There was a time when American journalism wasn’t a mirror image of the propganda machines of totalitarian states. The differences are rapidly vanishing as the older generation that still remembers what journalism is ages or is canceled out of the system.
Meanwhile the media treats us to propaganda that not just spins, but actively denies reality, while pretending that Biden scored some sort of big win against Putin.
Max Boot / Washington Post: Biden wiped the smirk off Putin’s face
Edward Luce / Financial Times: Biden politely reads riot act to Putin
USA Today: Joe Biden, the U.S. president who in Geneva didn’t shame America like Trump in Helsinki
But what’s going on over on the other side of the propaganda mirror?
Russia’s Pro-Putin Commentators Praise Biden After Summit – NYT
That’s not what happens when a “riot act” has been read.
For months, Russia’s state news media have ridiculed President Biden as bumbling, confused and well past his prime. But by Thursday, the mood had shifted: Here was a man in the White House, some said, who understands us, who we can do business with.
Everyone in the world can do business with Biden. Just talk to Hunter first.
The praise of Mr. Biden from the pro-Kremlin commentariat was significant because the Russian elite has long seen Democrats as part of a “Russophobic” American establishment for which democracy and human rights are simply code words to justify attacks on Mr. Putin.
“It should be acknowledged that the presidency of Joseph Biden has brought about stabilization,” Fyodor Lukyanov, a foreign-policy analyst who advises the Kremlin, wrote in the newspaper Kommersant. “Both because of his personality and because he clearly knows what he wants.”
“The leaders’ meeting fully justified the most optimistic expectations and delivered the most results of any in the last decades of the relationship between the powers,” Timofey Bordachev, a prominent commentator, wrote in a Kremlin-friendly online outlet, Vzglyad. “Biden, believe it or not, looks to be the first American president in 30 years who is playing a ‘long game.’”
What does any of this nonsense mean? Like the nonsense in our own media, it’s best to ignore the words and focus on the attitude.
Russian analysts and officials who have long been fiercely critical of the United States for, they say, seeking to weaken Russia, said they saw in Mr. Biden a recognition that he had to contend with Russian interests.
Biden proved to be weak, easy to manipulate, and willing to give the other side everything it wants. So it’s happy to praise Biden as the greatest thing since sliced bread and gulags.
Biden didn’t wipe any smirks off. The smirks have just turned into grins.
Meeting by video link with university graduates in Moscow on Thursday, Mr. Putin himself defended Mr. Biden against portrayals of him as being out of his depth.
“I want to say that the image of President Biden that our and even the American press paints has nothing to do with reality,” Mr. Putin said. “He’s a professional, and you have to be very careful in working with him to make sure you don’t miss anything. He doesn’t miss anything, I can assure you.”
It’s easiest if you invert everything to come up with the real meaning.
Putin is signaling a message shift to “our” press to stop portraying Biden as inept and start praising him. And there’s a little joke at the end. Biden doesn’t miss anything. He misses everything.
Since this is coming from the New York Times, it has to laboriously explain this reality in relation to its own party line about President Trump.
And after the dashed hopes of the Trump era — when an outspoken fan of Mr. Putin in the White House never made good on his promises of friendlier relations — Moscow is particularly attuned to Mr. Biden’s apparent proficiency in managing the apparatus of government.
President Trump was an “outspoken fan” of Putin, according to the Times, yet was a lot harder on Russia than Obama or Biden. How does the Times reconcile that?
But Ms. Liik, the European Council on Foreign Relations analyst, said reduced tensions between Russia and the United States could also be helpful to opponents of Mr. Putin — both for the opposition inside Russia and to countries like Ukraine that have an adversarial relationship with the Kremlin. The reason, she said, is that Mr. Putin is likely to act in a more restrained manner if he is engaged in high-level negotiations with the United States.
“I think it is good for everyone if Russia has things to lose in its relationship with the United States,” Ms. Liik said. “With Trump, we were in a situation for a while where it had nothing to lose.”
By being tough on Russia, President Trump was actually helping Putin. Whereas Democrat appeasement is actually hurting Putin by normalizing relations and helping open up Russia. This is just the narrative from the Iran Deal being cut and pasted into Russia.
There’s a very familiar line from the Obama administration.
In this environment, Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once. Ned Price, Rhodes’s assistant, gave me a primer on how it’s done. The easiest way for the White House to shape the news, he explained, is from the briefing podiums, each of which has its own dedicated press corps. “But then there are sort of these force multipliers,” he said, adding, “We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn’t want to name them — ”
“I can name them,” I said, ticking off a few names of prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging.
Price laughed. “I’ll say, ‘Hey, look, some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of American weakness,’ ” he continued, “but — ”
“In fact it’s a sign of strength!” I said, chuckling.
Don’t worry folks, Biden only looks weak. Really his weakness is a sign of strength.