by Bryan MacDonald
What do Harrison Ford, Evander Holyfield, Mr T, Will.I.Am, Oliver Stone, Stephen Fry and Vivienne Westwood all have in common?
Aside from being really famous, they are also united by the fact they’ve appeared on RT. And Monika Richter, an obsessive at a Czech-based pressure group called “European Values Think-Tank,”purports to have compiled a list of all the leading western celebrities, journalists, commentators, academics and politicians who have featured on this network’s programmes in recent years. Something which you might think would come in handy, going forward, for new RT producers looking for potential guests, as it contains 2,327 names.
Except, alas, it’s not really very accurate. The haphazard, careless and shoddy compilation makes some bizarre mistakes, such as confusing British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for an actor impersonating him. And, even more bizarrely, mistaking the legendary Larry King for the equally illustrious Larry David. Not once, but dozens of times.
Badly implemented smear campaigns from various anti-Russia lobbyists are nothing new. But this attempt is especially inept. Because it’s so pockmarked with mistakes that it looks like it was knocked out in a weekend. Which makes its opening suggestion on how “politicians and media organisations should publiclly (sic) commit to a higher degree of fact-checking rigour” all the more remarkable in its speciousness.
The money tree
Before going further, let’s be clear about who pays for the activities of “European Values” and whose interests this faux-academic concern serves. In 2015, its biggest single source of private funding was the veteran billionaire vulture-capitalist George Soros (around 25% in total via two Open Society Foundation agencies). In Russia, the organization is considered so toxic that it has been banned as a “security threat.” Furthermore, this viewpoint is not restricted to Moscow, as the government of his homeland, Hungary, has singled Soros out as an “enemy of the state.” Indeed, even Israel concurs with this view, with its Foreign Ministry saying he “continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments.”
So, we know Soros is no friend of democracy. Instead, he uses his vast fortune to interfere in sovereign states and undermine administrations he dislikes. Which is ironically what Richter accuses RT of doing when she writes how “RT’s raison d’être is to denigrate the West at all costs and undermine public confidence in the viability of liberal democracy.” Something which is completely untrue, given that the actual rationale behind RT is to present Russia’s point of view. Also, as it happens, Moscow has excellent relations with many other democracies including South Korea, India and Israel. And is also on friendly terms with numerous individual European Union states even if, under pro-American leaders in Berlin and Paris, the collective has effectively outsourced its foreign policy to the United States in recent years, rendering it automatically anti-Russian.
Incidentally, aside from Soros, the other big donors to the “European Values” lobby group are the European Commission and Parliament and the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom. Thus, it doesn’t take a genius to follow the money and see the agendas at play. And it’s instructive that Richter is also connected to the Atlantic Council, a large US political action body, bankrolled by the Ukrainian World Congress, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Raytheon Company andthe US State Department. All entities that, of course, benefit from strained relations between Russia and the west.
Round and round
Most of Richter’s key claims make little sense. She keeps accusing RT of “disinformation” but provides no evidence of it being deliberate, merely highlighting a few factual mistakes over the years which are no more extraordinary than those of rival outlets. Because there is no news organization that never gets it wrong.
The author also cites “the US intelligence report on Russian electoral interference,” a laughably misinformed document that has been dismissed by every credible western Russian expert. And she continuously refers to guests as “useful idiots;” an incredible insult to fling at giants such as Kofi Annan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Peter Sutherland, Jeremy Corbyn and Wolfgang Ischinger, who have achieved far more in life than the author ever will, on this evidence.
European Values’ other “big reveal is” that “RT uses guest appearances by Western politicians, journalists and writers, academics, and other influential public personalities to boost its credibility.” Which is actually not strictly true. In reality RT, like all other TV stations, mainly does it to boost ratings, because, quite obviously, viewers would rather watch, say, Noam Chomsky (listed as ‘Noah’ here in yet another error) opine on world affairs than some nobody who thinks the US government is beyond criticism. Additionally, Richter accuses RT of anti-Westernism (particularly anti-Americanism). Which makes one wonder how she’d describe American media coverage of Russia, if she were being truly honest.
The lobbyist then makes an astounding statement: “RT never reports about Russia – only about the failings and hypocrisies of Western society.” Which is a complete lie, and if you doubt that, click my picture on the top left of this page and you will see that the vast majority of my own writing on here is Russia-centric.
Richter contradicts herself all over the shop. For instance, she claims RT’s impact on western audiences is “minimal to modest,” yet, a few lines later she warns how RT’s “specific effects” on its viewers “should be a research priority for all organizations and governments interested in countering the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign.” And later she thunders that Russia’s “disinformation campaign,” which allegedly includes RT’s journalism, presents a “security hazard” that “should not be taken lightly” – but then says it’s “imperative” not to “overinflate” the threat of RT.
Of course, the real agenda behind reports of this nature is often exposed by what they omit. And on Saturday, the Prague-based journalist Michael Colborne (who himself has written for Soros-backed blogs) pointed out that the 52-page slander fest was “full of qualifiers and also some arbitrariness with only persons deemed of sufficient public significance and repute are (sic) included.”
“This might explain why there’s a few names missing, including two friends of European Values, who themselves have been on RT!” he added.
Colborne was referring to Julia Davis and Eric Garland, who are today known as particularly determined anti-Russia activists, prominent on social media, with perspectives which conveniently mirror the lobby groups agenda. “This is just intellectually dishonest horseshit. Framing every single person ever on RT as an idiot… except your friends, conveniently,” Colborne continued. Well, just fancy that!