Sometimes politicians make statements that force us to do a double take. Did he/she really just say that? And then we read the one liner or listen to the speech over and over again to make sure that we were not, in fact, hallucinating or hearing things.
In a recent meeting with members of the Russian Orthodox Church, President Dmitry Medvedev claimed that he would like the Russian media to be more ‘truthful’ in its coverage of events within Russia.
Yes, more truthful.
Mr. Medvedev laments that the press has failed to show things the way they ‘really are.’
Is that why there is no free press in Russia? Perhaps if journalists could expose the truth about Kremlin corruption, the failed system of justice, and overall inequality in Russia, many Russians would be in for a rude awakening.
The Russian President explained: “Given the existing laws of the information world, sometimes, extremely important news relating to our lives disappears…It’s difficult for me, of course, to teach the media anything. First of all, because that’s not the head of state’s business, otherwise people might say he’s trying to dictate something.”
Well if you control most of the media in the country, you are, by default, dictating something.
“They [The Russian Media] just need to provide a picture in full color, and set up genuinely new media outlets, which show life the way it is…But if there will be a presidential or government agency that will be shaping the media policy, it will be hopeless, it will be unable to function,” Medvedev said.
Very interesting comments from the leader of a country whose media landscape is pretty bare. Channels are either financed directly by the state or through companies with close ties to the Kremlin.
If journalists in Russia dig too deeply into the trenches of subjects the Kremlin considers sensitive, they risk attacks or even death from “unknown sources.” Media freedom watchdog groups constantly target Russia as an example of what it means to completely undermine the fourth estate.
Though Medvedev was also referring to scripted shows on television, the hypocrisy of those remarks is unfortunate.
A recent report by Denis Volkov of the Levada Center found that by having control of the media, “the Russian Government has a way to shape a practically uncontested picture of what is happening for the largest part of the country’s population.”
Perhaps that should be Russia’s top news headline.