"Every single day we're lying and finding sexier ways to do it."
—Sara Firth, former RT reporter
, formerly known as Russia Today
, is a controversial news channel subsidized by the Russian
government. While it is carried on cable television, it is also known for its YouTube
channel which has beaten Fox News
in user hits. Like Al Jazeera
, coverage is aimed at the international market rather than the domestic, but has often been accused of serving as a Propaganda Machine
for President Vladimir Putin
. It is also known for giving excessive airtime to Conspiracy Theorists
RT has branches in the U.S., U.K., South America, and the Middle East. The Russian government has announced plans to expand RT's budget by 40% and launch French and German-language services, but the recent collapse in the Russian economy has caused the budget to be slashed and the new services to be possibly shelved.
This network contains examples of:
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: This segment in which Daniel Bushell interviews a jerky stop-motion Lego figure in a Darth Vader costume meant to represent Barack Obama.
- Blonde Authoritarian Sex Kitten
- Biting the Hand Coverage: Averted, for obvious reasons. If the U.S. or a West European country becomes embroiled in controversy, RT newscasters will crawl all over the story. Then they will make excuses for the Kremlin on the exact same issues.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Perhaps the most common criticism. RT devotes lots of coverage to conspiracy theories, giving airtime to truthers, birthers, and cranks warning of False Flag Operations. It's no surprise that Alex Jones is a frequent guest.
- Abby Martin, host of Breaking the Set, had an extensive history in the 9/11 Truth movement before being hired by RT. Guess which subject Martin keeps bringing up on her show?
- Thom Hartmann of The Big Picture (who is also a left-wing talk radio host) espouses JFK assassination theories and anti-GMO hysteria.
- Daniel Bushell of The Truthseeker entirely devotes his program to conspiracy theories, often of the False Flag Operation variety.
- Tony Gosling, a regular RT.com columnist, is a self-proclaimed "Bilderberg expert" and pushes theories about 9/11, the London bombings, and the Illuminati.
- Daniel Estulin, an occasional Alex Jones guest, hosted a segment on RT's Spanish-language channel alleging a conspiracy by wealthy Jews to steal Argentine territory.
- As Rational Wiki puts it, RT is an example of a (relatively) mainstream outlet that promotes conspiracy theories on an industrial scale. Indeed, it provides an absurd amount of air time and leeway to both far-left and far-right cranks.
- Early Installment Weirdness: When it was launched, RT devoted most of its schedule to weather bulletins and cultural programs about the countryside. In response to its tepid reception, RT (at Putin's alleged behest) was retooled into a news channel.
- Hypocrite: RT routinely depicts Western countries negatively for starting adventurist wars, undermining global stability, serving corrupt billionaires, rolling back press freedoms, and violating human rights and privacy. They ignore the fact that The New Russia has also been accused of doing all these things.
- This theme being pushed by RT is actually a continuation of an old Soviet propaganda trick called "whataboutism," deflecting attention to Russia's shortcomings by shifting the focus back on the West and accusing them of hypocrisy.
- A subset of it their derision of American democracy based on the "brutally-suppressed nation-wide riots" triggered by the Ferguson incident. Never mind the pogroms and ethnic clashes throughout Russia's history, most recently with the Chechens, and protests against Putin.
- Meet the New Boss: The network has recycled much of its techniques from the Soviet propaganda services.
- The Moral Substitute: For the rest of the international media, which RT implies is anti-Russian.
- Basically designed as the Russian BBC.
- Not So Different: Most Western criticisms against RT are very reminiscent of what the USSR had to say about Voice of America. They are essentially the extreme opposite of Fox News.
- Ms. Fanservice: RT flaunts how its sexy anchorwomen are just as much as, if not more so than, Fox News. Even the Fox anchorwomen aren't made to dress like American Apparel models.
- Patriotic Fervor: Surprisingly averted. RT doesn't spread its message with jingoistic imagery like domestic networks Channel One and Rossiya-1 and the Ministry of Defence-owned Zvezda, but no less through its ongoing theme of juxtaposing other countries and political systems unfavourably to Russia.
- Propaganda Machine: How most people regard it, despite the network claiming to be a Voice of the Resistance.
- Quote Mine: According to some past guests, RT interviewers push extremely hard for a particular quote advancing a particular narrative, and will resort to making something up if they fail.
- The Rival: Presents itself as one to the entire Western media. Considering how effective they have been confusing debate and conveying the official Russian narrative about Ukraine (like the idea that Ukraine is the aggressor against Russia and not the other way around), they're probably right.
- Scare Campaign: The network's commercials for its "Question More" campaign in 2010. One ad showed Barack Obama's face morphing into Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's while asking, "Who poses the greatest nuclear threat?" It's pretty clear what the desired effect of the ads were besides promoting the channel.
- Then there are RT's outdoor ads, which invoke the Iraq War to imply that the U.S. is the only country in the world that engages in imperial wars against weaker nations.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Liz Wahl, one of RT's American anchors, abruptly resigned on the air after calling out RT for its biased coverage of the Ukraine crisis. Whether her gesture was sincere or a calculated career move is a matter of dispute.
- Then a British correspondent, Sara Firth, followed suit in July 2014, apparently because she was disgusted by RT's coverage of the MH17 crash.
- In both cases, RT was quick to react with typically unsubtle spite; they denounced Liz Wahl's departure as "nothing more than a self-promotional stunt" (on the comments section of the same video, no less) and caustically wished her "well." Of Sara Firth, they commented, "Sara has declared that she chooses the truth; apparently we have different definitions of the truth."
- State Broadcaster: Unusual in that it's aimed at the foreign market rather than the domestic.
- Voice of the Resistance: Likes to pretend it's one by hyping conspiracy theories, covering protests in Western countries, and hiring famous dissidents like Julian Assange as primetime hosts. This has earned the network a Misaimed Fandom of viewers from both the fringe left and fringe right. How it covers criticism of Putin is a different story.
- Worst News Judgement Ever: A year-end RT report summarizing the major events of 2014 was ridiculed for mentioning only four stories: Ukraine, ISIS, the Ferguson case, and anti-EU protest movements (the latter which used two year old footage). Not mentioned? The bullish U.S. stock market, the thaw in U.S. relations with Cuba, the European Space Agency's landing of a probe on a comet, and other stories that couldn't be spun to make the West look bad and Russia look good.