Over the past two years, a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, “The New Cold War” has become a go-to term amongst Western journalists describing the state of U.S.-Russia relations.
Indeed, Russia and the United States have been on the opposite side of a number of issues over the past several years, most notably, the Ukraine crisis and the civil war in Syria. Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election and hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) allegedly carried out by groups directly linked to the Kremlin, tensions between the United States and Russia have intensified even further.
In covering this relationship, the mainstream U.S. media has taken a markedly hostile tone towards Russia, focusing on President Vladimir Putin’s alleged efforts to destabilized the West and undermine democracy through hacking, leaks, and propogation of “fake news.” Kremlin-funded media outlets such as Russia Today and Sputnik have taken the opposite approach, spreading positive coverage of Russia’s domestic and international actions to English-language audiences around the world. Together, these outlets have chosen propaganda over impartiality and independence.
There are also alarming parallels in how those skeptical of these narratives have been treated in Russia and the United States. In Russia, those who dare disagree with the Kremlin’s official line have been labeled traitors and members of a “fifth column”; some have even be attacked, harassed, and threatened. In the United States, more and more journalists and public figures who have challenged the mainstream media story about Russia have been called “Putin apologists” and “agents of the Kremlin.”
In a recent piece for The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and one of the leading voices challenging U.S. media coverage of the hacking allegations, wrote: “… in my 10-plus years of writing about politics on an endless number of polarizing issues — including the Snowden reporting — nothing remotely compares to the smear campaign that has been launched as a result of the work I’ve done questioning and challenging claims about Russian hacking and the threat posed by that country generally.”
In an atmosphere that hinders debate and discussion, it has become almost impossible to identify objective facts, even if they actually exist. And it is these facts, not allegations and speculation, that really matter today.
To shed some light on this issue, Muftah will be hosting a panel discussion, together with Verso Books, titled “Russia, the United States, and the Growing Media War”, on Wednesday, March 1 between 7-9 pm at Verso’s office in Brooklyn. Our panelists are Nina Khrushcheva, a Russia expert, professor at the New School, and great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, Melissa Hooper, an expert on legal and civil society issues in the countries of the former Soviet Union and director of civil society and human rights at Human Rights First, and Sam Biddle, a journalist at the Intercept who has written extensively on the Russian hacking controversy.
These distinguished panelists will participate in a discussion about the DNC hack, the Ukraine crisis, and the civil war in Syria to help us understand how the United States and Russia have employed various propagandist narratives against one another in their growing media war. If you are in New York City, we hope you will join us for this event.