Mardell Links to Conservative Publications, But Then Uses White House Propaganda to Defend the President

First, let’s celebrate the fact that Mark Mardell has actually linked to two conservative publications in one blog post!  Must be a new record, and probably takes care of his quota for the next six months.  In any case, as usual, Mardell is wrong about most of what he writes, and pushes White House propaganda instead of the truth.  Although, there’s actually one – very rare – criticism of the President from the US President editor.

Whatever happened to the reset button?

Mardell reminisces about the pathetic “Reset Button” incident where Hillary Clinton was sent to Russia as part of the President’s attempts to prove to everyone that He’s not George Bush. He actually pokes fun at the translation fiasco, calling the whole display “cheesy”. It’s nice to hear him actually criticize something about The Obamessiah Administration, even if it’s nearly three years after the fact. He was still Europe editor at the time, so no record of his opinion then, although curiously his predecessor, Justin Webb, didn’t bother to comment on his blog. Actually, the first BBC report about it, from Paul Reynolds, censored news of the error, and it was only later after Hillary caught some heat in the US media for it that the BBC dared discuss it.

Obviously things are not going well these days between the US and Russia, so the BBC US President editor has to explain why it’s not really the President’s fault.

The first excuse is actually valid: Sec. of State Hillary correctly criticized Russia for the rigged election. There’s a hint of disappointment from the US President editor as well, which is pretty rare, about how His Administration spoke out against Russia much faster than against Iran or Bahrain. This is where Mardell links to the non-Left Washington Times (I had to look out my window to check for airborne pigs) for a negative opinion on the President’s reluctance to speak out against those governments.

It’s not really His fault that relations are bad right now, you see, because both Russia and the US have been in the middle of an election cycle. So naturally the rhetoric spikes up on both sides, ruffling feathers everywhere. This, of course, excuses the President for not having His Administration speak up sooner about Iran and Bahrain. It also kind of gives the idea that Hillary’s criticism wasn’t that serious, in part just a bit of noise to please the home crowd in an election cycle. An unintentional error by Mardell there, I think.

Then Mardell tries to prove that the President really has had some successes in dealing with Russia.  First, he tells us that Dmitry Medvedev is the President’s best friend among world leaders. That’s a really, really bad sign of His priorities and diplomacy if true. What’s funny is that this apparent fact makes Mardell and his Beltway buddies utterly confused about why Russia is reacting so strongly to Hillary’s scolding. Maybe Medvedev is actually useless and has no real influence and does not speak for Russia except as a figurehead to sign treaties? Anyone ever thought of that?

Now the spin really starts. Sensing that there’s concern about the President’s apparent lack of success in negotiating with Russia, Mardell points out what he claims are three successes.

First is the START Treaty. Mardell shamelessly links to the White House’s own propaganda page on it. He must be hoping that nobody has any idea that in reality the President caved in to Russia and told our allies in Eastern Europe that we were going to ditch the plans for a missile defense system there in exchange for Russia signing on to…um…agreeing to think about considering not making more nuclear weapons for a while. When even the BBC’s favorite rent-a-Leftoid from the US, Michael Goldfarb, says it’s not cool, you know it’s pretty bad.

Basically, we got schooled. Yet the person the BBC tells you to trust for an insight into US issues denies it and shoves actual White House propaganda down your throats instead. Couldn’t he find a nice JournoLista article about how it was a triumph?

Next up is the trumpeting of a joint-military action against some Taliban heroin traders. Here Mardell links to the second conservative publication (miraculous), the Telegraph, except instead of an “important agreement”, it’s apparently one operation and not much else. Grasping at straws there.

Lastly, Mardell portrays Russia agreeing to let yet another NATO country move military equipment (really just a step-up of a pre-existing agreement) through its territory into Afghanistan (a country they have an interest in keeping to heel) as a special success for the President.

Assuming that nobody bothered to look any of this up and his readers believe the propaganda, Mardell continues to defend the President.  It’s also not His fault because He really is pushing that missile defense set-up in Europe against Iran. Russia feels threatened and is behaving badly.  Wait: isn’t this the missile defense system the President caved on already? Anybody think Russia is really scared this time?

Another sad effort from the BBC US President editor.

Joshing with the Beeb

It seems that’s what Russia is doing- taking delight in the cluelessness of our “national” broadcaster.

The BBC’s Helen Fawkes reports, apparently sans body armour, of a prisoner swap in Georgia. 15 Georgians are handed over in exchange for five Russians. She notes that there is a small Georgian protest and says:

“One of the banners said: “Stop Russian aggression.” This surprised one of the soldiers. “They say we are aggressors,” he told us. “We are not aggressors, we are just standing here,” he said.”

This seems to me the classic bully pose, saying, “who, me? I didn’t do nuffink”, with a little of the “yes, we can” Russian imperial spirit thrown in.

But actually the above is just an aside :-). The main problem here is that although Fawkes reports this Russian handover, the BBC fail to report the Russian prisoner taking. While 15 are handed over, 20 prisoners were taken in the Georgian port of Poti. In addition the Russians confiscated US-made Humvees.

