WND's Other Russia Apologists, Part 2
WorldNetDaily columnists have continued their admiration for Vladimir Putin and their smears against Ukraine -- but there's one columnist who's deviating from the pro-Russia norm.
By Terry Krepel
As befits a "news" organization that has long admired Russian leader Vladimir Putin, WorldNetDaily columnists have taken Putin's side in his war on Ukraine, and that love has continued. Hanne Nabintu Herland complained in her April 26 column:
The forced politicization of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine may easily backfire. As the Ukrainian government is now engaged in a militant, atheistic, Soviet Union-type of manhunt and persecution against traditional Orthodox Christians, despite their pledged loyalty to Ukraine, this may be a mistake that will impact the Russia-Ukraine war in unexpected ways. What happens domestically when you begin attacking your own history? "The Ukrainian authorities are sadly ignorant of the spiritual laws that govern the universe. Instead, they spit upon the Church and the saints," says Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye. Almost half of the Ukrainian population adhere to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Herland is being quite vague about what is happening here. At no point did she note that, as ConWebWatch has documented, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church continues to have ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, which is headed by a staunch ally, Patriarch Kirill. A breakaway sect, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, has formed independent of Moscow -- the existence of which Herland doesn't mention at all (also, Russia refuses to recognize the church). The Ukrainian government took over the monastery because the UOC continues to remain affiliated with Moscow despite pledges to the contrary.
Still, Herland insisted on whining: "When the Western-affiliated government follows atheistic Soviet tactics of harassment and persecution of the Ukrainian Church, they ignore the very greatness of their own history that made Ukraine such a center for spirituality in the East." Again, she falsely portrayed the UOC as be persecuted for their religion when, in fact, they are facing consequences for continued links to Russia at a time when Russia is waging war on Ukraine.
That's just rank dishonesty -- but then, we're used to that from Herland.
Richard Blakley -- a top WND Putin apologist -- has been very busy on the Russian propaganda front. He complained in a July 18 column that Ukraine (and, by extension, the U.S.) didn't want to negotiate with Russia over a war that Russia unilaterally started:
It seems that with the olive branch extended last Christmas someone would want to talk with Putin and ask questions. For example, what are your "national interests?" What are "the interests of your citizens?" And how do you explain your view that the West is trying to "destroy Russia?"Blakley didn't mention that if Russia wanted peace, it could simply withdraw from Ukraine. Instead, he weirdly chose to blame Democrats because "the 2024 elections are fast approaching, and the Democrats will need more funds for their political coffers." He also didn't explain why, if Putin is so concerned with "immoral stances," he's waging war on a neighboring country, killing thousands of people for no reason.
Blakley continued being a Putin apologist in his Aug. 1 column, in which he blamed unrest in the region on the CIA (and not, you know Russia), then justified Russia's taking of Crimea because the toppling of corrupt Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 was purportedly engineered by the U.S.:
Fast-forward to February 2014. Joe Biden, Obama's point man in Ukrainian affairs, was in Kyiv and "watched anti-government protesters fill the streets in what became known as the Maidan revolution." "Masked militants" demanded a change in government and constitution. Duly elected Ukrainian President Yanukovych was accused of being pro-Russian and anti-European with his policies, because he refused to sign an EU agreement. He had been elected "in balloting that international observers considered reasonably free and fair." According to filmmaker Oliver Stone's four-hour interview with Yanukovych, a deal that Yanukovych had agreed to was tossed aside "when well-armed, neo-Nazi radicals forced him to flee the country with repeated assassination attempts." The next day, "a new pro-Western government was established and immediately recognized by the U.S. (as in the Chavez 2002 coup)."
Blakley again claimed that Putin -- who, again, unilaterally started the war against Ukraine -- really wants to be a peacemaker:
On Dec. 25, 2022, and again, on Jan. 6, 2023, Putin offered peace talks, but instead of speaking with Putin, Biden-appointed CIA Director William Burns stated that while most conflicts end in negotiation, Russia was not serious about real talks.
Blakley didn't explain why the U.S. and Ukraine should negotiate with a terrorist. Still, he pushed Russia's case again in his Aug. 28 column:
Recently, I learned that Russia feels betrayed that NATO is involved in Ukraine, for Moscow views this is in violation of promises made at the negotiations for the reunification of Germany. Apparently, Feb. 9, 1990, Secretary of State James Baker, under President George H.W. Bush, told Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that "if we maintain a presence in a Germany that is a part of NATO, there would be no extension of NATO's jurisdiction for forces of NATO 1 inch to the east."
