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Russia The Media The Opinionsphere

The Goal of the Commentariat

Ellen Barry of the New York Times quotes Russian “television commentator Mikhail V. Leontyev, who has built a career on his relentless hectoring of the West” on what he does

My task on television is to verbalize, in a certain formula, the real public consciousness that exists. So people will hear what they want to hear. So they can say, ‘Yes, that is what I thought!’

My impression is that Barry was trying to convey the idea that Leontyev was a propagandist for the Russian state – but his explanation of his job struck me as a pretty honest description of what most talking heads and columnists aim for – and what Glenn Greenwald so derides – as they claim to and aspire to explain what the American people think about a matter.

It’s always a bit fuzzy though – in either state-controlled media or our more free press at home – whether these thoughts are what people thought before, or if these ideas have been planted by the commentator – or if there instead exists some delicate balance between the two.

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