In Putin's America!


Last week, I mentioned the murder of dissident Russian journalist Magomed Yevloyev, who was arrested upon returning to his native Ingushetia, shot in the head, and his body dumped by the side of the road. In July, Novaya Gazeta's anti-Putin reporter Sergei Kurt-Adzhiyev was convicted of using counterfeit Adobe and Microsoft software, a charge the Committee to Protect Journalists called "a lame excuse for the authorities to close down one of the few independent voices left on the Russian media market." In my conversation with Andrew Meier at the Los Angeles Times, I referenced the now infamous murder of Novaya Gazeta's Anna Politkovskaya (on Putin's birthday!) and the outrageous use of the so-called Extremism Law to silence the Kremlin's fiercest critics. And while I broadly agree with Andrew Sullivan that keeping Sarah Palin from interacting with the media is pretty infuriating, this is one of the silliest comparisons I have seen in some time (Note that the post is titled "Putin's America"): "If you want to know what it's like to live in Putin's Russia, the Republican party is giving you a good taste. This is the most appalling dereliction of duty by the press that I have ever seen in my adult life."

I'm not entirely sure that this needs unpacking—his headline is pretty unambiguous—but Sullivan should probably recognize that a press corps trying to wrangle an interview with an elusive V.P. candidate (and hamstrung by a McCain campaign petrified of a "General Whatshisname" moment) isn't at all analogous to a state-run media run by an illiberal band of Putin lackeys. As I have previously written, throwing the word "fascist" around willy-nilly is intellectually lazy and, more often than not, historically illiterate. But so is accusing the American media of being no better than outlets controlled by the Kremlin, or those remaining independent journalists whose reporting is influenced by credible threats of violence.