American Media Coverage of Sochi

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What are US media trying to prove? What is the real motive of the crazy and jingoistic media coverage of the Olympic games in Sochi? There are several aspects to the story.

There will always be theories to explain the real causes for the Cold War. The US government engaged in the most feverish propaganda campaigns the world has ever seen. Billions of dollars were spent in order to try to influence the world population. The US invested in radio stations in many languages of the world, and American propaganda books were translated by the US government and distributed worldwide. Publishing houses in Lebanon and elsewhere were subsidized by the US government in order to unleash books and pamphlets that vomited the US government version of world affairs.

Just like now, the US spoke a lot about freedom and yet did its utmost to thwart freedom in most countries of the world. Even in Europe, the US interfered in local elections in order to favor the most right-wing point of views. Ironically, as the US academia was focused on propagating the paradigm of totalitarianism in order to discredit all socialist movements and regimes around the world, it was the US government – much more than the USSR – that tried to influence, mold, and shape the mind of people around the world – no less.

The US presented its case in very simple terms: The struggle between the US and its communist and socialist enemies was a struggle between freedom and totalitarianism. To be sure, the dichotomy was illogical on many grounds: The US set up a theory (the theory of freedom) in opposition to practical examples (and not the theories) of communism and socialism. And in this American dichotomous view, there was no room for nuanced analysis of communism and socialism. Basically, Stalinism summarized the entire history, present, and future of socialism and communism. And the US did not dare compare capitalism with socialism as that would have been more complicated an enterprise, but American politicians insisted that capitalism is synonymous with freedom, even if the examples of Chilean, Saudi, South African, and later Chinese capitalism refuted the premise of US propaganda efforts. Yet, in the mind of American politicians and public, the US encapsulated freedom: It was the concreteness of its ethical idea, to US the Hegelian language.

Yet, the negative coverage that the US reserves for Russia (after the demise of communism) requires a revision of past analysis of the Cold War. The Realists were right all along: The Cold War was primarily about a struggle for power between two superpowers. Ideology played little part in the US (which ended ideology, or Daniel Bell declared its end) and even in the case of the USSR, Zbigniew Brzezinski, called since 1966 for less stress on the communist ideology in analyzing the sources of Soviet foreign policy conduct. And how could the US objections to Soviet power be purely based on free-loving opposition to communism, when the US struck an alliance with communist China, which was a far brutal version of communism at the time of the US-Chinese alliance?

American hostility to Russia is largely nationalistic and grows as the power of Russia in world affairs grows. One still remembers that American coverage of France switched overnight in 2003 when the US government declared France as the enemy because it dared to oppose the American invasion of Iraq. The jingoism of the time was such that there were movements of boycotts of French goods (the US is opposed to boycotts unless they are blessed by the US and Israel). French fries were renamed “freedom fries” and US politicians – who know very little about the world – assumed that France is not really a democratic country in the world. People in the US are quite familiar with the political/polemical refrain that the US “is the freest country in the world” and, of course, “the best country in the world.” For Americans, wealth and freedom are intertwined.

The US (government, media, and public) can turn against even allies even if the ally is equally democratic, or even more democratic. It was quite remarkable how favorable the coverage of Russia was under the buffoonish leadership of Boris Yeltsin, who agreed along with his foreign minister as mere tools of the US. Even the drunken escapades of Yeltsin were covered like one covers the drunkenness of an uncle at a family wedding. The massive corruption and repression of the Yeltsin era (far worse than they are now in Russia) were glossed over. Favorable and fawning profiles of Yeltsin were the norm.

The coverage of the games of Sochi are just plain ridiculous. There are breaking stories about faucets that don’t run and toilets that don’t flush and paint that is still wet, as if massive Olympic preparations are ever devoid of mishaps and blunders. The coverage of the games is purely nationalistic: The games took place at a time of American resentment against Russian assertiveness in regional and world affairs. If Russia were to become a world power again, the US would be willing to reignite the Cold War but in new language. They would not be able to rehash the anti-communist rhetoric, so they would instead resort to quasi-racist anti-Russian rhetoric, and the words about freedom would be invoked again. It is rather amusing when the US government and media pretend that American political qualms about Russia are based on American objections to the flaws in the Russian political system, which implies – logically – that the US fully approves of the rise and embodiment of freedom in the Saudi political system – if we can call the rule of the royal family there a political system.

