Background Briefing: January 25, 2022


How to Penetrate Putin’s Wall of Propaganda Inside Russia Instead of Feeding It

We begin with the propaganda saturating the state controlled media in Russia which portrays NATO as the aggressor, Ukraine as an American puppet, the EU an American lapdog and the United States a divided and dysfunctional fading power. Joining us for insight into Putin’s media and how the Russian people respond to it as well as what can be done to penetrate the wall of propaganda instead of feeding it, is Peter Pomerantsev, a Senior Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He studies propaganda and media development and has testified on the challenges of information warfare to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the UK Parliament Defense Select Committee. His books include Nothing is True and Everything is Possible and, most recently, This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality, and he joins us to discuss his article at Time, “What the West Will Never Understand About Putin’s Ukraine Obsession.” 


Our Increasingly Incendiary Politics and the Spark of a Rigged Election That Will Ignite Political Violence

Then, with the growing threat of political violence in our increasingly polarized society as we head into an election that will be rigged by Republicans which will likely spark massive protests if the election is stolen as expected, we speak with Steven Levitsky, a Professor of Government at Harvard University whose research interests include political parties, authoritarianism and democratization, and weak and informal institutions. He is the author of Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War and co-author with Daniel Ziblatt of How Democracies Die, and we discuss his article at Foreign Affairs, “America’s Coming Age of Instability: Why Constitutional Crises and Political Violence Could Soon Be the Norm.”


A Murdered Journalist Who Asked Mexico’s President For Protection

Then finally we look into Sunday’s murder of the journalist Lourdes Maldonado Lopez in Tijuana who had previously asked Mexico’s President López Obrador for protection from death threats and speak with Carlos Lauria, the former Senior Americas Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, where he served as chief strategist and spokesperson on press freedom issues in the Americas. With Mexico ranked 143rd out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders, we look into the role of the former Governor of Baja California who was sued by the reporter who was murdered after finally she was just awarded a settlement.