(Update: a video initially included in this post was blocked immediately by the International Olympic Committee on "copyright grounds." An audio clip has been added.)
Gee, where would anyone ever get the impression that high-profile liberals working in American media have a deathless soft spot for Soviet Russia?
True, one does come away with that impression in only a specific, narrow circumstance -- whenever a liberal opens his or her mouth about the Soviet Union. Aside from that, hardly at all. (Audio after the jump)
First came "Game of Thrones" actor Peter Dinklage, serving as narrator of NBC's coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, touting Russia for giving birth to "one of modern history's pivotal experiments," to wit, the Russian revolution. You remember, the one that gave rise to Bolshevik control of Russia for the next 70 years and the slaughter of tens of millions of people? Heck, it was in all the papers, with the obvious exception of the New York Times.
Not to be outdone, NBC's Meredith Vieira followed this later in the coverage with what might be remembered as the most unintentionally hilarious moments in the history of television. At that point in the ceremonies, a little girl held aloft by wires let go of a large red balloon (audio) --
VIEIRA: Our guide Lyubov has reappeared one last time holding onto a red balloon which represents the end of the 20th century dream. (long pause for effect) A bittersweet moment as she lets go of that balloon as Russia says goodbye to its past but looks ahead to a brighter future.
Then again, better that single red balloon vanish in the clouds than for 99 red balloons to have crossed aloft over Europe.
Yes, "a bittersweet moment" indeed -- for communists and many American liberals, most notably the nightly lineup at MSNBC. (His doctors doubt Lawrence O'Donnell will ever fully recover). Otherwise, one of the most triumphant and genuinely liberating moments in history.
Let me try to put Vieira's apparently Putin-scripted commentary in proper perspective ... that red and black balloon represents the end of the 20 century dream of a 1,000-year Reich. (sigh) A bittersweet moment for national socialists everywhere ...
National Review's Jim Geraghty went after Vieira with a vengeance in a devastating "Morning Jolt" email missive --
When I say "Communism," or more specifically, the "Soviet Union," a lot probably comes to mind.
You might think of the occupation of Eastern Europe. Or the massive internal forced immigrations. Or the Ukrainian famine, which killed 7 to 11 million people in a two-year period. Or the system of several hundred gulags and labor colonies, which imprisoned and in many cases killed 14 million people. Or the extensive, brutal, far-reaching and ruthless secret police, the KGB, the NKVD and others. Or the Katyn Massacre, killing about 22,000. The treatment of German civilians after World War Two. The deployment of nuclear missiles to Cuba, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear conflict in 1963. (Blogger's note: the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October 1962). The KGB's active support of terror groups around the world. The unprovoked invasion of Afghanistan. Or the shooting down of KAL 007. Or their callous attempt to cover up the catastrophic disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, not mentioning anything to the public for nearly three days.
What made Vieira's remarks even more laughable were those from New Yorker editor David Remnick that came only a minute or so earlier. Remnick, a Moscow correspondent for the Washington Post during the 1980s and author of the 1994 book "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire," took a decidedly more jaundiced view of the opening ceremonies, which he labeled "highly idealized" --
REMNICK: But Putin is saying it's now OK to be nostalgic about these times (alluding to the Soviet era). Look, Vladimir Putin is so involved in the details of this regime that he looks at textbooks, he controls what's in the textbooks that reach schoolchildren. And so the conversion of the Soviet past and the Russian past is not outside of his grasp.
And for which Putin is getting considerable help from nostalgic friends abroad.