If you thought Perestroika had put an end to Soviet-style disinformation campaigns, take a gander at this propaganda.
You may have already seen this clip in which FOX News gets schooled for using the wrong video in their coverage of the unprecedented protests that erupted after the Kremlin mugged Mother Russia and stole her elections. RT (formerly Russia Today) has been tweeting the hell out of it since they first aired the segment last Thursday.
If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself the favor. The “reporter” and “expert commentators” display a level of chutzpah not seen since Rosie Ruiz asked the Boston Athletic Association to reimburse her subway fare.
Ostensibly, RT was breaking the story that FOX News deliberately misled viewers by using the wrong videotape in their coverage of the unprecedented riots that sprouted in dozens of cities across Russia. But what really got their трусы in a twist was that the U.S. of A. had the audacity to report on the Russian protests and show the world just how genteel and sophisticated Vladimir Putin really is in matters of democracy and freedom.
RT–for those who don’t channel surf in the foreign end of the cable pool–is a “news” station run by the Kremlin-owned-and-operated Russian International News Agency. Their concept of “fair and balanced reporting” would make Keith Olbermann chunk his Che Guevara bobble-head doll through his flat screen.
“America has its fair share of protests and political dissention to be dealing with. Instead of keeping its eye on the ball, the country’s mass media machine has turned to protests in Russia and dropped the ball in reporting the facts.” This from reporter Marin Portnaya, who boasts in the third sentence of her Kremlin-approved RT profile that, “During America’s 2008 Presidential Election campaign, [she] filed reports from the riots surrounding the Republican National Convention.”
But Portnaya was just the appetizer. The entrée was Eva “Call me Evita” Golinger, who is literally a professional propagandist for Hugo Chávez and the Venezuelan government. (It’s interesting to note that this little nugget, and the fact that she is on RT’s payroll, never made it into the story.)
Here’s the exchange. I couldn’t even edit for space; it was all just too good:
GOLINGER: It’s not surprising whatsoever that at the moment that there would be any kind of protest–no matter how small it be in Russia against the Russian government–that it would be greatly exaggerated in media, and used by the U.S. government as well, as a way to try to somehow push for change in Russia that would be more favorable to U.S. interests.
PORTNAYA: Journalist and author Eva Golinger believes mass media is Washington’s most valuable weapon in encouraging revolt elsewhere under the mantle of “spreading democracy,” such as the so-called Orange Revolution in Ukraine or Rose Revolution in Georgia.
GOLINGER: A perception is created that something is happening in that country that’s not right and that the government is somehow responsible, and so therefore, if that government ends up being removed, it somehow is justified. You know, the media has played a key role in creating a justification for regime change.
But the real treat, the proverbial snifter of 40-year-old Tawny Port after this smorgasbord of deception, is watching American gadfly Danny Schechter lament that our media takes its lead from the U.S. government … on a “news” program that is run by a state-owned and state-controlled “media” company.
Here’s the transcript:
PORTNAYA: U.S. leaders have leveled harsh criticism against Russia in the aftermath of Sunday’s parliamentary election, and critics say its free press has worked to reinforce the narrative.
SCHECHTER: The media tends to march in lock step with the government. It tends to take its cues from the government. It tends to, you know, mobilize its resources to showcase what the government says is true even when later it turns out not to be true.
That danged free press.
What’s most interesting about this episode of modern propaganda is how many unwitting Americans participated in the campaign. In their haste to attack FOX News, 686 people re-tweeted the original RT tweet, metaphorically carrying Putin’s anti-American baggage right to the rear gate of his Niva 4×4.
Here’s the communications lesson, folks: The enemy of your enemy may be your friend. But she might also be an anti-American tool of an authoritative, democracy-crushing regime. So if you plan to re-tweet someone else’s point of view, do a little research before hitting send.