The level of journalism in the UK on Russia – an example

The level of journalism on Russia in the UK is staggeringly low.

This is an example – an article in the Independent by someone who works for state broadcaster Channel 4. It is based on an interview she did with the Russian Ambassador to the UK. Extracts and comments follow:

A question about whether the president of Belarus was Russia’s “pocket dictator” had gone down particularly badly.

If she used this precise expression then one can see why it went down badly. Was she surprised? What is her job? To get the news or to abuse an Ambassador?

And although Berlin and Paris are reportedly pushing to “reset” relations with Moscow, it’s hard to envisage Russia entirely shedding its pariah status while it continues to target its enemies with Novichok – at home and abroad.

“Pariah status”. Hang on – it is only from within the political narrative of the State Department and European capitals that Russia has ‘pariah status’. From within Russia and from many places on the planet Russia is not a ‘pariah’. Has the ‘journalist’ not just shown us that her worldview is entrapped within that of Western orthodoxy? Maybe it is just me but I thought that journalists were supposed to be able to rise about the viewpoint of the government of their own country and try to be objective.

The journalist, we note, has swallowed as fact the claims that the Russian state poisoned Navalny – claims for which there is in fact no evidence. (Evidence if it is that that he had been tracked by the FSB as we would have expected him to be is not in fact evidence that he was poisoned by the FSB).

Just like the last ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, the current one uses the same playbook, questioning the evidence of Russian skulduggery and malevolence, even when intelligence agencies the world over say it’s there.

All Russians use the same “playbook”. A phrase with obvious associations to spying. Oh deary me. Maybe the journalist is mixing up Cold War 007 and modern politics. “Skulduggery and malevolence”; isn’t this from the “playbook” of Western intelligence agencies? And again, and very revealingly, we learn that the “journalist” simply takes at face value what Western intelligence agencies say about Russia (it is “malevolent”). Not realising no doubt that part of the job of spy agencies is to create certain narratives about their supposed opponents.

When I asked about the dozens of Russians who have died in mysterious circumstances on the streets of Britain, he laughed, presumably to convey the message that the question was so ridiculous it didn’t merit a serious response.

I would like to ask Cathy Newman to list the names of the “dozens” of Russians who have died in “mysterious circumstances” on the streets of Britain. I wonder how many she would in fact be able to name. Even being kind to her she needs to name 24. Russian secret services would have to be running all over the country to have killed 24 people in “mysterious circumstances”. No wonder the Ambassador laughed.

The minute we’d finished, he’d declared himself “disappointed” with the interview..

I’m not surprised. Maybe you could ask yourself why?

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer