The New York Times, which has seen its stock price and circulation plummet dramatically over the past year and is awash in the red ink of failure, hit a new low with its recent editorial regarding Dmitri Medvedv. The editorial is so inaccurate and misleading, it's an embarrassment to the entire country, a betrayal of democracy itself. It seems they'll just never learn, never "get it," until they actually are forced out of business. The Times has done virtually nothing to support their besieged colleagues in Russia and despite relentlessly bashing George Bush has totally ignored his softness on Russia, as if it approved. Of course, since all through the first cold war the Times told us Russians would never do what they are doing now if they got the chance to decide their own fate, it has a vested interest in denying that what we are seeing is actually happening.
Here's the complete text, with LR's running commentary:
The Soviet-style guessing game over Russia’s presidential succession seemed all but decided this week when President Vladimir Putin endorsed the candidacy of his loyal protégé, Dmitri Medvedev, and then Mr. Medvedev announced that, once elected, he would appoint Mr. Putin to be his prime minister. Commentators in Russia quickly declared that the Russian people craved stability — and Mr. Putin — far more than democracy, and that this was what they wanted. Of course, Mr. Putin dominates Russian television, most of the rest of the news media and all of the country’s political system, so anyone who doesn’t bear his stamp of approval is bound to look like a risky unknown.
LR: Maybe the people of Hitler's Germany also "craved stability" instead of democracy. Does that mean we should accept their decision too?
The situation could have been worse. Mr. Putin is barred by the Constitution from running for a third term, and there were fears that he, or his allies, might find a way to tear up the charter so that he could stay on. We are relieved that he apparently has decided against that particularly wrongheaded move. Mr. Putin could also have chosen someone, like himself, from the thuggish intelligence services. Instead his heir apparent, currently a deputy prime minister and chairman of the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, is a former law professor with a reported fondness for the West.
LR: That's exactly the opposite of the truth. At least if Putin had chosen someone from the ranks of the KGB, there would have been some hope for confrontation and change. This way, by choosing a helpless sycophant with a jelly-like resume that's hard to attack, Putin has removed the impetus for opposition at the root level, and his success can be seen in the ridiculous of failure of America's so-called "paper of record" to recognize the threat. How is it possible that the Times can believe that Medvedev would be able to disgree with Putin as prime minister, much less terminate his services? How can a major newspaper's editorial board be so childishly naive? It's clear he intends to retain the formal indicia of power. This means a massive civil liberties crackdown can be instituted and Medvedev can be given the blame. It's a worst-case scenario.
Mr. Medvedev is credited with doing a decent job of distributing the windfall profits that have pumped Russia’s economy in recent years. He has also spoken in favor of Russia’s integration into the world economy and raised questions about the value of an economy dominated by state-owned enterprises. That did not stop Gazprom, under his leadership, from using its gas supplies to try to blackmail politically obstreperous neighbors. Perhaps most important, Mr. Medvedev owes his entire political career to Mr. Putin and is seen as a relatively weak figure with no independent power base. That suggests that Mr. Putin will continue to wield the real power long after the March election. We hope that will not be the case. Mr. Putin outgrew his patron, Boris Yeltsin. And perhaps, Mr. Medvedev will outgrow his and reverse the authoritarianism that has been the hallmark of Mr. Putin’s eight years in the presidency.
LR: With absolutely no basis for believing it is rational, the Times is urging us to drop our guard and wait until something horrible happens before we start trying to protect ourselves. That's treason. Do you notice how the Times makes no mention of Putin's aggressive actions to provoke a new cold war? That's also treacherous. One must wonder what sort of horror would have to unfold in Russia before the Times' editorial board would admit we should begin to protect ourselves.
He can start proving that he will be his own man by insisting that the Kremlin lift restrictions on the press, nongovernmental organizations and opposition political parties so that there can be a real presidential race. Along with the prosperity that oil has brought, there is still a strong base on which to build a real democracy that could offer Russians true, long-term stability. Anyone who has followed Russia’s arduous path over the past two decades understandably will be wary of putting great faith in Mr. Medvedev as a democratic reformer. We hope we will be surprised.
LR: Again, with absolutely no basis for believing it is rational, the Times is urging us to drop our guard and wait until something horrible happens before we start trying to protect ourselves. That's treason. And they're repeating themselves. Leaving us with no choice but to do so ourselves.
This editorial about Medvedev is virtually a carbon copy of the one the Times wrote about Putin when he was named acting president by Boris Yeltsin. Instead of warning us that immediate action was needed to stop Putin from doing what he actually did, turning Russia into KGB Nation, the Times urged us to drop our guard, and this helped Putin consolidate his rule. Now they want us to do it again, so Russia can become a fully-realized neo-Soviet state unbothered by Western interference.
No wonder this paper is such a miserable failure.