Antidote to Putin-Bashing
Hearty thanks to Stephen F. Cohen for a long-overdue counterbalance to the media’s endless Putin-bashing: “Media Malpractice?: Distorting Russia” [March 3]. I don’t recall NBC or the other networks being this hypercritical about China and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
In “Media Malpractice?” Stephen F. Cohen seems to practice his own brand of “one country” propaganda. I wonder what Anna Politkovskaya, or any of the fifty-six other Russian journalists who have been murdered for their reportage, would think of Cohen’s assertions?
Stephen F. Cohen accuses the press generally, The New York Times and even The New York Review of Books of “media malpractice,” i.e., Cold War attitudes. This is a challenge that demands a useful response. What should be done about it? I suggest a symposium with the widest range of views, not excluding Russian and Ukrainian ones. Aside from the value of hashing out the issues, it could bring the issues to a wider public. (It could even result in better policy.)
Thank you for this thorough, informed, well-written article about the media’s treatment of Russia and President Vladimir Putin. I could not agree more with Mr. Cohen. He is correct about the EU’s mistakes. The German weekly Die Zeit introduced me to the Ukrainian writer Serhij Zhadan. He explains the division in his country well. Cohen’s contribution is another example of the importance of The Nation. Keep up the good work.
Stephen F. Cohen has adroitly pulled back the curtain that exposes the US media’s misrepresentation of Putin, Sochi and Ukraine. Russia, according to the popular media, is the place where the Cold War arrived first, where it never ended and never left. Russia, like Cuba, is a country suspended in time, one that exists off modernity’s grid. It’s a place where the heirloom of paranoia is taken down and polished daily by the US media and politicians.
An example is an editorial diatribe by NBC’s Bob Costas in Sochi, reminding viewers of Putin’s many undemocratic goings-on in Russia. Of course, if a sports announcer during the Atlanta or Lake Placid Games reminded viewers of the US support of repressive dictatorships throughout the world, he would be looking for a new job in the morning.
Stephen Cohen’s “Distorting Russia” is a crushing rejoinder to the insufferable anti-Putin barrage that has recently appeared in our media. Cohen might have built an even stronger case by mentioning the provocative role played by ex–US Ambassador Michael McFaul, who devoted the vast bulk of his tenure in Moscow to undermining the Russian government through blogs and highly publicized meetings with civil society groups in a joint undertaking to smear the Putin government.
chevy chase, md.
Stephen F. Cohen asks rhetorically: “Did Senator John McCain stand in Kiev alongside the well-known leader of an extreme nationalist party because he was ill informed by the media, or have the media deleted this part of the story because of McCain’s folly?”
The answer is: American media routinely delete the story of McCain’s longstanding and committed support for hate groups and anti-democratic revolutionaries. His 2013 encounters with Oleh Tyahnybok, the outspoken freedom fighter against “the Muscovite-Kike mafia that rules Ukraine,” were planned. The same might not be true of his photo op in 2012, during an airport layover, with Harry Hughes, communications director of the National Socialist Movement. (“I spent an exciting weekend with the National Socialist Movement, the Loyal Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, photo journalists [sic] and other interesting and even famous people,” Hughes blog-captioned his photo with McCain.) Yet both Tyahnybok and Hughes are part of McCain’s milieu, going back at least to his tenure in the 1980s on the board of the US Council for World Freedom. Though best known as a conduit for passing cash from prominent GOP donors to Nicaraguan death squads, the council also attracted criticism during parts of its history from the Anti-Defamation League, which considered it part of “a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.”
John McCain knows what his politics are, even if many newspapers don’t.
It must be said, and said with force: Stephen F. Cohen’s analysis of the Ukraine/Russia/Sochi/European Union labyrinth is a brilliant piece of work. He rewinds the entangled media propaganda and leads us out into the cold air of reality. A loud bravo to The Nation for having the guts to publish this exposé of yet another attempt to reconfigure history to coincide with the agenda of the American Empire. The deep psychosis of American exceptionalism continues to distort our view of the world, made even more insane by compliant corporate media. Thank you.
The Language of Jesus
I enjoyed Kosman & Picciotto’s Puzzle #3310 [Feb. 3], but discovered a factual error. The answer to 19 Down is “Aramaic,” which was made synonymous with the clue phrase “dead language.” Aramaic is not a dead language. Although in danger of extinction, it is still spoken in parts of Syria, northern Iraq, Kurdistan and Israel (by Kurdistani Jews)—even in the United States. Most Aramaeophones are Christians. Some of them are referred to as Assyrians or Chaldeans (and some give their children biblical-era Mesopotamian names like Tiglath-Pileser and Sargon).