The following passage, from a New York Times article yesterday, does not seem to have stirred much discussion — but it should:
The biggest concern, people who have spoken recently with members of his team said, is that Mr. Trump, in trying to forge a rapport, appears to be unwittingly siding with Mr. Putin. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin has expressed disdain for the news media, and he asserted in a recent interview that secretive elements within the United States government were working against the president’s agenda. Two people close to Mr. Trump said they expected the men to bond over their disdain for “fake news.”
“Two people close to Trump” might say anything, of course, so I don’t put a lot of stock in the notion that this will actually happen. If it does, however, it will be monstrously disgusting. Would you like to know why? Because when Vladimir Putin doesn’t like what he sees in the news, he doesn’t whine on Twitter or post a GIF.
Putin kills the journalist.
It is (somewhat dubiously) claimed that Stalin said: “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.” So, I won’t dwell at length on the statistics that show that, as of January 2016, at least 34 journalists had been murdered since 2000 in Russia. (By comparison, only two journalists were murdered in China during the same period.)
Instead, I will remind you of the story of one journalist about whom I wrote here at RedState in January, in a review of Garry Kasparov’s book Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped. That journalist’s name is Anna Politkovskaya.
“How come I am still alive? When I really think about it, it’s a miracle.”
These are the words of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, as quoted by Kasparov. He describes her as a fearless journalist who exposed Putin’s atrocities in Chechnya, and who had relentlessly criticized Putin and the FSB (the successor to the KGB). In 2004, on the way to help negotiate with the Chechen terrorists holding children and others hostage in Beslan, she was poisoned but did not die. (Yet.)
Here is a video of Politkovskaya talking about how Russia under Putin has become a Neo-Soviet state in which there is no freedom of speech.
How could someone like Politkovskaya say something like that and be allowed to live? you might ask. The answer is: she couldn’t. She was murdered in a contract killing at her apartment building on October 7, 2006.
Here is former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko (more about him in a moment) saying that Vladimir Putin was responsible for Politkovskaya’s death:
Litvinenko says he had been a friend of Politkovskaya’s, and that she had told him that she had been threatened by Putin and had wondered whether Putin and his confederates could actually kill her. Litvinenko told her they could, and advised Politkovskaya to leave the country. He says he had evidence that the Kremlin had her killed, but that it was seized by police. He says Politkovskaya could not have been killed without Putin having ordered it.
Litvinenko was the fellow murdered by Putin in London by the use of polonium 210, for offenses including helping to reveal Putin’s role in deadly Russian bombings attributed to Chechen rebels.
Putin never commits the act himself, of course. When a journalist is thrown off the roof of an apartment building in Moscow, Putin isn’t holding the right leg and counting “adin, dva, tree!” as he and Sergey Lavrov swing the body over the roof’s edge. But Putin orders such things to happen. It would be supremely naive to believe that Putin is not behind the murders of journalists in Russia. Nothing significant to Putin’s standing in Russia happens without his say-so.
Incidentally, our vaunted news media is predictably missing the point. Responding to the report that Putin and Trump planned to bond over “FAKE NEWS!!” (never forget the ALL CAPS and the exclamation points!) CNN’s Jim Sciutto responded: “Remarkable as Mr Putin’s Russia has weaponized fake news against Mr Trump’s own country.”
No, Mr. Sciutto, that’s not what makes it remarkable. What makes it remarkable is that when Vladimir Putin sees what he considers “FAKE NEWS!!” in Russia, he simply orders the journalist to be murdered. And then, when a critic accuses Putin of killing the journalist, Putin calls that “FAKE NEWS!!” as well. And then kills the critic. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
So the idea that Trump, who has been engaged in a petty pissing match with whiny overreacting journalists in the U.S., would commiserate with Putin about so-called “FAKE NEWS!!” is not just “troubling” or “concerning.” It’s repulsive — and should make all aware citizens feel sick to their stomach.
UPDATE: Commenter shipwreckedcrew points out that the comment from Putin “These are the ones who insulted you?” was made “ahead of” the two-hour meeting. In the post, I said that the statement was “apparent confirmation of the prediction before the meeting that Trump would whine to Putin about ‘FAKE NEWS!!'” Since the comment was made ahead of the meeting, it was not right to call it “confirmation” of what they discussed in the meeting. It would be more accurate to say that the comment showed that Putin was aware of Trump’s attitude towards the press, and willing to exploit it in public. I find laughable the notion that Putin didn’t exploit as well in their private meeting. I find equally laughable the notion that Trump — who obsesses over his purportedly unfair treatment at the hands of the press — didn’t whine about the press during their lengthy meeting. In fact, I’d bet my house on it.
UPDATE x2: The same link shows that when Putin made the comment, Trump “chuckled.”