Caitlin Johnstone: The Most Dangerous PR War

Ukraine’s celebrity-in-chief just took time off from his heavy schedule of appearances at major Western gatherings for a photo shoot with his wife in Vogue magazine.  

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

The president and first lady of Ukraine have posed for a romantic photoshoot with Vogue magazine, wherein President Volodymyr Zelensky waxes poetical about his love for his darling wife.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: how is Zelensky making time for a Vogue photoshoot amidst his busy schedule of PR appearances for other major Western institutions?

I mean this is after all the same Volodymyr Zelensky who has been so busy making video appearances for the Grammy Awards, the Cannes Film Festival, the World Economic Forum and probably the Bilderberg group as well, and having meetings with celebrities like Ben StillerSean Penn and Bono and the Edge from U2. It’s as busy a PR tour as he could possibly have without having a discussion about the strategic importance of long-range artillery with Elmo on Sesame Street.

Oh yeah, and also isn’t there like a war or something happening in Ukraine? You’d think he’d probably be somewhat busy with that too.

Call me crazy, but I’m beginning to suspect that there might be a concerted effort to manipulate the way we think about the war in Ukraine. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say it’s the most aggressively perception-managed war we’ve ever experienced.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February we have not only been smashed with mass media propaganda unlike anything we’ve ever seen while Russian media are purged from the airwaves, we’re also seeing the new media element of unprecedented amounts of online censorship, algorithm-boosted propaganda and social media trolling.

So, we’ve literally never seen this much overall effort put into manipulating the way the public thinks about a war. Which makes sense, given that it’s a profoundly dangerous proxy war which stands to benefit ordinary people in no way, shape or form.

I mean, can you imagine if people were allowed to just think their own thoughts about their government’s economic warfare against Russia which is hurting them financially and pushing millions toward starvation with the full awareness and approval of the U.S. government?

Or if Americans were allowed to wonder if the billions they are pouring into this proxy conflict could be better spent at home? Or if people started objecting to a needless conflict for geo-strategic domination threatening their lives and the lives of everyone they know with the risk of nuclear annihilation?

Can’t have that.

There is a night-and-day difference between wanting to tell people the truth about something and wanting to manipulate their perception of something. There are times when facts can be used to influence people’s perception one way or the other, but if your agenda is to manipulate perception rather than tell the truth you will necessarily be forced to rely on lies, half-truths, distortion and lies by omission wherever the truth doesn’t serve that agenda.

If they were telling us the truth about this war, they wouldn’t be censoring Russian media. They wouldn’t be censoring online voices who disagree with the official narratives about Ukraine. They wouldn’t be continually blasting us in the face with mass media perception management, and they sure as hell wouldn’t be putting Ukraine’s celebrity-in-chief on the cover of Vogue magazine.

We are being manipulated, and we are being deceived. And we are being manipulated and deceived because our perceiving clearly on our own would go against the interests of the empire. They are lying to us because the interests of the people and the interests of the empire are, as usual, squarely at odds.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

30 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: The Most Dangerous PR War

    July 30, 2022 at 04:22

    Spin, disinformation, censorship, bias and propaganda are sending people crazy. I no longer engage with Twitter due to the conspiracy theories, depth of brainwashing and lack of critical thought. I left before it was too late, and I too got sucked into the madness. JUST LOOK AT AMERICA!!!!

  2. Realist
    July 29, 2022 at 16:52

    Absolutely disgusting. Only a thoroughly dissolute reprobate like Volodymyr Zelensky could use a tragic war that he started in connivance with the American government as the backdrop for a “glam” photoshoot with his equally greedy, grasping wife. I do not give a damn about his personal life or the massive fortune he has amassed under the circumstances, but if this war criminal does not make it to the end of his war alive, I could not care less. In fact, it would be justice. I would prefer he definitely NOT be allowed to retire in luxury at his Florida villa, knowing how many innocents he put in their graves. The Fort Leavenworth Military Prison would be more appropriate to his “golden years.” This thing is not the new Churchill, it is actually the real “New Hitler” that the vacuous American media insisted on creating.

  3. chupacabra
    July 29, 2022 at 14:47

    A video was released with the main Azov battalion PR guy Dmitri Kozacki testifying that Zelensky’s Presidential Administration in general and Arestovich specifically ordered Azov to “generate shock content” – videos of brutal killings and torment of POW’s.

