State-run Rossiya TV channel has deleted a racist comment about U.S. President Barack Obama from the flagship Sunday news show, Vesti Nedeli, The Moscow Times can reveal.
In the version of the show broadcast on Sunday, its host, the propaganda chief Dmitry Kiselyov, described Obama’s meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at the White House. “Obama is cheeky these days, if not unceremonious. It started last week, when Trump paid his first visit to the White House […] There, Trump behaved like an English lord, while Obama was throwing his arms about as if he was in the jungle,” the anchor said.
By Tuesday, the jungle metaphor had disappeared. In a new version of the segment, Kiselyov says “Trump behaved like an English lord, while Obama sat with his legs wide open, in a pose that is prohibited even in the New York metro, because it is considered a demonstration of male domination. But that was not enough: [Obama was ] throwing his arms about, as if he was [painting a picture] in the open air.”
In a phone interview with The Moscow Times, Kiselyov said that he replaced the comment in order to avoid comparing Obama to a monkey.
“Since the show is broadcast live, I can edit my text, make it better, shorter or longer,” Kiselyov said. “After the first live broadcast, where the jungle was mentioned, my colleagues asked me whether I want compare Obama to a monkey — they said [the jungle comment] prompted such an association.”
Kiselyov said his intention was not to compare Obama to a monkey. “It was important for me to show his tactlessness and disrespect towards Trump, rather that anything else.”
The outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama was depicted as Russia’s chief adversary on the main Sunday news shows on state TV this week. The Kremlin’s propagandists devoted much of their airtime to celebrating the end of Obama’s term, engaging in crude stereotyping of the U.S. president, and implying that his exit would end Russia’s geopolitical problems.