his own photos showed he was wrong. He did publish a mea culpa. Working on a documentary together with a RT journalist for sure does not help for an image as an ‘independant researcher’.” FACTUALLY INCORRECT and MISLEADING!

FAIL 6 – Marcel claims : “Yerlashova cannot be called an independant journalist. Both documentaries she made for RT only show the Kremlin narrative of the shotdown.” FACTUALLY INCORRECT and MISLEADING

FAIL 7 – Marcel claims: “Yerlashova claims on Kickstarter she found important plane debris” but “these never made it to the final report of the Dutch Safety Board” but that according to Berg’s supposition and speculation about when the debris arrived at the DSB was “too late to be included in the final report”

Again, link to the complete document.

Not the first time Marcel deliberately distorts facts – what is his motive?

Example. Marcel trying to frame me as a conspiracy tinfoil idiot, by insinuating I think debris from the MH17-Boeing from Ukraine was somehow taken to the Indian Ocean and put there to be found as debris from Boeing MH370. Of course the opposite is true. It was the Daily Express that published:

There is one major clue where Item 22 from the vertical wing claimed to have washed up from MH370 coincidentally fits onto a missing part of the vertical wing of MH17

and I tweeted: This must be solidly debunked or confirmed asap. I asked the official MH17 Joint Investigation Team for comments on this outlandish claim, but unfortunately did not get a confirmation nor denial of this claim.

Marcel is a tinfoil hat conspiracy thinker

In better days Marcel and I together were interviewed by Eric van de Beek for Novini.
In my opinion the three of us did a really good job informing the general public about subjects relevant to the MH17 case not sufficiently presented by the regular media. Interviewer Eric for this interview chose the headline:

“(Dutch premier) Rutte knows exactly what happened with MH17”

Surprisingly this is not a quote from a Kremlin Troll, but it was Marcel who said it. Here is the part of the interview:

Interviewer: Would not all parties involved know by now (what happened to MH17)?

MARCEL: Yes, of course, there are a few hundred who know. In any case, the battalion that supplied the BUK. Then you are easily talking about 50 people.

MAX: I don’t think the Netherlands knows.

MARCEL: Yes. Rutte, knows exactly what happened.

Interviewer: Why do you think so?

MARCEL: It would surprise me if he didn’t know. He gets a lot more whispered in his ears than what we know. After three years we don’t know much more than a few hours after the disaster.

Definition of a conspiracy theory, according to Wikipedia:

“A conspiracy theory is the fear of a nonexistent conspiracy or the unnecessary assumption of conspiracy when other explanations are more probable. Evidence showing it to be false, or the absence of proof of the conspiracy, is interpreted by believers as evidence of its truth, thus insulating it from refutation.”

Notice that while I am very careful with what I claim, Marcel simply assumes “premier Rutte knows exactly what happened”, simply because Marcel would be surprised if premier Rutte did not know.

Marcel using his own incompetence as proof for “Russia is Lying”

As a blogger I learned to be modest and careful with what I claim. For example, my knowledge about radar systems and how they operate is practically non-existent. I’d rather read and listen to what experts explain instead of creating my own ‘truth’. Marcel knows much more about radar than me. Therefore I sent him three questions about claims in his article hoping he would help to increase my knowledge. He never explained.

An expert is only an expert until a more qualified and informed expert enters the debate. @MH17report on Twitter (true identity known to me) is working as an engineer in the aerospace industry. Not as radar expert but with clearly more relevant backgrounds and contacts within this world than Marcel seems to have, based on Marcel’s strange lack of detail and argumentation when challenged on this topic. @MH17report explains why Marcel is wrong.

To be honest, I do not understand anything about his explanation [PDF], but consider @MH17report’s authority on this subject much higher than Marcel’s. The latter unfortunately simply ignores the critique, dodges the debate and leaves his pages uncorrected and neither brings in an expert with higher authority than @MH17report to justify his attitude.

As the saying goes “an empty barrel makes the most noise”, Marcel is a living example of the Dunning–Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. Unfortunately for the public MH17-debate the chances Malicious Marcel will fundamentally change his self righteous attitude are rather small.