Commentary by Peter Shaver
As tensions rise over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the response of Russian media outlets shows disturbing similarities and differences between U.S. and Russian popular media. While both present a distorted view of the truth, one revels in its leader’s incompetence, while the other disdains it past the point of purpose.
In Russia, there is significant popular support for Putin and his blatantly aggressive actions. Many, still bearing grief over the collapse of the Soviet Union, believe that Ukraine should have always been part of Russia, and other nations have no right to intrude on the situation. The media caters to this large and deeply entrenched segment of the population.
Additionally, Putin’s often ridiculous attempts to portray himself as a masculine populist may be mocked by many, but it is often embraced in Russia, where television stations are operated and overseen by the government.
So, in Russia, popular news outlets revere the leader, even as he leads them into a needless, archaic war of aggression and territorial expansion. Meanwhile, in America, news outlets generally recognize Russian leader’s inadequacies. However, even the most inane and insignificant missteps of the president become continually, needlessly scrutinized.
Overall, both nations’ news outlets, for whatever their political agenda, trade to varying degrees in closed-minded, populist sentiment, continually repeated and regurgitated. This alienates large portions of both nations’ populace, and rather than opening minds to compromise and broader thinking, it entrenches many in positions in which they were already deeply entrenched.