A certain Alexandra Poolos from ABC News came out with a stark indictment of the Russian media, which she titled "Russian Media Called 'Empire of Lies'". The meaning of the strange title is clear to anyone who reads enough of similar exposes, such as the unfortunate yours truly: It simply means that Alexandra Poolos really-really wanted to start calling Russian media names, but since she also really-really needed to appear "objective", she had to search long and hard to find someone willing to do that for her. And she did, which she immediately put in the title of her piece. This isn't her own opinion. Really-really.
For starters, the credulous reader will find out that, apparently, "while the world buzzes with disbelief and fascination over the poisoning and death of a Russian ex-spy, the story has captured scant attention in Russia." Of course, the overly truthful Alexandra Poolos, the great exposer of liars, probably doesn't even realize that Litvinenko was never a spy, and this label she applies to him actually makes her out to be a liar. But let's give the poor soul the benefit of the doubt and assume this was the result of simple incompetence, rather than an attempt to deceive. Instead, let's find out the extent of the "scant attention" captured by this story in Russia. Really, it's not a complicated exercise. For print media, there is a very convenient web site called SMI.ru, which indexes a large chunk of Russian newspapers and other periodicals, including all the mainstream ones. Searching for "Litvinenko" produces over 800 articles in the past month and a half (931 total hits), including ones in the government-owned "Rossiiskaia Gazeta". Such scant attention, really, only some 15-20 articles every single day, even if you discount for false hits. Not being satisfied with that, I proceeded to call upon Russians in a couple of Internet forums, as well as contact my acquaintances by email and IM, asking them whether there was much about Litvinenko in the news on TV, including the government channels. All replies indicated that indeed, the Litvinenko affair was mentioned "on all main channels in the news, on multiple occasions". Some even solicitously asked if I was right in the head to even be asking questions with such obvious answers. Well, I'll have to readdress this concern to Alexandra Poolos, on whose behalf I'm doing this. One great recommendation was to check the news archives (with the actual footage of the news programs) of the government-controlled Channel One. Searching in their archives for "Litvinenko", I found out that the story appeared 42 times in their news between 1 November 2006 and 13 January 2007. On some days, such as December 1, among others, it was the very first and the most important news item in the broadcast. Video clips of the broadcasts can be easily viewed on the same site. Scant attention, indeed. And this claim wasn't even hard to verify -- all you needed was an Internet connection and a desire to be honest. Clearly, Alexandra Poolos lacks one of these, and something tells me it's not a problem with her Internet connection.
Our fearless exposer of lies and liars, Alexandra Poolos, further maintains that if you "ask any seemingly cosmopolitan Russians on a downtown Moscow street about their take on the international scandal, [...] they will most likely shrug and suggest that the former spy Alexander Litvinenko poisoned himself just to make Russian President Vladimir Putin look bad." Well, from this I can only assume that Alexandra Poolos never actually bothered to "ask any seemingly cosmopolitan Russians" anything of that nature. Because the polling agencies, those who actually ask such questions as part of their job, came up with somewhat different results. For example, the independent Levada Center conducted a poll between December 8-12 and found that 20% of Russians believe Litvinenko was killed by his former business partners, 15% -- by Boris Berezovsky, 10% -- by Russian special services, 8% -- by western special services, 8% -- he accidentally got poisoned while smuggling radioactive materials, 1% believe it was a suicide. The same poll also asked why Litvinenko was killed. Only 19% of Russians believe it was done to make Russia (14%) or Putin (5%) look bad. Other theories included revenge for something Litvinenko did (15%), due to dangerous information he possessed (14%), in order to create a political emergency in Russia to enable Putin to run for the third term (4%). Thus, Alexandra Poolos's alleged "most likely" replies are possible only from the 9% of respondents who believe Litvinenko killed himself, and the 19% of respondents who believe it was done to damage Russia or Putin. And these two sets don't even necessarily intersect, which would make the number of people who espouse the "most likely" view rather tiny.
It is obvious from the above that Alexandra Poolos believes these "seemingly cosmopolitan Russians" are deceived just because their opinion does not correspond to the one true opinion espoused by our fearless exposer of lying empires, which no doubt is that Putin personally did it, or if not, then it was the KGB on the orders of Putin, or if not, then it was the KGB without the orders of Putin, who is obviously a weak ruler, or if not, it was still Putin's fault somehow. But what are the opinions based on right now? Due to the obvious failure of the Scotland Yard to identify a motive for Litvinenko's murder, the only opinions possible are based on the simple principle of "qui prodest?" -- or "who profits?" -- and nothing else. Seeing how much Russia and Putin actually managed to profit from the affair, only one logical conclusion can be reached. And the fact that it differs for Russians compared to one Alexandra Poolos, it simply means that your average Russian is more intelligent, more logical, and more honest that your average Alexandra Poolos.
After that, we find out about Alexandra Poolos's source for the bizarre allegations above. A certain Jazz Ayvazyan went to London "a week after the story broke in early November." Well, I hate to rain on your parade once again, dear Alexandra Poolos and Jazz Ayvazyan, but the Litvinenko story did not break in early November. Litvinenko was allegedly poisoned on November 1. But there was nothing in the mainstream British media about the story until November 18, when it was claimed that Litvinenko had been poisoned with thallium (which later turned out to be completely false). No surprise there, since Berezovsky, who orchestrated the coverage of the Litvinenko affair, needed some time to retain the services of Tim Bell's PR agency. In contrast to the western media, who needed the Berezovsky PR money to start them rolling on the coverage, the Russian media was already reporting on Litvinenko's poisoning on November 11. As well as the statement from the London police that they know absolutely nothing about Litvinenko's poisoning on November 13. Thus, if you wanted to know anything about Litvinenko before November 18, you had to be in Moscow, not in London. Or at least have Internet access. Of course, further in the article our Jazz Ayvazyan confesses that he had "stopped watching Russian channels and replaced them with Discovery kind of entertainment". No wonder Jazz Ayvazyan doesn't know anything about the Litvinenko affair! After all, the Discovery Channel is the true "empire of lies". Can you imagine, the liars haven't said anything about Litvinenko?!! Good job, Alexandra Poolos, on exposing your own sources as incompetent and/or deceitful. Now I am starting to believe that you are truly out to set all liars straight.
Unfortunately, I should wrap up here, even though there is much to be said about every single claim in the article of the ever honest Alexandra Poolos. However, unlike the brave reporter being reviewed, I'm not paid for this. And since I am taking care to research and verify what I write with facts, I work somewhat slower than your average Alexandra Poolos, who I'm sure can fantasize much faster than I can do research, so she can proceed to the next topic, where she can expose another bunch of dastardly liars. Let's just hope that those "liars" don't decide to verify Alexandra Poolos's claims, like I just did. Because who knows, maybe they will not be as mild-mannered and soft-spoken as I am.