ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

How CNS Appeased Putin 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
Posted 6/7/2022 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.”

In a series of searing tweets, Navalny slammed Google and Apple for complying with Kremlin dictates, saying that in doing so Big Tech was acknowledging “the right of an authoritarian thief to subjugate the Internet, turning it into an instrument for seizure of power.”

“It’s one thing when the Internet monopolists are ruled by cute freedom-loving nerds with solid life principles,” he said. “It is completely different when the people in charge of them are both cowardly and greedy.”

“One of the modern challenges is that false prophets now come to us not in sheep’s clothing, but in hoodies and stretched jeans,” Navalny wrote. “Standing in front of the huge screens, they tell us about ‘making the world a better place,’ but on the inside they are liars and hypocrites.”

That's more in line with the war CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, has been waging against "Big Tech."

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.

They are ruled by a "dogmatism bordering on absurdity," he asserted, noting that "cancel culture" is nothing more than "reverse discrimination," and teaching children that sexuality is flexible is potentially "a crime against humanity."

In his Oct. 22 speech in Sochi, Russia, before members of the Valdai Discussion Club, Putin addressed some of the major issues affecting the entire world, such as the COVID pandemic, climate change, technological advances, and socio-economic challenges.

When it comes to change, however, Putin said he was surprised at the "social and cultural shocks that are taking place in the United States and Western Europe." He stressed that these changes are none of Russia's business, "we are keeping out of this," but explained that he had seen such disastrous social upheaval before -- in the Soviet Union.


"In a number of Western countries, the debate over men’s and women’s rights has turned into a perfect phantasmagoria. Look, beware of going where the Bolsheviks once planned to go – not only communalizing chickens, but also communalizing women. One more step and you will be there.

"Zealots of these new approaches even go so far as to want to abolish these concepts altogether. Anyone who dares mention that men and women actually exist, which is a biological fact, risk being ostracized. 'Parent number one' and 'parent number two,' 'birthing parent' instead of 'mother,' and 'human milk' replacing 'breastmilk' because it might upset the people who are unsure about their own gender.

"I repeat, this is nothing new; in the 1920s, the so-called Soviet Kulturtraegers also invented some newspeak believing they were creating a new consciousness and changing values that way. And, as I have already said, they made such a mess it still makes one shudder at times. [Emphasis added.]

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."

If NATO executes Article 5 of its charter, which calls for the collective defense of its members, "you won't even have time to blink your eye," said Putin. "There will be no winners."

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.

Commenting on NATO, Cato Institute scholar Doug Bandow said, "Russia is no Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin is no Joseph Stalin. The Russian Federation is an unpleasant actor but has reverted to a pre-1914 great power, insisting on border security and international respect. There is no prospect of a Russian attack on the U.S. and little more chance of one on Europe, Old or New. Although plausible, even a successful grab of the Baltic States would yield little benefit for much cost."

Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan commented last week, "Is the territorial integrity of Ukraine a cause worth America's fighting a war with Russia? No, it is not."

When NATO was created, there were 12 member countries. Today, there are 30.

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.”

When asked whether he sees what Russia did on Monday as a minor incursion or an invasion, Pompeo said, “This is angels on the head of a pin.

“The administration has been so muddled in the way they've made Vladimir Putin have the upper hand throughout this entire time. Every time Putin acts we are on our back foot. He does -- he has no fear of the United States of America and the response we might take,” he told Fox News’s “America Reports.”

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.


“Number one we need more Churchills and less Neville Chamberlains. The West, particularly led by the Biden administration has had a Neville Chamberlain approach to Putin, to Iran, to many other areas. So why did they call it an invasion? Because it is and it was an unsustainable concept. Putin has declared parts of the Ukraine independent, no longer part of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. If that's not an invasion, what is?” Graham said.

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."

Carlson opened "Tucker Carlson Tonight" by discussing how President Joe Biden supporting Ukraine gains him and his family wealth, yet continuous conflict with Russia would immensely affect the American people financially.

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.

"Sanctions will not solve anything regarding Russia," Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, says.

