Enhanced Russia Bashing At The New York Times – Analysis

Last month, the so-called “paper of record“, ran a barrage of one-sidedly dubious anti-Russian leaning commentary, which I suspect might’ve broken its monthly record. It has been said that The New York Times serves as a good indicator of what a certain wing of the American political establishment favors. When it comes to Russia, the Republican and Democratic establishments have been top heavy with biases against that country. Covering a range of Russia related topics, the following is an overview of some NYT articles from last month.

Andrew Higgins’ May 30 piece “Effort to Expose Russia’s Troll Army Draws Vicious Retaliation“, makes a slick passing acknowledgement of other troll instances, while concentrating on the (as presented) negative occurrences involving pro-Russian activism. Fat chance that there will be a NYT article which primarily focuses on anti-Russian troll activity. One reason for this situation might’ve to do with elements at “the paper of record” favoring anti-Russian sentiment. Anti-Russian troll manner covers several categories, including the simplistically inaccurate categorization of “genocide denier“, relating to how many Russians and Serbs (among some others) view Srebrenica to other wartime areas of mass killing. (On that and some other issues, I’ve a clear conscience.)

His subjectivity notwithstanding, Peter Baker’s May 28 article “The Rise of Donald Trump Tracks Growing Debate Over Global Fascism“, raises some legitimate enough talking points. on the matter of fascistic qualities, Baker steers clear of the editorial process, which has essentially censored valid counters to his preferences. He uncritically references neocon Robert Kagan, who (with his wife Victoria Nuland) doesn’t seem so distraught at the level of violence experienced by counter-Euromaidan individuals within Kiev regime controlled Ukraine.

In his article, Baker (who has previously covered Russia for a considerable period) provides a hyperlinked reference to a piece by his NYT colleague Jonathan Weisman. Along with at least one other source, Weisman’s May 26 article “The Nazi Tweets of Trump ‘God Emperor’,” misrepresents what Melania Trump said Julia Ioffe. M. Trump isn’t a journalist and English isn’t her native language. It can be reasonably deduced that M. Trump believes that in a divisive way, Ioffe, has a penchant for bringing out the worst elements in society.

If quoted accurately, M. Trump could’ve chosen her words more carefully. Her US Republican presidential candidate husband Donald, is a lifelong New Yorker and longtime supporter of Israel. His daughter (from his first marriage) Ivanka, is a converted Orthodox Jew, whose husband is of that denomination. Donald and Ivanka seem to maintain a close relationship. Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz characterized Ioffe’s piece on M. Trump as a hit job. M. Trump has a basis for disliking Ioffe. It appears a stretch to suggest that M. Trump is anti-Jewish.

Meantime, it can be rationally argued that Ioffe comes across as being more of a bigot than what M. Trump can be reasonably accused of on that score. As a high profile English language journalist for several years, Ioffe well understands the kind of semantics she has utilized. One of several examples is her October 13, 2013 New Republic article “Russians Still Love Pogroms“, written when she was an editor at that venue. As if there aren’t non-bigoted Russians, in addition to anti-Russian bigots, who spew disparagingly inaccurate stereotypes.

This past April 29, Russia Insider had a feature titled “Julia Ioffe: Russians Are Like, You Know, Really Antisemitic“, followed with the byline “A pathological Russophobe, this New Yorker writer never misses a chance to tell us how awful Russians are …”. The thread discussion at the aforementioned Russia Insider posting, is a blend of some intelligently valid comments against Ioffe and the level of stupid bigotry that Ioffe (IMO) has expressed herself.

In her suggestive depiction of Russians being collectively on the bigoted side, she ignores the numerous examples to the contrary. I’ve run into a good share of earnestly minded people of Russian Orthodox Christian and/or Jewish backgrounds, as well as others, who (put mildly) oppose her caricaturing. This particular viewpoint gets downplayed, or omitted altogether in “the paper of record“, as Ioffe is lauded by some as a hero journalist.

Ioffe said that following shortly after her piece on M. Trump: “The irony is that today, when I was getting all of this horrible anti-Semitic shit that I’ve only ever seen in Russia, I was reminded that 26 years ago today my family came to the US from Russia. We left Russia because we were fleeing anti-Semitism. Its been a rude shock to everyone.”

