You may know the Kremlin’s state-sponsored “Russia Today” (RT) propaganda network by its public billboards asking if the world isn’t failing to appreciate Josef Stalin’s talent as a romantic poet. But it seems the network’s true calling is the glorification of Barack Obama. At least, that’s the thinking of those who control prominent international media awards.
You may even know RT a little better than just glimpsing its advertisements. Maybe having seen that Stalin ad, and wishing to learn whether Hitler had a way with needlepoint, you decided to order the service through your local cable provider, or maybe you just checked out RT’s free website.
In that case, you might have read stories about how condoms could solve global warming, how nobody will eat or drink anything after August 21 of this year, and how none of it matters because we are all about to be wiped out by killer algae.
These are the stories that dominate the virtual pages of Russia Today. But reading or viewing them, while you might have flashbacks to the brilliant SCTV parody from the early 1980s of Soviet-era TV, you still won’t have glimpsed the true calling of the All-Putin network.
If you know RT more intimately, you may know how it runs scathing anti-American editorials from rogue disenchanted yanks who hate their homeland and want to see it destroyed, and how it actively recruits Westerners to provide pro-Kremlin content. You may know how, alternatively, it focuses on lauding Americans like Ron Paul who have actual power and think Vladimir Putin’s government is a model that America can learn much from. Mr. Paul shows up on RT with frightening, almost ritualistic, regularity. Pat Buchanan is also beloved by RT.
RT terminates reporters who won’t toe the Kremlin’s party line.
But no matter what you think you know about RT from its own pages, you still don’t know the real story. For that, turn to the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (IATAS). They’ve just nominated RT for an iEmmy award — and not for entertainment, mind you, but for hard news reporting. It’s big “news” over at RT, of course.
That’s right, an iEmmy.
Right next to the UK’s Sky News, whose reporters risked their lives in Pakistan reporting on the Taliban’s creeping invasion, right beside Qatar’s Al Jazeera, whose reporters faced bullets on both sides of the front in Israel’s war last year in Gaza, right along with Brazil’s Globo, which exposed massive corruption that led to a horrific nationwide blackout, there is the Kremlin’s pet propaganda project Russia Today.
And what, you may ask, did Russia Today report on so as to justify this award? It was the visit of Barack Obama to Russia in July of last year. What critical news story did RT break? None, and nobody says otherwise. What significance did the visit, or the reporting, have? None, and there is no contrary claim. But RT reporters were there to document every single brown-nosing second of the visit. They were there to show that tiny segment of the world that pays attention to Kremlin propaganda just how totally the United States had accepted the dictatorial regime of proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin and in vivid, up-close-and-personal detail, how that regime was being warmly embraced by America’s new president. That was good enough for IATAS.
RT’s iEmmy nomination reminds me of Russia’s selection as the host country for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia was utterly unqualified in terms of facilities, its proposed site was famous as a beach resort, its impoverished population could hardly afford the Herculean expense of staging the games, and the area proposed is rife with bloody secessionist violence. But none of that gave any pause to the International Olympic Committee. One wondered who was bribed.
Over at my blog La Russophobe, we say that “RT” stands for “really tragic.” That’s because the Kremlin is squandering tens of millions of dollars producing it, money that should be spent on changing facts like the one that says Russia does not rank in the top 135 nations on the planet for life expectancy. You know, the types of facts that RT chooses not to report.
But now we’ll have to rethink the true meaning of tragedy. After all, you can’t blame a fox for stealing chickens. You have to blame the farmer who is too lazy to bother protecting the chickens properly. If Barack Obama had not been so sickeningly deferential towards Putin’s regime when he visited Moscow, if he had not so totally ignored the plight of human rights and democracy, RT would have had nothing to report (but rather, something to cover up) and IATAS would therefore have had nothing to honor.
After all, if Obama can receive a Nobel Prize, why not, indirectly, an Emmy award as well?
Obama is just the fox. Where is the Republican farmer, who is supposed to be protecting the American chickens? Why hasn’t he done more to stand up against this neo-appeasement policy, as Ronald Reagan surely would have done?
Still, the fact that IATAS could be so totally clueless as to allow itself to become this ridiculous a pawn in Putin’s propaganda game is deeply disturbing. IATAS simply thought it would be nice to have an unusual country in the field for some extra diversity, and picked RT almost at random. This is the same naiveté that is reflected in the policy of Obama himself where Russia is concerned, and proves that even a weak Putin, presiding over a diseased country, still has a chance to undermine the West at its foundations.