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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Russians say U.S. press is making Putin great again

Joshua Yaffa of the New Yorker talked to a half-dozen Russian reporters to get their take on how the American press is covering President Trump.

They are not impressed.

Elena Chernenko

From New Yorker:
On the whole, said Mikhail Zygar, a political journalist and the author of “All the Kremlin’s Men,” a well-sourced insider look at the cloistered world of Russian politics, the way the U.S. media has covered the Russia scandal has made “Putin seem to look much smarter than he is, as if he operates from some master plan.” The truth, Zygar told me, “is that there is no plan — it’s chaos.”
By way of an example, Zygar narrated what he saw as the total disorder that has marked Russia’s military campaign in Syria, which began with a surprise incursion of air power, in September, 2015. Putin seems to consider the intervention a success, because it outmaneuvered Western attempts to isolate him and elevated him to the position of global statesman; but, whatever the achievements, they came out of an absolutely slapdash policy, according to Zygar. “Nothing was calculated,” Zygar said. “There was no strategy, no preparatory work, no co√∂rdination with Iran, none with Turkey either, which is how we almost ended up in a war — not to mention the huge amount of money that was simply stolen in the course of this operation.”
According to Zygar’s sources, Putin forced Russia’s military prosecutor into retirement, in April, before he could deliver a report to the country’s upper house of parliament that would have revealed substantial financial losses in Syria due to corruption. Such cynicism and malfeasance is more the rule than the exception, Zygar said. He retold the story of how Putin showed Oliver Stone a video that was supposedly of Russian forces bombing ISIS fighters — “our aviation at work,” Putin told Stone — which turned out to be a lifted clip from 2013 of U.S. pilots attacking Taliban positions in Afghanistan. Zygar shook his head with laughter. “They couldn’t even film a two-minute video!”

Vladimir Putin isn't a super James Bond villain?

He's just another low IQ criminal?

The words criminal mastermind are an oxymoron -- a cultural myth -- because no intelligent person would get into crime. The risk is too high, and the reward is too low.

Then there was this:
Elena Chernenko is head of the foreign desk at Kommersant, a Russian paper that started out as a respectable and independent chronicler of business and politics but is now a rather muted one. Chernenko is among its remaining high-profile reporters, and the paper’s international coverage continues to be strong. She has written on Russian foreign policy and the country’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, for the past seven years. Every morning, before she reads the Russian press, she checks the Times and the Washington Post. For years, she said, they represented a “moral compass and a model of what I strived for.” These days, she said, it seemed as if American journalists had lowered their standards when reporting on Russia. “Now, I don’t exclude that this indeed was an operation carried out by the Russian special services,” she told me, referring to the notion of Russian effort to influence the election. But, so far, she hasn’t seen incontrovertible evidence. “The way the American press writes about the topic, it’s like they’ve lost their heads,” she complained.
They've lost their heads?


And there is this:
A refrain I heard from several Russian journalists: that Putin, like a naughty kid in school, finds all this attention — even if its uniformly critical — flattering and even rewarding, a salve for years of feeling ignored. Zygar told me that, as far he understands, Putin “likes the image of himself as a kind of Bond villain, that Fareed Zakaria calls him the most powerful man in the world. That’s what he has been aspiring for this whole time, that he is respected, on the top of the world.” When I spoke with Anton Zhelnov, a political reporter at Dozhd, a scrappy and creative independent cable channel, which is in perpetual danger of shutting down, he said that his contacts in the Kremlin can’t help but be pleased by the multiple U.S. investigations into Russian interference, whether by the media or Congress. “Yes, it’s unpleasant, but at the same time they like that Russia is being discussed all the time, that Russia has become a topic in American politics. They like this very much, and don’t try and hide it in private conversations,” Zhelnov said. 
Russia is an old empire -- creaky and lackluster -- and easily flattered by the March Hares we call the American press corps.

Meanwhile, Trump trumps along, removing bad regulations, pushing sales of hydrocarbon fuel to weaken sales of the top export of Russia, and watching his generals destroy the Islamic State.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's election.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's nomination.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Autographed copies of both books are available by writing me at

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  1. Even the Russians think our press is worthless? Coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool.

  2. A friend saw Putin last July in a swank Paris hotel. He was preceded by an entourge of men in dark suits followed by a host of women in fishnet stocking.
    I know Putin visits the French south each year, staying with one or two of his oligarch pals in villas financed by Petro or pharma dollars. The locals only know he is there by the presence of police with machine guns outside the enormous Villa gates. He doesn't stay long.
    His hold on power is probably unshakable. Some think he bribes his oligarchy others think it is the reverse. Whatever the truth he is accepted by them and unchallenged. His opposition has mostly been imprisoned or "liquidated", one of Stalin's favorite words.
    The American press would like to push the narrative that Putin is cunning ( "a wolf" said an emigre I know) and that Trump is just stupid. In fact this meme was taken up by some military talking heads on Fox I'm told after the G20. I'm sure Mattis would disagree.
    Trump is not stupid and Putin is no smarter than your average dictator. Like most of them, He killed his opposition before they got him. Trump built a business by the honest effort his critics will never understand because they are incapable of it.
    The press is now a tool of our own oligarchy, something Jefferson doesn't seem to have anticipated. They want to ruin Trump because he is not like Putin. Putin will make sure his oligarchy gets it's megayacht,Villa and Gulfstream money without interruption so they in turn will keep him Richer than Gates. Our oligarchs wanted HC the female version of Putin elected so they would be never obstructed in their own aims. The press, being serfs invested in this oligarchy, want Trump to fail so it will succeed. They are like the girls in fishnet in that swank hotel, in the entourage of the rich and powerful, and, like them, entirely at their master's disposal.

    1. @Anonymous: Spengler, is that you commenting on Surber's blog?

    2. I'm not he.

  3. The lefties are throwing every one of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals command at Trump. Hope they ate their lunch because they're in for a long four/eight years.

    Excellent comment Anon.

  4. "The words criminal mastermind are an oxymoron -- a cultural myth -- because no intelligent person would get into crime. The risk is too high, and the reward is too low."
    With all due respect Mr. S, I disagree. They are called businessmen (Bezos, Slim, Zuckerberg et al) AND politicians. Then again, I don't consider them 'intelligent', just dishonest with some smarts.

  5. Putin has Trump on a leash. Plain and simple.

  6. Someone should ask the Press (Trump Jr's supposed crime against humanity) how receiving stolen goods (intel info) and reporting same is somehow not a bad thing/. The Russians dont have any monopoly on shady characters. All these Intel agency leakers are actually breaking laws not some dimwitted Russian lawyer/

    1. So receiving stolen info from a hostile foreign country and lying about it for months until caught is a good thing? You and all these Surbots ought to move to Russia, your desired homeland.

  7. What stolen info from hostile foreign country?^^ The info the media "imagines"? At least we know the stolen info leaked to the media. Its not imagined..its real.