Josh Rogin of The Cable on Foreign Policy is usually pretty sharp. He has had a number of good stories on Russia, OSCE, Eurasia, etc.
But in the glib and fast-paced world of blogging on Foreign Policy, he, like other writers, don't always chase stories to the ground, they don't always bother reading, let alone responding to comments.
His story about McFaul supposedly in fact oblivious to how his schedule is being published -- and that's why is being dogged by NTV -- is one that definitely needs to be chased down.
With the usual skeptical stance that journalists take to any claim that Russia is bad, even the best of them; with the usual attitude toward authority that it is always paranoid and overkilling on security, Rogin buys into a tweet that Jace Foster (a journalist not known in this field) puts up in defiance of McFaul's valid claim that Russian intelligence is using state-run TV to dog him -- and giving the TV crew information about his whereabouts. Jace Foster makes the unsupportable claim that the "Russian consulate" is tracking and publishing his schedule (not sure what she means by that -- Russian consulate in Washington? Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow -- that was the first sign of a bit of amateurishness).
Rogin gives a link to Jace Foster, but the link in his article doesn't work. Not sure if that's because that actual tweet got erased or what happened, but here's the link to another relevant one from the same conversation.
In the one Rogin quotes, Foster says:
""Your schedule is fair game. We know it because Russian consulate watches you & releases your schedule," she tweeted. "Russia watches your Twitter account too, which is open to the public. Surely you know this."
That sounds like a bit of "news" and "analysis" that no one can quarrel with, right? Everyone knows McFaul blabs a lot on Twitter and Facebook, right? So obviously the Russian government just has to pay attention to his blabbing, right? Except...that's not quite the case.
The account is @jeresponderay and she doesn't appear to be based in Moscow from what I can tell, but is in Washington or somewhere in the US. She claims in her tweets of March 29 that she is "setting the ambassador straight" on how the Russians know where to find him. Josh Rogin just bought this without investigating it, merely because McFaul simply took the polite route with her and said "I'm new to diplomacy". But he's not new to Russia, and he knows the secret police follow everybody, and he is just being diplomatic.
"Now you see my point that the ambassador tweets his schedule: no "spying" needed," she says smugly.
Oh? McFaul just over-sharing and not realizing it? But that's not the case. I follow him avidly. The reality is, McFaul does NOT tweet every meeting in his schedule. He tweets AFTER some meetings. He tweets before some on the record. But as far as he can tell, he did NOT tweet that he was going to meet Lev Ponomaryev at a specific time and place. So...how indeed did NTV get that information? They dog him at every single meeting because they are an arm of the Kremlin's propaganda operations, not actual media -- they are state-run TV owned by the state gas monopoly.
So how indeed did they get the information he would be at Lev's? Lev theorizes that the FSB bugs his phone, and they got the operational information. Evidently they handed it to their connections in NTV.
No, that's not how CNN or Fox cover the Russian ambassador, so the moral equivalency on this is fake.
Come on, Josh. Run this story to the ground properly. McFaul's schedule is NOT fair game. It is not all open. It is not all relayed. If the Russian "consulate" follows him, that's understandable, but she's not explaining how the media then gets it, unless she's also conceding that they are in collusion with the Kremlin. But what she's actually doing here is trying to make McFaul look like a chump. She really, really needs to be challenged to show us where "Russian consulate" (where? In Washington, DC?) "watches you & releases your schedule". Release *where*. Links, links, links. Is she on White TASS or something?
BTW, Jace Foster's blog -- sparsely filled and just started in January -- seems to consist mainly of pro-Kremlin and pro-Cuba articles. She describes her career of 25 years in print media on foreign relations and medicine, although I could only find a reference to some theater work. I'm not sure what this is about, but the New York Times shows her original name, Eva Winkle, and her role in film as "post-production coordinator" and "office runner" also available in Google. Never heard of her. Guess this is her 15 minutes of fame.