We noted last year that – despite all of the mea culpas for horrible Iraq coverage – the American media was doing the exact same thing in Syria.
As the Ukraine crisis continues to deepen, the mainstream U.S. news media is sinking to new lows of propaganda and incompetence. Somehow, a violent neo-Nazi-spearheaded putsch overthrowing a democratically elected president was refashioned into a “legitimate” regime, then the “interim” government and now simply “Ukraine.”
The Washington Post’s screaming headline on Sunday is “Ukraine decries Russian ‘invasion,’” treating the coup regime in Kiev as if it speaks for the entire country when it clearly speaks for only a subset of the population, mostly from western Ukraine. The regime’s “legitimacy” comes not from a democratic election but from a coup that was quickly embraced by the U.S. government and the European Union.
Objective U.S. journalists would insist on a truthful narrative that conveys these nuances to the American people, not simply behave as clumsy propagandists determined to glue “white hats” on the side favored by the State Department and “black hats” on everyone that the U.S. government disdains. But virtually the entire mainstream press corps has opted for the propaganda role, much as it has in the past. Think Iraq 2002-03.
You also might remember the mainstream media’s rush to judgment over the Sarin attack in Syria on Aug. 21, 2013. The State Department rashly blamed the incident on the Syrian government despite serious doubts inside the U.S. intelligence community. [Background]
You’ve had a similar rush to judgment in connection with the violence that broke out in Kiev last month. The U.S. government and news media blamed lethal sniper fire on the government of President Viktor Yanukovych and – after he was driven from office by a neo-Nazi-led putsch on Feb. 22 – the U.S. media made much of how the new rump regime in Kiev had accused Yanukovych of mass murder.
However, according to an intercepted phone conversation between Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, Paet reported on a conversation that he had with a doctor in Kiev who said the sniper fire that killed protesters was the same that killed police officers.
As reported by the UK Guardian, “During the conversation, Paet quoted a woman named Olga – who the Russian media identified her as Olga Bogomolets, a doctor – blaming snipers from the opposition shooting the protesters.”
Paet said, “What was quite disturbing, this same Olga told that, well, all the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.
“So she also showed me some photos, she said that as medical doctor, she can say it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened. … So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition.”
Ashton replied: “I think we do want to investigate. I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh.”
[And the former Ukranian security chief also alleges that the new Ukranian government was responsible for the sniper fire.]
This important evidence regarding who was responsible for the crucial sniper fire, which sparked the violent coup, has been virtually blacked out of the mainstream U.S. news media, along with the sudden disinterest on the part of the coup regime to investigate who committed those murders. Yet, instead of repairing the rotting foundation of Official Washington’s false narrative, the major news organizations just keep building upon it.
Whiting Out the Brown Shirts
The next step is to white-out the brown shirts of the neo-Nazi storm troopers who led the final violent overthrow of Yanukovych. Then, you clean up the unsavory coup regime by having its U.S.-chosen leader, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, receive a formal welcome at the White House. Next, you pretend that the concerns of the ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s east and south are simply the result of Moscow’s propaganda and intimidation.
That’s what we’re seeing now. The New York Times even dispatched correspondent C.J. Chivers, the same guy who falsely fingered the Syrian government with that “vector analysis” last September, to co-author a dispatch entitled “Pressure and Intimidation Grip Crimea,” with the subtitle, “Russia Moves Swiftly to Stifle Dissent Ahead of Secession Vote.”
You get the picture? While the New York Times accepted the rump parliament’s actions in Kiev last month as “legitimate” – voting in lock step under the watchful of eye of neo-Nazi militias to depose Yanukovych and strip away rights of ethnic Russians – a different standard will apply to Crimea’s referendum on bailing out of the failed Ukrainian state.
That vote, if it favors secession, must be seen as rigged and resulting only from Russian coercion, all the better to continue the false narrative that now dominates the U.S. political/media process.
Yet, the danger of false narratives – as the American people saw in Iraq and almost revisited in Syria – is that policies, including warfare, can be driven by myth, not by fact. The real story of Ukraine is far more complex than the black-and-white caricature that the New York Times, the Washington Post and others are presenting. It is in the truthful grays that responsible policies are shaped and bloody miscalculations are avoided.