For years, the Daily Caller has served as one of the most notorious American outlets for post-Soviet propagandists to push their views to American audiences — especially when it involved people who didn’t bother to disclose their ties to the regimes along the way.
On Thursday, though, the outlet took its efforts to a new level.
The Daily Caller decided to publish an op-ed from Oleg Deripaska — the Putin crony, erstwhile associate of Paul Manafort, and potential conduit between the Kremlin and the White House — claiming that the “ever-changing ‘Russia Narrative’ in American politics is cynically false public manipulation.”
The write-up, as it is, is a confused, garbled mess of conspiracy and innuendo, to say nothing of its stilted grammar. Deripaska appears to blame deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington on “technology and the disintegration of evidence-based journalism.” He further claims that the “Deep State” is a “shadow power exercised by a small number of individuals from media, business, government and the intelligence community, foisting provocative and cynically false manipulations on the public.”
For good measure, he even manages to include a mention of the hidden links between George Soros, the bête noire of the far-right, and the ongoing investigations into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
To be sure, other outlets have run op-eds from post-Soviet figures over the past few years — most notably the New York Times, which offered space to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But Deripaska’s biography attached to his op-ed is laughable, and laughably barren. According to the Daily Caller, Deripaska is merely “the founder of UC Rusal, the world’s leading producer of aluminum using clean, renewable hydropower.” A separate bio on the Daily Caller’s site identifies Deripaska as simply the “[f]ounder of UC Rusal, a large Russian aluminum company.”
The Daily Caller makes no attempt to disclose the close relationship between Putin and Deripaska, whom the Washington Post recently described as a “key ally” of the Russian president. Nor is there any effort to disclose Deripaska’s deep ties with Paul Manafort, financial and otherwise, or the fact that, as the AP reported a few months ago, Manafort attempted to pitch Deripaska a secretive, pro-Moscow policy. And as The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer wrote this month, “Manafort reached out to Deripaska almost immediately upon securing a post with the Trump campaign.”
There was, perhaps unsurprisingly, no disclosure that Deripaska had been denied a U.S. visa due to suspected ties to organized crime. But there was also no note that Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny last month tagged Deripaska as a potential back-channel between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.
Rather, the Daily Caller simply allowed Deripaska a platform for his jumbled screed, where the Russian oligarch swung between assertions of “unholy alliances” and “shadow players” to claims that he has been “scurrilously attacked” by the “inelegantly termed… ‘Deep State.’”
Given that the Daily Caller has previously refused to publish proper disclosure for those writing on behalf of other post-Soviet kleptocracies, Deripaska’s biography will likely remain as is on the Daily Caller’s site. As such, unwitting readers may well think that they’re simply reading an article from an aluminum magnate — rather than an associate of Putin, a former financier of Manafort, and alleged go-between linking Moscow and the Trump campaign — who has been, like so many others, unfairly targeted by George Soros, and maligned by that scurrilous Deep State.