Question: How do you react to attacks on RT and yourself? Is RT Russian propaganda and are you a propagandist as the critics claim?
Answer: Over the years I have grown accustomed to the attacks on the channel and attacks directed against me personally. The attacks mean we are having an impact. Corporate mainstream media is on the run – it is desperate to maintain their audiences, desperate to defend the narratives of the powers-that-be. I have noticed that when the mainstream and the western liberal political establishment accuse a news organization or media personality of propaganda, it is a sign of weakness – even impotence. The primary goal of the corporate mainstream is to protect and advance the goals of the current order. My work at RT (and The Duran) is precisely to challenge the status quo.
Q.: Let’s stay with the issue of propaganda. After all you work for a news organization that is funded by the Russian government. This is one of the main reasons your critics use the term “propaganda” against you.
A.: First of all, RT makes no secret who funds the channel – and that’s the Russian state. The fact is most television around the world does receive some form of state funding – but rarely are they called propaganda. Second, does private funding mean a news outlet is devoid of promoting an agenda? FOX does not receive state funding, though I truly believe one can easily make the case FOX pushes a very specific view of politics. The BBC is partially funded by the state, but I would hardly say it is free of prejudices and bias. Second, funding should not necessarily be the test of a reliable news outlet or, in my case, a broadcaster. What is most important is content. Take for example CNN. While I make it a point not to watch this news outlet, there are occasions I must to do my job at RT. CNN goes out of its way to promote and protect the political status quo and at the moment is nothing less that Clinton Network News. On top of this, CNN has NEVER reported on an American war it didn’t like. It goes to incredible lengths to promote Washington’s global hegemony agenda. As far as I am concerned, CNN and similar outlets are the propaganda machines that need to be challenged. Needless to say, the media establishment doesn’t take this well!
Q.: Let’s talk specifics – please provide some examples of propaganda promoted by the corporate western mainstream.
A.: The mainstream’s view of the world is simply Orwellian. Russia and its president are presented as evil incarnate. The term “Russian aggression” is used when in fact Russia is defending itself against the west. Russia isn’t placing military bases on the borders of NATO countries – it certainly isn’t placing bases on America’s borders. Russia didn’t overturn the legal government in Ukraine in 2014 – Washington backed an illegal regime change. The U.S. and its allies have backed the Kiev regime killing its own citizens living in the Donbas. (And Russia has received over a million refugees from a conflict that never should have happened in the first place – not much coverage of that in the mainstream media!). The U.S. refuses to release surveillance data on the downing of MH17 – ask yourself why? Do western audiences have a clue regarding the neo-Nazi and fascistic biographies of some of the people running the Kiev regime? And no, Russia didn’t “invade” Crimea. The people of Crimea voted to rejoin Russia out of fear of the American-backed government in Kiev.
In Syria, the media situation is equally Orwellian. The Syrian government is sovereign and fighting for its sovereign survival. Western audiences are NEVER told their governments are engaged in still another illegal war of aggression. Every western bomb dropped on Syria is illegal under international law; all western boots on the ground are equally illegal. Western governments – at the behest of Washington – back (in various ways) terrorists groups. For years western bombing of Syria has targeted the country’s infrastructure and not terrorist groups fighting as proxies for others. Russia on the other hand is in Syria legally – under international law the Damascus government invited Russia to come to its aid. With very limited resources, Russia has dramatically changed the political facts on the ground. Instead of coddling terrorists, Russia is destroys them – though the mainstream corporate news outlets says almost nothing about this. This is propaganda by omission and commission.
Then there is ubiquitous claim that Russia is a threat to the west. On the face of this would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Russia’s military capacity is overwhelming defensive in nature. Russia military doctrine clearly states the primary objective is homeland defense and Russia’s immediate neighborhood. It is the west that aims for global hegemony; Russia only real sin is to resist. Media claims that Russia is behind a whole spectrum of political events in Europe and the U.S. truly boggles the mind. When Russia moves its own troops within the country’s borders, this is called a “provocation.” When NATO moves troops to Russia borders it is called countering Russian “aggression.” This is absurd.
Q.: If, as you say, Russia acts defensively and resists western aggression, then Russia is essentially a propaganda weapon for a variety purposes.
A.: Exactly! Hillary Clinton’s claim that everything that ails American politics (meaning those who oppose her candidacy) is the fault of Vladimir Putin – this is simply surreal. I suspect all this bewilders the Kremlin. What is really in play is a new form of McCarthyism in American politics. Who would have thought the first major female presidential candidate would run as a reinvention of Richard Nixon? Nixon was a red-baiter of the first order. Clinton is no different except Russia has replaced anti-communism. For me there is a huge difference between the two, but for the corporate media there are treated as the same. Western audiences are being sold the same bill of goods all over again. Tragically this propaganda pitch is very effective.
Q.: Where do we go from here? Since, as you claim, Russia is the object of a new form of McCarthyism, can the west walk back from this propaganda strategy?
A.: At the moment this is an American election ploy. But the dye is cast. I seriously doubt a President Hillary Clinton will attempt to pull off a “Nixon goes to China.” Many of the neocons who have left the Republican Party to join the Clinton machine will be very keen to play key roles in a Hillary administration. On top of this, using Russia as the universal bogeyman is a gift that keeps on giving. Hillary Clinton has never taken any responsibility for her actions and decisions in public life. Why would that change if she becomes president? She already as an answer to any of her future failures – “it’s Putin’s fault.” That is not a foreign policy, it is demagoguery.
Peter Lavelle is host RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.