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Covering Russia: What CNN And Fox News Media Review Shows Omit – Analysis


US attitudes towards Russia bring to mind the overall poor coverage of that country on the leading American TV news networks. A certain preferred slant regularly gets the upper hand. This month has seen some occurrences of that ongoing trend, which don’t (at least for the most part) get reviewed on the Sunday morning aired Fox News show “Media Buzz“, hosted by Howard Kurtz, and its CNN rival (aired at the same time) “Reliable Sources“.

RT picked up on the Fox News utilized “Democratic strategist” Julie Roginsky in a bully pulpit segment, where she stated a series of negatively inexact comments against Russia. In response, some of the posted comments at the online RT piece in question, derisively noted her Jewish former Soviet background. At play are some stereotypes which aren’t accurate.

In some circles especially, the anti-Jewish posted comments will conjure up the inaccurate image of Russia as a Jewish unfriendly place – never minding the noticeable number of Jews who’ve returned to Russia from Israel and elsewhere, as well as the Jews inside and outside Russia who’ve a positive image of Europe’s largest country. This observation isn’t intended to gloss over past discriminatory instances and some (stress some) present negatives in Russia (as if other countries are so pristine.) Rather, it’s to put things in a truer perspective.

Keep in mind that the ethnicity and nationality of the commenters isn’t known. RT’s English version is primarily geared to an English speaking audience outside Russia. RT’s staff is multi-national, with a strong non-Russian contingent. It’s not out of line for a pro-Russian advocate to respectfully caution RT on which posted comments get approved. Comments deemed as bigoted and associated with RT (in one form or another) don’t help that network’s reputation, which has been unfairly portrayed as is.

Roginsky, Masha Gessen and Julia Ioffe don’t represent all Jewish people with roots from the former USSR. Relying mainly on US mass media can subconsciously influence perceptions. US mass media focuses on the negatives in Russia. Hence, there’s a top heavy reliance on anti-Russian leaning sources, regardless of their ethno-religious origin.

Over the years, I’ve had numerous discussions with Jewish people from Brighton Beach (and elsewhere in the US) with former Soviet roots, who differ with the preferred US mass media slant. Likewise with those having a non-Jewish former Soviet and/or former Russian Empire background from other parts of the US – mostly ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians, as well as those of mixed backgrounds.

On another matter, the May 15 Washington Post (WaPo) article, claiming that Donald Trump faultily gave Intel to Russians at his recent Oval Office meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, drew much coverage on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.

In an exchange with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, longtime Vermont Democratic Senator Pat Leahy, conveyed apprehension about that claim. Shortly thereafter on Fox News, Laura Ingraham, expressed astonishment that Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker, appeared more willing to believe The WaPo story than Leahy. Later on in the evening, CNN’s Jim Sciutto suggestively gave a kudos to Corker.

Sciutto carrying on as such is no surprise given his track record. Ingraham shouldn’t be so amazed. Corker is very much a foreign policy establishment type, as evidenced by the suggestive approval he received from Sciutto. Leahy has ample reason to second guess the latest WaPo story in question. Recall the not so distantly hyped WaPo story which (as later revealed) had erroneously claimed that Russia hacked the power grid in Leahy’s home state. CNN was all over that story until it was shown to be a nothing burger. I don’t recall this matter noted on the weekly CNN media review show hosted by Brian Stelter.

The following day (May 16) saw the claim that Israel was the Intel source which Trump (as claimed) gave to the Russians. Very much downplayed are the very high level Russian-Israeli discussions over the past few years, which have been known to involve Intel matters. The heavily influenced neocon/neolib US mass media is prone to not second guess some questionable claims that don’t fit their preference concerning Russia related matters. Don’t be surprised if the spin on Trump compromising a US ally turns out to be bloated sensationalism, as seems true with some earlier instances.

During a May 10 Brian Williams hosted MSNBC segment, Ioffe brought up how happy Trump looked with Lavrov and Kislyak, in comparison to Trump’s meeting with Angela Merkel. Hint: the Russian government has people who aren’t such ogres when compared to their Western counterparts. Merkel downplays the level of violent nationalism and corruption in Kiev regime controlled Ukraine – contrasted with her pious scorn against Russia. Besides this ethical inconsistency, perhaps Merkel isn’t as interesting and enjoyable a guest as Lavrov and/or Kislyak. In any event, it’s problematical to pursue better relations with Russia, when one is criticized for appearing friendly with that nation as others (like the US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley) carryon in an opposite manner, with limited high profile criticism.

Former Soviet spy Jack Barsky is making the rounds on CNN and MSNBC. He doesn’t offer much, if anything, in terms of new and interesting insight. His clear purpose is to (supposedly) show how present day Russia and the USSR are much the same. In actuality, there’re noticeable differences that include savvy Russians (government affiliated and otherwise) who don’t shy away from the likes of Sciutto and Blitzer.

A truly fair and balanced mass media would feature the intelligent opposites to Barsky, Ioffe and Michael McFaul. The former grouping include some folks who aren’t regular JRL (Johnson’s Russia List) court appointed Russia friendlies.

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. This article was initially placed at the Strategic Culture Foundation’s website on May 17.

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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 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 Duran, The Huffington Post, Valdai Discussion Club, Yonkers Tribune and WikiLeaks, are among the numerous venues where his articles have either appeared or been referenced. The American Institute in Ukraine and the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, have referenced some of Averko's articles, along with academic white papers prepared for NATO Watch, Ohio State University, Problems of Post-Communism and the Royal College of Defence Studies. He has been referenced in the Council on Foreign Relations, Defense One and The New York Times. Averko is source referenced in Richard Sakwa's book "Frontline Ukraine". His Eurasia Review article on Pavlo Skoropadsky, provides the first full online English language 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]

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