I’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 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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