"Waiting for the tractor that will come and save them": Expectations of Donald Trump’s presidency in pro-Kremlin media
Sunday night is the traditional big propaganda night on Rossiya-1 TV and, as we reported last week, the special kind of infotainment provided by this state channel is in growing demand. This Sunday night opened with “chief propagandist”, EU-sanctioned Dmitry Kiselev, who presented President Obama’s outgoing administration as aged and stagnated, comparing it to the long-lasting Brezhnev era in the late Soviet years. Obama and Vice-President Biden were shown shedding tears, underscoring their presentation as unmanly and weak to Russian eyes. This prepared for talk about Trump’s tweets and his public picking on a CNN journalist as signs of him being, in contrast, manly and fresh. After that positive introduction of Trump, the narrative took a twist, presenting key characters in Trump’s team as a lurking danger to Russia. Two top members of Trumps administration, Tillerson and Mattis, were referred to as disappointments, as they were said to have conceded to a Russia-critical line during their hearings in the Senate.
Obviously, the establishment of Trump as a Tsar-like figure surrounded by potentially problematic advisers creates a kind of narrative suspense that is helpful in the infotainment genre. At the same time, it offers a possible explanation, in case the high expectations of Trump’s Russia policy will not be fulfilled. For a full account of Kiselev’s Sunday night show including quotes, we recommend Moscow Times’ article.
Later on Sunday night, Vladimir Soloviev’s notorious talk show debated expectations of the Trump presidency. Populist party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky promised that Donald Trump would be a type of politician more familiar to the Russian audience than the outgoing president. Zhirinovsky said: “Trump is a new type of politician. In 1991, I said that I would defend Russians, and he will now protect Americans!”. Other commentators invited to Soloviev’s show promised that “the anti-Russian campaign in the United States will probably decline”, and that “Trump will set realistic goals. To destroy Russia isn’t realistic for him. But to achieve foreign policy successes together with Russia – that is possible for him!”.
Russian media have generally been counting enthusiastically down to Trump’s presidency, as underscored by blogger Alexey Kovalev in a popular tweet image.
Commentator Andrei Arkhangelsky wrote on Facebook about the overall tone in Russian media on the eve of Trump’s inauguration: “There is one dominant everywhere – ‘Just wait until Trump comes.’ It’s amazing how adult people can connect all the solutions to all their fundamental problems not even to their own master, but to someone else’s master. Just wait for another ten days, wait a week, three days – just wait, come Trump. They don’t even talk about what he will do, just this “let’s wait and see”. Nothing else matters, everything has stopped moving; all ideas and theories are like people stuck on a snowy road, waiting for help to come, waiting for the tractor that will come and save them, they live by the hope”.