"When war is declared, truth is the first casualty." So goes the old saw about how problematic it can be to discern the truth when a war starts. Now, predictably, Russia is complaining that its invasion of Georgia is being unfairly portrayed in the news media -- an accusation mainstream media executives deny, according to an article in Variety. Writer Nick Holdsworth notes at one point that piecing together information from the Internet may be the best way to figure out what's going on in Georgia.
Summing up the controversy, he writes:
Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin has accused Western media orgs of bias in their coverage of the Georgia fighting, but U.S. and U.K. TV execs are unfazed, saying that claims of bias are “bananas.”
Within Russia, TV and newspaper reports of the conflict have overshadowed coverage of the Olympics, with patriotic and emotional reportage on the conflict that Russia blames on the Georgians.
Russians with access to the Internet or international cable news, however, are able to piece together a fairly thorough picture of the conflict. Citizens in Georgia are not able to do that, since their government shut down broadcasts of Russian TV and has blocked websites in the .ru domain.
Why did Russia go to war at this particular time? Holdworth does not answer that question. But he brushes up against a possible answer with an intriguing paragraph -- one suggesting (for those who want to read into it) that the start of hostilities had everything to do with the Olympic games. He writes:
Many news orgs had mobilized their foreign correspondents for Olympics coverage. After the conclusion of the Games’ spectacular Opening Ceremony on Friday, bureaus were scrambling to figure out what was going on in Russia, Georgia and Ossetia.
Perhaps that explained Vladimir Putin's poker face at the games in Beijing.