The Washington Post on Wednesday ran a nice, big, paid section of Russian propaganda in its newspaper. Thanks Vladmir Putin!
Weird timing, eh? It’s not like there’s a tense international standoff going on in Ukraine involving Russian troops. Several countries have threatened to impose sanctions on Russia, and the U.S. may pull out of the June G8 Summit in Sochi. President Obama warned on Feb. 28, “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military invention in the Ukraine.”
So does the Post senses any possible conflicts of interest here?
The bright red paid section is called “Russia Now.” They write, “Rossiyskaya Gazeta is the Russian government’s paper of record and provides the official publication of all laws, decrees and official statements of state bodies.” Oh, and it’s also a “general interest” newspaper full of government-approved opinions and analysis.
Some of their features are quite hilarious under the circumstances. They include, “Lone Private Gun Maker Targets Locals” and “Revising the Moscow in Our Minds.”
Weirdly, no mention of anything unusual or explosive going on in the Ukraine.
The publication may have found their sugar daddy in Amazon founder Jeff Bezos last year, but maybe Putin can occasionally fill in when daddy’s busy. Who cares if there’s an international conflict?
The Mirror reached out to Washington Post PR on this with a few questions:
1. Is the Washington Post reconsidering this relationship?
2. Would a North Korea Now section be within the bounds?
3. Where is the line?
UPDATE: The Washington Post’s spokeswoman, Kris Coratti Kelly, stood by the practice in a Wednesday afternoon statement to The Daily Caller:
“We have long given advertisers as much freedom of expression as possible in issue advertisements, and to accept them regardless of the popularity of the views expressed or their compatibility with the personal views of our employees. As a result, we tend to accept issue ads in all but the rarest of circumstances – such as if they are in poor taste, include libelous content, or contain statements of fact that we know to be false in a serious, offensive respect. We believe that the Russia Now advertisements were appropriately labeled under our standards for ensuring that readers do not confuse advertising with editorial content, and this was a long-planned supplement.”