As regular readers know, I encourage media viewers not to trust any outlet, and to be aware of the biases of each outlet. Russia Today (RT) is state-run TV. So is BBC. So is Al Jazeera. And, due to a certain history, so–to some degree– is the New York Times. None of them should be believed credulously. Instead, the reader/viewer has to sift through the biases and figure what topics each source lies about and which ones it tends to be truthful about.
Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, Truthdig:
For her public act of protest against Russia Today’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory and supposedly advancing the agenda of Vladimir Putin in Washington, D.C., previously unknown news anchor Liz Wahl has suddenly become one of the most famous unemployed people in America. After her on-air resignation from the cable news channel, Wahl appeared on the three major American cable news outlets—CNN, Fox News, MSNBC—to denounce the heavy-handed editorial line she claims her bosses imposed on her and other staffers.
Behind the coverage of Wahl’s dramatic protest, a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup.
At the center of the intrigue is a young neoconservative writer and activist who helped craft Wahl’s strategy and exploit her resignation to propel the agenda of a powerful pro-war lobby in Washington.
[James] Kirchick acknowledged having been in contact with Wahl since August, but cast himself as a passive bystander to the spectacle….
So who was Kirchick, and what sort of commitment did he maintain to “objectivity and the truth?”
In fact, Kirchick was a senior fellow at FPI, the neoconservative think tank that had hyped up Wahl’s resignation minutes before she quit. Launched by Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and two former foreign policy aides to Mitt Romney, Dan Senor and Robert Kagan (the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland), FPI grew directly out of the Project for a New American Century that led the public pressure campaign for a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq after the Bin Laden-orchestrated 9/11 attacks.
Now, I stumbled across this in a very interesting piece by Margarita Simonyan of RT on how that network has been trashed by American media in the service of undermining its Ukraine reporting. In the wake of that effort everyone “knows” that RT is a propaganda outlet–as well I know from the trashing that I saw at the Daily Kos of anyone who dared link RT. There’s no question that Russia is an interested party in Ukraine–they regard it as an existential issue– and that their state-run media reflect that. But one need only mention Judith Miller to recall that our media also serve as stenographers to government. So RT’s reporting should be questioned. But look at what they have presented in defending their journalistic integrity (Simonyan):
* Evidence that one of their employees was bought off or pressured into resigning by well-known neoconservatives
* Evidence that CNN censored its own relentlessly hostile interview of an RT journalist to avoid confronting Christiane Amanpour’s conflict of interest (she’s married to Jamie Rubin of the State Dept.)
* A statement (confirmed in The Guardian) that they were threatened with closure by the British government because their reporting wasn’t truthful (as if this standard has ever been applied to a Murdoch property)
* A claim that even The Guardian has been running an unusual number of stories hostile to RT (See, for example, here)
This is unsettling to anyone who understands that we get at the truth by sifting through the lies that different self-interested parties tell. Even The Guardian, which should be the beacon for press freedom, can publish a piece of trash like Nick Cohen‘s purely ad hominem bashing of RT. Even Christiane Amanpour, who has done a lot of courageous frontline reporting, can be used as a tool by her network to try to discredit another network. Even the British press office, Ofcom, can make an Orwellian threat to silence a news outlet because it says that it lies by contradicting the British government.
If RT is silenced, it will give our own government much more freedom to lie.