September 12, 2014 by AK
Peter Pomerantsev’s latest in The Atlantic is a great read. The author, a UK TV producer, knows what he’s talking about: he used to sell British TV shows to Russian channels, which rely heavily on these imports. I’ll limit myself to just two excerpts.
During one Russian news broadcast, a woman related how Ukrainian nationalists had crucified a child in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk. When Alexei Volin, Russia’s deputy minister of communications, was confronted with the fact that the crucifixion story was a fabrication, he showed no embarrassment, instead suggesting that all that mattered were ratings. “The public likes how our main TV channels present material, the tone of our programs,” he said. “The share of viewers for news programs on Russian TV has doubled over the last two months.”
If I remember correctly, Volin also said the crucifixion report was OK with him because the woman was a legitimate source. Which reminds me of Irina Bergseth, a Russian lady who married a Norwegian, got divorced, lost custody of the children and went clinically insane, not necessarily in that order. Bergseth was on Russian TV saying Norwegians were all pedophiles and her four-year-old son had been gang-raped while dressed up as Putin. She said lots of other, equally believable things, but that’s my all-time favorite, and “Putin suit” enjoyed its 15 minutes as a RuNet meme.
Not surprisingly, Bergseth soon became a “coordinator” of a “patriotic” “movement”, “Russia’s mothers”. To quote from Švejk, “Forensic doctors examined her and wrote in their report that she, although weak of mind, was nonetheless eligible for any government position.”
…Christo Grozev, of the Bulgaria-based Risk Management Lab, found that the majority of the country’s newspapers followed Russian rather than Ukrainian narratives about events such as the downing of Flight MH17. “It’s not merely a case of sympathy or language,” Grozev says. “The Russian media just tell more and better stories, and that’s what gets reprinted.”
So do tabloids, and their concoctions are often reprinted by mainstream publications.