Millions tuned to NBC last Friday night to watch the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Despite subpar construction, dingy hotel conditions, and athletes trapped in bathrooms, the Sochi spectacle was masterfully executed—except for the Olympic ring that didn’t budge and the glorification of Soviet symbols.
To anyone with family members that escaped the Soviet Union—including yours truly—the opening ceremony brought back terrible memories of the Old Country.
The opening montage began with, "Russia overwhelms. Russia mystifies. Russia transcends. Through every stage of its story, it's resisted any notion of limitation. Through every re-invention, only redoubling its desire to cast a towering presence.”
The narrator—Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage—continued by saying, “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history's pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it's passion that endures...”
What’s so “pivotal” about centrally-planned government, food rationing, prison labor camps, a secret police, and millions of deaths? Much to the chagrin of NBC, the Bolshevik coup d’état and Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror comprised the so-called “pivotal experiment” in Russia.
Unsurprisingly, NBC has praised Soviet communism in the past.
A November 2009 Media Research Center report “Better off Red?” details this confounding finding:
Lauer suggested that, for many Russians, the decades spent under communism were the good old days: “We’re gonna be talking about the New Russia, how a few people are doing very well and the fear that others are being left very far behind,” he teased on the February 12, 2004 morning news program. He later declared: “Russia’s rush to capitalism left the vast majority scrambling to survive. For many, life is worse than it was in Soviet times.”