A couple months ago I wrote a piece about RT (formerly Russia Today) titled, Mr. Putin Tear Down this Network. It seems Hillary Clinton has reached much the same conclusion. Note, this clip comes from RT itself, which seems quite pleased to be a target of Hillary’s opprobrium:
On the one hand, you could argue that the rise of channels like RT has a lot in common with the rise of blogs and other new media outlets. Both are filling a space created by the technological leveling of the playing field between old and new media. Both offer opinion mixed with fact.
Here’s the difference as I see it: Bloggers write from a position of principle not of power. In Glenn Reynold’s memorable phrase, we’re an Army of Davids. So, for instance, my own support for free markets comes from my own consideration of what is best for the nation and the world, not from my desire to maintain my dominant position in the marketplace.
The same can not be said for RT. RT is essentially a glossy brochure for Putin’s strongman statism. Lots of attractive presenters with no idea what they are talking about. With a few rare exceptions, everything they pump out is designed to present America as a failure and thereby subtly suggest that, hey, maybe things aren’t so bad in dear old Russia. Honestly, even the idea of a Kremlin network is obscene when you consider the number of reporters who’ve been murdered for criticizing the powers that be in Russia.
It’s more than a bit ironic that most of the left’s complaints about Fox News could be shown to be absolutely true with regard to RT (i.e. agenda driven, ideological, etc.). Curiously, the left hasn’t had an unkind word for RT. In fact, far left folks like Ted Rall and Robert Greenwald have been only too happy to appear on the network. Frankly, it’s a perfect place for both of them. (I challenge you to find a more sycophantic interview than the one Greenwald got on their network.)
As with any agenda driven media outlet, the answer is to handle with caution. I’ll continue to use RT clips on my blog when they offer good raw video from hot spots around the world. This is where they are getting most of those millions of You Tube views. Their commentary and analysis is another matter. Check their channel and you’ll find that regular programming often gets just a few hundred hits. And no wonder. It’s often hard to tell if they are serious or are part of an elaborate media punking of the rest of us.