Skip to content

Political humor exiled from television in Russia

It is hard to read this article about media manipulation in Russia without worrying that we have started down the same path here in the US.

In Russia, journalists critical of the current administration, including popular political satirists and other humorists, have been all but banned from television. The media has gone so far as to digitally erase individuals from television programs already recorded, but before they are broadcast (this is reminiscent of the old Soviet practice of airbrushing out disgraced comrades from old photos). In one talk show the technicians erased someone who had said something less than flattering about Vladimir Putin, but clumsily left his disembodied legs in one shot.

What is really disturbing is that it is not the government itself who is telling the media who can appear and what can be said, the television networks themselves do the censoring using their understanding of the Kremlin’s likes and dislikes.  The media claims that they are not censoring, only that dissenting voices “are not newsworthy”. This is despite the fact that they have cancelled popular shows.

So, technically, they have freedom of the press, since the media can show anything they want, but in practice they are so afraid of going against the administration that only voices that are pro-administration can possibly appear.  Sound familiar?