RussiaNovember 9 2022, 11:11 am

US Republican Senator-Elect Backs Online Platform Hosting Russian Propaganda Outlet.

US media is report­ing that Rum­ble, an online video-shar­ing ser­vice, has been host­ing the live feed of RT (fka Rus­sia Today), a Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da out­let banned in the EU and large­ly unavail­able in the US. Accord­ing to the New York Times report, Rum­ble is backed by J.D. Vance, the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor-elect from Ohio:

Octo­ber 31, 2022 In June, two Amer­i­can vet­er­ans fight­ing as vol­un­teers in Ukraine, Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, were cap­tured by Russ­ian forces. They were tak­en to a black site where they were beat­en, run into walls with bags over their heads and hooked up to a car bat­tery and “elec­tro­cut­ed,” the men said after being freed in late Sep­tem­ber. Between beat­ings, they told The New York Times, they were inter­viewed on Russ­ian media out­lets, includ­ing RT, one of the Kremlin’s pri­ma­ry pro­pa­gan­da organs in the West. “They stayed away from our faces because they knew that we were going to be on cam­era, that they were going to try and use this for pro­pa­gan­da.,” Mr. Drueke said. “So they want­ed our faces to look OK. But they took care of our bod­ies pret­ty good.” RT had been large­ly tak­en off the air in the Unit­ed States and banned by the Euro­pean Union in March after Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin’s armies invad­ed Ukraine. But in June, its ver­sion of the cap­tives’ sto­ry appeared on Rum­ble, a video-shar­ing plat­form that stepped in this year and began car­ry­ing RT’s live feed, in addi­tion to its clips. There, a glum-look­ing Mr. Huynh says they joined the fight in Ukraine after being duped by “pro­pa­gan­da from the West” that “Russ­ian forces were indis­crim­i­nate­ly killing civil­ians.” Rum­ble has become a lead­ing des­ti­na­tion for con­ser­v­a­tive con­tent by posi­tion­ing itself as a plat­form for unfet­tered speech, an alter­na­tive to the con­tent mod­er­a­tion — or “cen­sor­ship,” to many on the right — of main­stream social media sites like Face­book and Twit­ter. Last year, Rum­ble received a major invest­ment from a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm co-found­ed by J.D. Vance, the Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date in Ohio. The firm, Narya Cap­i­tal, got a seat on Rumble’s board, and its more than sev­en mil­lion shares place it among the company’s top 10 share­hold­ers, accord­ing to secu­ri­ties fil­ings. Mr. Vance also took a per­son­al Rum­ble stake worth between $100,000 and $250,000, his finan­cial dis­clo­sures show.

Read the rest here.

Vance has also been iden­ti­fied as part of the Glob­al Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Alliance (GNCA), a move­ment that gen­er­al­ly empha­sizes an iso­la­tion­ist US for­eign pol­i­cy. The NYT report goes on to describe Vance’s iso­la­tion­ist posi­tion on Ukraine:

Mr. Vance, who once assailed Don­ald J. Trump (“my god what an idiot,” he tweet­ed in 2016), has‌ become an enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­er and adopt­ed his iso­la­tion­ist stance on for­eign pol­i­cy. In Feb­ru­ary, sev­er­al days before the inva­sion, he said: “I got­ta be hon­est with you. I don’t real­ly care what hap­pens to Ukraine.” Over the sum­mer, Mr. Vance, a Marine vet­er­an, sought to clar­i­fy that, say­ing, “We want the Ukraini­ans to be suc­cess­ful,” and call­ing Mr. Putin “the bad guy.” But he added, “We’ve got to stop the mon­ey spig­ot to Ukraine eventually.”

Vance has also been iden­ti­fied in one report as a Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ist, a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion sup­port­ed by oth­er ana­lysts. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed yes­ter­day on the Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty and its role in sup­port­ing Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin while oppos­ing mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine.

In 2017, the NYT char­ac­ter­ized RT 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.

GIOR report­ed in Feb­ru­ary that Rus­sia-backed media out­lets RT and Sput­nik would be banned in the EU after being repeat­ed­ly accused of spread­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion, espe­cial­ly in the run-up to the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine.


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