Messing with the Truth: Disinformation Spread by Clayton Morris (2024)

Even after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, certain opinion leaders continue to spread false claims in the West about the Russian-Ukrainian war. VoxCheck and the Center for Countering Disinformation of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine continue to talk about individuals who disseminate disinformation aligned with the Russian narrative for a Western audience. Next in line is American journalist and TV host Clayton Morris.

Clayton Morris. Source: Morris’ official Twitter account

Clayton Morris is an American journalist and co-host of the news YouTube channel “Redacted” (channel audience of 2.1 million subscribers), which he hosts with his wife, Natalie Morris. He also has his own pages on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.

As for the “Redacted” channel, it is presented as “alternative” media that supposedly fights against propaganda and tells the “truth” not covered by other media outlets. However, Morris actually promotes conspiracy theories and narratives aligned with the Russian perspective. Interestingly, he is assisted by guest speakers who engage in similar activities, including Scott Ritter, Eva Karene Bartlett, Douglas MacGregor, Larry Johnson, and others.

On April 22, 2023, Reuters published an article reporting on negotiations between Naftogaz and American oil companies regarding attracting investments in Ukraine to support its economy. For Morris, this news implies that in the “proxy war with Russia until the last Ukrainian,” the United States’ next goal is to seize natural resources in Ukraine:

“We knew this was coming, we told you this was going to happen. Ukraine would be totally destroyed, and the United States. will use the leftover land for its resources. Last night, we got our clearest indication that that is the case.”

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In this way, Morris portrays the danger not so much from Russia but from the United States, which is actually helping Ukraine in its struggle against Russia. Interestingly, Morris refers to these negotiations as “secret.” So “secret” that the head of Naftogaz, Oleksii Chernyshov, publicly informed the media about them.

Additionally, Morris does not shy away from narratives about the “genocide of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine,” the 8-year shelling of Ukrainian cities by the Ukrainian side, and the coverage of events in the Russian-Ukrainian war by Western media from only one side:

“You are getting one side of this war, if you’ve been watching mainstream media for some time, if you have been watching CNN, you have been watching MSNBC, you have been watching how they are embedded with the Ukrainian soldiers on the front line and they cover that part of the story. Very limited coverage of that by the way. Because the Ukrainian military has not allowed reporters to be embedded on the front lines with Ukrainians. In fact, it’s been very few and far between But now that this counteroffensive has officially unfolded, what does it look like from the Russian side? What does it look like from some of these towns and villages that have been under constant attack from Ukrainian shelling for the past eight-nine years?”

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Another example of how the demonstration of another, Russian side is happening is a special report from “Redacted” from the training ground where Russian military personnel are being trained.

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In this way, Morris and his team attempt to present an alternative point of view that aligns with Russia — a country that initiated unprovoked aggression in 2014 and conducted a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Narratives about the constant shelling of cities by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and coverage of the “motivations” of Russian fighters supposedly defending their country and people from “chaos” create the illusion of ambiguity in events. This, in turn, justifies Russia’s actions.

In early June 2023, after the sabotage of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant by Russia, Clayton Morris cynically accused the so-called “Zelenskyi regime” and NATO of destroying the hydroelectric power station:

“We are watching the last desperate throws of Zelenskyi regime trying to hold on to power. You’d be the judge: … after what happened overnight — Ukraine and NATO forces partially destroyed the hydroelectric dam, they might as well destroy the whole thing because at this point, it doesn’t matter. … This is what happens when you destroy a dam. Just look at that: thousands of innocent people die in their towns. Just look. This is unbelievable drone footage of what happened. I can’t even imagine. People underestimate the power of water. I mean, there’s nothing that is going to stop that water other than the one that was there, no man-made structure will stop it. Houses will just float downstream.”

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This is another attempt to shift the blame for war crimes from Russia to Ukraine and whitewash the reputation of the aggressor country before the international community. The alleged motive for destroying the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant is supposedly the dissatisfaction of the “American masters” with Ukraine losing the war to Russia. Therefore, Zelenskyi took such a step to supposedly retain power, facilitate the Ukrainian counteroffensive, and provoke an escalation of the conflict, allowing NATO to intervene in the Russian-Ukrainian war. However, it was Russia that destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant.

The TV host also accuses Ukraine and NATO of events in the Belgorod Oblast. Morris claims that Ukrainian and NATO military attacked Russian territory:

“NATO and Ukrainian soldiers launched an attack inside of pre-war Russia, using American armor and American weapons, where they fired on civilians and hit residential buildings.”

Of course, the focus is on the suffering of civilians allegedly caused by attacks from Ukrainians using Western weapons. Therefore, Morris urges allies to stop military aid that is supposedly being used against the civilian population.

The American TV host also promotes a conspiracy theory that Ukrainian intelligence services allegedly assisted in organizing the so-called “Prigozhin march on Moscow”:

“The Pentagon on Wednesday announced the $6.2 billion accounting error to Ukraine. And then less than 72 hours later, there is a ‘coup’ against Russia? I don’t believe in coincidences, but the timing was impeccable. I bet they really wish they could get their money back.”

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This is exactly how the Maidan in Ukraine, allegedly inspired by the USA, began in 2014, Morris claims. However, this time, the United States couldn’t overthrow the legitimate government and install its puppets.

Thus, Clayton Morris’s rhetoric is built on:

  • Exposing fabricated Ukrainian war crimes against the civilian population of Ukraine and Russia;
  • Baseless conspiracy theories;
  • Aggressive Western policies toward Russia;
  • Portraying the U.S. as conducting a war “to the last Ukrainian.”

To spread these ideas, he uses outright falsehoods, false, ambiguous assumptions, and an “alternative” point of view.

This allows Morris and others like him to portray themselves as disseminators of the “truth,” while claiming that others are spreading falsehoods. His YouTube channel, “Redacted,” with 2.1 million subscribers, and invitations to relevant guests like Scott Ritter, Eva Karene Bartlett, Douglas Macgregor, Larry Johnson, and others, contribute to creating an illusion of mass appeal and expertise.

In such cases, users should pay attention to the author, invited guests, and the content of their discussions. If you consistently encounter the repetition of the same untrue information, chances are you are being misled. It’s also crucial to understand that a large audience is not necessarily an indicator of content quality.

Messing with the Truth: Disinformation Spread by Clayton Morris (2024)
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