Paul Goble at Interpreter Magazine offers keen insight into the Western media’s dangerous love affair with Vladimir Putin:
…as has been true since the start of Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, Putin has exploited the increasing proclivity of Western journalists to equate balance with objectivity. He and his minions have flooded the media with statements that are simply not true, but many Western outlets report them as part of the story, without identifying them as false or even questioning their veracity.
That allows such journalists to claim objectivity, but it creates a situation in which there is little or no pressure on Western governments to do the right thing. Many journalists (and governments) will not describe what Moscow is doing as an invasion because Putin says there are no Russian troops in Ukraine, despite massive evidence to the contrary.
As a result, in all too many cases, Putin’s lies have defined the situation rather than facts on the ground, and the Western media’s focus on balance – on presenting all sides of the case even if one or more is untrue – gives thuggish leaders like him an opening that they should not have but will not exploit.
Besides re-defining “balance” in pursuit of a deadline, eye-catching story, or political point of view, Western media also backs the White House’s post-Vietnam love-affair with the mystical cease-fire.
…Second, Western governments approach every conflict as an occasion to get a ceasefire rather than to defeat aggression out of a belief that diplomacy alone can solve the problem and reach a solution. …by signaling that it will not oppose a particular case of aggression, the West has taught Putin and his regime a lesson, but very much the wrong one: aggression works and after “a decent interval” will be ignored, have no consequences for relations with the West, and then can be repeated.
Interestingly, Goble also notes the West’s unwillingness to push real economic and cultural sanctions against Russia. His theory is that the West is afraid if such sanctions truly pushed Moscow to the breaking point, it would only result in a Kremlin that “would call Western profits into question”. In other words, the West may lose economic benefit, or worse, be shamed in the international community as capitalist pigs. Apparently Goble has no faith in Western media to attack such a claim should it arise. While he does not say this directly, his inference is another black mark on Western media’s character.
Especially relevant to more than just Russia-US relations, Goble questions of Putin’s passive-aggressive tactics,
Will Putin have any incentive to move toward peace if he can get everything he wants by dragging out a Western-backed “peace process” forever?
It is a rhetorical query, and one that should not be reserved for Putin alone. An equally rhetorical follow up: Could it be that the same Moscow that backed the PLO learned a lesson from Arafat and his political descendants? The Western audience should rethink their media’s relationship with Russia, for sure. But that should be the starting, not the stopping point in their analysis.