March 3, 2014
The Nation

How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine

by Stephen F. Cohen

The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country still vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines - particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin - is an indication, this media malpractice is now pervasive and the new norm.

There are notable exceptions, but a general pattern has developed. Even in the venerable New York Times and Washington Post, news reports, editorials and commentaries no longer adhere rigorously to traditional journalistic standards, often failing to provide essential facts and context; to make a clear distinction between reporting and analysis; to require at least two different political or "expert" views on major developments; or to publish opposing opinions on their op-ed pages. As a result, American media on Russia today are less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.

The history of this degradation is also clear. It began in the early 1990s, following the end of the Soviet Union, when the US media adopted Washington's narrative that almost everything President Boris Yeltsin did was a "transition from communism to democracy" and thus in America's best interests. . . .

Since the early 2000s, the media have followed a different leader-centric narrative, also consistent with US policy, that devalues multifaceted analysis for a relentless demonization of Putin, with little regard for facts. . . .


Charter of the United Nations: "No State or group of States has the right to intervene or interfere in any form or for any reason whatsoever in the internal and external affairs of other States."

Enver Masud, "Deadly Deception, Pretexts for War," The Wisdom Fund, July 30, 2001

Daniel Mcadams, "Tape Reveals US Runs Ukraine Opposition,", February 6, 2014

Paul Craig Roberts, "The Neo-Nazis of Ukraine,", February 27, 2014

Peter Lee, "Problems in Ukraine? Blame Russia!,", February 28, 2014

Nicolas J.S. Davies, "35 Countries Where the U.S. Has Supported Fascists, Drug Lords and Terrorists,", March 4, 2014

"Russia's 25,000-troop allowance & other facts you may not know about Crimea,", March 5, 2014

[Under the terms of its agreement with Ukraine, Russia is entitled to have 25,000 troops on the peninsula and currently has an estimated 16,000 deployed there. But these troops have to remain on base.--"Ukraine crisis: Does Russia have a case?,", March 5, 2014]

[. . . this was an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of power.--"Vladimir Putin answered journalists' questions on the situation in Ukraine,", March 6, 2014]

My Catbird Seat"Crisis in Ukraine fomented by the Neo-Con Kagan family,", March 6, 2014

Andrew Levine, "Must Putin Save Us Again? Crimea, This Time,", March 7, 2014

Paul Craig Roberts, "The Looting Of Ukraine Has Begun,", March 7, 2014

Zachary Keck, "India Backs Russia's 'Legitimate Interests' in Ukraine,", March 8, 2014

The Truthseeker, RT, March 9, 2014

Pepe Escobar, "The new Great (Threat) Game in Eurasia,", March 12, 2014

"Crimean parliament formally applies to join Russia,", March 17, 2014

[The US State Department has practically agreed to a federal and in fact Finlandized Ukraine . . . the solution being proposed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov right from the start.--Pepe Escobar, "Russia 1, Regime Changers 0,", March 17, 2014]

Jim Wald, "Leaked report: Israel acknowledges Jews in fact Khazars; Secret plan for reverse migration to Ukraine,", March 18, 2014

[Was it not predictable that Russia, a great power that had just seen its neighbor yanked out of Russia's orbit by a U.S.-backed coup in Kiev, would move to protect a strategic position on the Black Sea she has held for two centuries?--Patrick J. Buchanan, "Is Putin the Irrational One?,", March 18, 2014]

"Address by President of the Russian Federation,", March 18, 2014

"Obama to Putin: Do as I Say Not as I Do,", March 21, 2014

VIDEO: "Exposed: Obama states Kosovo left Serbia only after referendum, but there was NO referendum at all,", March 27, 2014

Patrick J. Buchanan, "Behind the Russian Rage,", March 28, 2014

[In the calculus of western interests there is no suffering, whatever its scale, which cannot be justified. Chechens, Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis are of little importance. Nonetheless, the contrast between the west's attitude to the Chechen war and Crimea is startling.