Such is her ignorance. Circa the Cold War period in the US, talk radio host Alan Berg, was murdered for reasons connected with his Jewish background and provocatively stated liberal views. Before and since Berg’s murder, some Jewish-American organizations and individual Jews have attested to experiencing anti-Jewish behavior in one form or the other in the US. It’s nevertheless inaccurate to collectively label that nation as anti-Jewish.

For economic and some other reasons, life in the USSR had a certain unpleasantness for many, regardless of their ethno-religious background. In post-Soviet Russia, there’ve been numerous changes for the better, with definite room for improvement. It’s disingenuous to suggest differently.

Moscow is now said to be the city with the largest expat Israeli population, numbering around 80,000. In Russia, prominent TV host Vladimir Solovyov periodically notes his Jewish background. He’s well appreciated by many patriotically minded Russians. Likewise, Russian-Jewish analyst Yevgeny Satanovsky, is accorded respect in his Russian national TV appearances. There’re numerous other examples in Russia, which include the stature of the famous Ukrainian born Jewish singer Iosif Kobzon.

In its short history, post-Soviet Russia, has had more than one prime minister of known Jewish origin. In the 200 plus history of the US, how many people of Jewish background have served as American president and vice president?

During the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Ioffe described the Russian teen figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya as “flat-chested“. I sense that Ioffe would’ve problems in the US market if she were to describe a popular American teen female prodigy as such. (If this example is considered nit picking, let’s see  Ioffe characterize a popular American teen phenom in the same manner.)

Whatever the ethnicity and locale, the bigoted anti-Jewish comments directed at Ioffe, serve to divert attention away from the valid criticism of her. The past tragic history of the Jews, combined with a noticeable Jewish mass media and academic presence, form a staunchly influential opposition to contemporary anti-Jewish bigotry.

In conjunction with that last thought, one senses that Baker, Weisman and numerous others at The NYT (as well as some other major US mass media outlets), have selective blinders when it comes to intolerant remarks. Of late, The NYT has definitely ratcheted up the promotion of negatively inaccurate perceptions about Russia/Russians – something unclear to numerous people – some of whom have a high level of formal education.

The title of Ivan Nechepurenko’s May 16 article “Ukraine’s Eurovision Win Rouses a Chorus of Anger and Suspicion in Russia“, severely deemphasizes the otherwise clearly corrupt Eurovision judging as detailed in Phil Butler’s May 18 Russia Insider piece “Big Brother: Your Eurovision 2016 Judge, Jury, and Executioner“. Nechepurenko writes: “Certainly, her song was interpreted by many as an oblique comment on the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, not to speak of most ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars general distaste for anything and everything Russian.”

A number of facts suggest that view isn’t so great as some suggest. They include the:

  • Ukrainians voting very favorably for the Russian Eurovision contestant
  • polling that shows most ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea supporting that area’s reunification with Russia
  • a town in Kiev regime controlled Ukraine, which prefers that town’s pre-Soviet name Yelisavetgrad honoring a Russian Empire era princess, over its Soviet period name and the one preferred by anti-Russian leaning Ukrainian nationalists
  • the numerous ethnic Ukrainians involved with the pro-Russian Donbas rebels
  • Russian continuing to be the preferred language for many ethnic Ukrainians, regardless of how they view Russia
  • the continued high profile presence of the Moscow Patriarchate affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church
  • indications that a noticeable number of Tatars are okay with Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

Nechepurenko’s stated “general distaste for anything and everything from Russian“, didn’t prevent Ukraine’s 2016 Eurovision contestant from appearing in Sochi in 2015. Her parents remain in Crimea.

Christina Paschyn’s May 19 op-ed “Russia is Trying to Wipe Out Crimea’s Tatars“, is the exact opposite of a relatively objective fact based political history. The article’s title is factually contradicted by post-Soviet Russia’s acknowledgement of the Soviet WW II era collective wrong done to the Crimean Tatars and Crimean Tatar being one of three official languages recognized in Crimea (along with Russian and Ukrainian), since Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

(In response to this observation, some anti-Russian propagandists have noted that Russian remains the most commonly spoken of the three main languages in Crimea. What they’re reluctant to add is that Russian is by choice, the most popular language in Crimea, thereby making it disrespectful to advocate a restriction of that language. Try getting the English speaking majority in Saskatchewan and most of the rest of Canada to change their linguistic preference to French.)

