Mid-Sochi: Munich Anew

by JOHN C. WOHLSTETTER February 13, 2014

No, not the terrorism; it's NBC's propaganda....

At NRO ace reporter John Fund collects depressing examples of NBC toadying up to Russia & Vladimir Putin.  NBC's contemptible conduct evokes not the terrorism that irremediably scarred the 1972 Munich Games, but instead another shameful episode, which Fund cites: British pre-WW-II prime minister Neville Chamberlain's infamous appeasement of Adolf Hitler upon their 1938 meeting in Munich.

Fund lists a number of appalling comments, or failure to comment: (1) enduring a risibly sugar-coated account of Russian history that whitewashed the genocidal atrocities under 75 years of Communist rule; (2) calling the (second) Russian revolution--which, I'd add--overthrew not the last Romanov tsar, but a provisional social democratic government--"one of modern history's pivotal experiments"; (3) empty-headed psychobabble--that Russia "overwhelms," "mystifies," "transcends"; (4) a "bittersweet moment"--a girl at the opening ceremony letting go of a red balloon--as "Russia says goodbye to its past but looks ahead to a brighter future."

This last know-nothing comment was made about a demographically imploding, gangster-ruled resource-dependent petrostate with a moribund economy.  This monstrosity is ruled by Vlad the Bad, who literally lives in the past: he combines in his persona a 19th century tsarist despotism that treats all of Russia as his personal property, with a 20th century Stalinism that combines massive repression with a cult of personality; these are held together by military force and exploitation of modern media.  BTW Putin's tsar lodestar is Nicholas I (ruled 1826-1855), who began his rule by crushing the 1925 Decembrist revolt aimed at bringing social democracy to Russia; in mid-career intensified tsarist repression of the Jews confined to the Pale of Settlement (a term coined during Nicholas I's rule, though the area was established in the late 18th century); and at the end of his rule started the Crimean War, in search of a wider Russian geopolitical presence on the Black Sea.  Nicholas I's miserable, abject subjects had good reason to call their brutal ruler "the cudgel."

What can one say of such imbecilic, ignorant subservience?

Alas, NBC is an all too willing servitor.  Covering the games need not require such obeisance.  What would Vlad the Bad do?  Pull the plug on NBC, thus cutting Sochi's showcase from global view?  Send in troops to takeover the telecast?  Hardly.  Such would permanently remove the veneer of respectability from Russia's monumentally corrupt extravaganza.

Perhaps NBC feared being penalized later, after the Games.  If so, it could at least have not spouted gratuitous, useful-idiot propaganda, and stuck to broadcasting the games themselves.  Our planet needs not political gestures by sportscasters.

Bottom Line.  Sochi's athletes may perform miracles daily--any Olympic victory given intense global competition may be just that.  But NBC should not win any medals for its willful blindness.  Putin may want to hire NBC as his official state network, after Sochi.

Mr. Wohlstetter is the author of "Sleepwalking With the Bomb" (Discovery Institute Press, 2012). Follow John on twitter at @JohnWohlstetter 


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