“Putin is a madman”narrative: CNN, Jake Tapper, Josh Rogin and William Taylor

5:30 PM

  • James Clapper, earlier on CNN, joined the “Putin is a madman” drum beat of a narrative.  This has to raise the question of why the intelligence community is part of this “Putin is crazy” effort.
  • Jake Tapper, adding to this narrative which has taken root on corporate news repeated the charge that Putin was having “emotional outbursts” and that his “strategy” is being affected by the fact that he (Putin) has “lost his mind in some way.”  (Note: I have no earthly idea what it means to say that someone has “lost his mind in some way.”)
  • William Taylor, former Ambassador to Ukraine, noted yesterday when he refused to answer such a question, that he had never met Putin.  But, today, instead of refusing to answer the question, he has jumped in with both feet, agreeing that Putin is “not in full control of his emotions, of his thought patterns.”  Taylor notes Putin’s “fierce anger…against President Zelensky.”
  • “Over the years Vladimir Putin has become more erratic.”  This from Josh Rogin, CNN Political Analyst.  Again, there is no evidence presented that Putin has “become more erratic.”  Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, but this does not make him mentally ill.  Does it make him an autocrat, a authoritarian, an oppressor, yes, but does it necessarily make him “unstable” “mentally ill” having “lost his mind IN SOME WAY?”  I don’t think so.
  • But, these assertions that I have watched over five days spread from one commentator to another, reinforced by asking the question every day, are never challenged, or not often.  Rarely does somebody, like Taylor did yesterday, somebody even refuse to go along with the characterization.
  • And, like Taylor, people feel and respond to the pressure to join in and contribute to the “Putin is a madman” narrative.
  • CNN is at the moment running a headline at the bottom of the page: “Experts Question Putin’s Mental Stability as War Rages in Ukraine.”  I have no doubt that tomorrow this will become: “Experts Agree that Putin has Lost his Mind in Some Way as War Rages.”
  • If you are constructing propaganda it is perhaps useful to work up the population by portraying your opponent as a madman.  As I have noted previously, it also makes it easier to argue that nothing could have been done to prevent the situation, and nothing can be dong to prevent the probable disaster that is coming.  The rationale is: “What could we have done?  We’re dealing with a madman?  What could we do?  We are dealing with a madman.”  It’s extremely convenient argument especially for people like James Clapper and Michael McFaul (one of the main purveyors of this “Putin is a madman” line) who have been in positions where they could have done something about the growing threat Putin posed, but did nothing.
  • O.K.  Now, Tapper who has been part of inventing the “Putin is a madman” narrative now asks Rogin whether Putin is just pretending to be a madman to unsettle the West.  Rogan is nodding furiously in agreement.
  • Rogin (who has no expertise in mental health diagnosis that I know of) is now arguing that Putin is “not getting good information.”  Never, never are these people asked how they know this.  How does Josh Rogin know that Putin is “not getting good information.” 
  • Rogin: “There is no doubt that over the years Vladimir Putin is getting more erratic.”  Again, no doubt?  Again, based on what evidence?
  • Rogin: “It doesn’t make sense that he’s suicidal.”  Suicidal?  Where the f..k did that come from.  Who said Putin was suicidal?  (Note: I have played this interview back twice now).  Then, Rogin admits that Putin can be “evil without being irrational.” Finally, but he just said that there was “no doubt” that Putin was getting more irrational.
  • Rogin then follows up saying that Putin will escalate and escalate until he encounters opposition.  This is rational not irrational. 
  • Then, Rogin says that he’s wiling to take risks, and that’s not “crazy, that’s just bad.”
  • In short, these discussions about Putin being unstable, irrational, suicidal, are utter nonsense.  The biggest question is why corporate media is determined to pump this “Putin is a madman” theory.

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