There is something about the subject of Russia that causes NPR to create unintended mirror images of our own corrupt government and slovenly mainstream media. On Morning Edition today Renee Montagne interviews David Remnick of the New Yorker about Putin's rollback of democracy in Russia - especially his muzzling of the Russian press. (Oddly, the archived audio link to this story omits quite a bit of what was actually broadcast.)
In the broadcast Remnick tells us, "You can pick up newspapers that seemingly are very lively and are filled all kinds of differing points of views. That's fine, but those newspapers now have minimal circulation, and similar reporting is not allowed on the medium that everyone sees and everybody listens to, and that's television...." The question never raised is, "So how is that different from the US?" Yes, there are very good alternative, lively news sources here in the US, but on the "medium that everyone sees" (or hears in the case of NPR) where are the challenges to the premises of defense spending, military intervention, unrestricted corporatism, etc?
Remnick also says that Russia "..doesn't permit political opposition or real politics. Anytime real politics begins to form, it's snuffed, and it's done rather easily, and all in the interest of stability...." Couldn't the same be said of third parties in the US, or of the manufactured issue of "bipartisanship" within the limited two party system? Such an obvious comment is never raised.
This strange echo of Russian despotism was especially poignant given the other story on Morning Edition about "Benjamin Tupper...an Army National Guard captain embedded with the Afghan National Army." Of Afghanistan, Cpt. Tupper tells us "the installation we call home is built upon the ruins of an old Russian airforce base." Ah yes, the Russian nightmare of Afghanistan, seems like just yesterday, and the soul of the Russian despot seems awfully familiar--ghosts and reflections.