The Crimean affair led to barely any loss of life, and the population clearly wanted to be part of Russia. The White House's reaction has been the opposite of its reaction to Chechnya. Why? Because Putin, unlike Yeltsin, is refusing to play ball any more on the things that matter such as Nato expansion, sanctions on Iran, Syria etc. --Tariq Ali, "How Vladimir Putin became evil,", March 28, 2014]

[This year could also see the breakup of NATO and even the EU. Washington's reckless coup in Ukraine and threat of sanctions against Russia have pushed its NATO puppet states onto dangerous ground. Washington misjudged the reaction in Ukraine to its overthrow of the elected democratic government and imposition of a stooge government. Crimea quickly departed Ukraine and rejoined Russia. Other former Russian territories in Ukraine might soon follow. Protesters in Lugansk, Donetsk, and Kharkov are demanding their own referendums. Protesters have declared the Donetsk People's Republic and Kharkov People's Republic. Washington's stooge government in Kiev has threatened to put the protests down with violence. Washington claims that the protests are organized by Russia, but no one believes Washington, not even its Ukrainian stooges.--Paul Craig Roberts, "Is the US or the World Coming to an End?,", April 9, 2014]

Naomi Klein, "Why US Fracking Companies Are Licking Their Lips Over Ukraine,", April 9, 2014

Robert Parry, "NYT Retracts Russian-Photo Scoop: After starting a propaganda stampede - with a lead story about photos of Russian troops purportedly in Ukraine - the New York Times admits the pictures really don't prove much,", April 9, 2014

[The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe.--Mike Whitney, "Is Putin Being Lured Into a Trap?,", April 15, 2014]

['We are aware that NATO membership for a unified Germany raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.'--Walter C. Uhler, "Dear NATO: Are You Lying about Russia or Simply Incompetent?,", April 15, 2014]

Loren Thompson, "Four Ways The Ukraine Crisis Could Escalate To Use Of Nuclear Weapons,", April 24, 2014

Paul Craig Roberts, "Moving Closer To War,", April 26, 2014

CrossTalk, RT, April 28, 2014

Ray McGovern, "Kerry's Propaganda War on Russia's RT,", April 30, 2014

Paul Craig Roberts, "Washington Intends Russia's Demise,", May 2, 2014

[Amidst rising tensions between Ukraine, Russia and the west, the corporate media studiously avoids Chernobyl. But Belarus and Ukraine long ago estimated its cost to their countries at $250 billion each. One major study puts the global death toll at more than a million human beings.--Harvey Wasserman, "The New York Times Pens an 'Epitaph' for Nuke Power,", May 5, 2014]

John Pilger, "Break the silence: a world war is beckoning,", May 13, 2014

[US war doctrine has been changed. US nuclear weapons are no longer restricted to a retaliatory force, but have been elevated to the role of preemptive nuclear attack.--Paul Craig Roberts, "Washington Is Beating The War Drums,", June 17, 2014

[After days of placing hostile blame for the downing of the Malaysian airliner on Russia, the White House permitted US intelligence officials to tell reporters that there is no evidence of the Russian government's involvement.--Paul Craig Roberts, "MH17: No Evidence Russia Did It -- US Intelligence,", July 23, 2014]

[On August 1, 1991, just four months before Ukraine declared its independence of Russia, George H. W. Bush warned Kiev's legislature:

"Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred."--Patrick J. Buchanan, "Is Putin Worse Than Stalin?,", July 25, 2014]

[NATO commander General Breedlove and Senate bill 2277 clearly indicate that Washington is organizing itself and Europe for war against Russia . . .

The view in Washington of the neoconservatives, who control the Obama regime, is that nuclear war is winnable.--Paul Craig Roberts, "Does Russia (And Humanity) Have A Future?,", July 26, 2014]

[The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU's expansion eastward and the West's backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine - beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 - were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected and pro-Russian president - which he rightly labeled a "coup" - was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.--John J. Mearsheimer, "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin,", September/October 2014]

[Washington's only interest is in hegemony. Washington has no interest in resolving the situation that Washington itself created in order to bring discomfort and confusion to Russia.--Paul Craig Roberts, "Washington Piles Lie Upon Lie,", August 28, 2014]

Robert Parry, "Who's Telling the 'Big Lie' on Ukraine?,", September 2, 2014

William Blum, "Hiding Ukraine's Neo-Nazi Reality,", September 16, 2014

[The entire world knows that Washington overthrew the elected Ukrainian government, that Washington refuses to release its satellite photos of the destruction of the Malaysian airliner, that Ukraine refuses to release its air traffic control instructions to the airliner, that Washington has prevented a real investigation of the airliner's destruction--Paul Craig Roberts, "Will Russia and China Hold Their Fire Until War Is the Only Alternative?,", September 25, 2014]

[The Russian Orthodox Church blames the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), centered in Western Ukraine, for fomenting war and creating an alliance with "schismatic" elements of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.--Victor Gaetan, " Catholic Geopolitics: The Pope, Erdogan, Syria, and Ukraine,", December 4, 2014]

Patrick L Smith, "New York Times propagandists exposed: Finally, the truth about Ukraine and Putin emerges,", December 4, 2014

[European Jews are in fact descended from Khazars, a war-like Mongol-Tatar group that ruled over Ukraine and southern Russia, which mass-converted to Judaism in the eighth century AD.