The US media are relishing the errors and mistakes in the execution of the management of the Olympic games in Sochi. But it will be great fun to mimic the same immature and petty coverage the next time an Olympic event is held here in the US. One is tempted to test every faucet and every toilet and every lock.

Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a Professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil.

Comments

FYI The US media is the largest “State Media” in the world. Sure it is run and managed by few corporations (less then few) but the US Media consistently and religiously sponsors the government outlook and actions. Basically the US is the strongest dictatorship in the world, a large corporation.

However they are progressive on taboo issues such abortion, smoke free environments, gay rights, freedom of (guns) violence, bullying, all you can eat menus, lights on the streets, porn, gambling, sports billions, college athletics vs slavery, no labor unions, slavery, minimum wage, full time job no rent or food, spit ball etc. I feel like a banana R.

The War party in the West are absolutely enraged that they were denied the chance to bomb and enact regime change in Syria. Putin, and by extension Russia are being blamed and all of the Media outlets are simply mentally dead slaves who follow their master's orders.to slander and ridicule anyone who makes it onto their masters' hit list.
Anyone who stands in the way of the Western Domination Project receives the same treatment. In a similar vein, it was very amusing to see the US Treasury attempting to blame Iran for the insurgency in Syria?
The propagandists of the West care nothing for reason, logic or observable reality. The cattle minded consumers are expected to absorb this nonsense along with all the other ridiculous lies that form the Western narrative.

As'ad AbuKhalil, a few words if I may respond to your anti-American rant. It seems you have fallen into the same trap that those you are attacking.

Of course there will be negative journalism, if there are hotels unfinished, stray dogs being poisoned, etc. That is the point, tell the whole story. For the most part that is coming from people in Sochi, tweeting pictures of hotel rooms. Let's take a look at two quotes from your beautiful prose.

"The massive corruption and repression of the Yeltsin era (far worse than they are now in Russia)" You do realize that an insane amount of the $51 billion for the Olympics were handed out to Putin's cronies right?

"The coverage of the games of Sochi are just plain ridiculous. There are breaking stories about faucets that don’t run and toilets that don’t flush and paint that is still wet, as if massive Olympic preparations are ever devoid of mishaps and blunders. The coverage of the games is purely nationalistic" These stories are being broken by citizens and media from around the world. How can any negative story be nationalistic? Have you read a US or European paper? Most of the stories are attacking their own governments policies. So those stories according to your thesis are in the name of nationalism?

I present to you the definition of journalism. Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination and analysis of news and other information. Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, disclosure, and editorial independence.

Respectfully, Kurt W

Funny how KW could see As'ad "anti-American rant" but not the gross Russophobia of USA and other NATO media.

"For the most part that is coming from people in Sochi, tweeting pictures of hotel rooms"
1) The same as most Syrian coverage is done by skype? Yeah, it is journalism
2) Those pictures were debunked as fake, and esp. one with "brown water" So-called .people in Sochi were too stupid to remember that Google has a search by picture option. The picture was first posted in 2012!
"Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, disclosure, and editorial independence" - yes, and USA journos by pure chance are writing exactly the same as USA rulers say LOL
See - Saddam WMD, for ex.
I do not respect people like KW and is not going to lie about it, but is it not funny that KW first call As'ad article "rant" and in the end cited his "respect"

Funny how KW could see As'ad "anti-American rant" but not the gross Russophobia of USA and other NATO media.

