I recently had the dubious pleasure of engaging in an extended Twitter exchange with Peter Savodnik. Peter is a consummately credentialed journalist based in New York. He is also a classical representative of the well-paid prostitute class otherwise known as Independent Western Journalists in polite (i.e. doublethink) society, as well as of that emigre clique which delights in smearing their former homeland at every opportunity (as with Julia Ioffe, Miriam Elder, etc). So nicely does he encapsulate the dinner suit-wearing, respectability-laden double standards, Western chauvinism, ingrained authoritarianism, and deep vein of conspiratorial paranoia that characterizes Western Independent Journalism that I think it useful to lay out our conversation in full.
The plight of Pussy Riot should kind of shame Occupiers who are mad because the govt. won't pay their school loans.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 16, 2012
Because protesting sky-high education costs and corporate corruption is so much more morally repugnant than defiling one of a country’s most sacred places.
I noticed Mr. Savodnik’s ranting against Occupy thanks to the approving reply from Streetwise Professor, a Russia blogger. SWP (Craig Pirrong) is a well-known neocon, Russophobe and anti-civil liberties fanatic (who masquerades as a small government classical liberal), who has a rabid gaggle of groupies following his rock-star avatar around on the interwebs (e.g. @LibertyLynx, @catfitz, etc).
The depth of his derangement is demonstrated by his loathing for Wikipedia, which he views as some kind of Communist conspiracy (no kidding, his fan Catherine Fitzpatrick, who apart from her hobby of trolling non-Russophobe blogs also writes blog posts with titles such as What is Technocommunism and the Internet of Things? condemning open-source. Also the reason why she chooses to pay for TypePad, instead of using the free – and much superior – WordPress platform for her blog).
@musuraki actually, it should. Given crackdowns outside the U.S., protests at home look baseless and absurd.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 16, 2012
So I guess by Savodnik logic given crackdowns in Belarus, the Meetings in Russia also look baseless and absurd? Time to expose that fool, methinks.
@AnatolyKarlin @streetwiseprof please. Half these people are demonstrators. None have been killed a la Politkovskaya et al.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 17, 2012
Actually according to my link only 5 of the journalists, or 7% of them, where arrested while “while participating in protests or civil disobedience related to Occupy events.” The rest where arrested while covering them – a perfectly valid journalistic activity. Yasha Levine in particular has a harrowing account (via blog posts) of his experiences in LA country jail – where he picked up a Third World skin disease – and his consequent legal troubles, which demonstrates that the justice system hates independent journalism every bit as much as the police does.
But note, in particular, Savodnik’s diversion of the conversation to Politkovskaya, a journalist murder in Russia SIX YEARS ago. He for one doesn’t seem to have troubles with whataboutism, of the “But in American they lynch Negroes” kind for which non-Russophobes like myself are frequently accused of – including by Sadovnik himself. But the Politkovskaya case has no relevance to the conversation – the issue is Peter Savodnik’s reference to press freedom violations in foreign countries to support repression of his ideological enemies in the West. I do not like hypocrisy, and I call him out on it.
@AnatolyKarlin no, of course. That's lamentable -- but not comparable w/#Russia. And totally ad hominem.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 17, 2012
And now the you-work-for-the-KGB canard comes out, reliable as ever coming from liberasts! My eternal response to that – what a pity the paycheck always seems to get stuck in the mail…
Had this exchange occurred at the Guardian, in its Orwellian-named “Comments are Free” section, at this point I’d have been unpersoned by the plagiarist hack Luke Harding for being a Kremlin troll.
@AnatolyKarlin standards are the same. Arrests in U.S. (bad) v. murders in Russia (deplorable). Surely you appreciate this.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 17, 2012
@petersavodnik Surely you appreciate that Occupy arrests have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever? (contrary to your first arguments)— gab.ai/akarlin (@akarlin88) April 17, 2012
Now I take his argument to its logical conclusion, i.e. absurdity, now using Brazil (which is actually, when looked at from the POV of concrete statistics as opposed to Russophobic democraticist rhetoric, is far more dangerous for journalists than Russia) to “justify” Obama pressuring Yemen to imprison the critical journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea. Because that is the kind of mental acrobatics that Savodnik utilizes to wield the Politkovskaya case against Occupy.
Predictably enough, shattered by the exposure of his true authoritarian leanings and patent double standards on free speech, Peter Savodnik goes off the deep end, ranting about the KGB, FSB, and “agents of an authoritarian regime that kills people.”
Occupiers, if you pool your lint and pennies, maybe one of you can go to #Moscow April 19 to support Pussy Riot.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 17, 2012
There ought to be a secret code that journalists tweeting about #Russia have to make sure they're not FSB.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 17, 2012
Or just really nineteenth-century. Like @AnatolyKarlin.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 17, 2012
Funny he says that, as it is Savodnik himself who has a reactionary hatred for ordinary Russian people and wants to disenfranchise them (see below). Projecting a bit much, Mr. Democratic Journalist?
Okay. Enough with the personal broadsides against agents of an authoritarian regime that kills people.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) April 17, 2012
I’m sure that Peter Savodnik is not the worst of the lot. Any number of other, far more mendacious characters come to mind who are outstanding on the issue of their hypocrisy as regards Russia, RT, the US, and Wikileaks – Luke Harding (a Russophobe fanatic who blames Assange for releasing the unedited Wikileaks cables when it was actually HE HIMSELF, with David Hearst, who was responsible for publishing the passwords to them); Konstantin von Eggert; the SWP hive; Miriam Elder; fuck it, virtually the entirety of the Western mainstream media.
But what this conservation with Peter Savodnik is useful for is representing that general mendacity in brief, distilled, easily digestible (and disgusting) form.
Exposes of Luke Harding and Von Eggert to follow.
Addendum. Thanks to Minka in the comments for letting us know that Sadovnik also espouses extreme neoliberal Latynina-like views on the Russian majority of Putin voters (“peasants”), who should not be allowed to vote.
In fact it’s pretty clear Savodnik loathes the Russian people as a pack of uncultured peasants for not voting like Savodnik would. The gall!
@annabbbk The Russian-peasant mentality is on point. How to explain the reemergence of the CPSU in the form of United Russia?— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) March 23, 2012
Also problematic is the persistent mythology of the #Russian soul, which camouflages the utter vacuity of the Russian-peasant mentality.— Peter Savodnik (@petersavodnik) March 23, 2012
For our freedom and mine… Right? I think it’s pretty clear that it is Sadovnik who is living in the 19th century, what with his reactionary hatred of ordinary people.