The Western “free” press and how it enables and encourages ignorance

I’ve read many pieces — and written some — about the failure of the Western press in how it chooses to cover not only Russia, but Russian media, like RT. None have hit the nail on the head quite as much as this one.

It begins with the story of a journalist fired because his reporting on Maidan and his views on Crimea did not match those of his employer. It’s exactly the kind of story that Politico, Newsweek and BuzzFeed would love.

Really. It has it all. Suppression of the free press. Restriction on free speech. European “values”. Russia, Crimea, Maidan, the whole works. They’d be drooling all over it for at least a week.

There’s just one teeny tiny problem: The journalist in question happened to be fired from an American government-funded news outlet because he supported Crimea’s reintegration into Russia and exposed neo-Nazi atrocities in Ukraine. Oops.

Close your ears, BuzzFeed! This is the kind of ‘suppression of the free press’ story you don’t want to hear about.

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The Washington Post needs a reality check

The Washington Post’s latest editorial on Ukraine (Helping Ukraine in its time of need), deserves some attention.

In an ideal world, it would — being so totally useless — be disregarded as waffle. But things as they are, that is highly unlikely and so let’s give it a look.

It begins, as many before it have, with a statement so ludicrously one-sided you would be forgiven for giving up and going to Instagram a picture of your lunch instead.

 

RUSSIA HAS not abided by the latest cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.

But let’s persevere.

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Russia Insider has launched its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter

Russia Insider, where I am a regular contributor, has launched its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign today.

If you have a been a reader of the site and like what you see, please please consider making a donation — even a really small one. It will all make a difference.

The site was founded by Charles Bausman, an American businessman living in Moscow, in response the severe imbalance of the corporate media when covering Russia. I met Charles recently in Moscow along with a couple of other Russia Insider contributors. They work from a shared co-working space in the city (below) and they’re doing an amazing job. Continue reading

The Problem With Propaganda

What is propaganda?

Is it the deliberate exclusion of crucial information in an attempt to mislead? Is it the deliberate inclusion of information in an attempt to confuse? Is it a deliberate attempt not necessarily to mislead, but to put forth a perspective which differs from the mainstream? Is it simply outright lying?

Or is it all of the above?

I sit here trying to identify one mainstream newspaper or broadcaster that I could legitimately and confidently argue does not engage in this elusive phenomenon we call ‘propaganda’ — by any of the above definitions.

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I call it ‘elusive’ because no one seems to have settled the debate on its meaning — or at least, if they have, it’s not the meaning they are using in practice.

In this so-called ‘information war’ between ‘the West’ and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, a simple, but dangerous definition seems to have developed: Propaganda is the dissemination of information that provides any legitimacy to the arguments of the enemy.

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Who spends more on ‘propaganda’? The debate rages on.

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We are in the midst of yet another round of “who spends more on propaganda?” between Western officials, the news organisations that (by and large) echo their views, and RT — Russia’s equivalent to the BBC World Service.

This has been an ongoing saga for months. Continue reading

Some of the strongest and sanest voices on Russia are American voices

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I am often, of late, accused of sounding “anti-America” on this blog.

It seems odd to people who know me that I could have spent a couple of years living in Washington, living and breathing Capitol Hill, and spent many years before that seemingly supporting American foreign policy — or at least not not supporting it.

But this isn’t about being “pro-Russia” or “anti-America”. This is about right and wrong — and while no one side has a monopoly on right — we have come to a point in time when it seems that, by and large, we have accepted that one side does hold that monopoly.

We have, for the most part, blindly followed one narrative and dismissed all dissenting voices as nonsense.

That acceptance of a black and white view has led us to a dangerous precipice in Europe.  Continue reading

PENTAGON REVELATION: Putin has Asperger’s and it explains everything

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Have you heard the latest? No, not the regurgitated paedophile claims. That’s so three days ago.

Today’s news is that Putin has Asperger’s.

How do we know this?

Because some Pentagon researchers watched some videos, looked at his face and decided he must have a neurological disorder.

You really, genuinely, could not make this stuff up. Continue reading

US diplomat in Moscow provides laughs with an epic Twitter fail

On Friday, Will Stevens, a spokesperson for the US embassy in Moscow, tried to be funny on Twitter. To say it didn’t end well, would be quite the understatement.

Some backstory before we get to the tweet:

Stevens posted a link to a segment of RT’s In The Now, in which Anissa Naouai breaks down a recent piece from The Economist, which claims in its opening line: “JUDGING by the lack of economic news in Russia’s media, a crisis has arrived”.

This claim, that there is little to no discussion about the Russian economy (in Russia) came as quite a surprise to, you guessed it, people who actually live in Russia.

According to The Economist, Russian journalists are dutifully covering it all up to protect their Dear Leader, Czar Putin.

There’s just one little problem. They’re not. Continue reading