‘You Can Lie Remotely’: Russian MFA Spokeswoman Zakharova Piques NYT Headhunt in Moscow


by Daria Bedenko

Around a week ago, The New York Times posted a “legendary” job offer, seeking a daredevil who would cover Russia – a country that, according to the outlet, “has its cyber agents sow chaos and disharmony in the West to tarnish its democratic systems, while promoting its faux version of democracy”.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova rolled out a sarcastic Facebook comment on the latest NYT job offer for a Russia correspondent in Moscow.

The vacancy offered the “legendary position” of Moscow reporter, touting the possibility of covering “Vladimir Putin’s Russia” for The NYT, rolling out a list of devious things that the future journalist could encounter, recalling nerve agents, private military contractors, cyber agents and COVID patients.

In her Facebook comment, Zakharova ridiculed the job description, pointing out that the “inhuman conditions” offered to the possible candidate would not seduce anyone and that NYT journalists would be safer working from the US – where, apparently, there are no “squads armed with nerve agents”, “cyber agents sowing chaos in the West” or “private military contractors around the globe” deployed to “secretly spread the influence”.

“Does the newspaper have the right to risk the safety of its correspondent by sending him to work under such inhuman conditions? If the editorial office doesn’t care, responsible citizens of the country described in the job offer might care, those who would issue a visa and accreditation to the newcomer. American Journalists’ Lives also matter, even if it is the NYT”, Zakharova said of the NYT, parodying the “Black Lives Matter” slogan.

The MFA spokeswoman observed that a potential candidate could “lie just as wonderfully remotely”, sarcastically pointing out that the lucky journalist in this position would produce “a few fables” at the cost of undergoing the purported risks described by the NYT.

Zakharova closed her opinion by returning to a more serious tone, recalling the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, who said that in its attempts to fight a monster, the US press “has imperceptibly turned into one itself”.

#Zakharova: Leading #US media outlet @nytimes is seeking a candidate to fill “legendary” position of its special correspondent in Moscow. Keep working comfortably in 🇺🇸US, do not undergo “risks” for the sake of printing few fables. You can lie remotely. 🔗 https://t.co/YyqEX16Uzs pic.twitter.com/1kEbRDu9g0

— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) November 22, 2020

Apart from the pleasure of covering nerve agents, cyber squads and private military contractors, the future holder of one of the “most legendary postings” is promised the opportunity to “traverse 11 timezones” and cover “the continuing reign of one of the world’s most charismatic leaders, President Vladimir V. Putin”.

“Vladimir Putin’s Russia remains one of the biggest stories in the world. It sends out hit squads armed with nerve agents against its enemies, most recently the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny”, The NYT said in their job offer. “[Russia] has its cyber agents sow chaos and disharmony in the West to tarnish its democratic systems, while promoting its faux version of democracy. It has deployed private military contractors around the globe to secretly spread its influence. At home, its hospitals are filling up fast with Covid patients as its president hides out in his villa. If that sounds like a place you want to cover, then we have good news: We will have an opening for a new correspondent as Andy Higgins takes over as our next Eastern Europe Bureau Chief early next year”.

The New York Times has consistantly rolled out catchy and breathtaking stories on Russia over the years, including allegations that Russia offered bounties to Taliban troops who killed American soldiers, Russian “interference” in American presidential elections and, of course, a mysterious and super-elite cabal of the dreaded GRU unit trained in “subversion, sabotage and assassination”.

The narrative is, however, so exciting that The NYT does not often bother to back its claims with evidence – sometimes even rolling out additional reports admitting to having no proof, but promoting the stories nonetheless.



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