Via the Washington Free Beacon, it’s Weekly Standard contributor and Christopher Hitchens protege James Kirchick doing his mentor proud by showing more balls in confounding Putin’s narrative than any White House spokesman has recently. If you’re unfamiliar with Russia Today, here’s a taste from other reporters who’ve experienced the magic firsthand:
I went on Russia Today once to talk about Occupy Wall Street. I described Russia as an "oligarchy" and the audio people edited the word out.
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) August 21, 2013
My own ban from RT was much less exciting. Came after an off-camera fight with a producer over RT's promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracies.
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) August 21, 2013
And here’s what Kirchick got for his trouble today:
True fact: @RT_com just called taxi company that took me to studio to drop me off on the side of the highway on way to Stockholm airport
— Jamie Kirchick (@jkirchick) August 21, 2013
BuzzFeed had a nice explainer a few weeks ago about Russia’s new anti-gay law, which seems to operate in practice as state sanction for public beatings of gay-rights supporters, but you can guess the rationale even if you haven’t read their story. The prospect of eight more years of Putin brought thousands of people out into the streets to protest, no idle threat in the wake of the Arab Spring. He needed an enemy on which to focus the public’s attention and so he chose gays, partly because he could portray them popularly as a threat to the Russian Orthodox Church and partly because it would allow him to draw a contrast with how gays are treated in the feared and loathed west. Why he didn’t choose Jews as the designated scapegoat instead, as many Russian leaders before him have, I don’t know. Could be that global awareness of anti-semitism as a tool of oppression is now such that no “respectable” fascist outside the Middle East will practice it too overtly. Better to beat on the gays instead, he probably figures, since he can still get international backing from some world leaders on that in public.
As noted above, it’s not unusual for American journos to be invited on Russia Today. But after this, the invitations might dry up. Or be rejected more often even if they’re offered.