If you log onto CNN, Fox News, or any other major media outlet, you’re all but certain to come across front page news regarding the tragic loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. And if you start to look for consensus, you’ll quickly see that most media sources, industry experts, and everyone else believes that Russian backed rebels in eastern Ukraine fired the missile that eventually downed the airliner. In Russia, however, most media outlets are shifting blame away from the Russian government and the rebels it’s backing.
Press Blaming Everyone But Russian Government
Russian media outlets are desperately trying to blame the attack on the pro-West Ukrainian government. Given that Russia has already annexed a portion of Ukraine, and is also believed to be supporting separatists in eastern portions of the country, it’s a logical step for justifying their actions.
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Indeed, Russian media has been caught up in the press-version of a blitzkrieg against Ukraine, blaming the country for starting the fighting in the first place and all but necessitating the annexation of Crimea. And it appears that many Russians are indeed choosing to take the bait.
Outside of Ukraine, the Russian media is also suggesting that the United States and other countries have been involved in the attack. Indeed, while the United States has largely stayed out of getting involved in Ukraine, at least directly, the Russian media is reporting that the “fascist” government in Kiev is receiving advanced weapons. These weapons, in turn, are being used to attack Russian separatists, whom Russia still denies army.
Ironically, Ukraine’s central government has received most of its weapons from the Russian government, though under wholly different circumstances. Even when not accusing the United States or European Union directly, the Russian media is largely portraying said parties for supporting unrest in Ukraine.
Putin Too Popular To Challenge
Despite his rather questionable tactics, Putin remains highly popular among Russian citizens. A recent American Gallup pop has found that Putin’s popularity has soared to 83 percent following the annexation of Crimea, marking an astounding 29 percent increase since 2013. This popularity could prove to be Putin’s greatest asset as outside pressure will likely have little effect on him.
With such massive levels of popularity, even isolating Putin might prove to be ineffective. With Russia’s energy supplies so vital, the United States and European Union likely couldn’t to engage in a protracted embargo or heavy sanctions against Russia. At the same time, with Putin already so popular, many Russians would likely shrug off any pain caused.
Russian Journalist Resigns Over MH17 Crash
The press has long modeled itself on the values of telling the truth and offering fair and objective analysis. Whether or not these values are fully upheld is a different story, but in general news organizations attempt to tell the truth. With so much pressure coming from the Russian government, however, many journalists are apparently being forced to support the Kremlin.
While many news sources are indeed acting as the Russian government’s public relations department, some brave reporters and journalists are choosing to resign from their jobs, rather than reporting false news. Sara Firth, based out of London but working for Russia Today tweeted her resignation, and later said that the MH17 was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”
Of course, a few resignations likley won’t change the course or outcome of the current situation. For every journalist willing to resign, a hundred more will be more than happy to cash their paycheck, even if that means following directive from the Kremin. And so long as the media panders to Putin’s interests, his popularity will likely be unassailable.