Am I being unpatriotic when I link to RT News?

RT News and Sputnik International are news services funded by the Russian government.   They are said to be waging “information warfare” against the United States.

RT America and Sputnik International have been ordered to register as foreign agents, the only foreign news services that have been ordered to do so.  What this means is that they will be required to disclose their sources of funds and other details of their operations.

The FBI is investigating Sputnik.  Google has changed its algorithm to “de-rank” RT and Sputnik in Google searches.  Twitter has banned advertising by RT and Google.

None of these things prevent RT or Sputnik from reporting their version of the news or making their reports available to Americans.   We’re not like the old Soviet Union, where you could be arrested for listening to the Voice of America.

And, in one respect, the United States is more liberal than the Russian federation.  Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America lost their Russian broadcast licenses in 2012 and 2014, but Sputnik still has a radio station in Washington, D.C.

The anti-Russia campaign is intended to brand Americans as unpatriotic if they work for RT or Sputnik, appear on their programs or even watch their programs.

I’ve linked to RT News videos in previous posts.  What does that make me?  Am I unpatriotic?

I think an American who listens to or watches RT or Sputnik is like a Russian who watches or listens to the Voice of America or Radio Free Europe.   The U.S. government has an ulterior motive in funding these two news services.   At the same time, they provide Russians with information and ideas they wouldn’t get from their domestic broadcasters.

Established U.S. broadcasters have a limited range of viewpoints they regard as acceptable.   I never noticed this until my own thinking moved outside the range of the acceptable.   So if there’s something on RT News I think is interesting or worthwhile, even though it might not be acceptable to PBS or CNN, I’ll link to it..    That’s my right as a free American.

The Soviet Union and its successor, the Russian Federation, have been trying to influence American and world public opinion for a century.   Sometimes this has been through lies, such as spreading the rumor that the AIDS virus originated in a U.S. biological warfare laboratory.   Sometimes it has been by simply underlining the truth, such as the truth about white supremacy in the United States.   None of these things were considered acts of war at the time.

I always thought that the best way to counteract Soviet propaganda about, for example, segregation and Jim Crow was to try to get rid of segregation and Jim Crow, rather than making excuses for them or denying they existed.

During the Cold War and after, American mass media were a powerful instrument of what came to be called “soft power.”   Vladimir Putin’s government thought it was at a disadvantage and sought to revitalize Russian propaganda.

RT was created in 2005 by RIA Novosti, the Russian government TV service, as a Russian-funded non-profit corporation to reach audiences outside Russia.   Sputnik is a rebranding of RIA Novosti itself began in 2014.

Although I object to the government or anyone else telling me I not to watch either of these two services, I in fact seldom watch RT and have never watched Sputnik.   So I’m not in a position to make a definitive judgment of the quality of their work.

I’ve not come across any evidence that either RT or Sputnik intentionally spreads “disinformation.”   It is true that Sputnik wrongly attributed a quote by Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald to Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal during the 2016 campaign, in a way that was embarrassing to Hillary Clinton.   All journalists make mistakes.  This mistake was quickly corrected.

The main criticisms of the two networks are alleged bias, lack of professionalism and magnification of fringe points of view.   Of course many would consider Phil Ebersole’s Blog a fringe point of view.

One reason I hardly ever view RT or Sputnik is that, as I grow older, my memory of the spoken word grows worse and I depend more for information on a written word that I can refer back to.   I like the Real News Network and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! program because they question official versions of events and they also provide written transcripts.

My favorite news source for national and international events is the links roundups that the Naked Capitalism blog provides every morning and every weekday afternoon.   The other news sources I consult at least once a week can be found on my Blogs I Like and Resources pages.


Afterthought [12/1/2017]   If I did get most of my news from TV, RT News would not be my top choices, let alone Sputnik International.  I would watch the Public Broadcasting System on cable for the conventional view of the news, and the Real News Network on-line for a left-wing dissenting view.  Such is my personal bias.

PBS is often considered liberal, but over the years they’ve had room for the likes of William F. Buckley Jr. and Milton Friedman and not for the likes of Noam Chomsky.

If your choices are different, that is your right, and I will defend your right.


Suddenly I’m a ‘Russian Agent’ by Dave Lindorff for Counterpunch.

Russia’s RT Just Isn’t Worth Attacking by Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg View.

State Department Condemns* Designation of Media as Foreign Agents (*Only Applies to Russia) by Moon of Alabama.

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2 Responses to “Am I being unpatriotic when I link to RT News?”

  1. Edward Says:

    “PBS is often considered liberal…”

    A study years ago by FAIR concluded that PBS was actually more right wing and slanted then the commercial networks.


  2. Edward Says:

    The only mainstream outlet that I bother with is C-SPAN. Even then, some years it became more right wing and establishment oriented, as if we don’t get enough of the journalists and pundits on the other networks. It used to be one of the few places where non-establishment types were interviewed. Now this rarely happens.


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