When recently I defended Russia against the increasingly alarmist anti-Russia rhetoric coming out of Washington, an anonymous blogger called me a “Kremlin dupe.” The ensuing debate generated enough heat that Russian TV news network Channel One called requesting an interview. Channel One is widely considered highly pro-Moscow in a media environment where almost everyone is at least somewhat pro-Moscow, for to oppose Moscow is to be harassed, arrested, maybe even killed.
I said yes to the interview, and it’s slated for Thursday, to broadcast later. For the record, I am not being paid. (Quite the contrary: I have to take valuable time out of my workday for the interview.) And while I am soft on the West’s approach to Russia, I am hard on press freedom, and if asked, I will tell my Channel One interviewers what I really think about Russia’s media.
“You’re going to make enemies,” my interviewer told me on the phone today. He was referring to anti-Russian hawks who might catch the interview and agree that I’m a Kremlin dupe. But I’m equally likely to win enemies from Russia boosters who want allies in the Western media, but aren’t comfortable being reminded that Russia’s own media is, for most part, duped.