As the United States continues to ramp up the manufactured "Ukraine Crisis" to gain geopolitical advantage over Russia, mainstream press outlets have once again abandoned their role as impartial purveyors of vital news.
Major media operations like The New York Times, The Washington Post and MSNBC, have become virtual propaganda machines for the Obama administration as it seeks to paint Russia as the villain in the Ukraine situation. Every outrageous statement or claim by Secretary of State John Kerry or President Barack Obama about Ukraine is dutifully reported by these media, with little attempt to give a countervailing view or put the claims in context. Crititical reporting has basically gone out the window.
The one-sided reporting has gone on pretty much unabated since a putsch took place in February in which militants, led by neo-Nazis, ousted the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, from power. The American government, whose representatives had openly encouraged protests leading up to coup, quickly recognized the new regime. The new leaders pledged to seek closer ties to the West and join the European Union.
Coverage of both the rebellion and the establishment of a new government has been decidedly positive. Press reports have largely glossed over the presence of fascists in the uprising and in the new regime. There was wide acceptance in the mainstream press of the claim by the rebels that government snipers had shot and killed Ukrainian citizens participating in the protests, and no investigation of reports that right-wing militants had in fact, done the shooting.
When Russia moved into Crimea in Ukraine to protect its Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol, Russia was denounced by both the Kiev government, the Obama administration and the press for breaking international law and being "expansionist." It was true that Russia was breaking international law, and that's wrong. But media reports on this issue rarely brought up, or brought up only sparingly, Russia's legitimate security interests in taking back Crimea, which had been part of the old Soviet Union until 1954.
In the 1990s, American leaders promised former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO would not expand its borders to the east. But under the Clinton and Bush administrations, former Soviet bloc countries such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Baltic states were asked to join the western alliance, and they did. Now NATO's borders are much farther east.
With a potential enemy alliance inching closer to their borders and an anti-Russian government now in control in Ukraine, what were Russian leaders like Vladimir Putin supposed to think? Status quo is fine? No potential military threats? This is absurd.Yet the drumbeat goes on by the administration and key members of the media that Russia is a villain, not to be trusted, and bent on expansion. America has led the way to impose economic sanctions on Russia for their actions in Crimea, and now for allegedly fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, where the Russian-oriented population seeks to break away from Kiev. The U.S. has accused the Russian Federation of secretly sending in military agents to train the east Ukrainian militants, who have taken over government buildings in various cities..
In an echo of their shoddy reporting prior to the Iraq War, the Times recently ran a front-page piece making the case that Russian military personnel had unlawfully gone into Ukraine to train east Ukrainian rebels. The story came with photographs purportedly showing Russian soldiers training militia. In one case, the story showed a photograph of a group of men previously taken in Russia, and then photos of some of the same men doing training in Ukraine.
But the story quickly fell apart when the free-lance photographer who took the picture of the trainers stepped forward and said the group photo was shot in Ukraine, not Russia. He also said he not given permission for use of his photos, which he had posted on Instagram.
The Times issued a limited retraction of the story some days later, with a short piece buried inside the paper.
The Times has had other questionable stories, most recently a lengthy 1500-word Sunday article which mused about Putin's possible substantial fortune and how it could be hit by sanctions, too. The piece on April 27 enititled "Sanctions Revive Search for Secret Putin Fortune," offers no hard facts or evidence, just speculation.
It's amazing the Times would devote so much space to a piece that's just speculation, but this fits in with the paper's consistent portrayal of Putin as the "bad guy" in the Ukraine situation.
Other press outlets like The Washington Post also have been on the bandwagon running Russia-bashing stories, and adopting the position of the administration and of the Kiev regime on events in Ukraine, without any questioning.
Robert Parry, the editor of Consortiumnews.com, detailed in an article recently how Washington Post reporter Lally Weymouth, in an interview with Ukrainian internal affairs minister Arsen Avakov on the regime's efforts to deal with the protesters in east Ukraine, referred to "Russians" in occupied buildings, and at another point called the protesters "terrorists."