I wondered when our media, at least those with any hope of long-term authority, would begin to recover from their disgrace of collusion with Russia. The answer turns out to be: “When Vladimir Putin starts World War III in Ukraine”.
Russia and China are now coming together not because of oil and gas, but because they have a common enemy, the democratic idea. I am not pious here. The only real threat that either nuclear weapon regime faces comes from its own people in a Tiananmen uprising. Russia is openly fascist, China is becoming one. A third giant power of the Eurasian continent, India, risks evolving in the same direction.
It’s our world. Overnight, we find ourselves in a full-scale economic war against a nuclear-armed oil state, with the unspoken goal of regime change. Joe Biden, steeped in NATO and Cold War deterrence, has been practical right now, but we’re going to need a new foreign policy elite, trained in new imperatives, for a new era.
So we come to the New York Times. The paper, which aspires to be the nation’s and even the world’s “go-to newspaper,” chose this moment to rectify its own record on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Critics understandably laugh, but the paper may be resurrecting for a serious time. No “news” triggered his surprise acknowledgment of the laptop’s existence; his revisiting of the sordid history of young Mr. Biden was not driven by events. Instead, the need was for The Times to redeem itself for its part in the cowardly spectacle of 2020, when top news outlets suppressed the news and even tried to convince readers that something was wrong. true that they knew to be true.
The laptop story, revealed by the New York Post, was everything the Russian collusion story was not: meticulous, transparent, and recorded procurement; contemporary documentary evidence that does not depend on recollection or after-the-fact interpretation of a source.
An official newspaper has one task, to let its readers know what is true and what is not. The Times has abdicated, and whether the motive is partisanship or simple Twitter cowardice is irrelevant. The media failure that culminated in so much Russia-related madness during the Trump era was cumulative, as former UK government adviser Dominic Cummings recently noted: “He ignored many ugly aspects of Putin’s mafia state for 20 years. and made up nonsense about it” (emphasis in original).
Mr. Putin is shaping his plans based on his assessment of America’s enduring foreign policy elite, not a passing joker as Donald Trump would have seemed to him.
As vapid as the Trump-Zelensky phone call may have been, in Hunter Biden’s activities while his father ran US policy in Ukraine, Mr. Putin would have seen the kind of oligarchic corruption he could recognize.
In the circle of wagons around Mr. Biden by the media and his intelligence sources, in their premeditated lie that the laptop was ‘Russian disinformation’, he would have seen the same ‘political technology’ that he uses on Russian voters back home.
You might think, as I do, that Mr. Trump subordinates all consideration to flogging an image of himself as the world’s biggest winner in a world of losers. But the plain truth is that, however you explain it, Mr. Putin interrupted his Ukrainian Anschluss during the Trump presidency. Perhaps one piece of the puzzle is the Washington Post’s account this week of Mr. Biden’s failed efforts in 2014 to convince Barack Obama to send anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. Alas, the week also saw a scathing and silly article in the Los Angeles Times suggesting that Mr. Trump somehow caused Mr. Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
We’re going to need better than that from our press.
Joe Ferullo, a former CBS and NBC news director, writes in The Hill of hope for a new era in cable news in which “resentment and resistance are cast aside and direct news returns under spotlights”.
He may be investing more hope than warranted in the ambivalent words of CNN’s new corporate master. We’ll see. Suddenly, at least, the New York Times wants to grow, as if the events of the last three weeks deserved a rediscovery of the seriousness of the subject.
Unfinished business here is the American intelligence establishment – the one Mr. Putin actually bet his behavior on, the one that deliberately enlightened American voters in 2020. Five years ago, I wrote that at Instead of fake Watergate collusion, we needed a real Pentagon Papers-type scandal to expose the “awkward, contradictory and humiliating overlaps that Western governments have engaged in regarding the rise of Putin’s regime”.
We still need it. It will be painful but necessary as our society and the foreign policy elite adjust to the new world born in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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