On the morning of June 20th, I received an OSCE email alert announcing the death of Ukrainian investigative reporter Vadim Komarov, who was beaten unconscious on May 4th and had been in a coma until succumbing last week. According to the OSCE:
VIENNA, 20 June 2019 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, expressed his deep sorrow following the death of journalist and blogger Vadim Komarov, who died last night in the hospital. He had been in a coma since suffering a violent attack on 4 May in Cherkasy, Ukraine.
“I am deeply shocked by the death of Vadim Komarov, who was brutally attacked last month in Cherkasy and suffered from serious head injuries,” Désir said. “Vadim Komarov was a well-known media professional who reported about issues of public importance for many years, including by exposing corruption and uncovering abuses of power.”
As a journalist myself, I’m sensitive to crimes and repressions committed against fellow reporters wherever they may be. As the day wore on, however, I began to wonder why I didn’t hear any mention of this from any of the multiple news outlets I follow. Around 9:00 pm, I decided to do a search for any articles covering the death of Komarov. I placed the terms “Vadim Komarov death” into both a regular Google search engine and a Google News search engine. I also tried the alternative spelling of his first name “Vadym” in the searches. The only western media coverage of this I found was an article by RFE/RL. Nothing else from either the establishment media or the alternative media.
I think we all know that if this had been a journalist beaten to death in Russia, the news would be all over The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc. , along with oped’s on how it’s just more evidence of how horrible, illiberal and undemocratic Putin’s Russia is compared to the virtuous west, comprised of the U.S., Canada, Australia, Britain and non-Russian Europe.
Some might suggest that it would only be fair because Russia is such a dangerous place for journalists. Everyone knows that reporters are dropping like flies in Russia and rarely from natural causes.
On the other hand, the Maidan “revolution” of 2014 represented a natural rejection of backward Russia and Ukraine’s desire to be unequivocally part of the west whose democratic values it embraced. The fact that Washington may have facilitated a violent ouster of the already democratically-elected government was to be overlooked with a nod and wink on behalf of a greater good.
If so, then how do we square the facts, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists that, since 2014, Ukraine has had an increase in the murder of journalists, now totaling 8 (including Komarov) and Russia has had only 2 in that same period?
While we should certainly care about reporters being murdered, especially because of their work, anywhere, how do we justify the total radio silence on the brutal murder of a journalist in our beloved post-Maidan Ukraine and the utter conniption fit that western media would be having if the same thing happened to a journalist in Russia?
Speaking of media bias and malpractice, below is a video of award-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges interviewing (in 2-parts) Matt Taibbi about his forthcoming book on how the media – particularly TV and cable news – has adopted the professional wrestling model of feeding the target audience’s simplistic worldview of who is a goodie and who is a baddie, selling a warped entertainment product designed to reinforce your anger rather than informing you.