In Media critique, Russia

By Gilbert Doctorow, Media Watch, on Russia Insider, Jan 15, 2015

The just released Frontline program “Putin’s Way” is a masterpiece of the western “Czar Putin” campfire story, distilled to perfection.

PBS FrontlineIn the segment, PBS chucks its coveted journalistic guidelines straight out the window, relying almost entirely on worn-out speculation and bogeyman fairytales peddled by the likes of The Economist’s Putin-hater-in-chief, Edward Lucas.

The accusations made are not even groundbreaking; the program, from start to finish, is a spectacular promotional piece for Karen Dawisha’s book Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?, the narrative of which it follows closely while even giving us cameo appearances by the author.

This show comes on top of a lengthy feature review of the book by Washington Post blowhard Anne Applebaum, which was published last week in The New York Review of Books.

Hats off to Dawisha and her agent: this type of promotion sure beats signing ceremonies at bookstores.

As Applebaum said flatly, Dawisha was drawing on the bookshelves of Putin biographies by folks like Masha Gessen and her Man Without a Face, all of which stress the KGB background of Vladimir Vladimirovich, the corruption alleged to surround him from the beginning to the present.

Then we get the apartment bombings in Moscow that brought him to power, his bullying of the saintly Khodorkovsky, fighter for Russia’s European path, and so on. All of the same allegations have been repeated endlessly, with virtually nothing new or proven but with a lot of innuendo.

And typically the sources, these great sleuths who have spread the lurid stories are taken at face value; their motives are never considered

That The New York Review of Books would beat the drum for Dawisha is a no-brainer. The once liberal publication has been bought off by a billionaire benefactor to showcase viscerally pro-Maidan and anti-Russian Professor Timothy Snyder as well as the ga-ga statements of the same benefactor.

But why is PBS joining the jackals? And where is their sense of timing? Putin bashing is today so….passé. With the deepening of the East-West confrontation, with the introduction of deep economic sanctions against Russia, the US and EU are now implementing the scenario that was laid out by Bill Browder (author and evangelist of the Magnitsky Act) when, in December 2013 he called for serious action against the ‘’million thieves and murderers who run Russia.”

Is this show intended to prepare the American public for a color revolution now in the works to overthrow the villain Putin? Not even that semi-justification exists. Instead the program ends inconclusively with the suggestion that Putin is now a cornered rat and very dangerous. With that, to all a good night.

The transcript of the segment can be found here. Here is the trailer, complete with spooky music and shots of Putin walking around looking scary and Czar-like.

Read the biography of Gilbert Doctorow here.


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