Lately Kremlin spokespeople and supporters have been hysterically screaming about impending “information attacks” that are being prepared by the evil Western media against the Glorious Leader Vladimir Putin. Whereas in the past they used to wait for negative stories to break, now they are denying them in advance. In fact they’re not even really denying them. They’ve got to a point where you just point your finger and say something like “State Department” and that’s enough for the domestic audience.
Apart from this shift to preemptive denial, none of this is particularly surprising behavior coming from the Kremlin. Their media machine literally does cook up phony stories about other countries and governments, and in their cargo cult-like mentality they assume they’re just doing what the “Western media” does. Of course this isn’t how it works in reality. When “Western media,” AKA any media outlet that fails to report the Kremlin’s version of events, actually gets something incorrect about Russia, it’s almost always due to flaws inherent in the system. Journalists or correspondents with little experience in the country, using the wrong fixers, etc. Occasionally you get a journalist or reporter with a strong confirmation bias who will take as gospel the words of any random opposition intellectual, no matter how sensational. But as I’ve said plenty of times, if you pitch a story to an editor, can’t explain or corroborate your sources, and your only defense is “Hey this makes Russia look bad and we are in an information war,” you’re going to be out of a job very quickly.
Long time followers have no doubt noticed that whenever the Kremlin supporters accuse others of doing something, they are the ones actually or most actively doing it. This is due to what seems to be their system of justification, whereby they tell themselves and one another that “The West does X. Everyone’s doing X. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to do X?” Once everyone has agreed that this is the case in a process that apparently involves no dissent or devil’s advocacy, they go and do X, whether the other side does it or not. If you want to see a perfect example of this phenomenon when it comes to “information attacks,” look no further than the Russian media’s repeated smear campaigns against European countries, where they constantly inform their audience that Europe is not only full of gays and radical Muslim hordes, but also organized pedophiles.
Imagine the Russian reaction if the Western media ever responded in kind? Pedophiles supposedly organizing political parties in Europe (they didn’t, read the story in the link above)? What could you say about a country run by a guy who does this in public:
Of course such a smear campaign wouldn’t be tolerated by any respectable media anywhere in the world. This simply isn’t the business they’re in. But if you’re a producer in the Russian media, it’s perfectly acceptable to smear Western countries as havens for organized pedophiles.
This topic really strikes a nerve with me because I’ve actually had a run-in with a Russian media employee who was involved in airing one of these sick smear stories. When I read the script and told her I couldn’t accept the job, she just disappeared, almost as though she knew exactly why. She knew, and she still works there.
The background narrative behind all these stories is, as many readers already know, the juxtaposition between the “degenerate, amoral” West and Russia, the last bastion of true Christian values. Since few Russians actually go to church or make any effort to study their faith, we can forgive them for never reading such Bible commandments as “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” And what else can one call it when a nation’s media deliberately lies about such an inflammatory topic?
Yet whether it’s claiming the West is a paradise for pedophiles (ask Jared from Subway about that) or tall tales of Ukrainian Nazis crucifying little kids (presumably before their European masters can molest them), the Kremlin-owned media continues to manufacture bullshit while accusing the rest of the world’s media of launching “information attacks” against them. If that seems shocking to you in any way, you must be new here. Welcome to Russian politics.