Last week I criticized the premiere of Julian Assange’s new Russia Today chat show, which featured a tepid and occasionally fawning interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Breitbart News wasn’t the only outlet to criticize Assange and RT. The Guardian, which once benefited from Assange’s leaks, labeled him a “useful idiot” and a “pawn.”
Russia Today – now styled RT – is state-owned and Kremlin-controlled…the channel offers a shiny updated version of Soviet propaganda. The west, and America in particular, is depicted as crime-ridden, failing, and in thrall to big business and evil elites. RT’s favourite theme is western hypocrisy: “How dare you criticise us when you do the same?” The English-language channel portrays itself as “anti-mainstream”. In reality it reflects Putin’s own conspiratorial, touchy and xenophobic world-view while staying mute about Russia’s own failings.
The mystery is why Assange should agree to become a pawn in the Kremlin’s global information war. Perhaps he needs the money. Assange’s anti-American agenda, of course, fits neatly with the Kremlin’s own. Russia prides itself on having undesirable allies; expect Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez or Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko on future shows. In Tuesday’s interview Nasrallah expressed support for the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. By happy coincidence this is Moscow’s position.
Today, RT aired a report about these stinging attacks and blamed the whole thing on jealousy:
It’s a fairly pathetic presentation. Journalists should be challenging authority but only US authority apparently. Assange certainly did little to challenge Nasrallah’s authority in his interview and has done nothing to challenge that of Putin, despite his own Wikileaks which in 2010 referred to Russia as a “virtual mafia state.”
The real irony here is that RT is everything liberals claim Fox News is–a propaganda network controlled by a political party with a clear (anti-American in this case) agenda. And yet, somehow, progressives like Glenn Greenwald who have made a career screaming about Fox don’t seem to have a problem with that. Assange is far from the only useful idiot appearing on RT.