Russia orders state media to slash Trump coverage

The Kremlin has ordered state-run media companies to decrease the amount of on-air coverage U.S. President Donald Trump receives, according to sources.

The order, assumed to be handed-down by President Vladimir Putin himself, comes as Russian relations with the U.S. have become more strained in the wake of several investigations by U.S. intelligence agencies of Kremlin interference and ties to the Trump administration.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s surprising election loss was widely celebrated in Russia as many hoped for a better relationship with the U.S.  Clinton’s dislike of Putin was widely known and Trump’s praise of Putin was not only unusual, but an aberration for any major political candidate.

Now, however, Putin is putting the brakes on the kumbaya, as it were. A journalist at TV Rain, Russia’s only channel without a state association, explained how coverage would shrink.

“They won’t pour buckets of criticism on Trump, they just won’t talk about him much,” said Konstantin von Eggert. “The fate of Russia-American relations is much less predictable than it was just a few weeks ago.”

Putin’s change in policy may also be a result of the quantity of coverage Trump was receiving. Lately, Trump has been mentioned more in media stories than Putin, a development not likely to be received well by the Kremlin.

Russian diplomats are also bracing themselves for the possibility that U.S. relations will not improve. If Congress if any indication, they may be right.

Many congressional members have become increasingly uncomfortable with the president’s views on Russia, especially in the face of the Michael Flynn scandal. Some, like Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), are calling for an investigation into ties between the Trump administration and Russia.

“I think everybody needs that investigation to happen,” Blunt told KTRS radio.

“And the Senate Intelligence Committee, again that I serve on, has been given the principal responsibility to look into this, and I think we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned, and shouldn’t reach conclusions before you have the information that you need to have to make those conclusions.”
The Kremlin has denied being disappointed with how American relations have evolved since the end of January. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian government never expected things to be all that different with the Trump administration.

“We never wore rose-tinted glasses, never had any illusions, so there is nothing to be disappointed with,” Peskov said.

What remains to be seen is if Trump will continue to praise Putin, or if he will alter course and take a hard line with Russia.

 

[Bloomberg] [The Hill] [AP] [Photo courtesy The Political Insider]