Speaking with Fareed Zakaria on CNN in 2010, Cohen didn‚Äôt speak for 30 seconds in response to a question about Putin‚Äôs KGB government before he began attacking the U.S. for alleged acts of foreign aggression. Such classic neo-Soviet ‚Äúwhataboutism‚ÄĚ reminds of a Soviet joke: An American in Moscow, displeased with the wretched services offered by his hotel, complains to the manager, who retorts: ‚ÄúYes, but you lynch blacks.‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs traditional Soviet strategy to change the subject and smear the critic. Cohen did the same thing in March of last year when speaking about Putin‚Äôs rigged return to power: when asked whether Putin had legitimately taken power, he stated:
I don‚Äôt know what the word ‚Äėlegitimately‚Äô means. I know people who think that the second President Bush didn‚Äôt become president legitimately after Florida.
On the question of whether Putin became ‚Äúpresident for life‚ÄĚ:
It‚Äôs none of our business.
But it certainly is Cohen‚Äôs business when he‚Äôd like it to be: in an extended interview with Dan Rather, Cohen vigorously defended the merits of a Putin return to power.
As Cohen continued with Zakaria, he bizarrely said the U.S. got along just fine with the USSR, so there‚Äôs no reason it can‚Äôt continue doing the same with Russia. He launched a stream of insults against both Zakaria and a Wall Street Journal reporter, angrily declaring ‚Äúthis is not a serious discussion.‚ÄĚ Then he blamed Yeltin and greater democracy for the nation‚Äôs pandemic problems of murder and corruption.
We can speculate whether Cohen is simply making himself a niche as a TV presence (with so few willing to defend Putin, the networks are bound to come calling), or if he actually sides with Putin on perverse moral grounds. Yet clearly, Cohen — NYU and Princeton Professor Cohen — is serving the interests of the Kremlin against his own country, undermining American values and alienating American allies. And he offers no greater factual basis for his positions than did the old Soviet politburo.