Since Donald Trump took office, we’ve been treated to an almost daily dose of contortions, distortions, alternative facts, and outright lies. As shocking as this may be to us, this sort of schtick has been standard operating procedure for years in Russia. Ever since Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, he has used the media to poison his people’s minds with propaganda masquerading as news.
For the last few years, writer, producer and Russian propaganda expert Julia Davis has been giving Americans a new perspective on Russian propaganda. A native Ukrainian who is also fluent in Russian, Davis runs the Russian Media Monitor, which keeps tabs on Russian radio and television “in broader context of the Kremlin’s information warfare.”
On Thursday, Davis noticed that the Putin spin machine was ramping up to try to fob off blame for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal on the streets of London. In case you missed it, Trump was all but forced to impose new sanctions on the Kremlin and declare the attack a violation of international law. Putin’s response? According to Davis, Putin told his puppets on Russian state television to tell Trump that he’d better “do what we say” if he wanted help in the November midterms.
Davis was watching “60 Minutes,” a news and debate program on Russia 1, the country’s main state television channel. However, the only thing this show shares with its more illustrious American counterpart is a name. On this edition of the show, Davis heard panelists suggest that Russian military intelligence operatives didn’t really try to poison Skripal. Nope, it was–wait for it–Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier that suggests Trump campaign operatives colluded with Russia in order to hack the election for Trump.
This bizarre suggestion came from Sergei Markov, a political pundit with very close ties to Putin.
So while Steele was trying to turn the hot lights on Russia’s attempt to hack the election, he somehow got in touch with Russian intelligence agents and helped them poison a former Russian spy who had defected to the UK? Yeah, okay.
It went downhill from there. Russian lawmaker Andrey Klimov tried to claim that Barack Obama had masterminded the attack.
So even as Obama slapped 11th-hour sanctions on Russia for hacking the election, he was working to poison a Russian defector? If you believe that, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in buying.
This wasn’t the only example of alternative facting on steroids on the show. For instance, they suggested it was foolish to believe Skripal’s attackers were Russian agents because Skripal was attacked by two people.
Davis was referring to the poisoning of another Russian defector, former Russian secret police agent Alexander Litvienko. She also mentioned another Russian conspiracy theory–that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine wasn’t actually a Russian army operation.
But wait, there’s more.
So at best, Putin either can’t control his own people, or the Kremlin is so incompetent that it can’t control access to a chemical described as the deadliest poison ever created. If anything, that would be all the more reason to slap sanctions on Russia.
Last year, Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova told Lawrence O’Donnell that for all intents and purposes, Russian taxpayer money is being used for “telling us bulls**t.” After seeing these clips from Davis, it’s hard not to agree. One has to wonder–is this how Trump wants American media to look once “fake news” is rooted out?
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