What is it about Russia and Vladimir Putin that forces the American national media to lie, make things up, and blurt out statements that have no basis in reality? The latest fiction is that Republicans and conservatives have a newfound affinity for Putin.
If you only watched MSNBC or read The New York Times, you’d be forgiven for holding the impression that all of Fox News and the Republican party have draped themselves in Russian flags and set up GoFundMes for the invasion of Ukraine.
The Times on Sunday ran the headline, “How the American Right Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Russia,” by Emily Tamkin. According to the piece, the “American political right” has in recent years “shifted toward fawning praise for autocrats” and now views authoritarian regimes like Russia’s as “symbols of U.S. conservatism — a mirror for the right-wing worldview.”
That sounds awful! Tamkin’s examples of this “fawning praise for autocrats” include Tucker Carlson telling his audience to ask, “Why do I hate Putin so much?”; former President Trump referring to Putin as “smart” and “savvy”; and GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate J.D. Vance remarking in a recent podcast interview that “We did not serve in the Marine Corps to go and fight Vladimir Putin because he didn’t believe in transgender rights.”
I guess others can decide whether any of this constitutes “fawning praise,” but Tamkin nonetheless called the comments “yet another way in which the political right is weaponizing culture wars to further divide Americans.”
Her argument might have been a little stronger if she included more searing examples of praise for Putin, like the time Trump called him a “master tactician.” Wait, sorry. That was actually how The New York Times itself described the Russian president in mid-February. And also in October 2020.
But Tamkin could have mentioned the time Tucker Carlson said in a monologue that there was a legitimate argument as to “whether Mr. Putin’s grievances had bases in fact, whether the United States and its allies were too cavalier in expanding NATO, [and] whether Russia was justified in believing that its security was compromised.” My bad. That was also the Times on Feb. 23.
J.D. Vance definitely did say, though, that Putin was “the most influential human being on the planet,” and also described him as “brilliant.” Never mind, that was David Brooks, one of the Times’ marquee columnists.
Thomas Friedman, another one of the paper’s dumb-but-still-famous writers, asserted last week that “America is not entirely innocent of fueling his [Putin’s] fires.”
If it’s “fawning praise” when Trump calls Putin “savvy,” what is it when our country’s most important (even if compulsively dishonest) news outlet calls him a “master tactician” and employs writers who blame the U.S. for instigating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
President Biden, whom the Times has heralded for engaging the conflict “with toughness, patience, resolve and dignity,” characterized Putin just last year as “bright,” “tough,” and “a worthy adversary.”
That right-wingers are cozying up to Putin is a complete myth generated by a news media that seemingly can’t do anything with regard to Russia but generate lies.
President Trump was a Russian asset. Lie.
Russia put bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Never proven.
The Hunter Biden laptop story was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. False.
It would be more pleasant to say that the media are easily duped when it comes to stories about Russia, but as dumb as our American media are, they’re not that dumb. They simply lie.