Kudos to MSNBC and Velshi for Russian Invasion Coverage
Anyone following my commentaries knows that I am a dependable and frequent critic of MSNBC and its weekend host Ali Velshi. For the most part, that has not changed. But … I have found their coverage of the Ukraine War to be more to my liking. So … credit where credit is due.
As a matter of general coverage, they have not played scaredy cat over the very remote possibility of Putin starting a nuclear war. MSNBC’s programs have generally focused on the horrors of the war – and the need for Putin to be defeated. Most of the network’s panelists and pundits have called for President Biden and NATO to accelerate the military support for the Zelenskyy government – including weaponry that can take out ships and those fighter planes sitting on the ground in Europe.
There is a tradition in news media to not show the real human horrors Russian-style warfare. You mostly get images of damaged buildings and destroyed military equipment. If human beings are shown on the screen, it is virtually always the fleeing victims. An occasional dead person is blurred as if anyone would actually recognize the person.
Anything more upsetting is usually left to generalized comments, such as “lots of people were killed” or there are “dead women and children.” It is one thing to be told that, and quite another to see the carnage.
In its Sunday morning broadcast, MSNBC departed from the sanitized approach. In opening the show, Velshi warned viewers that there would be graphic images of Bucha — the Kyiv suburb that was mercilessly bombarded and temporarily controlled by the Russians. Usually, that would mean a quick fuzzy image of a body or a crying child.
Apparently, MSNBC decided that the American people needed to see the real horror of the war – and the war crimes. The streets were strewn with the bodies of innocent Ukrainians. Some were shot as they were riding their bicycles or just walking. There were unarmed men, women and children. Most were summarily executed with a bullet to the back of their heads. Some had their hands tied at the moment of execution. These folks were not collateral damage. They were the victims of mass murder – a massacre — genocide. These are people whose blood is dripping from Putin’s hands.
In departing Bucha, the Russians left behind mines to kill even more innocent people in absentia. Even the bodies of the dead were bobby-trapped to kill the aid workers and private citizens reclaiming or removing the bodies.
There were grisly images of Ukrainian soldiers cautiously tying ropes around a hand or an arm of a corpse – and then first dragging it from a safe distance to ensure it was not bobby-trapped. Many of the bodies were already stiff from rigor mortis.
This was not sensationalism for the sake of ratings. It was honest and complete reporting. The general media coverage amounts to censorship – cancellation of reality. Too often the horror of the war is treated like a board game by politicians, diplomats, and the media. It is a communication devoid of empathy – in fact, to avoid empathy.
To censor the most disturbing and grisly images may seem like a public service, but it is a disservice. Without fully comprehending the scope of the violence and the human toll in very real terms, we cannot be a fully informed public. Consequently, our opinions and our influence on our leaders are less valid. We the people cannot petition our leaders to the correct course of action is we the people do not know all the facts.
If Putin wins – and it appears he may – it is because the rest of us made our decisions on limited information. We will not do enough to defeat Putin because we have not seen the full horror of his madness … his cruelty … and his danger to the world.
What I saw on MSNBC was extremely upsetting. It was not the usual news videos that are the visual equivalent of euphemisms. I applaud Velshi and the network for upsetting me with reality – and everyone else who might have seen that broadcast. That is the only way we can calculate a proper response.
So, there ‘tis.