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Is TIME's Putin "Person of the Year" Cover Story a Fraudulent Cover Up?

A glaring factual error was apparently edited out of the transcript in an attempt to spare top executives embarrassment.
 
 
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Is Time magazine's "full" and "complete" transcript of its "Person of the Year" interview with Vladimir Putin a fraudulent cover up? It appears so. A glaring factual error was apparently edited out of the transcript in an attempt to spare top executives embarrassment over an exchange at the beginning of the recent chat between the Russian leader and Time.Inc editor in chief John Huey, Time managing editor Richard Stengel and deputy managing editor Adi Ignatius.

The official version of the transcript, as it appears on Time's web site, is prominently labeled "Putin Q&A: Full Transcript." The supposedly complete "Q&A" posted there begins thus:

TIME: Despite the cold war, Russia and the United States have found themselves aligned in many of history's big conflicts: World War I, World War II and now, thanks in large part to your response to 9/11, there seems to be some alignment in the war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. With that history in mind, how do you envision the relationship between Russia and the U.S. going forward?

PUTIN: Indeed, Russia and the U.S. were allies during the two tragic conflicts of the Second and the First World Wars, which allows us to think there's something objectively bringing us together in difficult times, and I think--I believe--it has to do with geopolitical interests and also has a moral component. Of course, the cold war marked a tragedy in relations between our two countries, and I wouldn't want to see the vestiges of those relations prevailing in the future...

However, an earlier and more "full and complete" transcript of the interview, posted this week on MediaChannel.org, but which originated on the New Zealand site Scoop.co.nz, has an entirely different beginning, one that makes Time's senior executives look, well, a bit foolish - as well as incredibly obsequious:

QUESTION: Mr. President! First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of all my colleagues for your hospitality today. Second, we consider that it is a great honour for us to be able to conduct this interview. Your cooperation with Time magazine means a lot to us. Its result will be a serious material, and quite broad in nature and scope.

I want to start with the first question. You were born in 1946 - I was born in 1948. We belong to the same generation. We grew up in countries that lived with the unavoidable presence of the enemy. But historically, and in most major conflicts - World War One, World War Two - Russia and the United States have been allies. And now, in large part thanks to your role, Russia is cooperating in the struggle against Islamic terrorism.

In view of our history, how would you predict the development of relations between Russia and the United States as they resolve global problems in the future? How would our generation assess their future prospects for cooperation?

Filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor is now completing AlterNet’s first-ever book, which is on the subject of right-wing radio talkers like O’Reilly, and will be available early in 2008. O'Connor also writes the Media Is A Plural blog.

 
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