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The war on RT: A childish crusade pushing a dangerous agenda

A new George Soros funded report calls guests on RT, ranging from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders, “useful idiots”.

A  so-called NGO known as the European Values Think-Tank, has published a “report” blasting regular guests on RT as “useful idiots” who are helping “an instrument of hostile foreign influence”. The group, whose largest source of funding is George Soros, claims that RT’s goals include “undermining public confidence in the viability of liberal democracy”. Other epithets thrown at RT include calling the broadcaster, “a second-rate news network with an abysmal reputation and dubious audience numbers”,  “the Russian propaganda machine” and a “disinformation tool”.

While European Values presents itself as an NGO, sources of funding for the group include the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and European Union. These state-funding sources mean that the Think-Thank is not an NGO (non governmental organisation), but rather, a body which has established financial ties to powerful governments, in addition to receiving most of its funds from George Soros and his Open Society body.

The report concludes with a list of the “useful idiots” in question, mainly drawn from US and European politicians and well known activists who have appeared on RT. The list is a not only incomplete but has some blindly inaccuracies. For example RT’s show “Politicking with Larry King”, a show hosted by the world famous former CNN host, is erroneously referred to as “Politicking with Larry David”. Larry David is of course a comedian known for his work with Jerry Seinfeld. Also, the list describes former British Member of Parliament George Galloway as the “former” host of Sputnik: Orbiting the World, even though Galloway continues to host his RT show.

The list of “useful idiots”, in spite of its incomplete nature, is still highly diverse. The list includes figures such as: Donald Trump(current US President), Ralph Nader (American consumer rights advocate and former left-wing Presidential candidate), Nigel Farage (member of EU Parliament and Brexit campaigner), Bill Richardson (former New Mexico governor and former Ambassador to the United Nations), Dr. Ron Paul (former US presidential candidate and libertarian author/thinker/host) Jill Stein (former left-wing US presidential candidate), Bernie Sanders (US senator, former US presidential candidate), Wesley Clark (former US general and one time Democratic presidential condenser), Sean Spicer (former White House Press Secretary), Hans Blix (former UN chief weapons inspector and former Swedish Foreign Minister), Keith Vaz (British politician and immigrants rights campaigner), Ann Widdecombe (British politician and social conservative activist), Gary Johnson (former US Presidential candidate for the Libertarian party), Pat Buchanan (former White House aid in the administrations and Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, former US presidential candidate), Robert Reich (former Clinton administration Labor Secretary, liberal activist), Lincoln Chafee (former US Senator and Rhode Island governor, known for leaving the Republican party and becoming a Democratic as his values become more liberal), Ken Livingstone (former left wing mayor of London), Jeremy Corbyn (current leader of the UK opposition Labour Party), YanisVaroufakis (former Greek finance minister), Marine Le Pen (former French presidential candidate), Romano Prodi (centrist/neo-liberal former Italian Prime Minister and former EU Commission President), Jessee Ventura (former governed of the US state of Minnesota) David Davis (Britain’s lead Brexit negotiator),  Michael Flynn (highly decorated US General, former National Security Advisor)…

The list above is just a partial list taken from the anti-RT dossier produced by “European Values”. As is plainly evident, the list features well known names from the left, centre and right of US and European politics. It would be logically impossible for figures who have campaigned against one another and who hold a plethora of competing ideologies and political positions, to all be working uniformly in the name of a single agenda of any kind, “Russian” nor otherwise. The fact that not a single person on this list is Russian, is a further sign of the report’s flawed nature.

Furthermore, by calling such prominent figures “useful idiots” of the “Kremlin”, the report’s authors could possibly open itself to libel charges from the individuals who have been publicly disparaged in a grotesquely inaccurate manner.

The nature of the report which appears hastily compiled, with a mountain of factual inaccuracies and wild claims presented without evidence and without actually visiting any RT facilities or speaking with any RT employees or guests, is shambolic.

But more to the point, the report is deeply childish. In an age of the internet and satellite television, the average news consumer has more options than at any time in human history. It is possible to read media from Russia, the US, Japan, China, Australia, Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar, Lithuania, Germany, France, Mexico, Poland, Chile and Canada….all while riding the bus.

If anything, the vast availability of a diverse amount of information, should de-mystify the fact-finding process and indeed for most people, this is what has happened.

The basic fact that all media outlets have an editorial line seems to be lost on the “report’s” authors and furthermore, they don’t quite seem to understand how RT contacts their gusts.

As someone who is a frequent guest on RT, I will explain the process. A producer from RT and occasionally an RT host will contact me either via email, social media messages, SMS or with a phone call. They’ll ask if I am available to comment on a given topic and a certain time. Once this is agreed upon and I arrive at the studio, I sit and wait to be called into the studio where I’m fitted with earpiece and mic and go on air. At no time has anyone at RT told me what the nature of my responses should be, no one has told me to omit stating certain beliefs that I am known to hold and at no time have I been given a list of questions prior to being interviewed by an RT employee.

Other individuals I have spoken to have told me, without prompting, that their experiences are exactly the same. Furthermore, speaking for myself, if anyone from any media outlet told me what to say or how to say it, not only would I not play along, but I would raise the issue angrily on social media at once and happily criticise such an organisation on any other media network that would hear me out. This is because, I take pride in my statements and anyone trying to tell me how to rephrase my views would in my mind, be insulting me in the gravest manner possible.

But while the nature, context and style of the Soros funded “report” is childish, the logical conclusion of the report is dangerous. The report is encouraging censorship of RT and ostensibly of the guests listed as “useful idiots”. Furthermore, the report is attempting to destroy the personal and professional credibility of RT guests in a manner that is at the very least, totally unethical.

This sort of censorship through character assassination and degradation, is dangerous. The authors and sponsors of the European Values Think-Tank ought to take a lesson from Russian media which is incredibly diverse in both the large private sector as well as the public sector. The radio station Echo of Moscow and the multi-lingual Moscow Times newspaper and website, are as liberal and critical of the Russian status quo as anything in Europe, sometimes more so.

These outlets (just to name two prominent ones) are allowed to operate freely and both have their audience who are not bullied by the Russian government into viewing alternative sources. If someone wants to listen to Echo of Moscow and only Echo of Moscow, no one in Russia is going to care. If only this open attitude was espoused by the authors from the European Values Think-Tank, then they would be showing signs of maturity that they clearly do not possess at this point in time.

As for my personal opinion, I believe RT is a good source of information and objectively, I have never seen a report on RT that is factually false, although I often disagree with various guests on RT. Of course, I agree with others. This is par for the course with any media outlet. If someone doesn’t want to watch RT, the good news is that no one is forcing you to do so.

But please, do not try to tell others not to watch RT, do not bully people into rejecting request for interviews from RT and above all, do not slander people on a personal level, just because you disagree with their opinions.

It’s hard to believe that such a thing needs to be said in the 21st century, but the regression of liberalism from a movement about ideas (whether one agrees with them or otherwise) into a movement about cutting off the ideas of others, is fundamentally an attempt to return to a dark age.

What do you think?

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