Formerly “Russia Today,” RT is not your babushka’s Soviet-style propaganda,” writes James Kirchick:
RT broadcasts sophisticated conspiracy theories and “anti-establishment” attitudes to push a virulently anti-American and illiberal agenda. The network relies on a pool of talking heads, including 9/11 truthers, anti-Semites and other assorted extremists, who espouse the sort of views found where the far left and the far right converge. It has amassed more YouTube hits than any other global news channel.
“I had sworn off appearing on RT or any news channel funded by an authoritarian government, after Iran’s English-language broadcaster deceived me by posing as a Danish network to book me on a panel about the 2008 vice-presidential debate,” he writes for the Washington Post:
But suddenly an idea popped into my head: I could use the opportunity to publicize the abominable anti-gay laws passed by Russia’s lower house of parliament that essentially forbid public expression of pro-gay views. …. The situation for gays in Russia has become so dire that some have compared next year’s Sochi Olympics to the 1936 Berlin Games, when the world stood in silence as Hitler’s Germany ramped up its oppression of Jews, gays and other minorities.
“Condemning Russian homophobia and supporting that country’s gay community were not my only purposes,” says Kirchick, a Berlin-based fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative:
I also hoped to expose RT’s pernicious influence as an outlet that poses as a legitimate news organization, yet is anything but. For too long, journalists in democratic countries who take Western freedoms for granted have either accepted job offers or appeared on this network and others like it, lending these propaganda outlets undeserved credibility. They should instead treat RT with the contempt it merits.