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Russia! The gift that keeps giving for the BBC, even on the streets of France

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
Russia! The gift that keeps giving for the BBC, even on the streets of France
Given the rash of conspiracy theories leveled against Russia of late, it is no surprise that the BBC is deep-sea fishing for a Kremlin angle to explain the protests against the government of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Dear failing leaders of France, are basement-level ratings getting you down? Are violent riots spooking the tourists? Are running street protests at the height of the holiday season placing a drag on consumer spending? Have no fear because the BBC is here with a one-size fits all bogeyman to explain virtually everything. Please have a seat because the name alone will send shock waves of bone-chilling fear surging through your entire body.

This new and improved beast of burden to explain every uprising, lost election, accident and wart, popularly known as ‘Russia’ – a strategy rebuked by none other than President Putin as “the new anti-Semitism” – provides craven political leaders with a ready-made alibi when the proverbial poo hits the fan. Yes! It can even rescue Emmanuel Macron, who just experienced his fifth consecutive weekend of protests in the French capital and beyond.

Here is the real beauty of this new media product, which promises to outsell Chanel No.5 this holiday season. Reporting on ‘Russia’ does not require any modicum of journalistic ethics, standards or even proof to peddle it like snake oil to an unsuspecting public.

Simply uttering the name ‘Russia’ is usually all it takes for the fairytale to grow wings, spreading its destructive lies around the world. ‘Russia’ is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

Allow me to demonstrate how easy it is to apply. Just this weekend, BBC journalist Olga Ivshina was engaged in correspondence with a stringer in France. In an effort to explain what has sparked the French protests, Ivshina gratuitously tossed out some live ‘blame Russia’ bait.

And maybe some Russian business is making big bucks on it,” the BBC journalist solicited in an effort to conjure up fake news out of thin air. “Maybe they are eating cutlets out there en masse, for example. Or maybe the far-right are the main troublemakers?

Also on rt.com BBC endorses reporter’s actions seeking to find Russian influence in Yellow Vest protests

When the question only managed to elicit an uncomfortable laugh from the stringer, the nonplussed BBC journalist exposed more trade secrets than was probably advisable. In fact, what followed seems to have been the only nugget of truth to emerge from the discussion.

Ivshina confided that she was “looking for various angles” since the broadcaster, like a modern day Dracula flick, was “out for blood.

When RT reached out to BBC for some explanation, the British broadcaster reasoned that since the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had “spoken publicly about media reports of a possible Russian influence in the protests, it was perfectly reasonable for our correspondent to raise the subject.”

It also said the finished report did not mention a “possible connection with Russia at all.”

At this point, it is only natural to ask if such a knee-jerk anti-Russia bias in other news events – for example, the Skripal affair – demands that the BBC mindlessly toe the government line instead of, oh, I don’t know, pursuing the truth. A naïve question, of course, but please humor me.

Suffice it to recall that before any evidence was presented to the public in the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, British Prime Minister Theresa May declared it was “highly likely” that Russia was to blame. 

That reckless comment was then launched around Planet Google by the Western leaders and their laptop media without further ado, not to mention a little thing called evidence. At the very least, you would expect the British people to demand much more for their tax pounds which fund the BBC. 

Do you see how easy and effective this type of journalism is? The basis for the claims of ‘Russian interference’ by the French foreign minister should sound very familiar. Echoing claims of ‘Russian meddling’ in the 2016 US presidential elections through the use of social media, the minister pulled the very same rabbit out of his hat to suggest why hundreds of thousands of French citizens were suddenly out on the street, protesting against the unpopular policies of a former investment banker turned president.

As Bloomberg reported: “France opened a probe into possible Russian interference in the Yellow Vest protests, after… about 600 Twitter accounts known to promote Kremlin views began focusing on France, boosting their use of the hashtag #giletsjaunes.”

Keep in mind that the purchase of a few hundred Facebook ads is how the US Democratic Party – itself the focus of a number of potentially-criminal activities, as revealed by WikiLeaks – has attempted to explain the failure of Hillary Clinton to beat the Republican maverick Donald Trump in the race to the White House, as well as conceal its many wrongdoings.

Never mind that a Facebook executive admitted that Russia-linked posts had negligible impact on that part of the US brain that is responsible for pulling levers and making independent choices on election day.

Meanwhile, the recent and very explosive comment by Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, further confirms that the claim of Russian interference in the US political system was a well-done nothing burger.

We undertook a very thorough investigation, and… we now know that there were two main ad accounts linked to Russia which advertised on Google for about $4,700 in advertising,” Pichai told a stone-faced US congressional probe last week.

Back to the French streets, with some unavoidable sarcasm.

Of course, the French would never think of protesting against Emmanuel Macron’s aggressive neo-liberal policies, which have subjected the French people to painful austerity measures at the same time that the French government has embraced an open door immigration policy.

The only explanation that makes any sense – at least for those whose careers depend upon it, that is – is that the Russians monkeyed with the French mentality, causing Macron’s popularity rating to plunge, while at the same time inducing the French to take to the streets en masse.

The problem with that media narrative, first tossed out by a French minister without any evidence and then regurgitated by an obedient media, is that so many people are willing to accept it at face value. Or perhaps I underestimate the intelligence of the average news consumer and such a comment actually helped spur the French protesters into action for being taken as fools. We can always dream.

@Robert_Bridge

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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