Though I am undecided on what to think, the parallels between how the Ghouta incident was 'handled' and MH-17 are striking:
The US and US media have put forth the argument that since the airliner was shot down with a Russian missile, that means Russia did it. Pretty much Ukraine's entire arsenal is of Russian/Soviet origin. When a Russian missile was used, that proves nothing.
The State Department has now released a so-called "government assessment" that holds Russia responsible for the airliner shoot down.
In light of Ghouta, the issuing of another 'government assessment' suggests to me that there was serious doubt in the intelligence circles as to Russia's actual guilt in this matter, and that the policy side insisted and proceeded on their own.
When Kerry and his Amazons blamed Assad for the chemical incident at Ghouta, they argued similarly: Since Syria had Chemical weapons, and Chemical weapons were used at Ghouta, Assad must have done it. No mention of indications that, indeed, the Syrian Jihadi opposition was thought to have just such a capability.
Since apparently the intel community couldn't be cajoled into confirming the official line, the White House and State Department people made up something so-far unheard of - a "government assessment" that held, of course, Assad responsible.
Propaganda and media collaboration
The Whitehouse and State department people apparently believe in that 'the early bird catches the worm'.
They strive to, and usually succeed at, getting out their narrative as early as possible to have it further their objectives. Truthfulness is in this fully optional. What counts is to get on message first, frame the issue, and then persistently stay on message.
Being the first on message achieves that, for lack of other available information on the new story, the media, to be competitive, run with what's available first, and that is the administration's cue, often helped with themes deliberately generated on social media.
After that, the media proceed on their own, and usually follow their own biases: Putin is a thug and Assad a tyrant. That apparently translates in media assuming both guilty by default. The self-censorship involved is probably the worst aspect of this media complicity. In practice it means that facts that would run against the narrative, and would support Assad or Putin, are being actively not reported, misreported or outright suppressed, lest the thug or tyrant be helped.
Case study: Svoboda in Ukraine
Just as the Whitehouse has persistently denied it, Russians have frequently pointed out that the Svoboda and Right Sector people are, well, Nazis. Point is, the Russians are absolutely correct. And on 13 December 2012 the EU parliament also stated just that.
"The European Parliament
8. Is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party;"
So it isn't as if this is a secret. The Whitehouse just lies brazenly. The media by and large don't challenge that. Since it is Putin who says they are Nazis, American media apparently cannot bring themselves to agree with him and state the bloody obvious. After all, it would support that devil Putin, and US media don't support thugs, truth be damned.
In doing so, they let the US administration get away with lying to the US public, and allow them to not have to explain why the US is supporting an administration in Kiev with Nazis in key positions of power. If American values mean anything, a US alliance involving Svoboda’s racist, anti-Semitic xenophobes would, I feel, not be a natural match. That should be worth an explanation.
Alas, this interesting question remains unasked, and as a result the media serves not just as a willing conduit but as an integral and indispensable amplifier for what, put plainly, is government propaganda.
Propaganda abroad = Domestic Propaganda
In the US domestic propaganda is prohibited by law. The lawmakers who enacted the law understood that propaganda at home is a serious threat to policymaking because it prevents a sober assement of policy in the electorate and elected bodies alike, and besides - on a gut level - probably because that's something Nazis and Commies do i.e. is un-American.
And yet, as a result of technological advances, American use of propaganda abroad, comes back to screw the US at home. In that sense, domestic propaganda is the collateral damage of secret policy and deception abroad.
In today’s globalized world with instant information access, there is no border between malign 'domestic propaganda' and benign 'overseas propaganda' anymore. They are one.
PS: An excursion into the sewers of Ukrainian politics I provide some links that may help shed some light on Svoboda and their ilk.