Julia Ioffe and her Campaign of Lies about Russia
If there were to be a photograph next to the paragraph in the Pajamas Media Wikpedia entry that explains why PM was formed, it should be a photograph of New Yorker “reporter” Julia Ioffe, who also writes for Foreign Policy. She’s the very worst MSM Russia journalist on the planet. She’s the disease, and PM is the cure.
On June 11, 2012, security forces acting at the order of Vladimir Putin carried out close to a dozen deeply disturbing raids on leaders of the Russian democracy movement and their families, seizing computers and other things they believed to be evidence of illegal activity. The move smacked of the USSR, and once again, of course, the Obama administration did nothing about it. That morning, we tweeted among other things that the Russian government’s answer to Voice of America, the RT broadcasting network, had in reporting on the story apparently stolen a photograph from the website of an opposition activist.
The raids came in the wake of Putin’s signing a new law providing for draconian sanctions (a year’s pay or more) for opposition figures who violate Putin’s edicts about how protest can occur. They seem to signal that Putin intends to use the same tactics with the current opposition forces that he used with Mikhail Khodorkovsky: jail in remote Siberia on trumped-up charges.
Four hours later, Ioffe issued a totally false tweet lambasting RT for failing to report the raids at all. We sent her a tweet, copying others, exposing her lie (it was retweeted by the boss of RT), but she didn’t correct the record much less did she apologize even though we explicitly called upon her to do so. Her ultimate response was a declaratory “I didn’t notice it” and “it should have been bigger.” It may be a bit unfair to expect her to have done anything more, because Ioffe not only blocks my tweets but hides her Twitter feed from me, the better to prevent me from catching her in gross misstatements of this kind. Had she been reading our Twitter feed, of course, she would never have made such a reckless misstatement in the first place.
[NOTE: The link given above to Ioff’e’s tweet might not work for you. Ioffe actually hides her Twitter feed from the world, and certainly from La Russophobe, so that her torrent of disinformation cannot be easily spotted and challenged. How a “reporter” can justify a decision like that is well beyond our powers of comprehension. Unless she allows you to see it, you’ll have a hard time checking on what she says as well.]
Ever since the parliamentary elections back in December gave rise to a burst of futile and in fact rather laughable series of street protests against Putin, Ioffe has been banging the propaganda drum in favor of the “movement,” many of whose members are her personal friends (a fact she virtually never discloses to readers). Without the slightest concern for the actual facts, on a daily basis she issues false statements about the movement and its enemies that are designed for one purpose, to bolster its success. She has seen this “movement” evaporate before her very eyes, and seen a brutal neo-Soviet crackdown proceed despite it, yet she has not corrected her errant reporting or apologized. Any respectable publication ought to disown her.
As a folks who despise the malignant Putin regime and all it stands for, we find Ioffe’s conduct odious beyond words. Far from helping the opposition movement, Ioffe’s “journalism” represents a toxic poison slowly seeping into the infant movement’s blood stream and destroying it. In fact, if one were given to such suspicions, one could easily think her a Kremlin plant. When Ioffe first began blogging about Russia we were among her biggest fans, and touted her blog’s fresh perspective on Russia. We were unutterably stunned to see the decline in the quality of her reporting in the wake of the protest demonstrations, which are led by numerous individuals who are Ioffe’s personal friends. She completely lost her ability to discern and report objectively, and totally has been totally mischaracterizing events in Russia ever since.
Ioffe published a piece about the Putin raids on the opposition in the New Yorker three days after they occurred. In it, she paints opposition figure Ksenia Sobchak, daughter of former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, mentor of Putin and one of the most corrupt figures in Russia’s tormented history, as a heroic victim of oppression forced to urinate and parade in a negligee before the prying eyes of Putin’s goons. She passes over the fact that Sobchak was found to have nearly $2 million in cash stuffed into dozens of envelopes in her Moscow apartment as if it were a common occurrence, blithely taking Sobchak’s word for the fact that she simply doesn’t trust Russian banks. When writing about opposition figure Aleksei Navalny, she paints the raid as an attack on his children and aging mother.
