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News item of the day - Propaganda, equal opportunity version
Today's news item of the day is actually two contrasting pieces in the usually stolid, reliable BBC News. The first item is how Russian state sponsored propaganda is approaching 'Stalinist' levels.  Now, to any self-professed Kremlinologist, Russophile, or interested observer, this is really old news (have you heard about the Lindberg baby?) - any perfunctory glance at the Russia news dailies other than Novaya Gazeta and Kommersant reveals this on a daily basis, and has so for quite some time. I don't know if I would go so far as comparing it to Stalinist era propaganda, but it is definitely headed in that direction, living up to the more unpalatable traditions of the Cold War. English language news outlets like BBC Monitoring Service and the Moscow Times do a pretty credible job of translating the general mood; however I have noticed in those Russian news sites that have an English version as well as Russian, the rhetoric is toned way down in the English translations. Still, it is hardly Ilya Ehrenburg reaching out from the grave.

What was interesting is that the 'Beeb ran another piece featuring an FBI expert interpreting body language as VVP attended the D-Day 60th Anniversary commemoration in Normandy, France. Could they pick any worse pictures of VVP? The picture of Angela Merkel and VVP is especially amusing. I don't doubt the FBI's expert's opinion based on the pictures he was provided to work with; it doesn't take an expert in the field to instantly see that the pictures picked to portray VVP were quite possibly the worst of multiple shots taken. It is media manipulation of the worst order, and methinks the usually reliable 'Beeb fails here - this is the kind of example of playing down to one's competition, more worthy of Fleet Street than one of the last beacons of generally unbiased news reporting in the era of globalization and virtually instant inter-connectivity. I've spent many hours on both English and Russian language forums defending the 'Beeb, which is often labeled by reactionary elements in the RuNet as a tool of Western propaganda - geez, have these people ever seen Fox News, MSNBC, or Russia Today? Every country has it's modern-day equivalent of the Hearst media empire, and yellow journalism is as prevalent now as it has been in any other era. However, the 'Beeb has always risen above sensationalism in reporting the news - let's hope this is a one-off that will not soon be repeated.