    Even if that is not true and Zelensky did not give such orders – he still is a clown who promised to bring peace to get elected and then not only failed to implement Minsk agreements but continued the conflict in Donbass. Listen to civilians – Ukrainians – who were used as human shield in Mariupol by Azov – for their take on Zelensky. I wonder if people in Vogue are naive (unlikely) or whether they are completely amoral.

  4. C. Parker
    July 29, 2022 at 11:56

    If it weren’t for Caitlin Johnstone’s common sense daily writings (whose articles led me to Consortium News-thank you, Caitlin) I would have been just another among the sheep-people reading the Times and watching corporate news having surrendered thinking for myself. How grateful I am. If only more people would read independent news.

  5. WillD
    July 28, 2022 at 22:14

    Stomach churning, really sickening!

    Not only is it all in really really bad taste, it is an insult to all those people who’ve been caught up in the conflict, whether soldiers or civilians, not to mention the thousands who’ve died and been wounded. I can only imagine what they must be feeling seeing these photos.

    And by doing this – by flaunting himself and his wife, in effect glamorising the war and destruction, Zelensky is making himself a target for all sorts of things, some of them potentially very dangerous.

  6. JC
    July 28, 2022 at 22:11

    We’re all being subjected to Cognitive Warfare, from NATO. If you read this report from NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, it all starts to make sense. Of course, there are those who would say that this report is just discussing what the “enemy” is doing to us. But of course it is the tip of the iceberg of NATO’s Cognitive War. Goebbels would be proud…


  7. July 28, 2022 at 20:32

    “It’s as busy a PR tour as he could possibly have without having a discussion about the strategic importance of long-range artillery with Elmo on Sesame Street.”

    Please do not give PBS, Sesame Workshop, or the media elite more generally ideas!

    Remember that the days of Mister Rogers airing a nuanced three-episode special on “Conflict” immediately following the 1983 release of “The Day After” sadly appear to have come and gone (realistically depicting a nuclear war, and then giving people the therapeutic tools to psychologically process it). Now, both children and adults are instead treated to deceptive PSAs presupposing that there will somehow be enough water pressure to simply shower away the radioactive fallout incurred in the aftermath of a nuclear strike on NYC (to say the least).

    • July 28, 2022 at 20:38

      CORRECTION: “Mister Rogers Talks About Conflict” was a five-episode arc of “Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood,” not a three-episode arc.

      For further information, see the following:
      “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood “Mister Rogers Talks About Conflict” (found episode arc of PBS children’s educational series; 1983),” Lost Media Wiki

  8. John Medcalf
    July 28, 2022 at 18:56

    Vanity, thy name is Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
    Vanity, thy name is Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy
    What leads men to think they can wage war just for bragging rights, or if they get what they’re really after, a hero’s adoration? I’ll guess their mothers told them they could be anything, even President.
    Joe Biden wrote a school paper at the age of seven declaring he wanted to be President. What gave Joe this idea? At age seven, what the hell did he think being President meant? Unlimited ice cream cones? Has he grown up past that 7 year old understanding?
    Volodymyr is a prisoner of the spotlight just as much as Joe. Too bad for Ukranians not named Volodymyr Zelensky.

  9. July 28, 2022 at 17:18

    As usual, Consortium News gives us the truth, we suspected, but wondered why no other
    Media is mentioning!
    Billions of cash is being thrown at Ukraine and the President and his wife, will be grateful for that, while,
    the victims of this proxy War, will continue to suffer!
    I would love to see the lies about Putin, torn apart and Ukraine s President, exposed for the lies
    and destruction, the West, has gobbled up with delight, but, that lie, will be hidden forever!

  10. BB
    July 28, 2022 at 16:10

    Zelensky has shown himself to be a very talented actor. He perfectly played the role of the president of Ukraine in a comedy film popular in Ukraine, and in such a way that ordinary Ukrainians believed that if he really became president, he would show himself, as in the film, a highly moral politician, a fearless fighter against corruption. But in reality, it turned out that Zelensky is a very vain person, a cheap farce clown who, in order to show off in front of the public, is ready for anything. For example, once on stage he imitated playing the piano with his penis. Having become the president of Ukraine, he fulfilled his acting dream, received a billionth audience. But as a politician, he turned out to be a cowardly puppet in the hands of the US State Department and, at the same time, in the hands of rabid radicals professing brutal Ukrainian nationalism, copied from the German Nazis of the time of Hitler. By refusing to establish peaceful coexistence with Russia, he broke his campaign promises, betrayed his people, and plunged his country into disaster. And although he actually neglected all the most important for Ukraine, he managed to satisfy his vile ego, having achieved unprecedented popularity.

