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New Yorker's Remnick: NBC's political translator

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm •  Published: February 10, 2014
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His experiment in television with NBC over for now, David Remnick leaves Sochi on Tuesday to resume his day job as editor of The New Yorker magazine.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire" participated in some studio discussions with host Bob Costas about some of the political issues surrounding the Olympics, including the threat of terrorism and Russia's law barring gay "propaganda."

Most effectively, he joined "Today" show hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira to provide historical context about the messages the host country was trying to convey Friday during the opening ceremony.

"I know there was focus to some degree on the one (Olympic) ring that didn't open," he said in an interview. "Thematically, from what I understand, what Russia and (President Vladimir) Putin wanted out of this was to show a developing, modern country capable of putting on as good a show as Sydney or England or the rest. Politics aside, that's another set of issues, I think they did."

It was clear, too, the Russians wanted to "bobsled past the events that are very dark," Remnick said. So while the presentation depicted industrialization that took place in the early Soviet era, Remnick was able to talk about the heavy price many Russians paid.

"The debate over history, the question of what is usable in the past and what is not and what is being skipped over — without beating the viewer over the head about it — was, I thought, important to point out," he said. "I hope not to have been heavy-handed."

Remnick was the Moscow bureau chief at The Washington Post between 1988 and 1991 and the assignment hasn't left him. He's returned to Russia several times for New Yorker pieces, and is reporting during his current trip.

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