As is now widely known, within the last few days the European Values Think-Tank, a Prague based NGO funded by Western institutions and by funds set up by the US billionaire George Soros, has published another ‘report’ about RT.
The report largely recycles old allegations about RT being a Kremlin propaganda channel, making all the stale complaints about RT’s coverage of the crises in Ukraine and Syria, the European migrant crisis, political developments in the US, MH17 etc, which have been made many times before. I do not propose to waste time on those.
Far more concerning is that an appendix to the report purports to provide a list of “useful idiots”: Westerners who have appeared on RT, and who by doing so have supposedly lent credibility to “the Kremlin’s propaganda channel”.
The report in particular singles out Western politicians of varying prominence (they include Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage) who have appeared on the channel, listing the number of times they have done so, and the channel’s programmes they have appeared on.
I find this frankly sinister. In effect it is telling these politicians that someone is keeping tabs on them and on their appearances on the channel. Moreover by labelling them ‘useful idiots’, it is all but accusing them of giving aid to the ‘enemy’, with a clear hint that if they persist in doing so they will beyond a certain point cease to be treated as ‘idiots’ and start being treated as ‘traitors’.
All this of course is going hand in hand with a campaign in the US to have RT and the Russian news agency Sputnik labelled ‘foreign agents’, and with a campaign in Britain orchestrated by The Times newspaper to ‘dissuade’ British MPs from appearing on RT.
I would add in passing that the expression ‘useful idiots’ used in the report, though commonly attributed to Lenin, was never in fact used by him.
Of course some of the people named in the list – people like Ralph Nader and Nigel Farage – are unlikely to be deterred by the fact that their names appear on a list like this.
However in the case of some of the others – younger politicians ambitious for their careers – it is easy to see how being named in a list like this may have a chilling effect, and how the danger of appearing on such a list may deter others who have not up to now appeared on RT but who might have been open to doing so.
The fact that the NGO which has published the report is obviously politically well-connected will no doubt reinforce these fears. The fact that someone has the time and resources to keep track of who appears on RT, and the number of times they do so, must increase those fears even further.
In the case of some of the people named in the list – and some people who might be deterred from going on RT because of fears of appearing in future on such a list – it may also provoke fears about what whoever it is who has that amount of time and resources can find out – and perhaps already knows – about them.
The NGO which has published the report claims “to defend liberal democracy”. In fact what it has done does not appear to me either “liberal” or “democratic”. On the contrary it looks to me the opposite.