“History doesn't teach everyone far (sic),” Antonov said Tuesday, in a response to a reporter’s question Antonov posted on the official Facebook page of the Embassy of Russia in the U.S., calling it incredulous that any U.S. politician in the Nation’s Capital actually believes that sanctions will stop Russia from seizing regions of Ukraine.


In a post on Wednesday, Antonov chided the “obvious futility” of the sanctions and accused the U.S. of resorting to “blackmail, intimidation and threats.”

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.

For the second time in two days, the administration announced sweeping new sanctions against Russia. But while the targets are significant and wide-ranging, they do not include the man who ordered his military to attack a neighbor, and issued what appeared to be a veiled threat of nuclear retaliation should “outside” nations interfere and threaten Russia and its people.


Minutes later a reporter asked the president about the option of sanctioning Putin himself.

“You said in recent weeks that big nations cannot bluff when it comes to something like this,” she said. “You recently said that the idea of personally sanctioning President Putin was on the table. Is that a step that you’re prepared to take, and if not—

“It’s not a bluff,” Biden interjected. “It’s on the table.”

“Sanctioning President Putin?”


“Why not sanction him today, sir?” the reporter asked.

Biden did not answer, but pointed to another reporter.

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.

And as soon as he took office, Biden canceled the Keystone pipeline and halted new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

Biden is willing to curb U.S. oil and gas production, but even faced with Russian aggression, he's leaving Russia's energy sector alone.

"You know, in our (Russia) sanctions package, we specifically designed (it) to allow energy payments to continue," Biden told Americans on Thursday:


Yet, the Biden administration has said nothing about increasing U.S. fossil fuel production or reversing some of the president's own energy-crimping policies.

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.

In 2020, when President Donald Trump was in office, the United States imported $16,901,100,000 in goods from Russia and exported $4,886,900,000 to Russia, resulting in a bilateral trade deficit of $12,014,200,000.

In 2021, when Joe Biden took office, the United States imported $29,695,100,000 in goods from Russia and exported $6,388,300,000 to Russia, resulting in a trade deficit of $23,306,800,000.

That was a one-year increase of $11,292,600,000—or 93.9%.
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.

During that year, Russia exported a net 540,000 barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products to the United States.

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.

During 2021, the United States imported a monthly average of 670,000 barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia, according to the EIA’s preliminary numbers.

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 January—before 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.

In January, according to the official Census Bureau data, the United States imported $1,959,400,000 in products from Russia.

That same month, the United States exported only $396,800,000 in products to Russia.

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.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

During this February, according to the Census Bureau, the United States exported $497,500,000 in goods to Russia and imported $2,577,800,000 in good from Russia—resulting in a trade deficit of $2,080,300,000.

That is the largest trade deficit the United States has ever run with Russia in the month of February.
Jeffrey did seem to grudgingly admit that his attacks are unfair by noting that "According to a timeline published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Biden Administration imposed its first Ukraine-war-related sanctions on Russia on Feb. 21, 2022" and that "it was not until March 8 that the United States banned Russian oil imports." But he didn't mention that, in the months before the invasion, CNS itself was cool with trashing the U.S. in general and Biden in particular by spouting right-wing-friendly talking points -- making his moralizing over trade with Russia doubly hypocritical.

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.

In January, which preceded the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States exported $396,800,000 in goods to Russia and imported $1,959,400,000 in goods from Russia. That resulted in the United States running a January merchandise trade deficit with Russia of $1,562,500,000.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. That month, most of which preceded the invasion, the United States exported $497,500,000 in goods to Russia and imported $2,577,800,000 from Russia. As a result, the United States ran a February merchandise trade deficit with Russia of $2,080,300,000.

In March, as Russia continued its war in Ukraine, it imported only $101,100,000 in goods from the United States, but the United States imported $2,746,300,000 in goods from Russia.


The $2,746,300,000 in goods the United States imported from Russia in March was also almost 22 times as much as the $126,200,000 in goods the United States imported from Ukraine that month.

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.

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2022 Terry Krepel