Russia’s Propaganda Campaign Is Using The Left Against Obama

putin-rtI’m pretty sure that by now, almost everyone has seen the video and the accompanying story in which an anchor for RT (formerly known as Russia Today) resigns on the air stating that she can no longer work for a state-funded propaganda machine disguised as a news network. However, I want to pose a question to Liz Wahl: How did it take you 2 and a half years to figure out that you were nothing more than a useful puppet for Vladimir Putin? The actions of Russia’s prime minister since he came to power have certainly demonstrated a chilly at best relationship with the West, especially the United States, and somehow people still believed that RT was an “alternative news” source?

Yes, RT has a significant and troubling following here in the United States, especially with some libertarians and members of the left who are firmly convinced that American media is hiding the truth from them, and ironically turn to a propaganda machine run by the Russian government. Don’t believe me? How about this video? Who do they quote on the Ukraine? Yup, Ron Paul – who just happens to be very popular with their target audience. As Daniel McCarthy points out on his recent blog on The American Conservative, they are to blame more than the hosts who are just making a living reading from a script that is scrolling in front of them on a teleprompter.


…how can certain libertarians or government-skeptical leftists think that as long as the spin is coming from a government other than America’s it must actually be the truth?

Unfortunately, the answer is all too plain: if you think that the U.S. federal government is the source of all evil in your life, your country, and the world, then it stands to reason—almost—that whatever contradicts Washington is on the side of truth. Moscow and Beijing therefore become beacons of light. The ideologues who fall prey to this don’t necessarily hate America—there’s a distinction between the country and its government, after all—and they don’t think of themselves as pro-authoritarian or, in the case of the Middle East, pro-dictator. But they do think, ultimately, that foreign authoritarians and dictators are really more liberal than the liberal-but-really-authoritarian United States.

The number of such misguided people is pretty small, but they play a very useful role for the likes of Bill Kristol and other hawks, who can then point to these few loons, like the scattered nutcases with 9/11 Truther placards at a Ron Paul rally, to demonize everyone who’s against American military misadventures. The RT libertarians/leftists then turn around and tell those whose ranks they’ve infected, “See? You get attacked as ‘unpatriotic conservatives’ even if you don’t make the case that Saddam Hussein is just a misunderstood humanitarian!”

Russia Today isn’t some beacon of truth that is graciously and helpfully reporting what the American media is failing to. It is really little more than a propaganda machine cleverly disguised as a legitimate news organization, complete with American props reading from the teleprompter. It has featured respected former members of the American media like Larry King, as well as people like Thom Hartmann, or even Adam Kokesh who is adored in many libertarian circles. RT has flashy graphics and all the trappings of CNN, Al Jazeera, MSNBC or Fox, with stories aimed to cause political divisions in the United States. In 2011, it was one of the few sources paying attention to Occupy Wall Street, and it even ran a story suggesting that this event could be America’s own version of the “Arab Spring.” Of course, those who supported the Occupy movement (myself included) were ecstatic that someone, somewhere was paying attention and at the same time were furious at the almost absent coverage on our own networks. But RT’s mission, in my opinion, wasn’t to shed a beacon of light on income inequality in the United States to make things better. On the contrary, it was to make things worse.

It doesn’t just stop there, RT has also been accused of manipulating and spamming Reddit, which just so happens to be most popular with young, more progressive and libertarian males. The Daily Dot reported in August of 2013 that RT had been banned from one of their largest subreddits for vote manipulation and spamming:

The Russian news site RT.com has been banned from the popular Reddit forum r/news for spamming and vote manipulation.

The ban has not been well received by r/news’s 1.1 million readers, who believe it’s an unjustified act of censorship, but moderators made the case that RT has been spamming the subreddit.



Without getting too technical, basically RT had allegedly created many fake user accounts which they used to “upvote” submissions from their domain that were often posted by other fake accounts that they had also created. Other than financial profit, why would anyone go through that amount of time and effort to falsely represent their popularity and authenticity as a media presence? The answer is simple – it’s for propaganda. It is to sow unnecessary seeds of dissent and misinformation, but we already have enough as it is from domestic sources.

The Cold War never ended, it was just placed on pause for a couple of decades. Now it looks as if Putin is ready to push the resume button and pull the strings of his American puppets who believe RT really does have their best interests in mind to undermine the political power of the American government. Liz Wahl finally woke up and saw RT for what it is, a propaganda machine for Vladimir Putin. I only hope that the people who watch that channel come to that same epiphany.

