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Feature Story March 11, 2005
Dubleya Standards
You Either Censor Our Way, Or the Highway By Mark Ames Browse author Email

The low point of the Bush-Putin press conference last month in Bratislava came when a Russian "journalist" in the press pool threw out what appeared to be a clearly-scripted question. It went to the heart of Russia's profound grievance with America-its "double speak" or "double standards" or "hypocrisy."

After several questions aimed at pressing Putin on the sorry state of democracy in Russia, an Interfax journalist asked , "To follow up on the issue of democratic institutions, President Bush recently stated that the press in Russia is not free. What is this lack of freedom all about? :Why don't you talk a lot about violations of the rights of journalists in the United States, about the fact that some journalists have been fired?"

"So between us, George, how do you censor your press and still get to lecture me?"

"I...what? Vladimir, I really don't know what you're talking about."

To Americans, especially the American press, the question was absurd. It provoked, at best, a giant sneer, and at worst, a "toldya the Russians are still a bunch of evil commie bastards!" reaction from the Russophobic Right.

Bush's actual response-"I don't know what journalists you're referring to" - summed up American delusional thinking best. Such a thing could not possibly happen in America. Even when it does happen - which is pretty often, in ways both covert and overt-Americans would still look at you like a complete loony, a "conspiracy theorist," if you told them journalists get fired in the US for not behaving the way people in power want them to.

The most recent example of American censorship was also the most personal and threatening example. This past Monday, Jeff Koyen, editor of the alt-weekly The New York Press, was forced to resign (he was given two weeks suspension without pay, which left Koyen with no choice but to resign or accept castration) after New York's top politicians, from Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer down to New York Congressman Weiner and aides to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, all attacked the last issue's cover story, "52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." The piece was written by former eXile co-editor Matt Taibbi, who writes a regular column now for the Press (both I and Dr. Dolan are also regular contributors). For those of you who don't know, The New York Press is a weekly free alternative newspaper that was founded about a decade ago to challenge the Village Voice, which had withered into cultural and dynamic irrelevance over the years.

The Pope-Dying piece in question was one of those ideas that are hilarious as a concept but wind up getting ruined in the transfer from idea to print, something our readers have grown accustomed to over the years due to our rigorous corporate culture which enforces shoddy work habits at the eXile. Organized types are brutally hazed and find they hit a glass ceiling at about the intern level: after all, we're geniuses, you know: Yet the Pope gag sent the entire East Coast Power Elite into full spectrum mob attack mode, starting with the highest powers in the state. Here are some examples. New York Senator Chuck Schumer: "This is the most disgusting thing I've seen in 30 years of public life"; Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: "It is outrageously offensive to make light of [the Pope's] physical suffering, which he has borne with such strength, dignity and grace"; and New York Representative Anthony Weiner, a future candidate for mayor, actually called on the people of New York to commit a serious crime when he publicly stated, "Everyone has a right to free speech, but I hope New Yorkers exercise their right to take as many of these rags as they can and put them in the trash."

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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
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eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

War Nerd Summer Reading Guide
The War Nerd By Gary Brecher
It’s summer, you’ve got a little more time off, so you can read up on war instead of trying to live in whatever boring suburb you live in. Lawns, neighbors, dogs, kids—it all sucks and the best thing you can do is get as far out of it as you can.


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