What was the best way for NBC to begin that network's coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? Have sports anchor Bob Costas host a brief profile on Vladmir Putin in which the Russian president is hailed as a global statesman superior to U.S. president Barack Obama. '
During a video portion of the profile, Costas said that Putin is an accomplished peacemaker, crediting him with preventing an American airstrike on Syria and coaxing the Iranian government to the nuclear negotiating table.
Costas began by explaining Putin's role in the winter games:
The Sochi Olympics have been an object of fascination for months now, and at the center of every question is the country's president, Vladmir Putin. He was the central force behind bringing these games here, and was also involved in just about every detail of their planning and presentation.
It's a pivotal and controversial juncture in his ongoing efforts to lead his country back to prominence.
“Putin has been a fixture on the international stage for almost 15 years as either president or prime minister,” the sportscaster stated. “That's far longer than any other leader among the world's most influential nations. Just in the past year, Putin brokered a deal to allow Syria to avoid a U.S. military strike by giving up its chemical weapons,” Costas continued in a voiceover, “and helped bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear intentions.”
“And he has repeatedly showcased his confidence to take on the West, particularly the United States,” the NBC announcer continued. “Offering asylum to national security agency leaker Edward Snowden, enticing Ukraine to back out of a deal to join the European Union, and passing laws viewed as repressive to members of the gay community and their supporters.”
“He even wrote an op-ed in the New York Times published last September 11 explaining his view of the situation in Syria and chastising president Obama for calling America “exceptional.” A month later, Forbes magazine named Putin the world's most powerful person, knocking Obama down
The glowing tribute didn't mention the fact that “Putin is one of the chief backers of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and the deal he helped broker with the U.S. isn’t fully being implemented. Syria has repeatedly missed deadlines in turning over its chemical weapons stockpile.”
As NewsBusters previously reported, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said in mid-December that “the chances of these weapons being eliminated from Syria are less than that of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series this year, and they are now mathematically eliminated.”
In addition, a petition was started to force Obama to give the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded in 2009 to Putin instead.
And if that wasn't enough, the Russian leader mocked his U.S. counterpart for his love of sports -- including golf -- and refused to make “a friendly bet“ with Obama on which country’s going to win more medals, the U.S. or Russia.
Of course, this isn't the first time Costas has strayed from sports with his strong but wildly liberal opinions. After slamming gun rights in December of 2012, he criticized the name of the Washington Redskins National Football League team as a “racial slur” and a “disgrace.”
While it was expected that NBC would honor the leader of the country where the Olympics are being held, Costas didn't need to go as far as he did with what sounds like “propaganda” at the expense of the leader of the U.S., regardless of Obama's less-than-stellar record at home and abroad.
Costas also interviewed their guest analyst at NBC, liberal New Yorker editor David Remnick. He wanted to underline that part about Russians hating American exceptionalism:
COSTAS: Many Russians, and Putin on their behalf, resent American assertions of exceptionalism. They point to our own flawed history, our own present problems and say, "Who are you to lecture us?" Correct?
DAVID REMNICK: The word is resentment. Resentment in many ways is the animating emotion for Putin on the world stage. He projects to the Russians a mirror of their deep resentment of being mocked, of losing the Cold War, of having to hear about it now for 15 years. And he – and that toughness, that personality that he projects, that past that he has as a KGB agent, which may be mocked or reviled abroad, is something for the conservative majority in this country, what Nixon used to call the silent majority, is greatly admired. You saw great demonstrations here, but that's among a minority, an urban minority of highly educated more liberal people and gets a lot of attention in the west, but it's not a majority opinion here.
As usual, American liberals see the "urban minority of highly educated" elites in Russia as just like them, while the hardcore nationalists with the Soviet nostalgia are just like the American conservatives.