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  • strayaway

    I appreciate the options of having Al Jazeera, RT, BBC and other foreign points of view to supplement and be part of our news spectrum. Of note in this article was that twice, progressives and libertarians were cited as taking in some of the same news sources (RT and Reddit).

    No one, to my knowledge, is reporting that president Obama declared a “national emergency” yesterday, based on emergency acts designed for a continuity of power if Congress is unable to act, in order to issue an executive order legislating sanctions. “National emergency”? Really?

  • Matthew Reece

    All establishment media outlets are pro-state propaganda machines; they only differ in which state(s) they support. At least Russia Today is not trying to hide its pro-state bias, unlike most of the networks in America.

    • Wan Abi Sufi

      well said

  • Sandy Greer

    I think one should get their news from as MANY sources as possible, INCLUDING foreign. How ELSE can we make up our minds about a thing, without diverse opinions? Shall we just take the author’s word, what is worthy of attention, and what is not?

    American media (like others) DOES ‘hide truth’ in a dearth of coverage. I give you Fukushima; the author himself mentions OWS; strayaway, the National Emergency. It’s just a fact.

    So yes, I get my news from as many sources as I can. And STILL, I learn something new every day.

    Aside from that, not to hear what the ‘other’ side is saying is akin to one political party giving no ‘hearing’ to the other. How on EARTH are we to refute, if we don’t know what is said?

  • charleo1

    Don’t get me wrong, I am very sorry for those in the Ukraine that want closer ties with the West, and the EU. But, what this is not, is Russia so much invading a region, as being ask in by a majority, or near majority of the people who are tied ethically, and monetarily to the Russian Federation. And would remain so, irrespective of their admittance to the EU. Add to that, the fact the Ukraine is an economic basket case. Without an infusion of 35 billion, it’s government, whoever controls it, will essentially be in default in a few weeks. And whatever one thinks of Putin. (I am no fan.) He is offering the best deal. I heard, 15 billion, and dirt cheap gas. The EU offers the IMF, and it’s austerity measures so severe, that many fear will bring down the government. Again, regardless of who’s ultimately in charge. Meanwhile, Greece is again teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Why is Putin being so generous? The facts is, the Ukraine, with Crimea, and it’s vital, Black Sea Navel facilities, are worth more to Russia than they are to the EU. and certainly to the U.S. Secondly, Putin is not a beloved figure. But on this one, the people of Russia are solidly in his camp. Thirdly, I’m selfish. I want what’s best for my Country, (the U.S.) And we need Russian cooperation in keeping the pressure on Iran. So, we don’t wind up spending the next 10 years, and another 5 trillion dollars keeping the world’s worst actors from obtaining the world’s worst weapons. And,
    don’t bet on Congress keeping us out of another land war in the Mid East.
    Half of them are spoiling for one, right now. Who needs propaganda? I
    don’t see how this one spins any other way.

  • elarrecostao

    demand that congress abolish the criminal colonial regime that it imposes on puerto rico since 1898.

  • Terry63

    If this was a suprise to anyone, it should not have been. I was wondering what took Putin so long. Answer? He was riding a popularity wave for his actions to stop the U.S. from Bombing Syria and possibly starting a huge war. He called out Mr. Obama for hiring Terrorists ( AlQaeda) to fight his proxy war against Syria. He was also Hosting the Olympic Game’s, afterwards he wasted no time ending the Chaos and murder in Ukraine. No Russian leader would ever allow Ukraine to fall into such disarry. Russia cannot allow it. Putin is the same kind of Dog as past Russian leaders. He will secure his assets. The media are playing this as a big hostile act. “Hillary” called him a Nazi. The Media is for sale, Be that Fox or MSNBC. They cannot be trusted. When I was a young man , you only got three channel’s ABC, NBC and CBS. They all reported the same news. Today we have Aljazeera, CNN, The BBC, The internet. Use it, educate yourself. Dont be a slave to one outlet. As long as this goes smoothly Putin, will not be punished. Its all talk. America, should however be Bolstering the Baltic’s just in case.I would even send an aircraft carrier task force off the coast of Syria, into international waters, just to get his attention. I would send U.S. long range Stealth air craft to Greece. Unfortunately, Our Leadership is having a Soul music Revival at the White House, Misspell’s Respect and is off on another vacation. Putin, must be shaking in his boot’s.

  • Wan Abi Sufi

    Why the hell should I distrust only RT when Amber Lyons was fired for her views, or Bill Moyers during the Iraq war, or Chris Hedges fired from the New York Times in 2003?