The mainstream media have proven to be pro-war, fake news, partisan hacks. The Counterfeit News Network (CNN), The Washington Compost, the Clinton Broadcasting System (CBS), and the rest of the leftist media want to control the narrative presented to American viewers. Should you dare interfere in the media’s objective – whether they’re promoting another unjustified war or blaming Russia for all the world’s problems – you’re in for a beating. And they wield a state-sponsored club.
RT announced Monday that it has filed for registration as a foreign agent in the U.S. Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said that the television network decided to comply with the U.S. Department of Justice after it threatened legal action under 1938 legislation.
But this establishes an uncomfortable precedent moving forward. Will the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) be coerced into signing up as a foreign agent? Is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) next? Are all foreign news outlets expected to register?
Despite the U.S. government putting forward the directive, the American press has led the charge against the Russian government-funded international news network for years.
RT Files as a Foreign Agent
In 1938, the United States government passed a law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The bill required that all agents representing a foreign entity in a political or semi-political capacity disclose this relation with the U.S. government. It was designed to counter infiltrations by Nazi Germany.
Nearly 30 years later, it was revised to only include foreign agents working for foreign powers to seek a political gain or economic advantage by impacting U.S. policy. Earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans tried to expand FARA, but the proposal has yet to reach the House or Senate for a vote.
In September, the Justice Department made the decision to enact FARA.
The Justice Department demanded that a company supplying equipment and services to RT America in the U.S. register under FARA. If the firm failed to abide by the request, then their assets would be frozen. With no other alternative, the business complied and registered as a foreign agent.
Well, the DOJ did it again, requesting that RT sign up as a foreign agent or face legal action. Despite earlier hints that it would go to court over discrimination, RT followed in its supplier’s footsteps: register as a foreign agent to avoid fighting the federal government.
Simonyan issued a statement on Twitter:
“Between legal action and registration [as a foreign agent], we have chosen the latter. Congratulates to the U.S. [on its] freedom of speech and all those who still believe in it.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin also weighed in on the news, promising a “tit-for-tat” response. He said in a statement:
“An attack on our media in the US is an attack on the freedom of speech beyond all doubt.”
Moscow did generate a tit-for-tat response: restrict foreign media, including CNN, in Russia. Parliamentarians passed new legislation that limits the work of overseas media outlets and labels any foreign-funded news network as a “foreign agent.”
For Washington elites yearning for 1960s nostalgia, this must be a joyous occasion for them.
Silence of the Press
The biggest critics of RT have been the Western press and neoconservatives. Because RT has provided an alternative viewpoint to U.S. foreign policy and the numerous global conflicts, like Syria and Ukraine, mainstream media outlets have often criticized RT. With the Trump-Russia collusion saga continuing, leftist journalists and companies persist in their lambasting of the TV network.
Last month, Twitter announced that it was banning ads from RT over election meddling. The $1.9 million the social network received in previous advertising from RT and Sputnik will go to external research and the company’s goal of civic engagement.
For much of 2017, reporters have alleged that the Trump administration is attempting to censor the media. Interestingly enough, they have been eerily silent about this affair. And when they have reported on the situation, they have posted misleading titles that will immediately generate thousands of retweets and Facebook likes.
RT has attempted to speak with press freedom watchdogs, but they all have declined to comment. The U.S. Press Association claimed ignorance, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media could not offer a comment, and the UK National Union of Journalists said it’s inappropriate to make a statement.
The only organization that has had the temerity to take a stand is the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ). Soon after RT confirmed its compliance, the CPJ issued a statement:
“Compelling RT to register under FARA is a bad idea. This is a shift in how the law has been applied in recent decades, so we have little information about how its reporting requirements might affect individual journalists.
We’re uncomfortable with governments deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda.”
These sentiments have been echoed by a few members of the independent press and political movements.
Glenn Greenwald tweeted that CPJ’s observations are “obvious.” Alternet Senior Editor Max Blumenthal said on Fox News that this is “a rebirth of McCarthyism.” Bestselling author Chris Hedges called it “crude censorship.” Green Party VP Ajamu Baraka averred that “CNN should register as agent of capitalism” (which doesn’t even make any sense).
RT Coverage Questions Status Quo
The American press has a terrible reputation – fake news, bias, dubious news stories (a dog’s ear looks like President Donald Trump). Cable news, newspapers, and mainstream blogs are too obsessed with parroting party lines and slamming President Trump to cover the real news.
And, to a certain extent, RT fills this void.
As the media drooled over President Barack Obama, RT covered his drone strikes, surveillance and military creep in Africa. As the media express outrage over Trump having two scoops of ice cream, RT reported on Yemen starvation, the neocon adventures in Africa, and Eastern European matters.
Like the BBC, CBC or China Daily, RT has an agenda, and you should always question the coverage. But you should do that with anything the media, or the government, tells you. Unlike CNN or MSNBC, RT has diverse voices and entertains guests that would never appear on American cable news, like foreign policy expert Daniel McAdams or AntiWar.com’s Scott Horton.
In a media landscape of daily anti-Trump hysteria and a 3×5 card of allowable opinion (thanks, Tom Woods), RT is a refreshing alternative to Rachael Maddow, Don Lemon, or Sean Hannity.
Do you support RT being forced to register as a foreign agent? Let us know in the comments section!