“Pro-western Russian liberals are dismayed, insulted and angry at the non-stop lunacy churned out by U.S. media.”
The New York Times last week opened its pages to critics of the U.S. corporate media’s obsession with Vladimir Putin’s endlessly alleged, but never proven, campaign to subvert “American democracy.” After a year of unrelenting anti-Kremlin propaganda, the Times briefly lifted its curtain of censorship to allow a counter-narrative on “Russiagate” – but only for one discreet group: Russian “dissidents.” (See “Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling,” November 23.)
These “pro-Western liberals who look to the United States as an exemplar of democratic values and journalistic excellence,” as the Times describes them, are dismayed, insulted and angry at the non-stop lunacy churned out by U.S. media. If the Times, the Washington Post, CNN and most of the Democratic Party are to be believed, President Putin is a superman, “an almighty force from a James Bond saga,” said Leonid M. Volkov, chief of staff for anti-Putin politician Aleksei A. Navalny. How could the Russian opposition ever hope to overcome such a titan -- a man who can wreck the political order in the world’s reigning superpower with the expenditure of only $100,000 on Facebook? “This image is very bad for us,” Volkov told the Times. “Putin is not a master geopolitical genius.”
“U.S. audiences can’t distinguish one Russian from the other, and know only one Russian face: Putin’s.”
Putin has been made to look “invincible,” said Michael Idov, a Russian-American screenwriter (the closest the Times got to giving a fellow American the opportunity to challenge the corporate Russiagate obsession).
The New York Times has cultivated a cabal of pro-western Russian politicians ever since Bill Clinton’s presidency, when U.S. bankers helped to create the Russian oligarchy with assets stolen from the wreckage of the Soviet state. Vladimir Putin is credited with taming the oligarchs, who nevertheless remain embedded in the nation’s infrastructure. The politicians the Times calls “dissidents” hate Putin, but they are also proud to be Russian, and cannot abide U.S. scape-goating of their nation. The Americans sound crazy. “What is happening with ‘the investigation into Russian interference,’ is not just a disgrace but a collective eclipse of the mind,” said Volko.
It is obvious to every politically aware Russian that Donald Trump and his team of incompetents met with hardly any Russians of consequence on his trips to that country -- mostly wannabes and hustlers. But, U.S. audiences can’t distinguish one Russian from the other, and know only one Russian face: Putin’s.
“How could the Russian opposition ever hope to overcome a man who can wreck the political order in the world’s reigning superpower with the expenditure of only $100,000 on Facebook?”
Journalist Oleg V. Kashin, a Kremlin critic, said: “The image of Putin’s Russia constructed by Western and, above all, American media outlets over the past 18 months shocks even the most anti-Putin reader in Russia.” Times correspondent Higgins reports that Kashin “complained that the American media has consistently misconstrued the way Russia works, presenting marginal opportunists and self-interested businessmen with no real link to the Kremlin as state-controlled agents working on orders from Mr. Putin.”
The New York Times and the Washington Post know their way around Moscow -- and if they don’t, the CIA will give them directions. Indeed, their friends, the Russian “dissidents,” would have been glad to advise the U.S. media on Russiagate, but that would have made a boring story about small time sleaze in a cold climate. What the U.S. War Party needed was a new cold war to accompany Washington’s global military offensive.
U.S. “liberals” and “progressives” hate Trump more than they value peace, and are not nearly as smart as they think they are. Professor of history Ivan I. Kurilla, who specializes in American studies at the European University in St. Petersburg, said anti-Trump Americans want to foist him on Russia -- politically exiling the Orange Menace to somebody else’s country. “American liberals are so upset about Trump that they cannot believe he is a real product of American life,” said Kurilla. “They try to portray him as something created by Russia. This whole thing is about America, not Russia.”
“Anti-Trump Americans want to foist him on Russia -- politically exiling the Orange Menace to somebody else’s country.”
The Times’ Russian dissident friends despise RT, the state-supported Russia news agency, but are worried about Washington’s demand that RT register as a foreign agent. Until only a few years ago, U.S. NGOs were hyper-active in Russia, spending millions to create and subsidize opposition to Putin’s United Russia party, hoping to foment a “color” revolution. Western-oriented political actors in Russia fear that Russiagate will provoke a Kremlin crackdown on activists that are too closely identified with the U.S. The truth is, the “dissidents” interviewed by the New York Times are dependent on western corporate media for legitimacy and visibility. The real opposition in Russia is the Communist Party, which is the second largest party in the country but gets almost no coverage in the U.S. press, while the western-allied opposition hardly shows up in the polls.
Thus, even the nature of “dissent” in Russia is grossly distorted by the U.S media, which commits a similar crime against truth on its home turf. The New York Times went all the way to Moscow and St. Petersburg to solicit critiques of Russiagate coverage (“propaganda” is a better term), but rigidly censors American skeptics.
In so doing, they create a bubble of fear and ignorance that envelops the country -- while everything inside, shrinks.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]