The media’s disinformation campaign is in full swing when it comes the origins of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and PBS’s documentary series on the Ukrainian war engaged in this misleading behavior.
In its Frontline documentary called “Putin’s Road to War,” PBS featured several prominent Obama and Biden administration officials, who promptly defended the Obama and Biden foreign policy actions. The documentary interviewed officials such as Biden’s Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and former Obama intelligence officials James Clapper and John Brennan.
It also featured anti-Trump figures, such as New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser and former writer for The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe.
These officials made the false claim that Trump’s friendly behavior spurred Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. But Putin did not invade during Trump’s administration and he invaded during the presidencies of Obama and Biden.
For example, Russia’s proxy forces invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine during the Obama administration in 2014. Now, in 2022, Russia invaded southern, eastern, and northern Ukraine during Biden’s administration.
It is an unfair and glaring omission to not provide proper facts, details, or context during the documentary’s almost hour-long duration.
Also, PBS’s documentary did not present a fair or balanced presentation on Trump’s foreign policy because it did not feature Trump administration officials who would rebut false claims.
Glasser unironically claimed, without any rebuttal from the documentary staff, that former President Donald Trump was a “Putin groupie.” Glasser had no proof to back up her claim, but she was not called out on it. Although it is known that Trump tends to say positive statements about Putin, it is the reality that Putin did not invade Ukraine during Trump’s administration. Her reasoning may be that by being a “groupie,” Trump’s friendly approach to Putin meant that Putin would not openly go to war against U.S. allies and that Putin had too much influence in the U.S.
Her partisanship was further exposed during the Ukrainian war. When news broke that a Fox News cameraman died in the Ukrainian war, Glasser wrote on social media, “What a tragedy… A cameraman died covering the war for a TV network that airs a pro-Putin propagandist as its top-rated primetime host.” Fox News cameraman Peter Zakrzewski died when his vehicle came under fire, as did a Ukrainian female journalist who assisted the Fox News crew in Kyiv.
Glasser’s follow-up statement left many wanting a formal apology, when she said, “So grateful for the heroic work that Pierre and all the journalists, Ukrainian and foreign, have been doing risking their lives to show us the horror of this war. Makes the years of lies and propaganda so much harder to take — there are truly deadly consequences.”
Her inclusion in the documentary is questionable, given her penchant to make everything political and anti-Trump.
Ioffe, who is no stranger to controversy or blatant anti-Trump partisanship, was quoted at length in the documentary because she was born and raised in Russia, and had worked as a news correspondent in Russia. But she lacks credibility due to her partisanship.
In 2016, Ioffe posted on social media an obscene remark about Trump having an incestuous relationship with his daughter Ivanka, “Either Trump is f**king his daughter or shirking nepotism laws. Which is worse?” She said it was a poor example of a joke, “It was a tasteless, offensive tweet that I regret and have deleted. I am truly and deeply sorry. It won’t happen again.”
There is also the long-held concern by conservatives that PBS is a taxpayer-funded entity that promotes anti-conservative ideas and values. Taxpayer-funded entities should not take partisan sides, but PBS consistently does so.
Also, PBS’s Frontline documentary series is funded, in part, by the left-wing MacArthur Foundation. The foundation is famous for funding left-wing causes, which further cements conservatives’ concerns that taxpayer-funded PBS is a partisan and anti-conservative propaganda machine.