Wolf Blitzer recently interviewed Dylan Byers (whoever that is) on CNN about what has to be one of the most jaw-dropping cases of sloppy journalism I have seen in a very long while. Byers claimed that for the past several years Russians had financed Facebook advertising that was targeted towards Ferguson and Baltimore.
Before going any further let me note that this report and several others, carried on both CNN and in the Washington Post, said a whole lot of something but never actually showed anything, such as the advertisements in question, meaning that any sane editor or news consumer in America should relegate this claim to nothing more than hearsay. Whether there are still sane news editors or consumers in this country is another issue and speaks to the genesis of this story.
But beyond that negation of the claim’s validity, let’s look at the deeply disturbing implications. Arguing in the media that the Russkies are fostering discontent within the African American population is totally fucked up for two reasons.
First, the paternalism implied in such a claim is profound and demonstrates a contempt for the intelligence of Black people (and yes I do acknowledge and understand the long line of dissidents within the Black literary tradition, such as Richard Wright or Ralph Ellison, who scorned the opportunism, cynicism, and outright betrayals of the Communist Party USA at various points in the 1930s and ’40s). I don’t think that outrage over the murder of Sandra Bland and Michael Brown can be blamed on the Kremlin in any sense at all.
Second, such a logical matrix effectively off-shores to Putin the responsibility for our country’s historic brutality towards African Americans and other people of color. Apparently absolutely no responsibility for this lies at the door of police forces at the municipal, state, and federal level.
However, owing to the complete failure by Byers, and others, to show what they claim to be reporting on, there is a third matter at hand which is also pretty rotten. Without shame the Russians have put their support behind right-wing nationalists across Europe and America over the past few years.
RT, the Kremlin-financed CNN impersonator that has ratings lower than the most boring programs on PBS, has previously hosted Alex Jones — as if the gravel voiced Stay-Puft Ku Klux Marshmallow Klansman were a legitimate political thinker and not the perfect example of why bear tranquilizers should be used on humans. Which demonstrates that if these unseen Facebook ads are fostering paranoia in this country about Black Lives Matter, which the Russians could well be capable of, we have far greater problems to worry about.