See No Evil

February 2004
New Republic;2/9/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 4, p14
Argues that the Moscow correspondents for major U.S. newspapers have failed to state the obvious: that the last four years have witnessed the death of the nascent democracy and the rise of fascism in Russia. Claim that U.S. newspapers failed to report that Russia's December 7 national election, which handed President Vladimir Putin near-total control of the Duma, was a farce; Description of how Putin maintains an iron grip on the Russian media, the business community, the Duma and other state institutions; Claim that there was substantial evidence of fraud and manipulation during the election; Report on the rise extreme nationalist politicians, exemplified by Vladimir Zhirinovsky; Assertion that journalists from other countries, such as France, Canada and Great Britain, have been much bolder than their U.S. counterparts in their reporting of political corruption and the death of democracy in Russia; Claim that this pattern of reporting has been developing for five years, even as the conflict in Chechnya was raging and Boris Yeltsin handed over power to Putin; History of the positive portrayal of Putin as an economic reformer, economic liberal and a political ally of the United States by the American press; Speculation about reasons why the U.S. press got the story wrong, including the slashing of staff numbers at Russia bureaus, the nature of U.S. journalism, which relies on propaganda-driven local media as sources, and the U.S. State Department's view of Russia as a partner in the fight against terrorism; Reasons why Canadian and European reporters are able to do a better job of reporting on Russia, including their freedom to editorialize.


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