Paschyn’s cherry picked historical accounting omits the slave trade perpetuated by the Crimean Tatar Khanate against Slavs and others. She erroneously suggests that the Crimean Tatars predominated in Crimea before the Rus era Slavs (the descendants of modern day Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians). The Russian Empire’s takeover of Crimea was partly motivated by the persistent threat posed by the Turkish aligned Crimean Tatar Khanate. Within reason, the Russian Empire can be seen as the historical/cultural successor to Rus, prior to its getting subjugated by the Mongols.

Paschyn joins Nechepurneko in ignoring the valid reasons for believing the 2016 Eurovision to be a politically motivated farce. Jamala’s first place song “1944“, concerns an action that happened as WW II was drawing to a close. The May 10 Vineyard Saker blog post “Tell Eurovision in 1944 Stalin Deported Crimean Tatars to protect Them From Punishment for Nazi War Crimes“, offers a counter to Paschymnay’s slant. I don’t agree with everything said in that Vineyard Saker post. IMO, its valid points are clouded by some faultily inappropriate comments.

As that blog piece notes, there’s a reasoned basis to believe that a disproportionate number of Crimean Tatars had collaborated with the Nazis, who treated that community better than others in Crimea. Stalin was no angel. at the same time, he didn’t want to risk a civil war in his country as WW II was still being fought. Hence, the collective deportation of the Crimean Tatars to Soviet Central Asia – an act that arguably prevented a settling of scores. The dire wartime conditions in the USSR and brutish manner of Stalin, best explain the horrid circumstances that led to many Crimean Tatar deaths during their deportation experience.

Post-Soviet Russia has condemned the collective WW II era deportation of the Crimean Tatars, while committing itself to a multi-lingual/multi-cultural Crimea. This compares better to Turkey’s treatment of the Armenian Genocide (a more gruesome act than what the Crimean Tatars experienced) and the Kiev regime’s attitude towards Stepan Bandera and his supporters.

Paschyn’s referenced claim that Stalin had designs on Turkey appear far fetched. His troop movements indicated that he had other priorities. For whatever one negatively thinks of Stalin, he did leave Austria as promised and didn’t actively support the Greek Communists (at the end of WW II), in line with his understanding with the West. As WW II was drawing to a close, Turkey wasn’t in the cards for any noteworthy Soviet influence.

Paschyn mentions the Crimean Tatar activist Mustafa Dzhemilev. No mention is made of his opposition to recognizing the Armenian Genocide and his ethnic cleansing call for having the Russians leave Crimea altogether. Dzhemilev getting banned from entering Crimea is part of a tit for tat process that sees a travel ban against some Russian citizens by Kiev regime controlled Ukraine and the EU.

Given the nature of the Kiev regime, I can disagreeably understand its seeking to exhibit extreme political restrictions. On the other hand, the EU conjures up a more tolerant image. The EU’s non-travel ban on Dzhemilev and travel ban on Iosif Kobzon, is indicative of a politically correct fascism.

Since reunifying with Russia, the Crimean area hasn’t had the degree of politically motivated killings evident in Kiev regime controlled Ukraine. There’re indications that the minority Tatar community in Crimea have (as previously noted) a noticeable element who’ve accepted the desire of the region’s pro-Russian majority.

Maxim Trudolyubov is the kind of quintessential Russian “liberal”, who triggers different reactions. His partisan views against Russia find space in  Western mass media outlets like The NYT. A case in point being his May 26 op-ed “The Sore Losers of Russia“, which is rebuked in a May 27 Proposition 1 blog post “How Maxim Trudolyubov Lets Ideology Trump Facts“.

Trudolyubov’s NYT commentary makes reference to the doping scandal involving Russian athletics (track & field) – something which I commented on this past January 24. As of this writing, a decision is due out soon, on whether Russia’s athletics’ team will be allowed to compete in the upcoming Summer Olympics.

