Distorting Russia?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: In "Back of the Book" segment tonight, a provocative article from The Nation magazine, a far left journal.


The piece written by Stephen Cohen who teaches at Princeton is entitled "Distorting Russia: How the American media misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine."


Basically, the story says Putin has not been given enough credit for certain things. The American media has overstated the terrorist threat in Sochi. And, finally, that the situation in Ukraine is not being reported accurately either.

Joining us now from Washington, Charles Krauthammer, author of the big bestseller, "Things that Matter." All right, so overall, you read the article, what's your impression.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you say to yourself, The Nation, which you correctly identify as a far left magazine, has been apologizing for Russia way back to the Soviet days for decades.

At least, in the Soviet days, even though the defense of the Soviets was despicable, it was, in some respects, understandable if you were a lefty. After all, the Soviet Union was the great hope for socialism and communism.

You could say they were liberals in a hurry, they killed a few million, too many people along the way, they broke a lot of eggs to make omelettes. But you believed in the omelette.

But, here, you've got Putin. There's no ideology. There's no ideal that he's presenting.


He's not a defender of anything. He doesn't represent anything except a thuggish authoritarian state, that a president's own people -- he throws people in jail wantonly -- is very prejudiced in all kinds of ways, and wants to lord it over, in imperial way, over its neighbors, including Ukraine.

And, to me, to go ahead and to say, well, this is a distortion of the west, is simply a continuation of apologetics that go back, you know, decades, in a place like The Nation.

O'REILLY: But why would a -- why would a professor at Princeton -- this Cohen guy, all right, want to prop up Putin when Putin is persecuting the gay people, putting the press in jail, and terrorizing any decenters.

Even the little girls who sing the rap music go to jail. Why would a Princeton liberal want to defend that.

KRAUTHAMMER: What do you think I am, a psychiatrist?


Look, I have no have idea why people want to do things.

O'REILLY: Really, you don't know?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, if you go back to their history, they've been defending this Soviet Union-Russia ever since. The most plausible explanation is this is a nice cudgel with which to attack the United States.

Its idea is to expose it as hypocritical. In other words, maybe not a belief in Putin -- Putinism. After all, who can actually be a believer --


-- in that kind of thuggishness. A guy who dismantles the very structures of a democracy, the independent -- judiciary independent governors, the rubberstamp parliament.

There's no democracy in the place. It's a one-man rule. So, who would want to defend that, I'm not sure. In addition to, for example, putting people in jail if they say nice things about homosexuality. So, why, if you're a man of the left, a woman of the left, would you defend it?

It seems to me, the only reason, only plausible reason might be -- and here, I have to play psychiatrist because you're forcing me into this -- is as a way to sort of expose the west for its hypocrisy.

O'REILLY: Yes, so you like -- you like Putin -- you like the United States less than you like Putin.


O'REILLY: It was interesting in the article that Ukraine, right now, is trying to get more freedom. I mean, they don't like Putin heel on their neck.


But Cohen says that we are undermining a, quote, "democratically- elected" government in Ukraine. So that even though they want more freedom there -- and this is a very under-covered story, because people in America don't generally what happens in Ukraine.

But the left is saying that "We're oppressors because we're trying to engineer a coup against a democratically-elected government."


KRAUTHAMMER: Yes. But that democratically-elected government passes laws which essentially make it a crime to protest, a crime to oppose the government, and then it may be democratically-elected.

But it's not governing in a democratic way. Hitler was democratically-elected twice. You know, Hamas was democratically-elected. You try to protest in Gaza, you're going to get your knee shot off.

So, you know, one man, one vote, one time. So, that's not a guarantee of anything. What we're talking about are the structures of a democracy.

And here was Ukraine, trying to make a deal or being offered a deal to essentially become a part of Europe, which would mean an association with the free Europe we know.

The one that liberated, in the end, by bringing into its midst, the poles of the Jackson Hungarians and others, and the Ukrainians, in the majority, aspired of that as well. And then, all of a sudden, the democratically-elected guy decides to change course and become a puppy of the Russians and Putin.

O'REILLY: Of Putin, yes.

KRAUTHAMMER: That's why you've got the problems.

O'REILLY: Fascinating.

KRAUTHAMMER: And that's why you should support the protesters.

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