In a year noted for crude political discourse, eagerly serialized in the mainstream media, the MSM are themselves bellowing anti-Russian rhetoric, conspiracy theory, and fear-mongering. Of the two “evil of two lessers” contenders, Trump is the one who regularly gets hammered, justifiably in the case of his anti-Muslim and other racist and sexist slurs, while Clinton gets a pass, even an A+, for her repeated verbal assaults on Russia and its president, even as she reeks of class hostility toward Trump supporters.
During the McCarthy era, the most perverse propaganda was about Russians hiding under beds; during the new cold war, it’s about Russians inside every telephone, computer, email, and website, while linking Putin to everything, says Guardian contributor Trevor Timm, “from Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, Greece, and Spain.” It’s hard to reconcile mainstream bogeymania with the missing media attention to the massive Big Brother spying on US citizens, the moral transgressions of which are lately presented in Oliver Stone’s humanizing portrait, “Snowden.”
The quite literal femme fatale (without the alluring charm) has quite a deadly track record in the Middle East, but the MSM, which tout Clinton’s compassion for children and concern for human rights don’t bother to note her criminal record in the destruction of Libya and support for repressive Arab dictators, her backing of the coup in Honduras, or her threats to make war on Russia and destabilize and destroy yet another Arab country, Syria. Netanyahu is her favorite foreign statesman, while Trump is attacked for not being sufficiently obsequious toward the butcher of Gaza. MSM “debate” hosts never think to ask the right questions, such as why has she supported assaults on the main enemies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain: Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Iran, and Syria? Like her underworld counterpart, Willie Sutton, she’d have to say it’s because that’s where the money is. Despite his many crackpot ideas, Trump is more pragmatic, less neocon, about US intentions in the Middle East. Just take the oil, he says, and forget about regime change.
Clinton’s eponymous Foundation is built on millions of dollars of generous payola from “too big to jail” financiers along with feudalistic Qatar, the UAE, Oman, and the head chopping capital, Saudi Arabia. Bahrain gave a mere $100 thousand to the Foundation but $32 million to another money laundering operation, the Clinton Global Initiative. Syria, Iran, and Russia didn’t pay the bribes and are paying the price. The MSM choose not press her on the issue. Wikileaks has become the newspaper of record.
What’s worrying is that Clinton is on the far right Ashton Carter wing of US foreign policy – egging for war with Russia with her Syria “no-fly-zone” polemics. Cooking up a rationale for aggression, the State Department, along with its acolytes in the MSM, is particularly fond of Orwellian inversions to describe the conflict with Russia. When Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin complained to the UN about the admitted US bombing of Syrian Army forces in multiple attacks, killing at least 62 Syrian soldiers and wounding another hundred, US ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers called the charge “grandstanding” and a “stunt,” offering no apology for the attack, which put the matter to rest with the MSM. When a UN convoy in Syria was hit a few days later, the State Department immediately blamed Russia regardless of the fact that they no evidence for the claim. The so-called “canons of journalism” are suspended when it comes to reporting on Russia, China, and other countries in America’s demonography.
Responding to the hacking and Wikileaks publication of Democratic National Committee emails, which exposed the hit that the Clinton machine put on Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s response was: “We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC” (as if she as secretary of state didn’t hack every major country, friend and foe, in the world). In reality she had no such knowledge, and none of the MSM challenged her on it. Her sidekick, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a reliable team player. echoed Clinton’s words about the exposé (even while contradicting some of the top US intelligence officers): “I know for sure it is the Russians…. This is an electronic Watergate.” Cold War intuition is not the best asset in global politics.
Last August, speaking with ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulos, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook played the Russophobia card, depicting Donald Trump as essentially a puppet of Russia and Vladimir Putin. Mook accused the Republican candidate of “refusing to disclose [his] deep financial ties that potentially reach into the Kremlin,” yet one more unproven assertion in the service of a sinister political agenda. Clinton herself, feeling desperate in the face of less than assuring poll numbers at the time, has created the absurd narrative that Trump and Putin are working together to secure a Republican victory – clearly a spin to hide the dirty tricks of the DNC and distract negative public perceptions of her foreign policy experience.
Another political circus performer, Obama’s director of national intelligence (sic), James Clapper, goes even further, accusing the Russians of being involved since the Soviet era in trying to influence US elections – with as much evidence as that backing the claims of Saddam’s WMD. According to Clapper, “There’s a tradition in Russia of interfering with [US] elections… It shouldn’t come as a big shock to people. I think it’s more dramatic maybe because now they have the cyber tools.” Uttered at a Washington Post-sponsored event, Clapper did not bother to contextualize his assertion, such as by mentioning the well-documented history of US imperialist interventions, which includes a long string of CIA assassination plots against various heads of state and the State Department and CIA’s more recent “color revolution” aggressions in eastern Europe. The US doesn’t influence foreign elections. It runs them.
In the State Department’s fantasy, Russia would become America’s ultimate red, white, and blue regime change revolution. As for electoral interference, the MSM made no controversy of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s several visits to the US to mobilize American politicians and public opinion on his country’s behalf, most recently his visits with Clinton and Trump on the eve of their first presidential debate in New York, an act of chutzpah that could easily be read as foreign manipulation of a US election. Obama obliged with a $38 billion foreign aid package.
It’s not much better across the pond, where the British press is conducting its own Cold War foray against Russia. The so-called Independent (UK) newspaper ran with this headline on September 19, 2016: “Russia could invade Europe within 48 hours, warns ex-military chief.” Meanwhile, Britain is at the forefront of NATO’s Baltic military deployment, a patent act of aggression against neighboring Russia. The Independent ran another jingoistic headline: “Hillary Clinton says Russia hacked DNC computers and accuses Donald Trump of supporting Vladimir Putin.” And the once reputable Guardian recently ran this story after the recent big ruling party win in the Duma: “Russia stays loyal to Kremlin in election with record low turnout.” One wonders if the Guardian would headline a British election the same way: “Britain remains loyal to Tories with another low turnout,” thereby discrediting the electoral process and questioning the government’s legitimacy. Indeed, turnouts in American congressional elections when there’s no presidential race are far lower, 36% in 2014, compared to Russia’s most recent 48% voter rate.
Glenn Greenwald put it aptly: “anyone who advocates better relations or less tension with Moscow is a likely sympathizer, stooge, or even agent of Putin.” This is certainly how the mainstream media has been spinning Donald Trump, who has had the temerity to suggest that peaceful relations with nuclear-equipped Russia is a good idea. By US standards, this makes him a running dog of the Kremlin and Putin’s collaborator in trying to rig the US election in his favor. It is hard to find a single MSM journalist who steps out of line with this kind of propaganda. With an anticipated Clinton victory in November, defense industry stock investments should do very well, and it might not be a bad idea to also build a well-stocked bomb shelter.
By Gerald Sussman
Gerald Sussman is a Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. He is the author of Branding Democracy: US Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe.