As the ‘Russiagate’ narrative continues to flounder and consequently fall off the radar of American mainstream media, the FBI recently announced a probe into the multi-lingual Russian news organisations RT and Sputnik.
Sputnik and RT are just some of the many foreign owned media networks which operate offices in the United States, but unlike the BBC(UK state-owned), Al Jazeera (Qatari state-owned), Al Arabiya (Saudi state-owned) or the CBC (Canada state owned), only RT and Sputnik have been threatened by the FBI.
The matter stems from two disgruntled former employees at Sputnik going to the FBI with sensational claims about the nature of Russian state involvement in RT and Sputnik, in spite of the fact that the business model of state-ownership in media outlets is well defined and has been for decades. The United States itself operates several state-owned outlets on foreign soil, most notably Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe.
During his last year in office, Barack Obama pledged further funding and other resources for America’s state-owned media outlets over seas.
However, in a move which defies reason and America’s own state-run as well as private sector business practices, the FBI seeks to investigate whether RT and Sputnik should be forced to register as ‘foreign agents’, as opposed to journalistic organisations, under the obscure Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which was designed to target Nazi propaganda during the 1930s. The act has hardly ever been invoked and the very idea of going after Russian media using a law originally designed to target the great opponent of the Soviet and Russian people, fascist Germany, simply adds insult to injury.
Now, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has issued Russia’s response. She called the move on the part of the US authorities, a violation of America’s own very well defined free speech laws. She further stated that it was “unacceptable” for a so-called democracy to behave in the way the US is behaving in respect of well known media organisations.
Zakharova then stated,
“We reserve the right to respond to the outrageous actions of the American side”.
As many US broadcasters operate freely in Russia. Against this background, the US may be on the verge of setting a precedent that will come back to haunt them.