The Phaserl


Ted Turner, CNN, Putin, and the Amazing Oligarchs Drama Unfolding

by Phil Butler, New Eastern Outlook:

Christiane Amanpour was barbequed by RT’s Anissa Naouai some years back over an interview the CNN anchor conducted in which Amanpour left out significant parts. Today the legendary war correspondent accused in the past of “one sided” journalism is called out over her reporting on the Aleppo boy Omran Daqneesh the White Helmets group so apparently used for propaganda purposes against Assad’s Syria. For once I believe I have found the connective tissue in between western mainstream media, western and eastern oligarchs, and the ghosts of Lenin and Armand Hammer. By the time you’re done reading this, alien abduction will be as credible as any news.

The official story of Omran Daqneesh, or the “boy in the ambulance” that became an internet meme, it’s the most recent blemish on the credibility and the career of the woman who once received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. Amanpour rose quickly from her entry level desk assistant at the CNN on the foreign desk in Atlanta, Georgia in the earliy 1980s once she got her first break covering the Iran–Iraq War. Half Iranian and half British, the University of Rhode Island Phi Beta Kappa graduate was the logical choice for Ted Turner’s thriving new news network, owing to her good looks and obvious knowledge of the region. To suggest Amanpour was “groomed” to be Turner’s and CNN’s voice from crisis zones, is not a much of a stretch. Once the situation on the border of Iran and Iraq cooled, she was transferred to Eastern Europe to report on the fall of European communism, and later on gained reputation and influence reporting on Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. As for her penchant for “twisting news”, it was not until the war in Bosnia that Amanpour received just criticism over her bias. On 9 October 1994, Stephen Kinzer of The New York Times criticized Amanpour’s coverage from Kiseljak with this:

[Christiane Amanpour] was sitting in Belgrade when that marketplace massacre happened, and she went on the air to say that the Serbs had probably done it. There was no way she could have known that. She was assuming an omniscience which no journalist has.”

Amanpour admitted her tilted bias herself in a later interview after Yugoslavia was ruined. More recently, she’s made no bones about being a staunch Amanpour supporter for intervention in Syria against the Assad government, and her husband, former US Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin, being a spokesman for the US State Department during the Clinton administration and an informal adviser to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and to President Barack Obama bears noting here as well. If the reader can indulge me, Christiane Amanpour is an American media icon that seems to me to be an amalgamation of pillow talk marries vested interests. Take one ambitious college student, add a “to do list”, mix with the Washington glee club and some billionaire control freak action, and voila! Wait for it, you have the career mind, the State Department society, and the mission objective, now for Lieutenant General Sir Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.

Would you believe me if I told you the creator of CNN was once in bed with one of Vladimir Putin’s worst enemies? Previously in my Berezovsky trap reports I framed an argument for a kind of “mafia” blackmail game in which key world leaders are drawn into a secret web of control, or entrapped in other words. Imagine my surprise when I decided to research Amanpour , and managed to find a brief mention of an old hero of mine, the Mouth of the South, media mogul billionaire and philanthropist Ted Turner. This RFL/RL story by Natalya Golitsina just mentions the not deceased Russian oligarch’s “appreciation” toward Turner for the latter’s “joining the fight for Russia’s free press”. The former Putin enemy who was in a fight with Gazprom over NTV in Russia is quoted so:

“I’ve know [Ted] Turner for a pretty long time, and I can say that he’s a sincere person. He, like most Americans, is an idealist. He doesn’t understand a lot about what’s going on in Russia, but he’s a sincere person. And the fact that he’s ambitious is also very good. I think his position [on buying a stake in NTV] is very rational, as it comes from America. To what degree it can be realized — that’s another question. But I personally am grateful to Turner. He has added another weight to help tip the scales for free speech in Russia. That means a lot.”

Berezovsky told the American propaganda machine that the takeover of NTV was not actually a fight in between small rivals, but an FSB action directed by none other than Vladimir Putin himself. According to the Russian oligarch in exile, Putin was successful in his bid to create a “vertical power structure” and rid the country of alternative media. Interestingly, or should I say “ironically”, Ted Turner’s dealings within the western media landscape helped form the current mainstream media landscape evangelists like Amanpour preach from!

Back during Turner’s bid for the NTV network, The Guardian and others reported on his potential stake, and also on his communications with Vladimir Putin over “guarantees”. It will interest the reader to know, George Soros was also involved in all this wheeling and dealing, supposedly to ensure NTV’s “independence” as a media source. Why would I be surprised to find Soros’ name mentioned alongside another ousted Russian oligarch named Vladimir Gusinsky, who at that time owned the majority share of NTV? But Turner? I’ll admit feeling both naïve and a bit betrayed. A good old southern boy playing the worldwide power game outside the interests of peace? But reading along, it all makes sense now.

In 1986 Gusinsky was the Stage Director for Ted Turner’s Goodwill Games in the Kremlin Palace.Then in 1988 he founded the cooperative “INFEKS” supposedly for the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the USSR, where he consulted and engaged foreign companies entering into the Russian market. (I wonder who he engaged with first, considering he became a Russian media lynchpin) Then in 1989 Gusinsky worked with the most influential lobbying PR group in Washington, Margery Kraus’ APCO and to create the joint venture “Most”, which morphed into a media cabal that eventually opposed Yeltsin and the Russia role in Chechnya. By now the reader should be sufficiently dizzy over the names and their implications. For those of you as stupefied as me, the reality of all this history is pretty simple.

This New Yorker piece from 1995 more or less alludes to the underlying skullduggery Yeltsin, and later Putin had to deal with. The “West” if I may, was hell bent on a takeover of Russia. The essence of it all is reflected in something called the Moscow Commercial Club, a watering hole for the first generation post-Soviet tycoons, and the machinations of men like Turner and Soros behind the scenes. Opportunism was never so bright and shiny as when the Soviet Union fell down, and the western oligarchs started their move on mother Russia. Margery Kraus, a lady I admired after my interview with her when I owned Everything PR News, was in the news in 2001 lobbying for Gusinsky. One of her vice presidents, Former Congressman Don Bonker (D-WA), was named at PR Week for his role in building support for his longtime acquaintance. As an interesting footnote, Bonker is now the president and CEO of the International Management and Development Institute, on the board of the Foundation for U.S.-Russia Business Cooperation, and is still executive vice president of APCO Worldwide.

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