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Cheap Laughs: Special Russia Today Edition

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

There is one news outlet whose op-eds are even more outrageously ridiculous than those in the NY Times. Russia Today is more the propaganda arm of the Kremlin than a bona fide news organization. In its so-called news coverage RT strives to put a blatantly pro-Kremlin, pro-Putin spin on every story, sometimes comically so.

Cyprus signs a routine agreement with Russia allowing Russian warship to occasionally dock at Cypriot docks? A definitive sign that Europe is about to abandon its alliance with America and become junior partners of Russia. China’s central bank reduced its holding of US dollars from 42.15% of its portfolio to 42.13%? A definitive sign that the US dollar is on the verge of collapse as central banks worldwide begin dumping their dollar reserves.

Similarly, Russian government officials are regularly quoted as predicting that the ruble will soon become an international reserve currency. Basically, the subtext of every story is a triumphant Russia is leading a powerful coalition of countries in successful opposition to America (never mind that this coalition so far is limited to the Abkhazia population (240,000) and the South Ossetia population (50,000).

For their op-ed pages, RT has dredged up a motley crew of what Lenin called “useful idiots,” fools willing to serve the Kremlin’s interests based on their own ignorance and folly. RT invariably describes these cretins as respected “geo-political analysts.” There is Eric Draitser, the proprietor of an obscure website called Stop Imperialism. Or Richard Becker of a group called ANSWER (Act Now to End War And Racism), an organization founded by leaders of the Workers’ World Party. Or William Jones, editor of a magazine run by the Lyndon LaRouche movement.

What they all share is a common belief that America is the worst country in the world, and that somehow Russia is the best. Yes, the Russia that ranks at the bottom of corruption surveys, that militarily menaces its neighbors, that basically can’t produce any export product anyone would want to pay money for. And who all are true believers in the corrupt, autocratic rule of Vladimir Putin.

But the greatest true believer in Vladimir Putin has to be Robert Bridge, a regular RT hack. In a typically fawning piece, “5 ways Vladimir Putin is driving America crazy,” Bridge portrays his heartthrob as the greatest statesman, the wisest politician, the best organizer, and the most moral leader in the world.

“Although Russian President Putin has worked to form a strong and lasting partnership with Washington... the spirit of goodwill and bilateral relations has not been reciprocated.”

“US-led NATO forces continue to push inexorably towards the Russian border...”

“At the same time, the United States and its allies have launched a number of disastrous and illegitimate wars against sovereign states, while portraying Putin as the greatest threat to global peace. The question that must be asked is: What has the Russian leader done to attract this sort of vilification on the part of the US? ”

You see, poor Vladimir has been trying so hard to be a good partner to the U.S. and how has the U.S. repaid his goodwill? By fomenting illegal wars around the world, and then mendaciously portraying Putin as the real threat to peace and international stability. And of course it all has to do with the inherently evil character of America.

So what are the five ways Putin is driving America crazy? Well, number five is that he convinced his client state Syria to give up some of their chemical weapons stockpile to avoid American military action. OK, a modest diplomatic achievement that should be put in the context of Putin’s blatant military aggressions in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

Number four is giving Edward Snowden asylum in Russia. According to Bridge, by taking in an American traitor, Putin has established himself as some sort of crusader for human rights and democracy. Bridge ignores the massive electoral fraud and massive state repression that makes Russian democracy an utter sham.

Bridge’s number three is “the wildly successful Sochi Games.” Bridge fails to notice that the real reason the Kremlin wanted to stage the Olympics was as a convenient cover for gargantuan corruption and stealing. Vancouver staged the 2010 Winter Games for $3 billion, Russia spent over $50 billion. Most of the $47 difference was waste, fraud, and outright theft.

The purported number two reason is that “Putin is not fomenting global wars.” In fact, that is exactly what he has been doing. Last year he invaded and annexed Crimea, territory belonging to a neighboring sovereign state. And worse, he has assiduously worked to manufacture a civil war in Eastern Ukraine, supporting a criminal gang of would-be separatists. As a result, over 5,000 Ukrainians have died, as well as nearly 200 people shot down out of the sky over Putin’s war zone.

And the number one reason? Putin is “defending traditional values against the 'new world order.” Unfortunately, a lot of conservatives in America might mistakenly agree with this assessment. Putin has launched a campaign against gays less as a matter of public morality and more as a cynical political tactic to rally his supporters against 'the internal enemy.” Likewise, he has promoted a special relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church as a purely political alliance to bolster the regime against critics of corruption and autocracy.

Russia Today relies on the gullibility of its audience and their complete ignorance of the real state of affairs in Putin’s Russia. True American conservatives have a justifiable distaste for the Obama administration. But that fact should not allow them to fall for the siren song of RT’s raw propaganda and lies in the service of a repressive aggressor state. And no real conservative should believe for a moment that modern Russia is in any way better than our own United States of America.


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