Pretty much all that Americans — and much of the West — get to hear about Russian President Putin is heavy-handed propaganda often read over images of him riding shirtless on a horse. He’s either a bully or a buffoon. But editors of a popular German newspaper encountered a much more sophisticated figure, writes Gilbert Doctorow.
By Gilbert Doctorow
I was hesitant to write about Vladimir Putin’s recent interview in Germany’s mass-circulation Bild newspaper because I have published many analytical essays of Putin’s speeches and public appearances over the past couple of years and do not wish to provide further justification for those who would view me as a composer for one string violin, an inveterate apologist for the Russian president.
Moreover, when a fellow member of the anti-war movement, Alexander Mercouris, published an appreciation of the interview in Russia Insider under the heading “Congrats Germans! This Is How You Do a Putin Interview,” it seemed churlish to go against his take on the subject.
However, a couple of additional articles on the Bild interview subsequently published in Russia Insider have challenged Mercouris’s kindly view of the German journalists as being “well-informed and intelligent.”
“Putin Schools Top German Journalist Who Smeared Him” makes it clear that Bild’s chief political editor Nikolaus Blome, formerly with Der Spiegel, would never have consciously done Putin a favor. And the latest RI article, a translation from Sputnik Deutschland entitled “How Putin Turned the Tables on German Magazine ‘Bild’” delivers what I had from the beginning considered to be the reality of this interview: that Putin’s impressive showing came in spite of and not because of the journalists’ predisposition to him and Russia generally.
The Russia expert Alexander Rahr explains here the logic of Putin agreeing to enter the lion’s den for the sake of reaching the tabloid’s multi-million readership who, by their demographics, are not easily…