Propaganda Monthly Roundup

Times Radio

Times Radio which purports to be a journalistic outlet produces the most astonishing material. This usually takes the form of an expert being interviewed by one of a small roster of journalists. At the end of the interviews the journalists usually thank their guests for their “insights”, at which point any serious observer can only sit in amazement that such uninformed repetition of “State Department talking points” can be seen as analysis.

This is, even by the usual standards, an extraordinary example. A Times Radio journalist is interviewing another journalist, David Herszenhorn of the Washington Post. David Herszenhorn is the Russia, Ukraine and East Europe at that newspaper. During this interview David Herszenhorn claims that Russia is getting ready to invade the UK, France and the US and impose a totalitarian state on these countries. We’ll come to that in a moment. But a few other points first.

I don’t want to go down the path of discussing conspiracy theories and counter theories. I don’t know what happened to Navalny either yesterday or in the alleged Novichok poisoning episode in 2020. But it does seem a bit of an oddity of the story about Navalny that the Russian state “tried to kill him several times”. We are expected to believe that even though he was unarmed and in Russia the Russian Security Services are so incompetent that they really tried and failed to kill him multiple times. Maybe.

On the same note, another kink in today’s narrative is this; we are told by most Western outlets that Putin decided to kill Navalny and this is why he died yesterday. The present speaker more or less says this. But then, other commentators are pointing out that this is rather bad for Putin. It helps Biden pressurise Congress into approving another huge tranche of funding for Ukraine (he is already doing this), and, it doesn’t make Putin look very good going into an election. But; I don’t really want to get into these kinds of speculative discussions. I don’t know what happened.

(I also want to point out that the claims by the speaker that Russia was not willing to engage in an international investigation into the alleged poisoning of Navalny in 2020 are disingenuous. Russia asked for a sample showing the harmful substance to be sent to them. Germany did not co-operate. Russia has good reasons to believe that any investigation carried out by the OPCW might not have been independent. An OPCW whistle-blower revealed bias in the OPCW in its investigations in Syria. [1]. The Russians believe that the West tries to dominate the secretariats of international organisations. [2] This may or not be true; but it is their perception. Given the overall US view of international organisations; that they are there to be used when it helps to serve US objectives and ignored when they don’t, they seems quite plausible. But, again, these are details).

But the main oddity of this piece is this:

The speaker calls [4.50] for NATO (presumably) to get involved in the war – or at least supply Ukraine with an overwhelming amount of weapons. This is in order to counter “the totalitarian fascist threat, which is the same as in WW2”. The speaker continues; “if he isn’t stopped Putin will try to impose the kind of totalitarianism and dictatorship that exists in Russia on the UK, France and the United States”.

This is an “insight”? Russia has taken a year to advance 30 Km from Donetsk to take Avdiivka. At this rate, to launch the kind of land invasion necessary to “impose a totalitarian dictatorship” on a country it will take them many decades to get to the UK. In reality; they are not even trying to do this in Ukraine. And, indeed, while the media climate in Russia is extremely restricted, in particular with respect to the war, and public rallies are heavily controlled, Russia is not a “totalitarian dictatorship”. People have as much freedom of choice (or as little, if they are not wealthy), in their ordinary lives as people do in the West; freedom to choose what job they do, where they live, what they consume, where they go on holiday, even, yes, what they believe, (in private conversations with Russians I pick up on a very wide range of opinions), and so on. Russia is, in fact, a capitalist nation. The political difference with the West is that the state plays a larger role in the economy and society than in Western countries, where power has been handed over to unaccountable and opaque international corporations (and social values sometimes seem to be driven by minority groups). One other European country has comparable levels of state ownership of economic assets; Norway. This is not a “fascist, totalitarian dictatorship” and Russia certainly isn’t about to try to impose it by force on the US tomorrow.

But, thank you for your “insights”.


  2. Lavrov: ‘the Americans have shown a tendency to privatise the secretariats of international organisations. They place their people in leading positions. To our great regret, they have influence over countries voting on personnel decisions. Americans are rushing round the world. What sovereign equality of states?’ Sakwa, Richard. The Lost Peace: How the West Failed to Prevent a Second Cold War (p. 345). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition. (Source: