How CNS Appeased Putin
CNSNews.com spent the weeks and months before Russia's invasion of Ukraine cheering Vladimir Putin's right-wing-friendly rants about "woke" culture and portraying President Biden as weak for not stopping the invasion.
By Terry Krepel
CNSNews.com has spent Joe Biden's presidency engaging in anti-American rooting for Vladimir Putin over Biden. CNS especially loved it when Putin sounded like an American conservative by spouting right-wing talking points -- even folding it into ostensible critics of Putin.
Patrick Goodenough devoted a Sept. 24 article to Putin's biggest critic, Alexey Navalny. but the focus of the article wasn't Navalny's criticism of Putin -- it was on tech companies who bowed to Putin's demands to withdraw voting-aid apps:
Angered by U.S. tech giants’ decision to remove a voting app promoting opposition candidates in last weekend’s Russian parliamentary elections, imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has accused them of turning into Vladimir Putin’s “accomplices.”
However, Goodenough waited until the last few paragraphs of his 18-paragraph article to note "widespread allegations from opposition parties of vote-rigging and fraud" and that "The Washington-based democracy watchdog Freedom House, which grades countries each year on political rights and civil liberties, ranks Russia under the Putin regime as 'not free'" -- though, weirdly, Goodenough did not mention Putin's name in making those claims even though he's the person behind all that. Wouldn't want to upset the boss, after all.
This came, by the way, after a Sept. 19 article by Goodenough in which he highlighted criticism of Apple and Google by "Russian opposition activists" in which Putin's name doesn't appear at all.
An Oct. 26 article by managing editor Michael W. Chapman lovingly transcribed another Putin rant against "woke" culture in the U.S. ... with added emphasis where needed as if following orders from the big guy himself:
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB, strongly criticized the "woke," social justice warriors in the United States and Europe, arguing that they behave just like the Bolshevik Communists did in the former Soviet Union.
Chapman didn't mention that the Valdai Discussion Club is little more than a pro-Putin think tank, meaning there's little actual "discussion" going on there.
It makes one shudder that the managing editor of a conservative "news" operation is favorably quoting a foreign dictator best known these days for suppressing dissent in his own country trashing the United States. But then, CNS' Media Research Center parent, has no problem embracing right-wing authoritarians if they parrot right-wing narratives.
Da to Putin, nyet to Biden ... again
As Russia ratcheted up its aggression toward Ukraine, CNS was repeatedly touting Putin's strength and attacking Biden's purported weakness. Chapman returned to take Putin's side in the Ukraine conflict in an appeasing Feb. 10 article, effectively agreeing to Putin's demand that Ukraine be barred from NATO:
In a speech on Monday in Moscow, following diplomatic talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that if Ukraine joins NATO and tries to retake the Crimea, Europe "will be automatically pulled into a war conflict with Russia."
Lest it not be apparent that Chapman was siding with Putin here, he went on to write of others endorsing Putin's idea:
NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was established in 1949 primarily to provide collective security to Europe against possible invasion by the Soviet Union. The USSR collapsed in 1991, and all Soviet troops were removed from Eastern Europe.
Bandow is another Putin appeaser CNS has published; he argued in a Jan. 27 CNS column that "Nothing suggests that Putin wants what can never be given." Buchanan, of course, is a longtime Putin appeaser who has a spot on CNS' commentary page because CNS editor Terry Jeffrey ran his presidential campaigns in the 1990s.
On Feb. 21, Craig Bannister touted how "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) posted a series of tweets over the weekend blasting U.S. President Joe Biden and Western powers for projecting weakness." Melanie Arter similarly touted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz blaming "the current state of affairs between Russia and Ukraine on the 'weakness' and 'fecklessness' of President Biden, adding that his 'surrender and disastrous retreat from Afghanistan is the worst military catastrophe for the United States in decades.'"
Arter found another Biden-hater and Putin-praiser for a Feb. 22 article:
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that because the Biden administration has been “so muddled” in its response that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has no fear of the United States of America and the response we might take.”
Later that day, Arter gave Graham another Biden-bashing platform:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that the world needs more Winston Churchills and less Neville Chamberlains, and he compared President Biden to the British politician known for his foreign policy of appeasement.
Bannister also attempted to mock Biden by repeating things Biden previously said about Putin:
On Feb. 23, Emily Robertson gave a platform to America's greatest Putin appeaser:
“Biden has pledged to defend Ukraine’s borders, even as he opens our borders to the world," Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Tuesday. "That’s how it works. Invading America is called equity; invading Ukraine is a war-crime."
Robertson uncritically repeated Carlson's complaint that "Democrats in Washington have told you you have a patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin" and that people should ask themselves "Why do I hate Putin so much?"
Bannister even gave a pushback-free platform to Russia's ambassador to the U.S. to trash Biden's plan of sanctions against Russia in a Feb. 23 article:
Russia is accustomed to being sanctioned and won’t end its aggression in Ukraine because of any new sanctions enacted by U.S. President Joe Biden, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, says.
Even when sanctions against Russia started with the Ukraine invasion, CNS was quick to portray them as insufficient. A Feb. 22 article by Patrick Goodenough complained that "Russian President Vladimir Putin is not himself targeted in the sanctions rolled out by the Biden administration on Tuesday, although a White House official said that 'no option is off the table, as the president said.'" It was not until the very end of the article that Goodenough got around to reporting that the sanctions were done in conjunction with similar sanctions from European countries.
After the invasion, CNS continued to attack Biden for allegedly not moving quick enough on sanctions.
In a Feb. 24 article, Goodenough admitted that the initial round of sanctions after the invasion were "sweeping," yet he complained that they weren't sweeping enough since they didn't target Putin himself:
President Biden declared at the White House on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be “a pariah” for invading Ukraine, but asked several times about the decision not to sanction Putin personally, he did not answer.
The next day, Susan Jones complained that Biden didn't immediately cut off U.S. imports of Russian oil, while also rehashing right-wing narratives about Biden's energy policies:
"I guarantee you. We're going to end fossil fuel," then-presidential candidate Joe Biden said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in September 2019.
In fact, U.S. oil production has been on an overall upward trajectory since bottoming out because of the pandemic, and Jones did not explain how, exactly, the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline (most of the oil from which would have been exported) or the pause in oil and gas leases on federal land (which have not only resumed but have outpaced Trump's record) directly harmed the U.S. oil industry.
Blaming Russian trade on Biden
Another part of CNS' wartime war on Biden in the runup to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is editor Terry Jeffrey blaming Biden for engaging in trade with Russia -- though Jeffrey offered no reason there shouldn't have been trade before the invasion. Jeffrey wrote in a Feb. 22 article:
The United States merchandise trade deficit with Russia increased by 93.9 percent in 2021, according to data published this month by the Census Bureau.But Jeffrey is cherry-picking data to make Trump look good. The chart that accompanies his article showed that the trade deficit in 2018 and 2019 -- when Donald Trump was president -- was higher than it was in 2020, which has likely been skewed by the COVID pandemic. Jeffrey also illustrated his article with a file photo of Biden with Putin.
Jeffrey hyped in a Feb. 25 article:
Russia was the second-largest net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products to the United States in 2020, the last full year on record, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
But Jeffrey deflated his own scary talking point in the third paragraph: "Canada, however, was by far the largest net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products to the United States that year. It sent this country a net of 3,193,000 barrels per day." And then, a couple paragraphs later, it was deflated further: "Despite running up significant net imports of petroleum from these countries, the United States overall was a net petroleum exporter in 2020." that would seem to blow up the right-wing talking point that American doesn't produce enough oil.
As before, the article is illustrated by a photo of Biden and Putin.
Jeffrey was on the oil kick again in a March 1 article:
In 2021, which was President Joe Biden’s first year in office, the United States imported a record volume of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia,according to the preliminary numbers for 2021 published Monday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Jeffrey again cherry-picked numbers to avoid discussing the fact that the purchase of Russian oil was on an upward trajectory during the Trump administration. After similar import numbers in 2017 and 2018, they increased in both 2019 and 2020. Jeffrey did note the growth in imports during those years, but didn't tell readers who was president at the time; by contrast, Jeffrey's article is illustrated with a stock photo of Biden.
Jeffrey harped on this again in a March 18 article:
The value of the products that the United States imported from Russia in Januarybefore U.S sanctions were imposed on Russia after its February 24 invasion of Ukraine--was nearly five times as great as the value of the products that the United States exported to Russia during that month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Once again, Jeffrey's article is illustrated with a file photo of Biden with Putin. That shows how endemic CNS' anti-Biden editorial agenda is.
As Russia's war continued, so did Jeffrey's efforts to blame Biden for continued trade. He wrote in an April 6 article:
The United States ran a record February merchandise trade deficit of $2,080,300,000 with Russia, according to newly released numbers from the Census Bureau.
To drive home his attack line further, Jeffrey again illustrated his article with an old file photo of Biden with Putin.
Jeffrey pushed his attack line again with updated numbers in a May 4 article:
In March, which was the first full calendar month after Russia invaded Ukraine, U.S. imports of Russian goods increased, according to newly released data from the Census Bureau.
Again, Jeffrey failed to mention his operation's support for Putin in the months before the invasion. And again, he illustrated it with a file photo of Putin and (the back of the head of) Biden.
Also, again, Jeffrey's intent is to push a political attack -- these are stories he would not be writing if a Republican was president.