But the MSM didn’t focus on that. Not one tough interview of Navalny was published by any Western news outlet. The MSM ignored the fact that the street demonstrations were inherently apolitical, unserious, disorganized, and rare (none at all in the entire month of January). Instead, it focused exclusively on the fact that the demonstrations were the biggest since Putin took power and occurred during cold weather, apparently showing the impressive bravery of Navalny’s followers.
When Putin put an equally large crowed on the streets in February on the same day as Navalny’s effort, the MSM ignored it, or attacked it with charges that attendees had been bribed. The pro-Putin demonstrators got no credit for being out on the street in the same freezing temperatures, even though their alleged bribes at most amounted to pennies.
The nadir: The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley — a reporter pilloried across the Internet for ludicrous errors — was sent to Moscow to watch TV and to decide for the Gray Lady’s readers how free it was. She reported that the opposition’s Echo of Moscow radio was being left alone — as it was being raided. She told readers the press was free to report accurately on the opposition, even as European election observers pronounced — elsewhere in the Times’ own pages — that the opposite was true.
Tom Parfitt, a Russia correspondent for the Telegraph, tweeted that the U.S. ambassador to Russia had tweeted in Russian that vote fraud was tainting the legitimacy of Putin’s election. In fact, Ambassador Michael McFaul had done no such thing — the tweet came from a fraudulent account that did not belong to him.
In September of last year as Putin announced he’d return to the Kremlin, Andrew Kuchins of Foreign Policy reported that all was well and Putin would “play nice” with Obama. This month — without mentioning his prior analysis and just before the actual elections were to prove him hideously wrong — Kuchins wrote that the Obama “reset” was “over” and there was “turbulence ahead.”
The MSM should have listened to some actual Russians.
Daniil Kotsyubinsky, a Russian historian and journalist, has written that Navalny may very well be the best thing that ever happened to Vladimir Putin, and the fact that Navalny has not been arrested or assaulted makes one wonder if Kotsyubinsky might not have a point. Navalny has not spoken out against Russian support for the genocidal anti-American dictatorships in Syria, Iran, and Venezuela.
Similarly, Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky argues that Putin is quite content with Echo of Moscow radio, one of the leading so-called “opposition” voices left in the Russian mass media. It serves as a non-threatening pressure release valve for the small, ragtag contingent of opposition forces, and allows Putin to conveniently keep tabs on them. Putin is a lifelong KGB spy, which is essentially the same as being a gangster, and he has obviously taken to heart Don Corleone’s advice about where to keep one’s enemies.
The most accurate expression of what is happening in Russia came from opposition leader Yevgenia Chirikova, who was interviewed by the brilliant Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute. Chirikova told Aron:
It seems to me that our problem is not Putin but the people. For [we should be] more demanding with respect to our own lives, with respect to what we see out of our windows, and resist every time when government functionaries offend us.
This is the truth, which the MSM either didn’t know or viewed as incompatible with their agenda. In MSM reporting, the Russians were not cowards, but lionhearted. They were not hiding or collaborating with Putin as they did with Stalin, they were marching in the streets like the citizens of Syria or Egypt, ready to give their lives for liberty. Putin was not a dominating figure supported by the masses, he was a doddering imbecile about to be forced from power like the despots of the Middle East.
And Barack Obama was a knight in shining armor.
All of it false.
This isn’t the first time the world has been misled to get its hopes up about Russia. Lenin was supposed to make things radically better; so was Yeltsin. But in both cases, the end result was nothing but disappointment.
The MSM asks its audience to simply ignore history, because this time it’s for real. Just trust them.
And the torrent of attacks on the U.S. coming out of Russia? Don’t notice that man behind the curtain, the MSM said. Don’t notice Russia’ s massive military buildup, pay no attention to its brutal crackdown on American values.
The Internet, and Barack Obama, are going to make the world safe for democracy. Trust us.