Proof that Ashkenazi Jews, which make up a majority of the Israeli Jewish population, have no historical link to Palestine would call into question the entire premise of Israel as the historical '5,000-year old' homeland of the Jewish people.--Wayne Madsen, "Israel's Secret Plan for a 'Second Israel' in Ukraine,", December 8, 2014]

[Under the guise of democratizing, the West stripped Ukraine of its sovereignty with a U.S.-backed coup, employed it as a foil to advance NATO to the Russian border and reignited the Cold War, complete with another nuclear showdown.--Dennis Kucinich, "Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking,", December 16, 2014]

[Robert Parry, "The Liberal Idiocy on Russia/Ukraine,", December 22, 2014]

[NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing "non-governmental organizations" inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.--Robert Parry, "CIA's Hidden Hand in 'Democracy' Groups,", January 8, 2015]

[Ukraine isn't important geographically; Russia matters more than Ukraine to America; blame is widely shared for Ukraine's travails; Washington never guaranteed Ukraine's security; Vladimir Putin is not Hitler and Russia is not Nazi Germany--Doug Bandow, "U.S. Should Stay Out Of The Russo-Ukrainian Quarrel: Why The Conflict In Ukraine Isn't America's Business,", January 22, 2015]

Frederic Mousseau, "West's agri-giants snap up Ukraine,", January 28, 2015

[Rule number one of geopolitics: nuclear-armed powers must never, ever fight.--Eric Margolis, "March to Folly in Ukraine,", January 31, 2015]

["Crimea is historically Russian; it has Russia's only warm-water port, the home of Russia's fleet; and has enormous strategic significance."

. . . as we learned from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the US spent $5 billion in building opposition to the government in Ukraine.--Kevin B. Zeese, "Chomsky and Kissinger Agree: Avoid the Historic Tragedy of Ukraine,", February 7, 2015]

"Ukraine crisis: Leaders agree peace roadmap,", February 12, 2015

[As Washington is not a partner to the Minsk peace deal, how can there be peace when Washington has made policy decisions to escalate the conflict and to use the conflict as a proxy war between the US and Russia?--Paul Craig Roberts, "The Minsk Peace Deal: Farce Or Sellout?,", February 12, 2015]

[Is the New York Times really suggesting that Putin pulled the strings on the likes of Merkel and Nuland, secretly organized neo-Nazi brigades, and ruthlessly deployed these thugs to Kiev to provoke violence and overthrow Yanukovych, all while pretending to try to save Yanukovych's government - all so Putin could advance some dastardly plot to conquer Europe?--Robert Parry, "The Putin-Did-It Conspiracy Theory,", February 13, 2015]

Eric Margolis, "Putin Heads Off a US-Russia War,", February 15, 2015

[Seven countries in five years and the US dollar is rising from the dead. Ukraine fulfilled its purpose--"Seven countries in five years,", February 19, 2015]

[In an intercepted phone call with our ambassador in Kiev, Nuland identified the man we preferred when President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. "Yats," she called him. And when Yanukovych fled after the Maidan massacre, sure enough, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was in power.

Nuland also revealed that the U.S. had spent $5 billion since 1991 to bring about the reorientation of Ukraine toward the West.--Patrick J. Buchanan, "Are NGOs Agents of Subversion?,", March 24, 2015]

[In any situation we benefit from peace. In conditions of peace, as Russia's resource base grows, as new allies (former partners of the United States) go over to its side, and as Washington becomes progressively marginalized, territorial restructuring will become far simpler and temporarily less significant, especially for those being restructured.--The Saker, "What does Putin want? A major analysis by Rostislav Ishchenko,", April 22, 2015]

Patrick L Smith, "The New York Times does its government's bidding: Here's what you're not being told about U.S. troops in Ukraine,", May 7, 2015]

VIDEO: "The West Isn't Out to Save Ukraine; It's Out to Profit From a Growing Crisis,", June 11, 2015

Robert Parry, "Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists,", July 7, 2015

Robert Parry, "Troubling Gaps in the New MH-17 Report,", September 28, 2016

"they did a coup on Russia's doorstep, Kiev" @ 29:45 min CIA Analyst Ray McGovern, LPAC, January 16, 2017