  11. firstpersoninfinite
    July 28, 2022 at 15:36

    Joe Biden: “We’re getting out of Afghanistan!
    The Military Industrial/Media Complex: “That’s the biggest political blunder of our lifetime!
    Joe Biden: “Don’t worry, I’ll make your rich fighting another war.”
    The Military Industrial/Media Complex: “That’s a great idea!”

    In retrospect, there was never much reason for hydrogen to begin turning into helium to kickstart a nearby star.

  12. July 28, 2022 at 15:27

    Yesterday a voiceover on an MSNBC newscast said that conservative forces objected to aid to Ukraine. Very shocked to discover that Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Robert Reich, et al are conservatives. Who would have thunk it?

  13. Cratylus
    July 28, 2022 at 15:13

    Two articles ran in the NYT – one on draft dodgers in the Ukraine with stories of the authorities stopping young men on the streets to see if they have registered for the draft. Draft dodgers are then conscripted – or punished or both as I recall the piece.
    There was another piece on people enduring the war by hanging out in night clubs and bistros in Kiev.
    I wonder which people get to hang out to party and which are hung out to dry on the front. Could the legendary corruption that flourishes in Ukraine have anything to do with it.
    1000 Ukrainian soldiers are killed or wounded every day, with 200- 500 of those killed – and that is according to Ukrainian authorities. The war has gone on for ~5 months which means ~150,000 casualties.
    All this for a US proxy war to assert US hegemony. No price is too great to pay for that , I guess.
    Biden’s proxy war could have easily been avoided by implementation of the Minsk accords and a written commitment by Ukraine and NATO that Ukraine would stay out of NATO.
    US hegemonic policy is cruel and disgusting.

  14. Em
    July 28, 2022 at 15:06

    Measured against the shoulders upon which the current inflationary standards of publicity and propaganda are standing, since the daze of Joseph Goebbels, he was nothing more than a novice.

    • Piotr Berman
      July 28, 2022 at 21:40

      Our propagandists stand on the shoulders of past giants, and they have the benefit of modern science. For example, universities teach, and presumably investigate, the discipline that is called industrial psychology (according to a young women who was majoring in it), which is basically science how people can be convinced to do something that “we want”, e.g. buy a product whether they need it or not, and presumably, vote on folks wether it is beneficial for them or not etc. Population is divided into segments that have to be “targeted” differently, readers of Vogue are one of such demographics.

      It may be fascinating to know what products and services are interspersed in this story — or perhaps, a layout: pictures, little bits of text, and ads, ads, ads. Diamonds? Fashion? Spas? Cruises? In any case, war is just another product.

  15. July 28, 2022 at 13:11

    “So, we’ve literally never seen this much overall effort put into manipulating the way the public thinks about a war.”

    You obviously don’t study much history. We’ve seen this before. World War I and II saw, in fact, arguably the biggest and most expansive campaigns ever in modern times. Only the propaganda campaign sparking the first Crusade, I think, could rival it in size and scope. The tools are new. The propaganda is not.

  16. Carolyn L Zaremba
    July 28, 2022 at 12:57

    Caitlin is 100% correct. Those who are censoring, blocking, deplatforming, etc. are demonstrating the fact that we are right to condemn them. Innocent, well-intentioned entities do not try to hide opposition to their positions or revelations of their lies.

  17. Nika
    July 28, 2022 at 12:27

    Thank you Caitlin Johnston. Very accurate about manipulating our consciousness. PR during the war! “O tempora, o mores!” And what else to expect from this petty and random person in politics – Zelensky? He acts exclusively under the direction of his American boss. I hope someday all the foam called “The Truth about Zelensky” will float to the surface.

  18. mgr
    July 28, 2022 at 11:31

    Ukraine is now an albatross around the “Western alliance’s” neck that it cannot be rid of. And the bleeding continues. I’m sure that the EU will be delighted to see the already inadequate supply of critical LPG gas from the US going to Ukraine instead of Europe (Zelenski wants America to supply it with LPG gas for the winter). This proxy war to cripple Russia, excuse me, this cluster-fuck, is better referred to as “neodem planning.” It’s like a replay of the illegal neocon Iraqi invasion. That was the one where the locals were going to greet us will open arms as liberators. Nonetheless, some three or four trillion dollars later… What was that stock phrase from Laurel and Hardy..?

