Oliver Stone Defends His Putin Interviews

Director Oliver Stone saw his four-part interviews with Russian President Putin as a way to give Americans a better understanding of a leader who has been demonized in the mainstream media, reports Dennis J Bernstein.
By Dennis J Bernstein

Not surprisingly, the U.S. mainstream media, which has obsessed over the Russia-gate “scandal” for months, is bashing director Oliver Stone for his four-part series of interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the grounds that Stone should have been tougher.

But Stone’s subtle and probing interviews of Putin — The Putin Interviews airing on Showtime — give the viewer a revealing inside look at the Russian leader, who is by all accounts extremely popular among Russians with approval ratings of around 80 percent.

Oliver Stone interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Showtime’s “The Putin Interviews.”

I spoke with Stone at his Los Angeles offices on July 25th, soon after he was honored with the Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award by Consortiumnews.com, hosted by award-winning investigative reporter, Robert Parry.

Stone also will receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award “for his extraordinary contribution to the art of film” at the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival in August.

Dennis Bernstein: Oliver Stone, how important was it for you to win the Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award? Gary Webb, for those who don’t know, was the reporter who broke the story about the CIA’s relationship to drug traffickers.

Oliver Stone: Gary Webb was a hero of mine, as is Bob Parry. Bob has been with ConsortiumNews for many years. I met him when he was investigating the Iran-Contra affair back in the early 1990s.

DB: Of course, Gary Webb was shredded for the way in which he was able to document the end result of the CIA’s involvement with drug traffickers. For a moment he was lauded, but then he was very quickly run out of the trade.

OS: The Iran-Contra affair is a typical example of this country’s hypocrisy. It was a huge story and what Reagan did was impeachable. The mainstream press didn’t want another shake-up of the government after Nixon. There was never any proper investigation of…

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