By Paul Goble
The residents of some countries have been seeing the consequences of having a national leader who relies on television outlets that play back to him exactly what he wants to hear rather than on alternative sources of information. Now, it appears, Russians may have a similar and equally disturbing experience with Vladimir Putin.
At a meeting with members of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Irina Petrovskaya of Novaya gazeta says,Vladimir Putin said he had no knowledge of some things they were telling him because no one had told him and there was no other way for him to learn what was happening (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/12/13/78925-tv-vrat-ne-budet).
At the same time, the Kremlin leader acknowledged that he “regularly watches television” from which he said he could expect to learn about the most important of these affairs. But as anyone who watches state-controlled television knows, its channels aren’t going to report on dissidents very often and so those who rely on it for information simply won’t know.
As the Novaya gazeta commentator says, “there is no such information on television. Or almost none. Or there is but it turns things upside down and introduces delusions not only for the president but also for trusting television viewers.” Indeed, what Moscow TV normally says about human rights activists and human rights violations is anything but accurate.
In some countries, a leader who wants to rely on television for his understanding of the world has to choose one of only a few channels that promotes what he wants to hear. In Russia, in contrast, Putin has lots of choice: he only has to avoid the few remaining channels that his propagandists don’t control.