Blakley didn't explain why Russia has any reason to be threatened by a defensive alliance like NATO. He went on to assert that "there are many reason [sic] that Russia invaded Ukraine" and once again complain that nobody wants to try and make peace with a warmonger like Putin, instead blaming the U.S. for trying to make money off the war (which, again, Russia started):
July 30, Putin stated Russia is ready for peace with Ukraine, but in mere hours after he spoke, there was a drone attack on Moscow damaging two office blocks. Does this sound like an escalation or de-escalation of the war?
At no point does Blakley postulate that since Russia started the war, it's Russia's responsibility to de-escalate its war.
Recently, Tucker Carlson spoke in Budapest, Hungry, noting that Russia has a population of 143 million, while Ukraine has a population of 43 million, meaning, in a war, Ukraine is probably going to run out of people first. Having a modern military with sophisticated weaponry, Russia is also a nuclear power, while Ukraine is not. So, will Russia allow itself to lose this war? Is Ukrainian membership in NATO worth world annihilation? If Vladimir Putin is evil, should he begin to lose, just what might he do?
On that basis, Blakley fearmongered that U.S. troops will soon be drawn into fighting in Ukraine:
When Zelensky runs out of soldiers, who do you think is going to fill the boots? If it is United Nations peacekeeping forces, the soldiers will largely be U.S. troops. Fake-news-swayed popular opinion has resulted in an August 2023 Newsweek poll in which 47% of age 18-26 (Gen Z) support sending U.S. troops to Ukraine. They are the ones who would go. Will they be adept at dodging the cluster bombs?
Again, Blakley offered no reason why Russia should not end a war it chose to start.
Blakley spent his Sept. 20 column complaining that every single penny of the U.S. money going to Ukraine hasn't been completely accounted for:
Sept. 4, 2023, the New York Times asked, "Where is the money?" concerning Ukrainian funds. Wow! What a surprise. Money is missing! Giving billions to a known corrupt money-siphoning group of people ended up with money going missing. Where was the New Times when Reuters reported $37 billion missing in Ukraine in 2014? Well, it could have been worse. It only took the New York Times nine years to wake up to reality.
Blakley weirdly didn't mention Russia at all in his column, let alone the fact that one sure way to stop sending U.S. money to Ukraine is for Russia to stop waging a vicious, destructive war against it.
Farah spreads Russian propaganda
WND editor Joseph Farah became a full-blown disseminator of Russian propaganda in his July 21 column:
Remember those stories about the secret Ukrainian bio-labs? It was just Russian disinformation, right? Not really.
Farah then asserted, "It's not far-fetched." Actually, it is. As PolitiFact pointed out, "There are no U.S.-run bioweapons facilities in Ukraine, which joined the U.S. in signing the 1972 convention that prohibited the development, production and possession of biological weapons," adding that "the line from Ukraine’s biological research to Hunter Biden is convoluted, with the younger Biden at least a few degrees of separation away from the labs in question, rather than directly bankrolling their operation." PolitiFact further summarized:
As backup for all this, Farah cited only dubious right-wing sources like the New York Post, the Daily Mail and Gateway Pundit. He did not explain why anyone should trust those highly biased sources, why anyone should take anything members of the Russian government -- which has a history of mucking about in American politics -- at face value. All that matters is the Russians hate Biden as much as he does, so he will never fact-check them, no matter how bad it looks for him to parrot Russian propaganda. Indeed, he pushed more wacky claims from them:
Additionally, Kirillov claims that an increase in the number of non-endemic Asian tiger mosquitoes has already been recorded in southern and central Europe, with populations having established in five federal districts of Germany. Furthermore, another mosquito species (Culex modestus), a vector of West Nile fever, has been identified in Sweden and Finland.
Farah then name-checked his favorite ex-Fox News host: "That was what drove Tucker Carlson to find the truth about this story. Then he was fired and ridiculed. Tucker is always right." No, he's not.
Farah concluded by actually rooting for the Russians:
With other friends in Cuba, Brazil, throughout Latin America and Africa, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, including admirers in Canada and Mexico, maybe Russia will have another shot at the U.N.
Like we said, it's not plausible at all, and Farah's blind trust in Russian propaganda doesn't make it any more so -- and it demonstrates how much he apparently hates America.
WND columnist Ilana Mercer has been a supporter of Russia's war against Ukraine, though she has also expressed support for Ukraine's Nazi imagery-invoking Azov Battalion in a June 2022 column because it's fighting for white people (not surprising logic from a native South African who tried to make an intellectual case for apartheid). Mercer's WND columns have grown more sporadic, but she continues to back Russia and bash Ukraine. In a December 2022 column, amidst anti-immigrant and anti-vaccine rants (touting how those who didn't get a COVID vaccine are "healthy pure-bloods"), took a shot at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for capitulating to Russia:
"It's biblical, Zelensky: a leader who fails to haggle for the lives of his people is a failed leader." Since the command-and-control U.S. media purge any news of peace talks with Russia, we're none-the-wiser to the fact that at least Israel, France and Turkey are currently active in mediating peace talks.
