The Beeb and Mr. Medvedev
The BBC aired a pathetic excuse for an “interview” with Russian “president” Dmitri Medvedev last week, and concluded by stating:
Who is Dmitry Medvedev really? No single interview can answer that question. But for what it is worth, he seemed to me a man on a journey, and rather more interesting than the Putin front man people describe. He is smart and he is well aware that he is a player in a world dominated by media-savvy rivals, not least the man he is clearly fascinated by, that Mr Obama.
What a charade: This is basic Psych 101 stuff. If Medvedev is a boring nobody, then so is the reporter who is interviewing him, and then why should the viewer care? But if Medvedev is “rather more interesting” . . . It’s also journalism 101, the part about ethics and conflict of interest.
The pathetically vapid nature of the BBC’s written summary of the interview is all the proof you need of how utterly useless the exercise was — and therefore how it played right into the Kremlin’s hands. Given this kind of spineless, idiotic coverage, it’s little wonder the Kremlin thinks it can liquidate KGB defectors on British soil using radiation weapons and get away with it.
The BBC, at least, asked Medvedev directly whether he was in charge of Russia, and in response “Medvedev patiently explained the constitutional division of powers.” In other words, he talked about how things are supposed to be, not how they are — and the BBC just accepted that. It pointed out in summarizing the talk that only 12% of Russians believe Medvedev is in charge, but it didn’t ask him about that poll data, nor did it ask him whether he could fire Putin if the government’s failures justified it.
It didn’t ask about Litvinenko (though it did at least mention his name). It didn’t ask about Markelov. It didn’t ask about Politkovskaya. Nothing about the crackdown on democracy, nothing about rigged elections, not a word about Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, to say nothing of the Arctic. Asked about extraditing Andrei Lugovoi, Medvedev flatly refused, claiming that relations with Britain were improving but not giving a single example of any such improvement that Russia could claim advancing. Asked about the harassment of the British Ambassador and the British Council, Medvedev said: “I don’t see any particular problem here.” No followup.
Though Medvedev supposedly speaks English well and favors English-language rock music, it allowed him to speak only in Russian during the interview. Though Medvedev has continously attacked the U.S. as the cause of the global financial crisis, in a wretchedly cowardly and dishonest manner he refused to repeat this attack in the interview, and the BBC did not confront him about his prior accusations in any way. Medvedev said, seemingly in a threatening manner, that British companies must “choose the right partners” when doing business with Russia — in other words, those approved by the Kremlin.
Asked whether Russia had any influence over Iran, Medvedev ignored the question and began babbling about missile defense. The interviewer did nothing to bring him back on track. Medvedev claimed he did not want any new nuclear missiles on Russia’s border, but did not indicate Russia would do anything to stop their development, and the interviewer did nothing to bring out the massive assistance Russia has been providing to the rogue nation in terms of both technology and military supplies.
In bizarre fashion, seeming deranged, Medvedev declared that “Afghanistan must find its own path to democracy” free from foreign intervention. Yet the interviewer said nothing about Russia failing to allow Georgia to find its own path, and choosing instead to invade.
Asked about leniency for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Medvedev said “let’s wait for the result” of the retrial and refused to consider any pardon until it concluded, claiming (laughably) that the president of Russia had no authority to intervene in court proceedings. Shamefully, there was no attempt whatsoever to challenge Medvedev on the sham trial that put Khodorkovsky in prison in the first place, well documented by Khodorkovsky’s attorney Robert Amsterdam.
The BBC ended its interview by asking Medvedev: “What would you like us to know about you that we don’t?” Medvedev was flummoxed. He hesitated, and he stammered. He looked bewildered, like a little rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming truck. The he stated, giggling like a bashful schoolboy: “I”m ready to do a photo session if that helps. It’s difficult to talk about myself. I don’t know what would be interesting for people.”
Indeed. You don’t know, Mr. Medvedev — and you don’t need to care, do you? Because the people just don’t matter, except that is for The Person.