[The opening clause edited out in 2019] …the NYT’s reaction to Paul Klebnikov’s assassination was Journalists’ Deaths Make It Harder to Excuse Putin’s Excesses by Serge Schmemann, and the WaPo’s, Same Old Ruthless Russia by Michael R. Caputo.
Both opinion pieces are ludicrously wrong-headed and off the mark. Schmemann’s reaction was probably informed by grief and rage rather than reason, and since he is an experienced journalist and Pulitzer winner, a son of the venerable Father Alexander Schmemann and a grandson of White emigres, I hope his judgment got disoriented by anguish and not by a desire to denigrate his ancestors’ home land.
Caputo distorts things so badly that some of the paragraphs in his piece consist exclusively of false charges. (If my readers think they are worth commenting on, I’ll go ahead.) It’s as if Michael Moore turned to print journalism and teamed up with Ann Coulter. Caputo, we are told by the DT, is “a Miami-based writer, was an election adviser to Boris Yeltsin’s administration and lived in Russia from 1994 to 1999.” Music to my ears: the whole thing now looks like a loser’s attempt at settling scores. Never mind that mafia violence has been receding in Russia since the late 1990s, which made Klebnikov’s murder unexpected and shocking; and mob shootouts were never as spectacular as in Yeltsin’s golden years. Why wasn’t Caputo yelling murder then?