Propaganda: the U.S. ‘News’ Media Coverage of Ukraine’s Civil War

The New York Review of Books is a leading intellectual publication in the United States, and it (like all of the major U.S. “news” media) has “reported” on the Ukrainian civil war as having been incited by Russia’s Vladimir Putin — a simple-minded explanation, which also happens to be deeply false.

The reality is that the residents of southern Ukraine, the part of Ukraine adjoining Russia, were overwhelmingly opposed to the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, though they are portrayed in NYRB (and other “news” media) as being mere stooges of Russian propaganda for their opposing the coup that overthrew the President for whom they had voted overwhelmingly. (The only thing that America’s “news” media had previously reported about Yanukovych is that he was corrupt; but so were all of his predecessors, and U.S. media ignored this crucial fact. Selective reporting is basic to propaganda, and the U.S. major media are trained masters at it. Without a person’s knowing that Ukraine is by far the most corrupt country in the former Soviet Union, and the one with the worst economic performance of them all, Ukraine’s politics just can’t be understood at all: it has long been an extreme kleptocracy, ruled by psychopathic politicians, for the benefit of psychopathic oligarchs, who have robbed the country blind. That’s the deeper truth — and it’s key to understanding the current situation there.)

So: by digging into an example, the rot in U.S. “news” media will be dissected here, and the truth in Ukraine will be exposed here.

On 28 April 2014, NYRB’s reporter Tim Judah headlined from Donetsk in the south, “Ukraine: Hate in Progress.” He (falsely) analogized the opponents against that coup as being similar to the separatists in Yugoslavia whose ethnocentrism had produced the atrocities during the civil war that broke up Yugoslavia. Judah wrote:

“Talk to people manning the anti-government barricades and taking part in the demonstrations against Kiev [in the north] here, … and one thing in particular is scary. After a day or two you realize that they all say more or less the same thing. ‘We want to be listened to,’ people say. The government in Kiev, which took power after the pro-European revolution there, is a ‘fascist junta’ backed by Europe and the US. It is as though the Russian media—which is widely watched and read here—has somehow embedded these messages into the heads of people and they have lost the ability to think for themselves. … All that seems to be registering right now is a nationalist and hysterical drumbeat from Russia about the new Nazis of Kiev and their NATO masters. [Judah’s article provides no evidence against that ‘Nazis of Kiev’ viewpont; he simply ignores it, as if it’s not even worth checking out — and he’s supposed to be a ‘reporter.’ Instead, he goes immediately into his mere assumption that the rejectionists of the coup are the source of his alleged ‘Hate in Progress.’] This is ominously reminiscent of what the Serbian media and other bits of the former Yugoslav media did when Yugoslavia collapsed. Then, Serbs were subjected to endless documentaries about Croatia’s wartime fascists, whom they were told were coming back. Now the Russian media says the fascists have returned.”

Judah had spent about ten days in Ukraine, to do that story.

By contrast, the website OpedNews is no such prestigious source of news and commentary as NYRB, and it’s far less influential. On 16 March 2014, they published a report from George Eliason, an American who didn’t spend only ten days in Ukraine, but who instead lives in southern Ukraine; and it was titled “The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid of.” He provided a very different historical context, taken not falsely from Yugoslavian history and culture, but truly from Ukrainian history and culture (which is obviously far more relevant to the actual matter at hand here):

“Even though the German SS had units dedicated to genocide, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) approached this mission [from Hitler’s SS] with a zeal and barbarity that Hitler’s own units could not muster.” Eliason noted that, “The atrocities at Babi Yar [in northern Ukraine], and the accompanying brutality, were left to SS Nachtigall and the polizei. Both were Banderite [north Ukrainian]. The reason was simple. The brutal work of genocide at this level made even hardened German SS uncomfortable.” Eliason documented that the politicians whom the U.S. had placed into power in the February 2014 coupwere “Banderite.” He quoted “Dmitri Yarosh (Trizub and Pravy Sektor, and Assistant Secretary of Defense … [in the U.S.-coup-imposed government]): ‘It is better for us to build our own National State! Does that mean knives to the Moskals [Russian-speakers] and ropes to the Jews? Well, not so unsophisticated. There must be a Ukrainian authority in Ukraine; … then forced Ukrainization. Russians do not like it? Well, go back to Russia! Those that don’t want to go–we can help them. Russians are not even Slavs. … Next we will liberate our lands: Voronezh, Kursk, Belogorod Oblast, and Kuban. These are all Ukrainian lands!’” Eliason noted: “The only problem is all of these Oblasts (regions) are in Russia!” Eliason, who lives in southern Ukraine, reported the reality that the visitor, Judah, didn’t so much as even mention. The intense and aggressive hatred ran in the opposite direction: not northwestward from Russia in the southeast (such as Judah supposed), but instead southeastward against Russian-speaking Ukrainians and against Russia itself.

Lest one get the false impression that Eliason might have been selectively quoting there, this is what Yulia Tymoshenko, Obama’s preferred candidate to win the 25 May 2014 election (she lost; she was too rightwing for most Ukrainians to vote for as President), had said in a tapped phone conversation, leaked public on 24 March 2014: “We must grab arms and go whack those damn katsaps [a Ukrainian word used to refer to the Russians in a negative tone] together with their leader … I’ll use all my connections, I’ll raise the whole world – as soon as I’m able to – in order to make sure. .. not even scorched earth won’t remain where Russia stands. … They must be killed with nuclear weapons.”

Tymoshenko’s ally, the oligarch Ihor Kolomoyski, masterminded the 2 May 2014 rounding-up and burning of Odessa’s proponents of independence from the Kiev regime. This incineration was done inside Odessa’s Trade Unions Building, and this roasting of more than 200 civilians there was the event that sparked Ukraine’s civil war, because it made unequivocal the hate against them coming from the Obama-installed leaders in the northwest. (Kolomoyski himself lived in Switzerland, with his $6 billion heisted fortune.)

As the Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky has documented, the Obama Administration placed leading fascists, and even some overt neo-Nazis, at the top of the post-coup government.

Why should residents of southeastern Ukraine (an area that never admired Hitler) not fear being ruled by the people that Obama imposed to rule Ukraine? The residents in that region are exposed to propaganda from both the east and the west, the north and the south. Americans, who are exposed only to our own nation’s propaganda, won’t know that Obama installed a fascist regime in Ukraine, but it’s an established historical fact, and it’s one known painfully well, first-hand, in southeastern Ukraine, no matter what America’s “reporters,” such as Tim Judah, say to blur or distract from it. The owners of America’s major “news” media don’t want us to know it — and they hire and fire such “reporters,” so that very few of us will (and so that even fewer of us will know why this was done).

It’s not just “Saddam’s WMD” that the U.S. major “news” media passed stenographically to the American public as “news reporting” from a lying White House. Nothing has basically changed; it’s merely a different war, that’s all. But this one’s against Russia, a much more potent target, and potentially far more catastrophic outcome for everyone. Done for only the international aristocrats, who enjoy “the great game.”


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Articles by: Eric Zuesse

About the author:

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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