On that subject, The NYT has made clear its preference by regularly featuring articles along the lines of Travis Tygart’s May 25 op-ed “Come Clean Russia, or No Rio“. Tygart takes the position of a flawed moral supremacist and ethnic profiler. To date, there’s no beyond a reasonable doubt evidence that all, or most of Russia’s track and field Olympians are either drug cheats, or greater violators than what exists elsewhere. Moreover, Russian sports officialdom have acknowledged the doping problem (in their country) under sanctioned review and have put forth an effort to improve the monitoring process. It therefore appears discriminatory for Tygart to brazenly support an Olympic ban on the Russian athletics’ team.

Tygart’s uncompassionate stance ignores what legendary Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and some others have said. As is true with many other Russian Olympians, Tygart has no proof of wrongdoing on the part of Isinbayeva and Russia’s athletics’ coach, Yuriy Borzakovskiy, who competed in the 800 meters in four Summer Olympics, inclusive of his 2004 gold medal victory.

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. This article was initially placed as a two part feature at the Strategic Culture Foundation’s website on June 7 and 8.


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Michael Averko

Michael Averko

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. He has appeared as a guest commentator on the BBC and WABC talk radio, in addition to having been a panelist at the World Russia Forum, Russia Forum New York and US-Russia.org Experts' Panel. Besides Averko's Eurasia Review column - Counterpunch, Foreign Policy Journal, Global Research, History News Network, InoSMI.Ru, Johnson's Russia List, Journal of Turkish Weekly, Kyiv Post, Oriental Review, Penza News, Pravda.Ru, Pravoslavie.Ru, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russia Insider, Sputnik News, Strategic Culture Foundation, The Huffington Post, Valdai Discussion Club and WikiLeaks, are among the numerous venues where his commentary have either appeared or been referenced. The American Institute in Ukraine and the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, have referenced some of his commentary, along with academic white papers prepared for NATO Watch, Ohio State University, Problems of Post-Communism and the Royal College of Defence Studies. He is source referenced in Richard Sakwa's book "Frontline Ukraine". Averko's Eurasia Review article on Pavlo Skoropadsky, provides the first full online transcript of Skoropadsky's edict calling for an "All-Russian Federation", inclusive of Russia and Ukraine. Among other issues, that article explains the relationships among the major combatants in the Russian Civil War. He can be reached via [email protected]

7 thoughts on “Enhanced Russia Bashing At The New York Times – Analysis

  • June 9, 2016 at 12:41 pm
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    We have newer heard abouth the biggest, minority Roma (Gipsyes) whos livinconditions sre worst, of all also, in Russia. No speach, no writing abouth, the them. I dont count the big artist, wriers ew.t.c, The orginal gipsayes!

    Reply
  • June 9, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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    “…a disproportionate number of Crimean Tatars had collaborated with the Nazis…”

    Are those the same Nazis with whom Russia started WWII…in 1939…by invading Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland? …which did much to compile a total death toll of 100 million killed by Russia in the past 100 years?

    Reply
    • Misha
      June 10, 2016 at 7:13 am
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      Never mind what happened earlier in 1938, when Poland and Hungary joined Nazi Germany in the dismemberment of democratic Czechoslovakia.

      The Soviet Union sought a Western alliance against such activity but was rebuffed. Hence, the Kremlin’s non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. BTW, Poland had signed a similar pact with Germany in 1934.

      Regarding the Soviet-Finnish War: in an effort to avert armed conflict, Stalin proposed a land swap which the Finns refused (as was their right). Stalin sought this land change for the strategic belief that in a quite likely future Nazi-Soviet war, the Finns would side with the Nazis.

      The Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact wasn’t along the lines of a “friendship” treaty. Stalin bungled in not anticipating the actual timing of the Nazi-Soviet armed conflict.

      As a somewhat related aside: were it not for the USSR, Vilnius (might very well) wouldn’t have been part of present day Lithuania.

      Reply
  • June 14, 2016 at 1:10 pm
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    Mike, your articles always bring additional insight into complex international issues. Keep up your excellent work.

    Reply
  • Misha
    June 15, 2016 at 3:41 pm
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    Appreciate your feedback Walter, much unlike the bully pulpit hack attacks evident at some venues.

    Have no problem with informal counter-views made within a reasonably civil and intelligent manner.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2017 at 12:19 am
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    Another excellent article by Mike. We need more people who realize that friendship with Russia is in America’s best interests.

    Reply

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