The New York Times has come out with another lengthy piece about RT and Sputnik, this time under the guise that the subject is once again interesting due to the Russiagate ‘scandal’ turning from the political sector and veering towards the journalistic sector, having found no pertinent information in the former.
The NYT story is there for all to see and far from hiding the story, many RT and Sputnik employees, guests and listeners/viewers have been sharing it. In this sense the New York Times has made a strong argument in favour of the self-policing nature of the new online methods of consuming media and analysing journalism.
The RT/Sputnik ‘sphere’ are sharing the NYT piece for the following reasons:
–It conflates opinion with fact
–It fails to highlight the difference between factual reporting and an editorial line which in the context created by the NYT are highly relevant phenomena to differentiate.
–It does not accuse RT or Sputnik of any specific wrongdoing in spite of melodramatic tone
–The style of insults is both unoriginal and by objective standards, emotionally unmoving.
By contrast, the New York Times and their ‘sphere’ have rarely if never actually shared an entire television program, radio show or written piece by RT or Sputnik, even under the guise of saying ‘this is what we do not believe in’. I would personally welcome that, as frankly the biggest scandal in the MSM versus alt-media ‘war’, is that it is not a war at all.
It is true that hearts and minds can be won, but they are never won in a battle or anything approximating such things. They are won when people come across something that makes common sense, helps explain things that were previously confusing or unclear and finally, hearts and minds will only be continually won when one does not use ‘fake facts’ in order to bolster claims.
It must be said that journalistic outlet has ever got all of the facts correct all of the time, with the exception of Wikileaks, which ironically the NYT lumps in with RT. But when it comes to RT and Sputnik versus the New York Times, the Times has been far guiltier of misrepresenting the facts in recent months and even years than RT or Sputnik. This in and of itself is not a colossal problem so long as the NYT corrects the facts accordingly (which sometimes happens and other times does not).
In this sense, while the NYT is throwing stones in a glass house of its own making, this is not even the biggest problem.
The biggest problem is that the NYT and western mainstream media as a whole seeks to portray those having a different editorial line as something which is sinister or even unlawful. As usual, this slander of those with different opinions, tends only to include the Russian editorial line in fitting with the narrative that somehow the rise of the anti-liberal movement in the US has something to do with Russia, even though the issues Donald Trump and people like Steve Bannon talk about, tend to have a greater focus on domestic issues than those in the neo-con wing of the Republican party or the modern Democratic party. Through the last few years, it was the Obama wing of the Democratic party that obsessed over internal Russian affairs, not the Trump/Bannonite wing of the Republicans who did so. If anything, the Trumps and Bannons of the USA are guilty of caring too little about Russia, not that an American politician needs to have any specific knowledge of Russia’s internal politics per se.
Overall, the NYT is making the same mistake Hillary Clinton made when calling Donald Trump’s supporters a ‘basket of deplorables’. Of course Hillary Clinton disagrees with Donald Trump and by extrapolation his supporters. If the opposite were true, she’d have no reason to run against him in an election. But to conflate profound, emotional and historic disagreements with criticism of the content of an entire group’s character, is the rhetorical version of a boxer pummelling an opponent below the belt.
It’s no secret that RT/Sputnik and the NYT have very different views on very many things. The question that millions will be asking and have asked is “SO WHAT”?
Those of a NYT mind-set will read the NYT, those of an RT mind-set will watch RT. Those who don’t fit into either admittedly simplistic stereotype will consume a bit of both. I’m sure there are many people who dislike both the NYT and RT/Sputnik and that is also perfectly normal.
If this sounds like stating the obvious, this is because by stating the absurd, the New York Times has put the simple truths of the first amendment of the US Constitution and common sense on trial without any real need.
It is true that MSM outlets have failed to catch up with both the business models and generally incredibly diverse analysis of newer outlets. But this is a function of an audience based business model. The New York Subway, for example, has a captive audience: there is no alternative to travelling underground at high speeds in New York City. But the New York Times does not have a captive audience, there are multiple ways that individuals can consume information and opinions in New York or anywhere else, other than the New York Times.
In this sense, the New York Times has turned their understandable frustration over losing a near monopoly on ‘all the news that is fit to print’, in a world where news is watched, heard, interacted with and debated in real time on mobile devices, into a kind of moral and quasi-legal attack on RT and Sputnik.
This is what it boils down to and frankly, if certain lines are crossed, certain lawyers ought to be contacted by RT and Sputnik. This though, is just one man’s opinion.
What is the opinion of many though, are that the views expressed and discussed on RT and Sputnik every hour of every day are the kind of things they are interested in engaging with. As the New York Times even admits, RT traverses the spectrum of left and right far more genuinely than mainstream media tends to do in 2017.
It is true that RT and Sputnik approach things from a broadly Russian perspective, just as Al Jazeera approaches things from a Qatari perspective and the BBC from a British perspective.
When George W. Bush and both parties of the US Congress passed the Patriotic Act, those who opposed such measures were often told ‘if you have nothing to hide, why are you worried’?
People were worried because of the very real spectre of a loss of free speech. One could use the same argument with the New York Times, only they need not be afraid of losing their right to publish, no one is challenging that. They seem to be afraid of others, no matter what their nationality, who exercise their own right to free speech.
It’s déjà vu all over again!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.