For Sochi Olympics, NBC Hires Soviet Union Apologist Who Called Its 1979 Afghan Invasion 'Honoring Our Commitment'

Earlier this week, NBC Sports announced that "Moscow-based TV journalist Vladimir Posner (also frequently spelled "Pozner") will be a correspondent for NBC Olympics’ late-night show with Bob Costas during the Sochi Games."

To call Posner's background "problematic" is like saying that Bob Filner, former Democratic Mayor of San Diego, has a bit of a problem with how he treats members of the opposite sex. Posner is an old hand at defending and dissembling the worst excesses of the Soviet Union, including but not limited to the following exchange from 1980 cited by Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com on Wednesday (bolds are mine throughout this post):


Here’s what Nightline’s original anchor, Ted Koppel had to say, in 2004, about Pozner’s first appearance on the newsmag on January 23, 1980, ” the night of what would turn out to be Jimmy Carter’s last State of the Union Address.” when the Soviet Army had recently invaded Afghanistan…and Carter had some tough things to say about that.

“We turned to someone who was described to us as a Radio Moscow Commentator. His name … Vladimir Pozner,” Koppel said. His comments, on ABC’s website, are followed by an excerpt of Pozner’s appearance on Nightline that night:

POZNER: You realize that I do not agree with what you call an invasion. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to say our viewpoint, and I want to thank you for it.

TED KOPPEL: Please do.

POZNER: The Soviet Union, as you know, has agreements with Afghanistan and sent in military aid at request of the Afghanistan government. We do not see that at all as an invasion. But, as simply, honoring our commitment. And I’d like to make that absolutely clear.

Koppel added, in 2004: “It used to drive my colleague George Will crazy when I introduced Vladimir Pozner as a Soviet Journalist. ‘It’s a contradiction in terms,’ George would insist. ‘The Soviet Union doesn’t have journalists in the sense that we do.’ And he was right.”

In a post titled "NBC Goes Full Commie. Never Go Full Commie, Man," Ed Driscoll at PJ Media has more, including this excerpt from Posner's Wikipedia entry (paragraph breaks added by me):

In his Western media appearances Posner was a charismatic and articulate apologist of some of the Soviet Union’s most controversial foreign and domestic policy decisions. A master of tu quoque, he would frequently draw parallels and point out similarities between Soviet and Western policies as well as candidly admit the existence of certain problems in the USSR.

PosnerParadox.jpg

However, while stopping short of unequivocal endorsement and support, he nevertheless rationalized, among others, the arrest and exiling of Andrei Sakharov, the invasion of Afghanistan and shooting down of KAL 007.

In his 1990 autobiography Parting with Illusions. Later, he wrote that some of the positions he had taken were wrong and immoral. In a 2005 interview with NPR’s On the Media, Posner spoke openly about his role as a Soviet spokesman, stating bluntly, “What I was doing was propaganda.”

Comparing his former role to that of Karen Hughes, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, he commented that, “You know, as someone who’s gone through this and someone who regrets having done what he’s done, and who spent many, many years of his life, and I think probably the best years of my life, doing something that was wrong, I say it just isn’t worth it”.

Even his "apology" was an occasion for a false analogy to someone in the West.

Given that frequent domestic bloviator Bob Costas has said that he will, according to the Associated Press, "focus on reporting, not commentating, at Olympics" during Sochi, it would appear that Posner will have free rein to provide propaganda spin on behalf of Vladimir Putin without challenge.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

FROM THE MRC ARCHIVE: Study on the Soviet Spokesman Sensation

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.