Media,  Russia,  Wingnuttery

Russia Today’s toxic mix

While Vladimir V. Putin tries to come across to the outside world as reasonable, moderate and even concerned about Israel, the TV station funded by his government plumbs new depths of craziness.

I forced myself to watch this disjointed parade of half-truths, lies, conspiracy theories and (above all) Israel-bashing on Russia Today, hosted by one Daniel Bushell. (Where the hell did he come from? Does he really believe the crap he spouts?). I won’t attempt a thorough debunking– what would be the point? But I want to note that the program features Nick Griffin (“Nick joins us now, great to see you”), identified simply as a “parliamentarian” with no reference to his leadership of the fascist British National Party.

Griffin talks about his recent visit to Syria, where he found everything normal in the well-guarded center of Damascus.

Quickly we move on to a selection of other moonbats, antisemites and even a clip of one Judge Jeanine Pirro on her Fox News program warning of Barack Obama’s policies leading to World War III and demanding that he give back his Nobel Peace Prize.

The program comes to a merciful end with Oxford academic Sharmine Narwani (“Sharmine joins us, great to see you”), who assures us that Syria is the last battle for the American empire.

The New Statesman reported in May:

According to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, which compiles UK viewing figures for television stations, between two and a quarter and two and a half million Britons tuned their televisions to [Russia Today] during the second half of last year. It is, it boasts, the most popular news channel in Britain after the BBC and Sky. Its YouTube feed has more than 740,000 subscribers and over 970 million views. Not bad for a channel its detractors dismiss as a Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece – it is statefunded through the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications.

At a time when western media sources are losing money, and even the BBC has been forced to cut its budget by 20 per cent over the next four years, RT’s financial health will allow its voice to become ever more prominent. Moscow correspondents frequently speculate which western journalists will move to RT when their own outlet goes bust.

In October last year, Putin personally intervened to block a finance ministry proposal to cut RT’s funding. The channel will receive more than £250m this year, approximately the same sum as the BBC World Service received from the British government in 2011- 2012. And where the World Service will lose its direct government funding from 2014 and be paid from the licence fee instead, thus squeezing its budget, Putin will keep RT healthily supplied with cash.