Russia Today is a primarily English-language TV network sponsored and funded by the Russian government. It was launched in 2005 with the objective of providing the news to an English-speaking audience while presenting an “unbiased portrait of Russia.”1 In 2010, Russia Today America was split off to specifically focus on an American audience and is available as a cable channel in a number of U.S. cities.2
Some will object to the fact that Russia Today is a state-funded network and claim that this makes it biased and unreliable. Many of these same people, however, have little problem watching CNN, Fox News, or other major American media networks, which are owned by the same bankers and elites who run the U.S. government from behind the scenes. Having a corporate media owned by the same people who run the government is in essence the same thing as having state-funded networks. At least with Russia Today you know their bias up front, as opposed to the American media, which pretends to be neutral while cramming their bias and agenda down your throat. And even with Russia Today’s pro-Russian slant, I have found that they are by far more honest, more neutral, and more willing to discuss politically incorrect topics than any American network.
Russia Today is currently the second most-watched foreign news network in the U.S. behind BBC.3 Russia Today’s audience has grown rapidly, not only due to the network’s quality reporting, but also due greatly to its positioning itself as an “alternative” TV network. It regularly discusses topics considered taboo to American media and positively interviews guests who either would not get interviewed or would be attacked by the American media. Jared Taylor, Pat Buchanan, Gerald Celente, Peter Schiff, Alex Jones, and Ron and Rand Paul are among the list of politically incorrect guests who have appeared on Russia Today, which has given them a fair hearing or even promoted them. Russia Today has reported much of Ron Paul’s campaign for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential race, in contrast to the American media’s blackout of his candidacy. Adam Kokesh, one of Russia Today’s hosts, an American citizen, U.S. marine veteran, and hardcore libertarian, has even been actively promoting Ron Paul’s campaign on his show.
All this has, of course, caused quite a bit of controversy. Russia Today has been accused of being a pro-Putin, Soviet-esque propaganda machine, promoting conspiracy theories, giving radicals and extremists a talking platform, and taking anti-American stances.4 But, considering that the American media is just a propaganda machine for the corporate and banking elites, many of those “conspiracy theories” are true, many of those “extremists” are my ideological allies, and those “anti-American” stances are mostly just opposing neoconservative warmongering or the establishment in general, I really do not view those criticisms as holding much water. However, criticism of Russia Today was taken to a new level this past week when it was basically accused of promoting Ron Paul as a type of Russian Manchurian candidate. In an article entitled “Why is Russian TV Backing Ron Paul?“, Cliff Kincaid, the editor of the self-proclaimed media watchdog group Accuracy in Media, states:
During a time when Ron Paul supporters are complaining, with some justification, about the major media not giving their candidate’s success in Iowa enough attention, the Texas congressman is getting enormously favorable coverage from a foreign propaganda outlet—Russia Today television.
One of Paul’s leading supporters in the media, if the term “media” is broadly defined, is Adam Kokesh, host of a show, “Adam Vs. The Man,” on Moscow’s English-language channel. . . .
But the advent of Russia Today (RT) television, which has been accused of serving as a vehicle for Russia’s intelligence services, puts the question of media coverage of the campaign in a new context—one of foreign interference in U.S. politics. . . .
But RT has been such an enthusiastic supporter of the Paul campaign that some observers think the channel, which is registered as a foreign corporation in the U.S., has violated U.S. election law. . . .
A disgruntled U.S. Marine veteran who openly acknowledges his current role as a paid agent of Moscow, Kokesh says his program is an example of “libertarian television.” He has been backing Paul—and Paul’s organization has supported him—since Kokesh unsuccessfully ran for the Congress in New Mexico in 2010.
First of all, I think that it is completely legitimate to discuss clandestine control of a nation’s own media by hostile individuals. However, it is laughably hypocritical of any American to complain about a foreign news network openly broadcasting in the U.S. when Voice of America, the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government, has been pumping out American propaganda to every corner of the globe on the American taxpayers’ dime since 1942.
In his article, Mr. Kincaid never actually answers his own question of why Russian TV supports Ron Paul, but I think can answer that. To help do so, I turn to Pat Buchanan’s latest article “Why Are We Baiting the Bear?“:
Is the Senate trying to reignite the Cold War?
If so, it is going about it the right way.
Before departing for a five-week vacation, the Senate voted to declare Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be provinces of Georgia illegally occupied by Russian troops who must get out and return to Russia. . . .
What is wrong with Senate Resolution 175?
Just this. Neither Abkhazia nor South Ossetia has been under Georgian control for 20 years. When Georgia seceded from Russia, these ethnic enclaves rebelled and seceded from Georgia.
Abkhazians and Ossetians both view the Tblisi regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, though a favorite of Washington, with contempt, and both have lately declared formal independence.
Who are we to demand that they return to the rule of Tblisi?
In co-sponsoring S.R. 175, Sen. Lindsey Graham contended that “Russia’s invasion of Georgian land in 2008 was an act of aggression, not only to Georgia but to all new democracies.”
This is neocon propaganda. Russian troops are in those enclaves because in August 2008 Georgia invaded South Ossetia to re-annex it, and killed and wounded scores of Russian peacekeepers. Tblisi’s invasion brought the Russian army on the run, which threw the Georgians out and occupied slices of Georgia itself.
While the Russian troops withdrew from Georgian territory, they remained in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a deterrent to Saakashvili, whose agents have been working Capitol Hill to push the United States into a confrontation with Russia on Georgia’s side. . . .
And what business is all of this of the United States’? . . .
Why are we siding with Georgia, a nation of 5 million, against a Russia that seems to be on the side of self-determination? And when we recall how JFK and Ronald Reagan reacted when Russians were meddling in Cuba and Central America, can we not understand their resentment? . . .
If there is another invasion of Georgia and a new war, the U.S. Senate will not be without major moral responsibility. Is there to be no end to this country’s meddling in other nations’ quarrels and wars?
For decades, but especially in the last ten years, the American government has been a complete loose cannon in foreign policy – invading, bombing, bullying, and meddling. Part of this has been an increasingly anti-Russia and anti-Putin tone, with rhetoric coming from the American and western media not seen since the Cold War, and with the U.S. meddling in Russia’s own backyard while we push a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe and support Georgia in their border disputes with Russian satellites. Is it any wonder that the Russians see it in their best interests to support a U.S. presidential candidate who staunchly opposes the idea that the U.S. can invade, bomb, or dictate policy to any country it pleases with little or no justification? A U.S. presidential candidate who staunchly opposes the idea that the U.S. government has a divine mandate to police the world and impose “democracy” on whomever it pleases? There is nothing nefarious in desiring peaceful neighbors.