Why socialists should have nothing to do with Russia Today

December 11, 2013 at 2:17 am (Eric Lee, Free Speech, grovelling, Human rights, posted by JD, Russia, stalinism, thuggery)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin adjusts his sunglasses (AFP)
RT: the state organ of the Putin regime

Cross-post by Eric Lee

Thom Hartmann is a prominent left-wing radio broadcaster from the USA. I first came across him when he interviewed me at a conference in Washington and was promptly told by everyone just how prominent he is. He describes himself as a “democratic socialist” and his nationally-syndicated radio show has an estimated 2.75 million listeners.George Galloway needs no introduction to a left-wing audience in the UK.What Hartmann and Galloway have in common is that they host shows on Russia Today (RT), a global satellite television channel that performs the same function for Vladimir Putin as Press TV did (and still does) for the Iranian dictatorship.Hartmann’s show, “The Big Picture”, typically covers the standard fare of the US left – most recently with reports on how badly Walmart treats its workers, or why Vermont’s socialist senator Bernie Sanders should run for president.Galloway’s new show on RT is called “Sputnik: Orbiting the world with George Galloway”.

RT uses the language of the mainstream left to cover politics that are fundamentally reactionary and that serve Russian imperial interests.

Of course that’s not how the TV channel describes itself. “RT news covers the major issues of our time for viewers wishing to question more,” says their website, “and delivers stories often missed by the mainstream media to create news with an edge.”

By “news with an edge”, they may sometimes mean that quite literally – and the edge belongs to a Russian bayonet.

For example, according to a timeline published on RT’s website, in 2008, “RT leads the coverage of the conflict in South Ossetia. RT is the only international news network to report from Tskhinvali during the Russia-Georgia War of 2008 and the first to confirm atrocities committed by the Georgian military against the civilian population.”

They were probably the only news network in South Ossetia because they were embedded in the Russian army.

One of RT’s regular shows “exposes the BIG STORIES Mainstream Media dare not touch,” according to their website.

But those stories are invariably ones in which the West, and in particular the USA, comes out looking bad.

When RT turns its attention closer to home, the progressive mask drops rather quickly and the strident tone of late-Stalinist Soviet propaganda comes to the fore.

This week, while “Mainstream Media” reported on the mass street protests in Kiev, RT brought on experts to discuss what was behind the new, giant wave of demonstrations.

One Moscow-based expert came on to explain that while it appeared that the European Union was behind the unrest – for which the United Nations should be called upon to intervene, as the EU was violating Ukraine’s sovereignty – this was not actually the case. The EU, we’re told, is only acting as a proxy for Washington. The real behind-the-scenes players are the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House – the same shadowy organizations that brought on the original “Orange Revolution”.

RT can’t enforce a party line, and the speaker that followed – a Russian academic – forcefully disagreed, insisting that it was in fact the EU that was sabotaging Ukrainian sovereignty, and not merely the EU acting as an American proxy.

Both speakers of course agreed that it was Western “interference” that was the source of the trouble.

While the two speakers were “debating” who was more at fault, the news ticker scrolling across the bottom of the screen talked about how protestors in Kiev were throwing rocks at police, how an estimated 100 police officers had been injured so far (no mention of civilian casualties), and how some protestors were using “an unknown gas” to attack the defenders of public order.

The film footage shown again and again was of masked, violent protestors hurling objects at the police, who stood still for the cameras.

It was made abundantly clear to RT’s viewers that the Russian state is not happy with pro-EU demonstrators in Ukraine, and that Mr Putin would be delighted if the Ukrainian leadership would deal with them the way he has dealt with such threats to state security as “Pussy Riot” and the Greenpeace “pirates”.

Let’s be absolutely clear about what RT actually is. This is a state organ of the Putin regime and though it occasionally uses the language of the left (when attacking Russia’s rivals) the one thing consistent about its coverage is its uncritical support of Russian imperialism.

Honest leftists should refuse to have anything to do with RT, shouldn’t watch it, should refuse to be interviewed by it, and certainly should not host shows on it.


  1. Why socialists should have nothing to do with Russia Today | OzHouse said,

    […] Dec 11 2013 by admin […]

  2. OzHouse said,

    And what is the New York Times or Fox News? You can make the same imperialist arguments for our own media, Thom Hartmann owns his show, RT air it and have nothing to do with the production. Now that Putin has put in a far right lunatic in charge of RT, I hope he doesn’t drop Thom, the only thing on the network that doesn’t suck. Thom is one of the good guys man, to attack Thom like this is a bit low and to have some kind of double standard for people who have worked in US imperialist media is kind of getting on a high horse…just sayin’.

  3. GD said,

    Attacking only RT and not corporate media in the West or other state media outlets shows you are more interesting in promoting NATO’s foreign policy than liberating humanity.

    • Jim Denham said,

      We recently denounced a well-known “left wing” trade unionist (Jerry Hicks) for giving an interview to Murdoch’s Sunday Times, so I’m not sure what point you (GD) are trying to make …

    • jimmy glesga said,

      NATO did help liberate some of Eastern Europe and you just have to observe what the majority of the Ukranian people want. Russia has turned into a vile homophobic brutal threatening capitalist state run by the former so called socialist KGB.

  4. s4r4hbrown said,

    But socialists already tend to shun, or at least criticise, Fox News. John Wight’s just had a piece cross-posted on Russia Today.http://socialistunity.com/camerons-visit-china/

  5. Howard Fuller said,

    George Galloway, Julian Assange and now John Wight at RT. Patsy’s the lot of them:


  6. Babs said,

    I agree with what others are saying. Asking us to stop watching RT News is basically us to stop watching ALL mainstream news channel including BBC, Sky News CBS, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News etc which I don’t have an issue with. This focus on the ‘foreign’ bad guy, their media, political system etc shows the Western Corporate media is doing a great job of making us focus our attention on them, far more than on our own propaganda system which we are relentlessly bombarded with.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know RT News is a state funded news channel that promotes the Kremlin point of view but to soley focus on them is hypocritical. I think John Bolton is a nutcase but no one bats an eye lid when he’s being regularly interviewed on the BBC and other mainstream media outlets but because Galloway is on RT News and Press TV we have to make a big deal about it?

    The way I see it is don’t watch State or privately owned and funded news channels when they are talking about their own country and it’s policies but that doesn’t stop them from featuring interesting programmes, guests and documentaries about other countries.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Eric’s call not to even *watch* RT was, perhaps, a bit OTT, but his basic point is sound: there’s nothing progressive about this organ of Russian imperialism and socialists should have nothing to do with it.

  7. haydnseancrespan said,

    Reblogged this on haydnseancrespan and commented:
    Let’s be absolutely clear about what RT actually is. This is a state organ of the Putin regime and though it occasionally uses the language of the left (when attacking Russia’s rivals) the one thing consistent about its coverage is its uncritical support of Russian imperialism.

    Honest leftists should refuse to have anything to do with RT, shouldn’t watch it, should refuse to be interviewed by it, and certainly should not host shows on it.

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