Since Paul Reynolds has been so concerned for the BBC to examine the propaganda war, let’s look at this for a moment. The West hears about prisoner releases, the Russian army and populace hears about net Russian gains (the Russian army needs propagandising too). The Russians benefit from media exposure of conciliatory gestures, and get no penalty for additional intimidatory aggression on the ground. I bet those Humvees have made for some good glancing shots too — as Uncle Joe’s nephews take on the “world’s biggest polluter”

Actually this is no joking matter- if one day (gd forbid) we need to take on Russia in a serious conflict, we can be sure the “peace” brigade will have been banking away every “good deed” of [bad, mad] Vlad as a way of painting us the unreasonable parties.

Mission being accomplished

As you can see, Russia is still losing the propaganda war. The image is from the BBC website. It’s not so much an illustration for this page as evidenceof the BBC’s playing along with the Russian message. I wish it weren’t here- or there.

Meanwhile I noticed something from the BBC’s linked article interestingly titled “In control and on the move”. Sounds dynamic, huh? It was where the writer of the article says “In the past few days, up to six Georgian navy vessels have either been crippled or sunk.
There are also reports of navigation equipment and computers being destroyed or removed. The Russians appear to be, to use military jargon, neutralising the threat.”

Wait a second there. The only Russian action that had any international support was the action in Ossetia. I am not sure of their “peacekeeping” mandate, but why is it not the focus of the article that the Russians are operating as a rogue state in Georgia? Richard Galpin only points out that the Russians are acting outside their zone at the very end of the article. The BBC keep reporting Russian agreements to this or that positive, constructive move. Nothing happens on the ground except that the Russians continue to extend their “mission”. Meanwhile the BBC can only say that they are “in control” and “neutralising the threat”. What threat would that be when the actions of Georgian troops, which some believe necessitated the Russian intervention, took place in South Ossetia, not Abkhazia? And furthermore what “threat” when the Russians have been destroying naval vessels outside the sphere of any possible action? And furthermore what “threat” when, as has been proven, the “in control” Russians are overwhelmingly militarily superior to their Georgian counterparts?

Paul Reynolds should resign

This article has to be one of the most despicable attempts by a BBC journalist to whitewash evil and extinguish the truth. I wish I could say “just kidding”.

According to Reynolds “One problem for the Russians is that they have not yet learned how to play the media game. Their authoritarian government might never do so.”

Now this is just unbelievable. This is a regime whose secret service (formerly KGB, now FSB)response to the murder of Ana Politskaya was “I don’t know who killed her, but her articles were beneficial to the Western press. She deserved what she got.”

This is the regime whose secret service according to the Economist “was good at harassing journalists trying to find out the truth” about Beslan.

This is the regime whose “Kremlin-choreographed message”, according to Garry Kasparov , “presents Russia as surrounded by enemies on all sides, near and far, and the military intervention in Georgia as essential to protect the lives and interests of Russians”.

Mmm- so unsuccessful. No-one bought that line, did they?

This is the regime headed by a former KGB agent who has doubled and tripled his secret service operatives’ salaries, re-making it among the most sought-after professions in Russia.

Now of course I would accept Reynolds as having some point to make, if he offered credible evidence instead of assertion. But a man who omits mention of a word of the Russian secret service in this entire article! Can you recall “psy-ops” in Iraq? Pretty much every kind of public relations tool was scrutinised as such. Now- crickets chirruping once more as the caravan moves on.

Reynolds adduces two pieces of evidence in favour of his notion that Russia is the victim of US misrepresentation- both of them are the comments given to observers (the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford and Human Rights Watch) by supposed bystanders. Very weak Paul. So weak it’s almost a crime. According to Garry Kasparov again, “The administrations of the Georgian breakaway areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are stocked, top to bottom, with bureaucrats from the Russian security services.”

So who do you think the observers encountered in Ossetia? They’d surely never be singled out for special operative attention, would they?

As I said at the beginning, Paul Reynolds…

Oh, and should Paul Reynolds need any more educating, and should he care at all, about Putin’s knowledge and expertise in media matters, he might try reading this.

BBC dupes of Russia?

What do you think? Ralph Peters says:

“a BBC broadcast yesterday portrayed tiny, poorhouse Georgia as a propaganda powerhouse and Russia as an information victim – an illustration of the Russian propaganda machine’s effectiveness”.

It fits with what I’ve observed of BBC coverage. This morning they reported in an article online that “officials say” the Russians were pulling out of Gori. Since that time I’ve heard much contrary information from other sources. And the sources of the Beeb, who were they? Well, they didn’t say so at the time, but later on they say “Earlier, Russia said it had began handing back the town of Gori to Georgian police but insisted its troops would stay in the area.”

So much of the information the BBC have been giving out had to have come from the Russian authorities. They have an information machine for the purpose. What have the Georgians got? An English-speaking President, and that’s about all.

So trust first (when it comes to Russia). Verify later- apparently to the BBC.

I realise there have been many people who think the reverse, but I am also mindful that Russia really has worked out an information strategy par excellence, especially on the web. I found this a very interesting insight from a rather offbeat source.


As has been pointed out, Russia has just invaded Georgia with 150 tanks rolling across the border. Sky has it as the lead story – the BBC has the Olympic opening ceremony as its lead story. World class broadcasting, eh? If you want news, best avoid the Olympic broadcaster. Clearly given the HUGE investment that the BBC has made with OUR money, viewers are going to have the Olympics shoved down their throat, like it or not, invasions or otherwise.