Trump, Putin, and Media Manipulation

Saturday, May 13, 2017
Washington, DC


Trump, Putin, and Media Manipulation

Staying a half-block from the White House invites a strange vibe, a feeling-in-the-air, an urgency.

I read of Melania hosting mothers of service persons tomorrow.

I watch conflicting stories of the firing of FBI Director Comey.

It is, truly, surreal.

Also, I happen to be reading a book on Putin, called The New Tsar. It animates what Carl Jung meant by the term, synchronicity.

For example, I learned about a staged piece of political theater in Russia during the summer of 2010. That year, Medvedev was the “president” of Russia and Putin the “prime minister.” Their roles were nothing less than a political maneuver meant to keep Putin in power. It worked. Putin became what now appears to be president-for-life, like Erdogan in Turkey, Kim Jung-Un in North Korea, or Assad in Turkey.

That summer, peat fires broke out around Moscow and surrounding villages, the result of pollution, poor resource management, and otherwise poor governance. The tragedy, which killed dozens of people and destroyed entire villages, also resulted from hurried efforts to create technological innovation in a Moscow suburb of Skolkovo.

Residents of the affected areas began protesting.

One blogger posted:

Why do we every year slip farther and farther from even a primitive social system? What the fuck is your innovation center in Skolkovo to us, if we do not have basic fire trucks?

Putin, the faux-prime-minister, ever sensitive to public opinion, raced to the scene. He arranged for the state controlled media to televise him piloting an amphibious aircraft which dumped water on the fires. A TV clip showed Putin sitting next to the pilot after dropping water on a smoldering peat bog southeast of Moscow.

Putin asked,

“Was that OK?”

“A direct hit!” the pilot responded.

The author of the Putin book, Steven Lee Myers, writes on p. 374:

Putin was the ultimate celebrity of the Kremlin’s own reality, the indispensable leader, even a “glamorous, elite sexual icon’ whose stunts seemed intended to elicit ‘passionate, even sexualized reactions’ from women.

Thankfully, we need not worry about Trump’s emergence as a glamorous or elite or sexualized or any kind of positive icon.

Or should we?

I watch the White House attempt a similar media coup.

They fail miserably.

Putin clearly has superior political wisdom.

Trump says he planned the firing of Comey months ago. He says it was, in fact, to stop the Russian investigation. He says, au contraire, it was because “he was doing a bad job.”




But fasten your seatbelt:

If Trump listens to his advisors (a big if), he will manipulate the message. He is a master salesman.

My primary point extends advice I offered in an earlier post you can find here:


Be careful what you read, what you believe. 

Obtain information from as many sources as possible.

Read or watch views from the left and the right.

Try to get ahold of the facts

Consider yourself your own investigator of current political events.

Just like Putin staging his firefighting prowess, Trump prepares his media manipulation. He readies himself to manipulate us, to manipulate you.

Interviews are scheduled for tomorrow, Mother’s Day.

We will see Trump’s latest perspective, a viewpoint professionally managed to lessen damage, his version of Putin-on-the-firefighting-plane.

Like the late Tom Hayden quipped,

Question Authority!



Myers, S.L. (2015). The New Tsar. New York: Vintage.







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