TIME Magazine Invaded by
Kremlin Troll Army?
By Finian Cunningham
April 15, 2015 "ICH"
- Has TIME magazine, the prestigious American publication, been hacked by
Russian state cyber-terrorists. Either that or the world’s number-one
circulation weekly is infiltrated by Kremlin trolls. That’s got to be
«explanation» – which Washington, Brussels, NATO and various Western think tanks
will try to spin publicly or rationalise internally.
This «dastardly compromising» of
the iconic current affairs magazine follows this week’s news that Russian
President Vladimir Putin came top of the TIME 100 readers’ poll.
The New York-based magazine claims
to have a worldwide readership of 25 million – the largest among any weekly
publication. The TIME 100 annual survey of its readers elected Putin as the most
influential world figure in 2015. He bested other world leaders and celebrities,
including Pope Francis and American President Barack Obama. Obama’s tally of
votes trailed that for Putin, scoring only about a fifth of those won by his
But how can that can, this runaway
popularity for Putin? After all, according to Washington and its allies, both
governmental and in the Western mass media, Vladimir Putin is «evil incarnate».
For more than a year, a relentless
Western narrative has vilified Putin as a «new Hitler» threatening the security
of Europe and indeed the entire world with his alleged «expansionist aggression»
and plans to «resurrect the Soviet Union».
Putin is not only attacking
Ukraine; he is scheming to invade the Baltic and Black Sea regions, according to
the West. His warplanes are harassing NATO countries and his proxy rebels in
eastern Ukraine blew a civilian airliner out of the sky last summer, or so the
Western media claim.
This dominant Western narrative –
promulgated by TV, radio, newsprint and online – has bordered on fevered fantasy
in its unbridled attempt to portray Putin as «an evil genius».
Tellingly, there is scant dissent
among the corporate Western news media when it comes to their coverage of Putin.
The uniform character-assassination of «the former KGB officer» as the
Machiavellian manipulator behind the Ukraine conflict is based on negligible
evidence. But what it does indicate, indirectly, is a massive degree of
concerted control among the supposedly «free and independent» Western media.
Paradoxically, while the West
haughtily accuses Russia of media censorship and control, it is actually the
Western media who stand accused of serving as propaganda outlets, peddling a
preordained political agenda for Washington and its Western allies. That agenda
involves the demonisation of Vladimir Putin and the tacit political
destabilisation of Russia.
Nevertheless the relentless
Western media campaign to demonise Putin has failed to convince its target
audience. The Western public are not buying the hysterical political agenda.
Whereas in the «good old days» when Western media could be relied upon by their
governments to sway public opinion to support war or sanctions against
designated «foreign enemies», that propaganda function has lost its former power
to persuade, or more bluntly, brainwash.
Western publics have now
alternative media sources, ranging from foreign-based professional news services
to a plethora of Western-based internet sites. The alternative scope is often
critical of Western government policies and capable of ably exposing ulterior,
hidden political agenda. In other words, the alternative news sources are often
doing the proper job of journalism that is neglected by Western mainstream media
who seem to be preoccupied with advancing the political objectives of their
governments – no matter how unethical those objectives are.
Russian news service RT, among
others, has garnered a strong following in North America, Europe and around the
world because it offers alternative perspectives that challenge the hackneyed
Western uniform narrative. On Ukraine, for example, Russian news services have
provided coverage that appears to be more in keeping with reality on the ground,
compared with the Western media which purvey a preordained political line that
seeks to blame Vladimir Putin and Russia for the conflict – despite the dearth
of evidence to support such claims.
The test of the pudding is in the
eating, so to speak. If Russian information sources are remiss in their
coverage, then why are they gaining popularity among Western audiences? Why are
traditional Western corporate media channels losing subscribers in their droves?
The intersecting trends reflect an unprecedented credibility crisis.
While Western media portray Putin
as an arch-villain, alternative media provide reportage and analysis which
substantiate the thesis that Washington and its NATO allies are aiming to
provoke and destabilise Russia, first through an illegal coup in Kiev last
February, and secondly through escalation of NATO forces along Russia’s border.
The alternative account stands up to scrutiny with facts and historical
analysis. And that alternative account appears to be winning in the court of
Over recent months, Western
governments have betrayed their frustration with the lack of success in
persuading global opinion with their anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda,
despite the supposed prestige of household Western media carrying «their story».
The New York Times, Reuters, AP, CNN, BBC, Deutsche Welle and France 24, among
other major Western media outlets, have been shameless in their reflexive,
unquestioning demonisation of Putin. They have succumbed to the cynical adage of
Mark Twain of «not letting facts get in the way of a good story».
That is why American and European
politicians have taken to disparage Russian news media as peddling «Kremlin
propaganda». Washington and Brussels are clamouring for millions of dollars to
counteract what they claim is a «Kremlin troll army» that has «infiltrated» and
«contaminated» public discourse. US Secretary of State John Kerry wants $630
million from Congress to «counter Russian propaganda» while Brussels foreign
affairs chief Frederica Morgherini is looking to establish a new
Russian-language broadcaster to project the «EU’s viewpoint». As if their
propaganda arsenal is not enough already!
As in a debating forum, if one
team can’t win the argument based on facts and reason, the next best scurrilous
option is to resort to smear tactics against the opposition.
But the massive Western
disinformation and smear campaign has simply not had the desired effect.
Vladimir Putin has come through his Western trial-by-media with flying colours
and stands with a high global public regard – far out-performing Western
counterparts in terms of popular respect.
Hence we return to this year’s
TIME 100 poll and the selection of Vladimir Putin as the person of the year,
according to its readers. The hugely significant fact is that more than
two-thirds of TIME’s readers who voted are reportedly based in the United
States, Canada and Britain.
Equally significant, the Western
mainstream media appeared to largely ignore the «big news» this week of Putin
winning the TIME 100 poll.
Rather than addressing that
«incongruous» outcome, Western governments will no doubt «conclude» that the
result is just further proof that now the mighty TIME magazine has been
subverted by the evil genius of Putin and his Red Army trolls.
If you can’t explain reality, then
just invent another one. Which gives new meaning to Western «freedom of
© Strategic Culture Foundation