RussiaMarch 2 2022, 8:13 am

Fox News Hosts Indistinguishable from Russian-Backed Media Former Russian News Anchor Says

A for­mer news anchor for a state-backed Russ­ian TV chan­nel has described Fox News host Tuck­er Carl­son and oth­er US right-wing media fig­ures as “at times indis­tin­guish­able from the pro­pa­gan­da on my for­mer net­work, RT.” Accord­ing to a Dai­ly Beast: inter­view with Liz Wahl:

Feb­ru­ary 27, 2022 Work­ing in a Russ­ian news­room near­ly a decade ago pre­pared me for mod­ern day Amer­i­ca. In both envi­ron­ments, con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, false equiv­a­len­cies, and half-truths infect the dis­course and deform real­i­ty. In this cur­rent envi­ron­ment, truth and fact strug­gle to break through the para­noid and mis­in­formed noise. One thing that is clear to me: Fox News hosts like Tuck­er Carl­son, along with oth­er right-wing media fig­ures, are at times indis­tin­guish­able from the pro­pa­gan­da on my for­mer net­work, RT, a Krem­lin-fund­ed cable news chan­nel that eager­ly uses Amer­i­can voic­es to push a pro-Rus­sia agen­da. Among the Amer­i­cans that cur­rent­ly host tele­vi­sion shows on RT are a range of voic­es on the extreme ends of the left-right ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum. Scot­tie Nell Hugh­es, a for­mer pro-Trump pun­dit on CNN and Fox News, hosts a show that claims to pro­vide unbi­ased cov­er­age, while Cana­di­an actor William Shat­ner hosts a pro­gram where he uses his star pow­er to inter­view oth­er celebri­ties like astro­physi­cist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Far-left jour­nal­ist Chris Hedges, mean­while, hosts a show fea­tur­ing “dis­si­dent voic­es,” osten­si­bly ded­i­cat­ed to the cause of anti-impe­ri­al­ism, yet has failed to even men­tion Russia’s actu­al attempt­ed author­i­tar­i­an land grab of a democ­ra­cy. Oth­er Amer­i­can voic­es fre­quent­ly ampli­fied on RT include for­mer Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gress­woman-turned-CPAC speak­er Tul­si Gab­bard, lib­er­tar­i­an politi­cian Ron Paul, and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R‑KY)—all of whom share for­eign pol­i­cy posi­tions that Rus­sia now finds ben­e­fi­cial to ampli­fy. What these fig­ures don’t seem to under­stand or ignore is that RT uses their state­side fame and clout to dri­ve eye­balls to its YouTube chan­nel and legit­i­ma­cy to its brand. Dur­ing the Trump years, the chan­nel rou­tine­ly fea­tured videos and friend­ly head­lines of Trump him­self and his rad­i­cal supporters.

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The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed ear­li­er this week on the role that Fox News star Tuck­er Carl­son has been play­ing in Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da efforts dur­ing the inva­sion of Ukraine. Tuck­er Carl­son also fig­ures promi­nent­ly in a new GIOR report on a devel­op­ing alliance between US con­ser­v­a­tives and Euro­pean nation­al­ists, a poten­tial means for Rus­sia to exert covert influ­ence in Europe and the US.

In 2017, the NYT char­ac­ter­ized RT (for­mer­ly Rus­sia Today) as follows:

Ana­lysts are sharply divid­ed about the influ­ence of RT. Point­ing to its minus­cule rat­ings num­bers, many cau­tion against over­stat­ing its impact. Yet focus­ing on rat­ings may miss the point, says Peter Pomer­ant­sev, who wrote a book three years ago that described Russia’s use of tele­vi­sion for pro­pa­gan­da. “Rat­ings aren’t the main thing for them,” he said. “These are cam­paigns for finan­cial, polit­i­cal and media influ­ence.” RT and Sput­nik pro­pel those cam­paigns by help­ing cre­ate the fod­der for thou­sands of fake news prop­a­ga­tors and pro­vid­ing anoth­er out­let for hacked mate­r­i­al that can serve Russ­ian inter­ests, said Ben Nim­mo, who stud­ies RT for the Atlantic Coun­cil. What­ev­er its impact, RT is unques­tion­ably a case study in the com­plex­i­ty of mod­ern pro­pa­gan­da. It is both a slick mod­ern tele­vi­sion net­work, dressed up with great visu­als and styl­ish pre­sen­ters, and a con­tent farm that helps feed the Euro­pean far right. View­ers find it dif­fi­cult to dis­cern exact­ly what is jour­nal­ism and what is pro­pa­gan­da, what may be “fake news” and what is real but pre­sent­ed with a strong slant.

Ear­li­er this week, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that RT and oth­er Russ­ian media out­lets would be banned in the EU although, at least for now, RT con­tin­ues to broad­cast from the US. How­ev­er, at least one US dis­trib­u­tor has dropped the chan­nel, and oth­er US TV dis­trib­u­tors are fac­ing increased pres­sure to remove Russ­ian state media from their platforms.


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