Ioffe routinely ignores the fact that the ranks of the opposition movement are fleshed out with scary neo-Nazis and Communists. She ignores that Navalny himself is a rank Russian nationalist who shows no sympathy for the women and children Russia is butchering in Syria or for homosexuals being persecuted within Russia. Sergei Udaltsov, who Ioffe also depicts in her piece as an innocent victim of the raids, is a skinhead who makes Navalny look like Gandhi by comparison. She ignores that Sobchak is the Russian version of Paris Hilton, if that is Hilton were the spawn of Bernie Madoff. Not once has she attempted to confront any of these opposition figures with their faults, even though she purportedly has easy access to them.
Ioffe ignores the more reasonable figures in the opposition ranks, people like Vladimir Ryzhkov and Vladimir Milov and Oleg Kozlovsky because their names and deeds don’t move newsprint the way Navalny’s and Sobchak’s do. She ignores the fact that the opposition movement is highly sexist, elitist, confused and disjointed because people like Navalny and Sobchak are simply not qualified to lead it (Milov and Ryzhkov are both seasoned political office holders and Kozlovsky, an academic, is well versed in Western political thought).
In other words, Ioffe sends out the message that the Russian opposition is led by competent, reasonable people who are capable of bringing healthy democracy to Russia, when this is the opposite of the truth. In so doing, Ioffe undercuts any effort to replace this ragtag collection of freaks with more serious-minded people who actually might accomplish something. Which is, of course, exactly what the Kremlin would wish her to do, and that may explain why Ioffe is left so free by the Kremlin to do it.
Back in December 2011, Ioffe published an article in Foreign Policy crazily entitled “The End of Putin” and pitching Aleksei Navalny as the man who would bring Putin down. But now the world has seen Navalny’s movement crumble, with him facing criminal charges that could send him to prison for a decade just like Mikhail Khodorkovsky. And it has not heard a single word of apology from Ioffe for her wild-eyed inaccuracy.
As a result of misleading reporting like Ioffe’s, the Russian opposition has generated no clear, much less competent, leader and no coherent political agenda. It has wholly failed to extend its reach beyond Moscow, or indeed within Moscow beyond the weird little cadre of yuppies, commies and skinheads it started out with. In fact, it’s ranks have shrunk rather than expanding. As a result of Ioffe, Putin’s allies have a straw man figure whose statements are so easy to dismantle and expose as propaganda that it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Others, like me, who make much more cutting criticism of the Putin are harmed as a result.
Nor does Ioffe have a single critical word to say about the Russia policy of Barack Obama. Our sense is that Ioffe is just as much a partisan of Obama as she is of Sobchak and Navalny, and so she won’t mention the fact that Obama’s “reset” policy has his administration cuddling up to the very figures of evil Ioffe seems to devote her life to excoriating (without reference to the facts). The New Yorker, of course, is virtually a campaign bulletin for Obama, so the fact that they like Ioffe isn’t too surprising. Even the New York Times has published significant stories documenting the failure of the reset, but the New Yorker has yet to lay a pencil on the facts.
What’s more, you can be sure that if a figure in the Putin regime were found with millions in cash apparently earmarked for payoffs in his apartment, Ioffe would pounce rabidly on that information to condemn the Kremlin and denounce its efforts to pay for support, comparing the Kremlin unfavorably to the opposition which purportedly relies solely upon member loyalty. Trust me, she’s written that many, many times. But when such information turns up about the opposition, Ioffe suddenly feels the issue isn’t worth mentioning.
It’s hard to tell which appalling motive explains Ioffe’s misconduct. Is she actually a partisan of the opposition forces, issuing propaganda in the manner of Josef Goebbels in the hope of helping them gain leverage? Or is she simply an ambitious MSM journalist out to gin up any kind of story she can in order to sell newsprint and advancer her career with the august publications who line her pockets? Then again, perhaps she’s just killing two nasty birds with one stone.
What’s most stunning, of course, is the reckless manner in which the New Yorker and Foreign Policy continue to publish material that is nothing less than propaganda. It’s not as if they are unaware of the deep faults in her reporting; I’ve peppered the New Yorker pages where Ioffe’s material appears which such notifications myself. But they don’t seem to care. They allow her to go on beating a drum of propaganda that is not only inaccurate but highly harmful to the interests of the very people with whom Ioffe seems to be in sympathy.
Little wonder, then, that the public doesn’t correctly understand the policy situation where Russia is concerned, and finds it hard to identify the horrific mistakes being made by the Obama administration in that regard.