Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
You put your finger on a key point about this whole bizarre affair.

If ever there was a case of `unreliable witnesses', it is this.  If one exposes claims made by any of the major protagonists - in particular Litvinenko - to close analysis, very many of them emerge as unreliable.

However, the whole basis of the approach taken by the Western MSM has been that one can approach this story on the basis that some witnesses are absolutely reliable, and some absolutely unreliable.  Those classed as reliable are commonly either people who were genuinely dissidents - Alex Goldfarb or Vladimir Bukovsky - or belong to a class one might call `repentant Chekists':  Gordievsky, Yuri Shvets, Oleg Kalugin, Vladimir Rezun (aka `Viktor Suvorov'), Boris Volodarsky, Litvinenko himself.

Claims made by members of either class are simply taken on trust - an example being the report in the Times on 20 November, in which Gordievsky shifted the focus of suspicion from Scaramella to Lugovoi, and accused Putin of instigating the supposed murder.  No evidence was provided, nor was any asked for, before an individual - Lugovoi - and the head of a foreign state - Putin - were accused of pioneering nuclear terrorism.

By the same token, it is simply assumed that Lugovoi is an absolutely disingenuous witness, and that there is no need even accurately to report what he has said in his own defence.

Why precisely the MSM in Britain is determined to interpret a complex story of intrigue as a Manichean drama in which `good guys' always tell the truth, and `bad guys' never, is a critical question.  Whatever the explanation, however, the result is that a great deal of the coverage of the Litvinenko mystery verges on the inane.  The fact that Gordievsky, Shvets, `Suvorov' and Bukovsky all turn out to have been implicated in Scaramella's disinformation schemes brings the bizarreness of the situation into sharp relief.

by djhabakkuk (david daught habakkuk at o two daught co daught uk) on Tue Dec 11th, 2012 at 11:55:43 AM EST
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I don't see that there's necessarily anything sinister in the "Manichean drama" frame adopted by the media. Plausibly, it's just a cultural meme overlaid by journalistic laziness. We grew up in a culture where Russia + Spies = James Bond, no ambiguity about who's wearing the black hats. Sure, there is a minority "John Le Carré" strand, where things are a bit more complicated, but that sells fewer newspapers.

As for the "news black-out" on the Scaramella libel case. It might seem sinister that this isn't being reported : after all, there are spies, radioactive suitcases etc., all pretty exciting. But unfortunately it doesn't fit the meme (who's wearing the black hats here?) and it's so complicated that I can imagine an honest journalist looking at it, realising it will take him days to merely understand the available evidence, and that he won't be able to distill it into an honest short article that thousands of people would take the trouble to read.

Back to Litvinenko : the media frame having been established long ago, I'm sure there are plenty of journalists who realise it's not that simple; but lack the resources or influence to write, and get published, a lengthy article full of complex explanations and the bold conclusion : "Well, actually, we don't know what's going on at all!"

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 04:17:49 AM EST
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