Red scare in vogue: Western media cozy with old Cold War narrative
Evil reds may no longer be the staple of Hollywood villains they used to be, but Russians star as the bad guys in many news reports in the West – regardless of whether the narrative can be supported by actual evidence.
In Britain, RAF's Typhoon jets intercepted a plane over Kent and forced it to land after threatening to shoot it out of the sky. Initial media reports had it that it was a suspected Russian military plane.
It later turned out to be a civilian cargo plane transporting automotive assembly equipment from Italy to Birmingham on a perfectly routine flight. And it wasn't Russian! It turned out to be from the UK's NATO ally, Latvia. But the fact that it was an Antonov An-26 – made in the Soviet Union by a plant located in present-day Ukraine, but called Russian-made nevertheless – apparently overshadowed everything else.
BREAKING NEWS: RAF jets escort Russian plane to Stansted airport after reports of a 'loud bang': http://t.co/y6tPIxb4bA
— Daily Star (@Daily_Star) October 29, 2014
Hunting for phantom Russian military craft is also a hobby that the Swedes took up this month. A grainy picture of an object in the sea, and a news report of a distress call in Russian sent to a base in Kaliningrad, were enough to send Swedish warships and helicopters scurrying on a wild goose chase after a supposed Russian submarine lurking somewhere beneath the Baltic Sea near Stockholm.
The elusive prize never materialized and the 'intercepted distress call' turned out to be a figment of journalists' imagination, but the Swedish military had their biggest (and quite expensive) naval operation in decades. Incidentally, in the wake of the media frenzy, there were more Swedes willing to join NATO than those opposing the idea.
Searching for the non-existent "Russian submarine" cost Sweden €2.2mln http://t.co/ZKhTeIIp1o Seemingly adults they're instead faffing about
— Dmitry Rogozin (@DRogozin) October 24, 2014
Phantom Russians are attacking targets across the Atlantic as well. A bunch of them with impressive hacker skills assaulted the White House computer networks, although they failed to lay their prying hands on any secret stuff.
That is if you listen to the Washington Post and its anonymous source that pointed an accusing finger at the Russian government. Officially, the White House would not support such allegations.
But considering that US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is now viewing Russian hackers as a bigger threat than Chinese hackers, who can blame the press for sticking to the script?
The White House's computer network was hacked; Russian govt suspected. http://t.co/CV42mQ8WbJ
— Megan Hess (@mhess4) October 29, 2014
And Russia’s latest sin is blowing up the American Antares rocket, at least according to some headlines. Russia gives technical support to the US company, Orbital Sciences, which retrofits the Antares rocket with US electronics and makes them compatible with US steering equipment.
But even while the probe is yet to determine what actually went wrong with the launch, whether there were problems with the engines and what parts failed, it's Russia that is under suspicion.
— The Japan Times (@japantimes) October 30, 2014
In other reports, Russians harass US diplomats in Moscow, spy on Czechs, spook Estonians – you name it. And when they put their president on T-shirts, they do it in a sinister unsettling way, unlike other nations – one may conclude from a CNN report on the story.
“There are even suggestions that there is an 'axis of evil', which consists of Russia, Iran and North Korea – which is ludicrous – but that's the extreme that some in the Western media can go to,” political analyst and Russia watcher Martin McCauley told RT.
“Cold War mentality built up over the years because President Putin has been defending what he sees as Russian values, which are different to those accepted in the West, in Western Europe and North America,” he added.
With US President Barack Obama putting Russia among his country's top-3 global threats, right between the Ebola virus and Islamic State militants, support for the 'bad Ruskies' narrative apparently comes from the top.