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Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles and Executive Director of ¬†The Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, in a recent article, has claimed that Western media reporting on Russia is “bias” and “stereotypical”, and has said that the “West” should put more trust in Russia.
Trifkovic said: “Most Western media¬†professionals tend to subscribe, consciously or not, to a neo-liberal world outlook in general and to the tenets of multiculturalism in particular. The result is notable media favouritism of allegedly disadvantaged, non-Western, traditionally non-Christian societies.
“Behind the veneer of all-embracing diversity, however, we find a carefully calibrated scale of acceptance or rejection of “the Other” depending on the cultural and political preferences of the media professionals themselves. The result is moral and intellectual relativism, which enables the media elite to pick and choose, which group or nation will be approved for the status of sympathy or victimhood, and which will be denied the benefit of the doubt.
“The image of Russia in the Western media indicates that Russia has been relegated to the latter category.”It sounds paradoxical,” said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, referring to the Western attitude toward Russia, “but there was more mutual trust and respect during the Cold War.” His correct hint is that the Western opinion-makers detest post-Soviet Russia – the state that no longer is subservient, as it had been in the 1990s, but reviving its statehood and identity – more than the Cold War leaders of the West detested the USSR.
“The problem of bias, stereotypical reporting and quasi-analysis is by no means new. The collapse of Russia’s institutions and social infrastructure under Yeltsin was accompanied by Western approval of the key engineers of the disaster (Anatoly Chubais, Yegor Gaidar, Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Ryzhkov…). Their small political factions, lionized by the Western media, were duly supported by the quasi-NGO network funded in part by the Western taxpayers.
“Various anti-Russian stereotypes notably prevailed over common sense and journalistic integrity at the time of Mikhael Saakashvili’s attack on South Ossetia in August 2008, with the mainstream media pack attacking Russia’s “aggression” and criticizing Western “passivity.”
“While never missing an opportunity to hector Russia on democracy and criticize her human rights record, the Western media have been and still are notably silent on the discriminatory treatment of large Russian minorities in some former Soviet republics.
“In other words, the verdict depends on an actors’ status in the ideological pecking order of the media elite itself, not on his words and actions as such – in line with the Leninist dictum that the moral value of any act by anyone is determined by that act’s contribution to the march of history. V.V. Putin’s high approval rating is thus cited as further “evidence” of his manipulative populism and “proof” that democracy remains underdeveloped in Russia.
“The similarity of reactions to Russia on the right and left ends of the Western media spectrum reflects the perception that Russia belongs to a tradition that is unworthy of multiculturalist tolerance.
The problem stems not from any misunderstanding of the Russian mindset and tradition, but, on the contrary, from an accurate assessment by the media class that Russia as such is an obstacle to the realization of their political, economic, and ideological preferences in the modern world. The sin of the Russians, in the eyes of the Western media elite, is that they are still defined by their ethnic, cultural and religious identity.
“The problem exists. For it to be solved we need a paradigm shift in the West that would pave the way for a “Northern Alliance” of Russia, Western Europe and North America, as all three face similar geopolitical and demographic threats in the decades ahead. We need to rediscover and cherish the commonalities of the spiritual traditions, history and culture of the extended European family, from Anchorage via Berlin to Vladivostok.”
Srdja Trifkovic is Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and Executive Director of The Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies.
Image Courtesy of ¬†¬†http://www.flickr.com/photos/utenriksdept/