The Putin-Lovers At WorldNetDaily
From crackdowns on gays and dissent to invading Ukraine, WND's writers have found themselves a new favorite authoritarian dictator.
By Terry Krepel
Now, WND has latched onto Russia's Vladimir Putin -- a trend that began even before Russia's military actions in Ukraine and Crimea.
Kevin DeAnna used an August 2012 WND column -- headlined "Russia Is Not The Enemy" -- to defend the Russian prosecution of the punk band Pussy Riot for "hooliganism" -- then takes it a step further by defending Putin as "simply a Russian nationalist."
DeAnna listed other allegedly heinous activities by the group, such as "public orgies, shoving chicken into their vaginas at a supermarket and overturning police cars (with officers inside)." His source for this is a post on the libertarian Lew Rockwell website that also goes way conspiratorial by suggesting that the State Department funneled money to the group with the goal of "undermining a foreign leader viewed as out of favor with Washington."
DeAnna's ultimate goal, though, is to denounce conservatives who came to Pussy Riot's defense. He began his column by stating, "What do conservatives do when the institutions they are fighting to defend join the other side? Unfortunately, the American right has an answer to that question fight harder than ever to save their enemies." He goes on to complain that "The band’s ideology is typically boring leftism, which American conservatives seem determined to misinterpret. The reason is because it might get in the way of bashing Russia." DeAnna concluded with a Putin-defending rant:
Russia is targeted precisely because it is conservative. The vast majority of Russians were outraged at Py Riot’s stunt. As Putin himself noted, there’s a reason they didn’t target a mosque. The real audience was the left-wing American and European media, which never misses an opportunity to promote degeneracy when it is directed at Christian or Western targets.
DeAnna, by the way, is a WND staff writer who former headed a far-right student group called Youth for Western Civilization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center notes has received the benefit of fundraising from notorious white nationalist Jared Taylor.
After Russia approved new laws banning so-called gay propaganda, WND columnists adored Russia anew. In a September 2013 column, Scott Lively was appalled at the idea that the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, might become a venue for protests against the law and called on Russian officials to co-opt the rainbow symbolism used by gays:
Imagine the Russian Olympics taking place under a giant rainbow banner declaring that the rainbow belongs to God! And rainbow symbols incorporated in virtually every aspect of the games and the celebrations surrounding them. The scheme to display rainbows as a rebellious act by Hollywood celebrities and left-leaning Olympic contenders would be rendered impotent. The “gay” movement would be thwarted in its attempt to steal for itself what belongs to God and to all of us as His children. And, best of all, the entire world, including the “gays,” would be reminded of the truth of the Bible: that God gave us the rainbow as a reminder not only that He judges sin, but that He forgives and heals those who repent.
Linda Harvey used a Jan. 22 WND column to defend the law against "homosexualists":
The international outrage of homosexualists is being unleashed on Russia because of a new law. Russia actually allows open homosexuality among adults, but passed a law recently prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality to minors. So what’s the concern?
Lively returned with a March 10 column paradoxically proclaiming that Russia is "on the ascendancy in the matter of human rights" because it's working to curtail the human rights of homosexuals:
Today, both the Magna Carta and the First Amendment are deemed to be trumped by the “right to sodomy” in case after case, and pro-homosexual activist federal judges in the U.S. are striking down “Defense of Marriage” laws in the most morally conservative states in the union with brazen disregard for the Constitution and the will of the people.
Only in Lively's fevered gay-bashing mind would curtailing human rights be considered an expansion.
Putin the manly warmonger
It was Russia's saber-rattling with Ukraine and ultimate invasion and takeover of the Ukranian region of Crimea, however, that turned Putin into a role model for WND's writers -- not to mention propagandists for the Russian regime
Right-wing radio host Michael Savage set the tone in a March 3 column, declaring that the "rebel forces" in the Ukraine are "fascists" and "spearheaded by Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Chechen Islamist radicals." Putin, by contrast, "is not the villain in this" because he's not killing Jews, and he was "forced to deploy military assets to Crimea" because "Russia cannot afford to let the Crimean region fall into the hands of the insurgents who are trying to take over Ukraine."
Both Maloof nor Savage ignore countervailing views on the Ukraine opposition. But Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid, of all people, noted that Putin himself has made similar claims and identifies it has part of a pro-Russian propaganda campaign. Kincaid also notes that an Israeli news agency has reported that a Jewish-led militia force that actually participated in the revolution in Ukraine.
The next day, Maloof claimed that "Russian troop movements on the Crimean Peninsula are permitted under a 1997 Partition Treaty signed between Russia and Ukraine, as long as there are not more than 25,000 Russian troops."
Maloof didn't document where he got his information from, but elsewhere in the article he cites Russia Today -- presumably this article. Maloof doesn't mention that Russia Today is operated by the Russian government -- which is to say, Putin -- and its objectivity, particularly on Russian actions in Ukraine, has been called into question. Indeed, a Russia Today TV reporter resigned on air, criticizing the invasion and her network for whitewashing Putin's actions.
(While WND normally champions journalists who expose the biases of their employers, the only mention of the RT reporter's on-air resignation came in an article WND stole from the New York Daily News.)
WND columnist Erik Rush also hopped aboard pro-Putin bandwagon by repeating the same propaganda in his March 5 column:
The Western press as well as Republican leaders are beating the drum of Putin wishing to “restore the Soviet Union,” being an international bully, a retrograde dictator and so on. We know that Ukraine has been a contested area for centuries. We also know that Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union and that Putin is an authoritarian leader. However, he is also dealing with factions (in the neighboring Ukraine, Dagestan, Chechnya and Armenia, to name but a few) that are replete with those who hold anti-Russian sentiments, including militant Islamists, some of whom have very recently carried out suicide bombings within Russia. This was precisely the reason for widespread safety concerns at the Winter Olympics at Sochi.
As with his fellow WNDers, Rush is relying on pro-Putin propaganda. Timothy Snyder in the New York Review of Books points out that before his overthrow, then-President Viktor Yanukovych's regime was denouncing the opposition as not only Nazis but Jews as well.
The boss himself, Joseph Farah, weighed in as well, and he used his March 6 column to declare how Putin is setting a fine example for Hillary Clinton to follow:
What else did she say about Putin?
So according to Farah, Putin is just a patriotic Russian whose patriotism should be an inspiration to Americans. Wouldn't it be nice if right-wingers didn't reflexively side with authoritarian dictators just to spite a non-right-wing president?
And that's not all. William Murray, who's working with Farah and Jerome Corsi on their right-wing super PAC (and who once blamed a train crash on homosexuality), has found a new buddy in Putin. Murray wrote in his March 12 WND column:
President Vladimir Putin of Russia is cast as an evil villain and blood-thirsty madman by the American media and politicians of both parties. Often, to demonize him they point out that he was once head of the old KGB (note that our own President George H.W. Bush once headed the CIA). In reality, Putin actually presided over the dismantling and reform of the old KGB.
Murray -- and, it appears, many other WND writers -- really believes that returning to the 1950s is a good thing, however much anyone who isn't a white male might beg to differ.
No wonder nobody believes WND.