Kasparov critical of Trump-Putin relationship on CBS

President Trump’s ties to Russia began to draw attention before he was inaugurated. Trump campaign aides were reportedly in contact with Russian officials prior to the election, and the President has conducted business in Russia in the past.

Now there is fear those ties could be dangerous for the United States.

‘CBS Evening News’

“Former Russian chess master and human rights advocate Garry Kasparov tells our Jim Axelrod,” said CBS’s Scott Pelley, “that Trump must be careful not to become a pawn in Putin’s dangerous game.”

Pelley was introducing a CBS exclusive interview with Garry Kasparov that aired on Feb.10. In the interview Kasparov is openly critical of President Trump’s relationship with Putin. Kasparov specifically criticized Trump for his quote in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “There are a lot of killers… you think our country’s so innocent?” He states Trump is wrong for trying to create “moral relativism” between Putin’s actions and actions of the United States.

Kasparov fears Trump’s relationship with Putin is dangerous because Putin’s goal is to “sow instability” in the United States and “capitalize on the divide.”

Kasparov in Russia

In the interview Kasparov said he was arrested and beaten multiple times for being an outspoken Putin opponent. Given his experiences, it is evident Kasparov has a negative bias towards Putin.

As chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, Kasparov’s voice is relevant. However, CBS did not fully explain his background or why he was interviewed about Putin and Trump’s relationship. He was described as a chess champion and human rights advocate, neither of which indicates why he has an authoritative opinion on Putin.

Jim Toedtman, former managing editor of NY Newsday, said CBS either couldn’t decide what story it wanted Kasparov’s interview to tell, or that it tried to tell three distinct stories in too little time. The segment could be interpreted as “a warning that Trump could become a pawn for Putin, the champion-to-martyr journey of Gary Kasparov or a challenge to Trump’s charge of Russia-US moral equivalence.” Toedtman said to better frame the story, CBS needed to include more voices.

Former senior editor of the Chicago Tribune ,John Twohey,said the interview was juxtaposed with President Trump’s interview with O’Reilly. “Kasparov was being served up as an example of how Russia treats critics of the Kremlin,” he said. “He’s the poster boy for how the Russian government treats dissidents.” He also thought it would have been helpful for CBS to explain why Kasparov was being interviewed – “If you’re the producer of a newscast, your tendency should be to make these connections explicit and not assume that viewers are going to make them for you.”

Michaela Johnson

Michaela Johnson

Michaela Johnson is junior broadcast journalism and government and politics double major with an interest in homeland security policy. Michaela is also interested in sports reporting, and has previously interned for CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. She is currently a communications fellow with the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works towards an efficient, effective and engaged federal government. After graduation, Michaela would like to pursue a career in sports or political reporting. She can be reached at mjohns55@terpmail.umd.edu or on Twitter @mjohnson262.

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