[Then there is the Donbas basin that straddles Ukraine's eastern frontier with Russia, which has long been famed for coal deposits estimated to have extractable reserves of around 10 billion tons. . . . Recent geology-based assessments by the U.S. Geological Service have suggested the presence of 1.4 billion barrels of oil and 2.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, . . . Alongside this sit the natural gas supplies of Turkmenistan. With no less than 700 trillion cubic feet of natural gas estimated to be below the ground.--Peter Frankopan, "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World," Vintage; Reprint edition (March 7, 2017) p.493]

Manlio Dinucci, "Who is the Neo Nazi in Europe? Nato,", June 17, 2017

President Donald Trump's children have made front pages across the world for their dicey transactions. However, the media has barely looked into questionable deals made by those close to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Mitch McConnell, and lesser-known politicians who have been in the game longer.--Peter Schweizer, "Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends," HHarper (March 20, 2018)

[The U.S.-backed "Euromaidan" uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead.--Daniel Lazare, "Corporate Media's About-Face on Ukraine's Neo-Nazis,", July 5, 2018]

The neocon former US Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, admitted her organization had spent $5 billion to overthrow Ukraine's pro-Russian government.--Eric Margolis, "Madness in Helsinki,", July 21, 2018]

Pepe Escobar, "Russia reveals the MH17 'smoking gun',", September 18, 2018

[life for the 250,000 Tatar Muslims of Crimea has disintegrated. Tatar Muslims have been denied work, their language, their newspapers, and their very way of life in a bid to push them off the peninsula. . . .

Residents of the prized Crimean Peninsula since the 13th century, the Tatars have come under attack again again - less for their ethnicity and religion, and more for their access to water.--Elmira Bayrasli, "When Russia seized Crimea in 2014, a crackdown on the Muslim minority ensued,", May 18, 2019]

"MH17: Four charged with shooting down plane over Ukraine',", June 19, 2019

Nile Bowie, "Five years on, no answers to who felled MH17',", July 17, 2019

John Helmer, "MH17 Evidence Tampering Revealed by Malaysia -- The Dutch Covered-Up Forged Telephone Tapes, Ukraine Hid Radar Records',", July 25, 2019

[We know from the leaked, early 2014 telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that then Vice President Biden played a role in "midwifing" the U.S.-backed overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government soon after that conversation.

That's the biggest crime in this story that isn't being told. The illegal overthrow of a sovereign government.

As booty from the coup, the sitting vice president's son, Hunter Biden, soon got a seat on the board of Ukraine's biggest gas producer, Burisma Holdings. This can only be seen as a transparently neocolonial maneuver to take over a country and install one's own people. But Biden's son wasn't the only one.--John Helmer, "What Isn't Mentioned About the Trump-Ukraine 'Scandal': The Routine Corruption of US Foreign Policy,", Sepember 26, 2019]

George Galloway, "Should Donald Trump be Impeached?" Kalima Horra on Al Mayadeen, November 24, 2019

[According to Victoria Nuland, then of the State Department, now back again, $5 billion was pumped in to effect the overthrow of the democratically elected pro-Russian regime in Kiev and its replacement by a pro-American one.--Patrick J. Buchanan, "Ideological Imperialism Is Leading to a Bad End,", February 5, 2021]

Pepe Escobar, "The deep state/NATO combo's using Kiev to start a war to bury Nord Stream 2 and German-Russian relations,", April 7, 2021

[These reports ignore the fact that the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the eastern Donbas region declared independence from Ukraine back in 2014 in response to a US-backed coup.--Dave DeCamp, "Western Media Eager to See Ukraine Use US-Supplied Weapons Against Russia,", April 12, 2021]

Pepe Escobar, "The deep state/NATO combo's using Kiev to start a war to bury Nord Stream 2 and German-Russian relations,", April 7, 2021

[In a leaked phone conversation of January 28, 2014 between her and American ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, the two provided future historians with a textbook-perfect specimen of engineering a coup, replete with the exact people who would lead the post-coup "transitional government." Three and a half weeks before President Yanukovych was deposed.--Rick Rozoff, "As Ukraine Simmers, Victoria Nuland Is Now Highest-Ranking Member of US Foreign Service,", April 30, 2021]

Roots of the Ukraine Crisis, BreakThrough News, January 19, 2022

Maidan: Road to War, odysee, March 7, 2022

VIDEO: "Azov Battalion - Neo-Nazis in Ukraine,", March 7, 2022

VIDEO: "US allegedly funded neo-Nazis in Ukraine to fight Russia,", March 21, 2022

Vijay Prashad on Ukraine, Russia, NATO & The Media, Katie Halper Show, March 21, 2022

Seymour Hersh: How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline,, February 15, 2023

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