    The Western sanctions regime is going South at breakneck speed. It’s affecting everything, and in the West that effect is wholly negative. At moonofalabama we learn that even the US operated international space station will be affected. It is now likely to come down, that is, fall down, earlier than the planned 2031 date because Russia, not surprisingly, is pulling out in 2024. This is due to the lack of vital Russian maneuvering modules because of the Western sanctions regime. The US is unable to duplicate that necessary technology, at least not in time to keep the station in orbit. After that there may be a new space station, but it will likely be Chinese/Russian owned and operated. I wonder if they will allow America to participate. Would you? I wonder why there is no discussion of this in Western media. Strange, no?

    Yes, dominoes are falling, just not per neocon/neodem plans. Well, stupid is as stupid does. This is what happens when you allow the lunatics to run the asylum. I think at this point Russia’s position might be, “Yep, you’ve got us. Right where we want you.” No need to fight your enemies when they do all the heavy lifting for you. Why would they let go now?

  19. cjonsson1
    July 28, 2022 at 11:10

    Who knew that killing people and destroying property could be so darn entertaining, glamorous and profitable?

  20. Stierlitz
    July 28, 2022 at 10:45

    The US public must be getting really tired of Saint Zelenskiy to resort to this corny stunt. One wonders who else in history got on Vogue’s covers : the Shah and Farah Diba? whatever, the war is close to a finale and it will take alot more than this to convince the western public to continue funding a bankrupt, dictatorial, corrupt regime that is suspected of selling the weapons provided by the US.

  21. TS
    July 28, 2022 at 10:23

    Since Zelensky’s job is merely PR, and he has little or no control over the waging of the war (remember the incident shortly before Russia joined in, when he tried to get the Ukronazi stormtroopers to withdraw from the frontline, and they simply told him to ‘Piss off!’?), it makes sense for him to seize on very opportunity for a photo-opp.

  22. d4l3d
    July 28, 2022 at 10:23

    What is the necessity of the leader of a country constantly maintaining this warrior mode look? That alone has been a transparent give away from the beginning. He couldn’t find a suit and the time to shave for Vogue?

  23. Tasker
    July 28, 2022 at 10:19

    Every war is always going to be the ‘most perception managed war we’ve ever experienced.’ If you think about it, it can’t be anything else.

    Any ruler who can add 2 + 2 and come up with a single digit number, perhaps even 4 on a lucky guess, will know that they need to ‘rally’ the population behind the war and ‘unite’ the country for war. In fact, as Mr. Madison noted, rulers often use wars and create wars to accomplish these very goals, since war is rather effective at doing this, at least until things start to go very wrong.

    And, in each case, the ‘perception managers’ of the tyrants of the day will always use all of the techniques that were used to ‘manage’ the last war, and then also come up with a few new ideas of their own so that they can later brag at the cocktail parties in The Court about how brilliant they are.

    Or, lets put it another way….. is there any reason to believe that this war, will be less aggressively perception managed than the last war? Of course not. Has society ‘progressed’ in such a way since the last war? Gone the other direction, and quite rapidly I would say. Oh well, in this modern era of mind control, I guess even the ancient saying about how ‘truth is the first causality of war’ has been flushed down the Memory Hole. And of course, the obvious corollary to that bit of wisdom, which is that one should stop watching all ‘news’ whenever war is threatened or erupting. Ain’t going to be no truth in life during wartime. After all, this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, This ain’t no fooling around, as the Heads that Talk used to say.

  24. michael888
    July 28, 2022 at 10:16

    With the economy tanking into yet another Recession, WWIII is the only way out. That’s why Ukrainians are so much more important than Americans to the Biden administration.

  25. Dfnslblty
    July 28, 2022 at 09:30


    A voice of reason … Keep writing.

  26. Lez
    July 28, 2022 at 09:21

    The US-NATO-UK Ukrainian Proxy War on Russia, at the expense of Ukrainian lives is lost.
    What The West has left is to win The Media War, a credibility campaign for Western populations exclusively.
    No-one else buys it, especially in Russia.

    As for the Zelensky Vogue shoot, check the photos at the conclusion of this essay.

    Several photos including President Zelensky and what he and the US-NATO-UK are responsible for.

    Warning – The bits and the pieces . . . hxxps://

  27. J Anthony
    July 28, 2022 at 06:21

    Caitlin’s right, as usual, and this is repulsive. The Vogue magazine shoot ought to make it obvious.

  28. John R
    July 28, 2022 at 06:02

    Superb – spot on analysis – thank you.

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