"For the most part that is coming from people in Sochi, tweeting pictures of hotel rooms"
1) The same as most Syrian coverage is done by skype? Yeah, it is journalism
2) Those pictures were debunked as fake, and esp. one with "brown water" So-called .people in Sochi were too stupid to remember that Google has a search by picture option. The picture was first posted in 2012!
"Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, disclosure, and editorial independence" - yes, and USA journos by pure chance are writing exactly the same as USA rulers say LOL
See - Saddam WMD, for ex.
I do not respect people like KW and is not going to lie about it, but is it not funny that KW first call As'ad article "rant" and in the end cited his "respect"

Asas is right on many points. He's wrong on many others. The old Soviet Union did not run the cold war out of national interests. Just follow then foreign minister Andrei Gromyko's unswerving foreign policy support for a host of liberation movements in the third world. China was more brutal than the Soviet Union? A pretty poor China was America's whipping boy for long, it remained more or less that even after formal ties improved. A country with nearly a billion people and very few cops, so the regime acted sometimes with violence to keep order and push ahead with revolution. By the way, loads of people in the world, outside of the rich countries and even there, support the objectives of the Cultural revolution which, I suppose, Asad would decry as harsh and terrible. Not many ordinary people were targeted though. Nor were ordinary people the victims in Stalin's Soviet Union. The people, the party, the army faced the German nazi war machine at the time, a highly potent one backed by the economies of all the rich western countries barring the UK. To recall, the Hitlerites and allies killed over 20 million people in the Soviet Union. Well, the Soviets still beat the nazis to pulp. Hitler attacked the Soviet union in JUne 1941. Four years later he was committing suicide in a hole in Berlin surrounded by the Soviet army. Asad, your anarchists, champions of lecturing and hectoring these says, were nowhere to be seen then!

Another piercing critique by Abu Khalil of the skewed US foreign policy. The American media coverage of Sochi is indeed pathetic; the coverage of the so-called "Syrian" rebels is murderous, and the coverup of the "democratic" Saudi rulers' (and their puppeteers') is even more murderous. When will US foreign-policy spin doctors understand that their first victims are innocent civilians worldwide and American citizens who are sold lies, day in and day out?

From As'sad's lamentations over the demise of the USSR. would he have us believe that slanderous US propaganda brought down the socialist Mother-ship?

Or does Marxism just lead to governance that stinks, and fails on its own nonsense.?

The fan of the most stupid prez in USA history (no mean feat) just cannot read.
And by the way, capitalist government is wonderful (it had failed when first introduced in Italy and was out of play for 300 years, but who cares?)
Capitalist government brought us slavery, colonialism, genocide, 2 World wars, Nazi rule, opium wars, nuking two big cities under false pretexts (Truman called the city nuked "a war base"). Al-Qaida was made by capitalist governments.
And for all those there are still hungry children even in the USA - after all those crimes and looting of all the world. Old people die from cold because they have no money to heat up after working all their life. People dieing from treatable illness because they cannot afford an insurance. People burning alive because USA government has no money for firefighting - only for bankers' welfare. And so on.

In USSR 30 years ago there were NO hungry people, no people who were without health care or without work. So, capitalist government worked hard to end this. Not only by propaganda, of course. But now, when there are a lot of hungry, jobless and so on people in Russia, USA capitalist government is still not happy with it. Go figure. ,

Who in the US does not know that Saudi autocrats are less than democratic? Media is constantly harping on their treatment of women, etc. The coverage of the Syrian rebels is just that, that it is a absolute mess. There are dozens of terrorist groups fighting each other and Assad at the same time. None of your info is unknown to the average American.

"Who in USA"? The USA rulers, for ex, who constantly tell us about "moderate" and "reformist" Saudi royals, visit them, deal with them and hug them. Of course, USA "free" media oblige and repeat such propaganda. By USA media narrative Iran is much worth than SA, including the treatment of women.
About Syria for 2 years USA media (repeating USA rulers) have been telling us that Assad is murdering peaceful protesters, then that armed "rebels" are all liberal-feminists and only very recently they both (media and their sources in USA government) have admitted that there are fanatic jihadists in Syria (without pointing that CIA and USA allies are backing them). Now USA rulers are supplying arms to "moderate" Al-Qaida, because there is really not and had not been any "secular" anti-Assad fighters, so, USA media one more time pretend that USA rulers are not supporting Al-Qaida.
All this was noted by As'ad many times since long ago and supported by quatation from USA media. Of course, KW prefers pretending otherwise, but we have memory.

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