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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Report on Russian hacking objects to RT criticisms of fracking

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has a substantial section in its report on 2016 U.S. election hacking by Russia that focuses upon the Russian govenrment-funded channel RT as overtly anti-American.

The full report can be accessed here. There is no doubt that a great deal of RT coverage is anti-American. The editor in chief of RT Margarita Simonyan admitted: "the word 'propaganda' has a very negative connotation, but indeed, there is not a single international foreign TV channel that is doing something other than promotion of the values of the country that it is broadcasting from." She added that "when Russia is at war, we are, of course, on Russia's side"'. This somehow is itself a sin and to be stopped as apparently international tv should promote a US point of view and not criticize the U.S.
Among the negative aspects of RT is that they have hosted debates that include third party candidates, unlike mainstream media debates in the U.S. which are only between the two major party candidates. In 2012 the RT hosted a TV debate including Libertarian Party Candidate Gary Johnson and Jill Stein Green Party Candidate. In 2016 they had primary debates for the same two parties that focused on foreign policy as well as electoral reform. The report sees presenting a more inclusive debate as somehow anti-American! The anti-hacking document claims:In an effort to highlight the alleged "lack of democracy" in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised thirdparty candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the U.S. two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a "sham."While one can disagree with what RT says, many Americans will be attracted by the fact that RT provides an alternative news source that allows them to learn the positions of those outside the two major parties. There is a market for such information and RT provides it. This bothers the intelligence community which would like to be able to better control the flow of information.
The report on hacking also notes that RT has produced a documentary against fracking. The documentary is appended. However, anti-fracking news is endemic in the west. Numerous documentaries and articles are published that are critical of the practice. Do the authors of the report think that these are useful idiots who unknowingly are pushing the agenda of the Russians? A recent article in the Washington Post suggests as much. The article was so misleading that it was itself criticized as fake news. However the Post was not satisfied and just recently carried a false news account of an alleged hack of a US utility by Russia. Of course mainstream award-winning media have carried stories of Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The report suggests the reason behind the RT reports on fracking: RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government's concern about the impact of fracking and U.S. natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom's profitability.This could well be correct but many environmentalists are going to be attracted by this coverage whereas mainstream U.S. media may often avoid such coverage as it could hurt some of those they depend upon for advertising. The report also notes that RT covers such negative aspects of U.S. life as police brutality. Of course U.S. mainstream media often does the same with respect to the Russian system. Russian criticism of mass surveillance the report takes as a sign that the RT is trying to 'undermine viewers' trust in the U.S. democratic procedures. There is not the slightest hint that such coverage might justifiably cause viewers to have doubts about the system. Instead of suggesting that reform might be needed, the report suggests that the U.S. needs to spend more money countering coverage that actually contains a great deal of truth even while it is, as claimed, part of a propaganda strategy aimed at the United States.


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