When the people who run your press run the president, the whole world is in peril. Isn’t it funny how the very essence of what makes us free, can be used to enslave us? Take the summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, for instance. Even a surprisingly positive and hopeful moment in history can be transformed into mental fisticuffs by tabloid journalism spurred to action by elites bent on conflict. That is if we allow it.
I was so skeptical of this Biden-Putin meetup the day before the two presidents met in Geneva. Then, astonishingly, both men emerged from a three or four-hour face-to-face unbloodied. But the professionalism of the two leaders, the positive tone they exited with, and the glimmer of hope that America and Russia might cooperate shattered like a finely blown glass vase on a marble floor in the press room of the New York Times.
Even before Biden and Putin retired to chambers for their discussions, the crazy press could be seen in the preliminary photo op fighting one another for a position. Clamoring photographers who seemed determined to crowd out all others in the room had to be warned by Russian and American secret services to “get back”. And it was not by chance that a Fox News videographer focused on a Russian bodyguard. Later on, American media played up a normal reaction by a trained security agent, to accentuate calling Vladimir Putin a killer thug. The “killer” motif, the chewy morsel the American public has been fed for almost a decade now, it’s just too obvious where it came from now.
At The Hill, the editors put up an opinion piece by Joe Concha entitled “Now we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin.” The sportswriter slash pop-culture analyst who contributes fill-in content for CNN, The Hill, and Fox dives in on Biden and the rumors he’s senile, then harps on the old “Putin Villian” tune, before suggesting we are all about to be mind-controlled by Russia’s leader. President Biden’s true diplomacy versus former President Donald Trump’s game show stupidity ends up being a bad thing in most western media circles. Thankfully, there are a few exceptions. For instance, Robert Allbritton’s Politico ran a story by Nahal Toosi that reveals the genuine detente that went on in Geneva.
Vladimir Putin and the American president were there to find mutual self-interest for their countries, not to start World War III. Robert Allbritton’s political magazine framed the Geneva summit correctly. At one point the author cites Matthew Rojansky, director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute saying:
“The way the two presidents described the tone and tenor of their meeting suggests they did exactly what needed to be done, which was to clarify where there is potential for progress, where there is no such potential, and how each side sees things.”
And here’s a key takeaway no other media I have scanned beyond Politico is emphasizing. Where the highly publicized cyberattacks are concerned, Biden said he’d given Putin a list of 16 off-limits entities from everything from the energy sector to water systems. But here’s the key thing. President Biden stressed that Putin needs to take action against cybercriminals on his soil who carry out such attacks, including the use of ransomware. The implication here is, the Kremlin had nothing to do with these attacks, but the American president is asking Putin to fix the problem. Biden even went so far as to suggest the two countries could come to some sort of cybersecurity arrangement. And this, my friends, it real progress.
Vladimir Putin has stressed many times that western entities have accused Russia of heinous crimes without any proof. Other than hearsay and some flimsy connections, in each case, not one of the allegations against the Kremlin has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. So, President Biden’s innuendo here could well lead to a reconciliation. Unfortunately, the people behind western media and policy, have been crushing hope beneath the stomping feet of profit for decades. Mr. Putin took questions from reporters after the summit, and CNN typically focused on the Putin-Villian narrative they’ve been feeding Americans for years now.
And when the Russian president responds logically, referring to similar situations in America, he’s practicing “whataboutism.” Personally, I always think like this when I think about Trump and Clinton pal Jeffrey Epstein hanging himself at the exact moment all the security cameras go off. If you are a logical person, at least you’ll admit that Americans are using more effective methods to kill themselves than Russians fouling up with the same deadly nerve agents over and over again. Suiciding! There’s a strategic lesson for those pesky Russian agents lurking under every bed. But what about Vladimir Putin and his “mission” at this summit? Here’s my take, and if anyone knows, a praetorian should.
First off, Vladimir Putin is the furthest thing from a villainous killer Russia ever had as a leader. The boy from Leningrad is all too familiar with death, loss, and wasted potential. This is how the pragmatist was formed. I watched all the films this morning. I studied his body language. I looked at the face, the gestures, and listened to the intonation and the words. From the moment Russia’s president stepped from his plane, he was about enthusiasm. Putin was clearly happy about this meeting, but not for the reasons the elites in the west want Americans to believe. Does Putin want his country recognized as a power that matters? Of course. He has never denied this. Is he having difficulty over sanctions and over the constraining tactics of western influences? Absolutely. The Russia Vladimir Putin had on track in 2013, has been roadblocked almost to a halt since then. The fact he’s held the country together at all, is a testimony to his administration’s capability.
Watch the short clip of Vladimir Putin arriving at Villa La Grange. He steps from the car lightfooted, happy, and smiling as he and Switzerland’s President Guy Parmelin. In the photo op with Biden, he appears serious, almost concerned, I would say anticipatory or maybe a little apprehensive. Then at his press conference, the Russian president is again confident, happy, more himself. This means his discussion with the American president was hopeful. Then when Putin exits the villa with his security detail, again he is light on his feet and himself. You might also take note of his right hand Dmitry Peskov in these frames, waiting on the side for his car. The press secretary is more upbeat than usual. And finally, analyzing President Biden in the same way, we can easily put together a mutually satisfying meetup. While I am not a studied Biden analyst, it seems to me the career politician was on his game on this day.
Then we look at CNN is saying “Putin got exactly what he wanted in Geneva.” Ironically, none of the networks are pointing out the Joe Biden got exactly what he wanted as well. This is how corporate-owned media runs these days. A framework of Q&A is set, in order to propagate the propaganda campaign against Russia or China, or anything standing in the way of designed chaos. The questions themselves, end up brainwashing the audience to ask exactly the same questions. “Did you commit to President Biden Russia’s willingness to stop cyberattacks?” A reporter asked Vladimir Putin this at a press conference after the summit. As if Putin had already somehow signed a confession to all the crimes Rupert Murdoch or other western billionaires have had alleged.
Finally, a question put to Mr. Putin from CNN’s Matthew Chance offers us a picture window into what is really going on where public information is concerned. Chance asked the Russian president about he and Biden discussing cyber attacks. Putin took a moment to inform not only CNN but the cable viewing audience about who really leads the world in hacking. No, Russia is not even in the top five. Putin went on to describe how America’s requests on cyberattacks coming from Russian space have all been addressed, while five times as many requests from Russia have not as yet received a single response. Putin went on, but the gist of his prescription for going forward is for the US and Russia to throw out conspiracy theories, and to go forward. As Biden said, it is in the best interest of both countries.
Make what you will of the hope crushers behind CNN and the other corporate media. I, for one, choose to be hopeful. Let’s hope President Biden can do what Trump was unable to do, free himself from the puppeteers.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”