Mercer began her Aug. 10 column by quoting herself defending Russia being white, right-wing and Christian: "By America's prescriptions, Russia should be a woke, minority white, multicultural sewer, awash with MeToo, BLM, and Antifa sensibilities." She never did get around to explaining how all that justifies Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- though she did approvingly quote political scientist John Mearsheimer, who has been perpetually wrong about Russia and Ukraine -- but again attacked Zelensky:
"Win or die, dummies" is what Ukrainians are being instructed by the U.S. Uniparty, its NATO marionettes and their leader Zelensky, who is protected by the above forces.
Um, isn't Russia the "pest" here given its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine? Mercer continued with a defense of Russia and Putin:
Putin is a reactionary Russian patriot, a natural ally of any sovereign, conservative nation-state. The American objective is to end Russian sovereignty and make it over in the woke image of America: a radical Jacobin stronghold. By America's prescriptions, Russia should be a woke, minority white, multicultural sewer, awash with MeToo, BLM and Antifa sensibilities.
Actually, students are required to read only certain excerpts from the book -- which, in full, exposed the horrors of labor camps under Stalin -- and the book mandate hasn't stopped Putin from praising Stalin and downplaying the bad things, or from running a Stalin-esque crackdown on dissent to his rule (as Alexei Navalny can attest) or launching a Stalin-esque war on Ukraine. Mercer continued with the Putin praise for defending white people and hating LGBTQ people:
For a long while, the Russian president patiently tolerated America's demented, anti-Russia monomania. As our country sank into the quicksands of what conservatives call "Cultural Marxism" by contrast, and since the get-go, your columnist has framed the new, woke Western dispensation as anti-whiteness Putin's inclinations have remained decidedly reactionary and traditionalist.
But wouldn't Zelensky be more of a failed leader if he sold out his people to oppression under an invading force under the guise of achieving "peace"? Mercer has offered no evidence that Putin offers anything but subjugation and oppression to Ukraine -- and, thus, no reason for Zelensky to negotiate with terrorists.
Not a Putin apologist
There may be a lot of pro-Russia apologists at WND, but they're not all Putin puppets. James Zumwalt used May 24 column to liken Vladimir Putin to the subject of the Jim Croce song "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," declaring that in invading Ukraine, Putin "bit off more than he could chew, having started a bar fight with someone tougher. Croce's description of Brown at fight's end is not too dissimilar to that of Putin's military today looking 'like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.' At least Brown's fight is over; Putin's is still ongoing." Zumwalt went on to complain in a very WND way about this as well, noting that Russians trying to avoid getting conscripted into the war are claiming to be transgender:
Not until months later, however, did members of Russia's legislative branch (Duma) discover a ploy some draft dodgers, perhaps preferring to remain in Russia or simply unable to get out, were using to avoid the draft. In 1997, the Duma had passed a law authorizing transgenders to change their gender identity simply by modifying it on their passport with a medical permission slip. In an ultimate slap in the face to Putin's war, at least 3,000 Russian males have recently changed their gender identity under that law. Finally recognizing this loophole, the Duma is working on legislation to mandate more than just a gender identity declaration and medical note by requiring body-altering surgery as well.
Zumwalt further took Putin to task for botching things in Ukraine:
Putin, who came to power in 2000 as a democratically elected president, has manipulated the government machinery to basically establish an autocracy. In 2020, the country's constitution was manipulated to keep him in power until 2036. There is no way the Russian people will tolerate this should the war in Ukraine not end soon.
Zumwalt took another shot at Putin's war in his Sept. 27 column, noting that Russia's annual Victory Day parade, normally a grand affair, was so subdued this year that "There was but one tank in the parade, underscoring how much Russia is hurting." He then noted the rogue countries Putin is turning to in order to keep the war going: "The Ukraine war has become such a drain on Moscow that it is unable to manufacture sufficient ammunition and weaponry to replace what it has expended and lost. It needs help and is looking to its friends China, Belarus, Iran and North Korea to provide it. The question becomes, how much help are they willing to provide?"
Just because Zumwalt did one thing right doesn't mean ConWebWatch has forgotten things he's done wrong, like pushing nasty attacks against Alexandria Osasio-Cortez. He and WND also face legal peril after a Zumwalt column (which is still live at WND) promoted a far-right podcaster's false claim that an official with voting-tech company Dominion confessed to changing vote totals and worked with Antifa; that official is suing the podcaster and others for defamation, though not Zumwalt or WND.