Casey Michel writes: Last December, at a gala honoring the 10th anniversary of the Russian propaganda channel RT, Russian President Vladimir Putin nestled himself between a pair of visitors at the head table. To the president’s right: A former head of the US’s Defense Intelligence Agency, known best for his hard-right views on Islam, which he would later compare to “cancer.” And to Putin’s left: The soon-to-be Green Party nominee for the White House, whose presidential debate would be carried on, of all things, RT.
The two – Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, an adviser to Republican nominee Donald Trump, and Jill Stein, the presidential nominee from the Green Party – chummed with Putin throughout the evening, later joined at the table by RT (formerly Russia Today) head Margarita Simonyan and then-Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov. Soon, Putin took the dais, running through rote commentary on RT’s accomplishments. When he finished, applause rang. Stein shook his hand. Flynn offered a standing ovation.
Within that gala, leading figures of America’s far-left, in Stein, and hard-right, in Trump’s surrogate, found common cause. The bookends of the American political spectrum had gathered in Moscow, glad-handing with Kremlin officials. The two camps, aligned in post-fact views on American foreign policy, discovered themselves aligned in celebration of the Kremlin’s foremost foreign propaganda vehicle.
Unsurprisingly, the policy prescriptions of Stein and Flynn don’t align on much else. As it pertains to Moscow, though, it’s clear that the distance between the Stein and the Trump campaigns have effectively disappeared. [Continue reading…]
Philip Bump notes: Russia scored an 83 out of 100 in the annual press freedom scores compiled by the watchdog organization Freedom Press. (100 is the worst possible score.) By contrast, the United States scored a 21. What’s more, in January, Politifact determined that since 2000, when Putin was first elected to the presidency, 34 journalists have been murdered in Russia.
When Trump was confronted with Putin’s track record on journalists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier this year, he was unfazed.
“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said, when presented with some critiques of Putin.
“But, again: He kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” host Joe Scarborough replied.
“Well,” Trump said, “I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.”
Trump has consistently berated the media for what he views as unfair coverage of his campaign. For an extended period, he barred media outlets (including The Post) from attending his events, a ban that was recently lifted. He has talked about somehow changing libel laws so that it would be easier to sue media outlets for coverage that he didn’t like.
So the through-line here is this: Trump thinks Putin should be emulated because he is viewed positively in his country. He is viewed positively in part because he crushes dissenting media opinions, something that Trump has also either praised or tacitly accepted. It’s part of being a “leader,” it seems. [Continue reading…]