On September 15, Imedi TV’s weekly program “Imedis Kvira” aired a story headlined “The Policy of Anti-Trumpists.” The story covered an attempt by MP Irma Inashvili, leader of the Alliance of Patriots party, to thwart the 5th Tbilisi International Conference co-organized by McCain Institute and Economic Policy Research Center on September 10. The story was mainly about the statuses and positions of international diplomats and experts, participating in the conference, among them David Kramer, Matthew Bryza and Kurt Volker, as well as about Senator John McCain.
As a whole, the story represents an attempt to portray the criticism voiced by separate representatives of the strategic country towards the democratic processes in Georgia as a confrontation between the U.S. Democrats and Republicans, particularly President Donald Trump. In addition, the incident that took place at the Tbilisi International Conference involving Irma Inashvili has been covered one-sidedly, from the position of the pro-Russian political party Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, where Imedi TV does not mention either the protest rally held by this party outside the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, or its links to the Kremlin.
1. Kramer, Bryza, Volker – anti-Trumpists with close links to the previous government, whose names are unknown to anyone in the United States
The TV story promoted the idea that international experts participating in the conference were, on the one hand, anti-Trumpists, and on the other, they have close links to the United National Movement and European Georgia, though have no influence in the United States. The texts of both the program host and the author of the story promoted this message. In fact, the conference was attended by high ranking officials. Kurt Volker is the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine. Among other officials, also attending the conference, were Philip Reeker, Acting Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs; Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia; Brock Bierman, Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Europe and Eurasia and others.
To prove that Kramer and Bryza have no political influence in the United States, Imedi TV journalist asked Voice of America’s political analyst, “Jim Malina” to comment on this issue. At the beginning of the interview, the journalist reminds the political analyst David Kramer’s name; however, it is not clear from the interview exactly what the question was about.
Jim Malone: “Matthew Bryza, David Kramer, Michael Carpenter, Kurt Volker – I hear these names for the first time. I cannot recollect any of them. I do not think that they are influential; otherwise, I would definitely have known them” (Imedi TV’s translation).
Update: On September 17 VOA management released statement re: TV Imedi above mentioned story and expressed concern that comment made by VOA journalists was taken out of context in this report:
"Mr. Malone is an experienced VOA journalist who has covered the U.S. political arena for many years. Any effort to take his responses in this interview out of context in order to undermine the caliber and expertise of VOA’s journalists or distort VOA’s reporting in Georgia or on any news issue is deeply troubling." - statement says
VOA political analyst named “Jim Malina” cannot be searched. However, image search engine finds the website of Voice of America, according to which this respondent is Jim Malone, VOA’s National Correspondent.
The VOA’s website itself provides a lot of materials about Bryza, Kramer, Carpenter or Volker.
2. David Kramer – anti-Trumpist, who spreads libel on Trump-Russia links in the media
The author of the story also mentions the so called “Russian dossier,” noting that Mueller investigation has fully debunked the rumors about Trump’s Russian links. The journalist, however, adds that David Kramer, a close associate of John McCain, was deliberately spreading this libel in various influential media outlets.
Imedi TV: “The so called Russian dossier was authored by British Christopher Steele. Almost a two-year scrutiny by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller has fully debunked the rumors about Trump’s Russian links and now, the U.S. media outlets are intensively reporting that David Kramer, affiliated with McCain, was deliberately spreading the defamatory material by Democrat-funded Christopher Steele in influential media outlets.”
It is worth noting that the story about the so called “Mueller Report” is one-sided and does not provide a full picture about the investigation. EUvsDisinfo, the flagship project of the European External Action Service’s East StratCom Task Force, lists 22 disinformation cases related to “Mueller Report.” The leading narrative is that the Mueller report did not confirm Russian interference in the U.S. elections. On the other hand, pro-Kremlin media outlets were deliberately promoting concept “collusion between Trump and Russia,” as if the Mueller Report confirmed no collusion. According to EUvsDisinfo’s explanation, the report makes it clear that Russia was systematically interfering in the U.S. elections in 2016.
Allegations as if Trump is a victim of groundless attacks from Democratic opponents are one of the main messages promoted by the pro-Kremlin media outlets.
3. The delay in the process of appointment of the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia is just Democrats’ fault, because they are deliberately slowing down the process of ambassadorial appointment in opposition to Trump.
The story also covers the issue of appointment of the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia. The author of the story asks the question: “How justified is it for the Trump opposition to give instructions about not only which political figure should attend a conference, but also who should be the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia?”
In the interview with IPN, Daniel Fried, former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, who also attended the Tbilisi International Conference, said that Georgian Dream blocked Bridget Brink’s ambassadorial nomination on political grounds. Similar reports were spread back in December 2018, when Foreign Policy reported that Georgia rebuffed U.S. Ambassador Pick as too pro-Saakashvili. Fried’s statement aroused media interest and triggered assessments from politicians and commentators. However, no critical questions were voiced in the story aired by “Imedis Kvira” regarding this issue. Moreover, Trump’s Democratic opponents were accused of dragging out the issue of appointing the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia.
Imedi TV: “The Senate Democrats have long been hindering the Trump Administration’s foreign policy, creating an artificial foreign crisis. The influential American media outlets are actively reporting on how Democrats are fighting in the Senate against Trump’s foreign policy, hindering the issue of ambassadorial appointments in a number of strategically important countries.”
4. David Kramer and Irma Inashvili
The story provides one-sided coverage of the incident that took place during the conference with the involvement of Irma Inashvili. The author of the story notes that David Kramer “considered Vice Speaker Irma Inashvili as well as Georgian media representatives to be unwelcome guests and actually tried to turn them out.”
The TV story, however, provided no information about the beginning of the incident and its entire context. The author does not mention that Irma Inashvili had not been invited to the conference and that she actually tried to thwart it. It is also worth noting that the author refers to Irma Inashvili as the Parliament’s Vice Speaker without noting that Inashvili is the leader of openly pro-Russian political party Alliance of Patriots of Georgia and that as a sign of protest, she and her teammate, Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi organized an anti-Western rally outside the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi on September 15.
5. Attempts to discredit John McCain
The story also assesses John McCain’s personality with the aim to discredit the McCain Institute and the commentators participating in the conference. The story provides two similar comments about McCain. One comment belongs to Donald Trump, who casts doubts over McCain’s military achievements and the other was made by Georgian political analyst, Nukri Shoshiashvili, who assesses McCain’s positions, saying that he is dubbed as “neo-imperialistic,” “aggressive” and “supporter of neo-liberal order.”
The story about John McCain’s military career and political views provides only Trump’s cynical and humiliating comments about McCain’s captivity.
6. Anti-Trump experts vs. Trump, a friend of Georgia
At the end of the story, the journalist speaks about strategic partnership between Georgia and the United States, saying that cooperation between the two countries has reached its peak under the Trump administration, citing the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia as an example. The story ends with the same message that was voiced at the beginning – in fact, experts participating in the conference are the allies of the United National Movement and European Georgia, with Donald Trump, an official who respects Georgia’s political choice, standing on the other side.
Prepared by Sopo Gelava