RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is a news channel subsidized by the Russian government. While it is carried on cable TV, it is also known for its YouTube channel which has beaten Fox News in user hits. It is aimed at the international market rather than the domestic, operating cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing content in various languages, including English, Spanish and Russian.
RT presents around-the-clock news bulletins, documentaries, talk shows, debates, sports news, and cultural programmes that it says provide "a Russian viewpoint on major global events". RT had branches in the U.S., U.K., Germany, South America, and the Middle East. It is also known for giving airtime to Conspiracy Theorists.
Why "had branches" rather than "has branches"? Well... on the 24th of February 2022, the Russian Federation launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine. This resulted in heavy sanctions against and an international boycott of Russia; part of the boycott was RT being removed from broadcast by several providers. Coupled with international anchors choosing to Resign in Protest, this forced RT to suspend much of its international operations.
This network contains examples of:
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: More like "Blonde Russia Supporter Sex Kitten", but its female anchors could give Fox News' notorious anchor babes a run for their money in a beauty contest.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Perhaps the most common criticism. RT blatantly devotes lots of coverage to conspiracy theories, giving airtime to truthers, birthers, nutjobs and cranks warning of False Flag Operations by the bucketload. Then again, nobody is forced to believe them.
- It's no surprise that Alex Jones is a frequent guest.
- Abby Martin, the now-former host of Breaking the Set, had an extensive history in the 9/11 Truth movement before being recruited by RT. Guess which subject Martin kept bringing up on her show?
- Sean Stone (Oliver's son) and Tyrel Ventura (Jesse's son), who previously hosted an online conspiracy podcast, filled in Abby Martin's timeslot with Watching the Hawks.
- Thom Hartmann of The Big Picture (who is also a left-wing talk radio host) espouses JFK assassination and anti-GMO/vaccine theories.
- 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 talks 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.
- The English-language program The ResidenT ran a segment linking Hillary Clinton to the Illuminati, which had similarly anti-Semitic overtones.
- 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 a large 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.
- Laugh Track: Redacted Tonight's Lee Camp has his monologues accompanied by three guys (and a pre-recorded audience) laughing seemingly at random.
- Meet the New Boss: The network has recycled much of its techniques from the Soviet propaganda services.
- The Moral Substitute: The channel presents itself as an alternative for the rest of the international media, which RT implies is anti-Russian, basically branding itself as the Russian BBC (though critics will say that they come off as more like the Russian Fox News).
- Ms. Fanservice: RT flaunts how sexy its 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: Subverted. RT doesn't spread its message with jingoistic imagery like domestic networks Channel One, Rossiya-1 and the Ministry of Defense-owned Zvezda, but no less through its ongoing theme of juxtaposing other countries and political systems unfavourably to Russia.
- Propaganda Machine: The network is often accused by Western critics of being a shill for the Russian government. In 2017, it went so far that RT, alongside with its fellow news channel Sputnik, were forced to register as foreign lobbying agents in a move reminiscent of the 2012 Russian foreign agent law that was widely criticized in the West back then. RT has also run afoul with the British news neutrality watchdog Ofcom. Despite this, there were no widespread actual bans until Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, causing much of the international community to generally shun and boycott the country.
- 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.
- Rapid-Fire Interrupting: Cross Talk show host Peter Lavelle's principal debate strategy consists of immediately interrupting speakers and talking over opinions he's disagreeing with.
- The Rival: Presents itself as one to the entire Western media. Considering how effective they have been debating and conveying the official Russian narrative about Ukraine, 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 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's while asking, "Who poses the greatest nuclear threat?" It's clear what the desired effect of the ads were besides promoting the channel.
- 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. Then a British correspondent, Sara Firth, followed suit in July 2014, apparently because she was upset with RT's coverage of the MH17 crash. While at first there were questions whether their gesture was sincere or simply a calculated career move, in both cases, RT's reaction was quick and derisive; 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;" while of Sara Firth, they commented, "Sara has declared that she chooses the truth; apparently we have different definitions of the truth."
- The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 also led to a spate of resignations from RT, with some personalities (Anissa Naouai and Alex Salmond, among others) explicitly citing the invasion as the reason, since the outlet never brought up the numerous international laws and laws of war the invasion violated.
- Voice of the Resistance: Likes to claim it's one by hyping conspiracy theories, covering protests in Western countries, and hiring famous dissidents like Julian Assange as primetime hosts. This format has earned them a sizable international viewership from both fringe left and right crowds, though the network has earned a lot of flak in recent years for supporting Conspiracy Theorists and being a shill for the Russian government, especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine started.