‘Mr. Kerry, let’s talk about Fox News, BBC and Al-Jazeera bullhorns’
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of 'Globalistan' (Nimble Books, 2007), 'Red Zone Blues' (Nimble Books, 2007), 'Obama does Globalistan' (Nimble Books, 2009) and a contributing editor for a number of other books, including the upcoming 'Crossroads of Leadership: Globalization and the New American Century in the Obama Presidency' (Routledge). When not on the road, he alternates between Sao Paulo, New York, London, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
US Secretary of State John Kerry criticized RT for its coverage of the Ukraine crisis on Thursday, calling it a “propaganda bullhorn,” adding that Russia was behind the unrest in Ukraine without providing any evidence.
RT:Quite strong words from the US Secretary of State regarding this channel. Why do you think he's singled out RT when commenting on the Ukrainian crisis?
Pepe Escobar: Looks like RT is ruffling very important feathers in the US. So the strong words RT program – oh, network… maybe program - just like the Iraq war: “I'm a guest there and then I'm home.” This is the top US diplomat speaking. It's ghost-written of course, he did not write these words himself. He didn't even know what he was reading. Let me have some strong words as well. Let's talk about bullhorns. Let's talk about Fox News as a private US bullhorn for the most demented extreme right-wing factions in the US. Let's talk about BBC as a state-owned British bullhorn for MI5, the Foreign Office and 10 Downing Street. Let's talk about Al-Jazeera as a state-owned bullhorn for Qatari petro-dollar foreign policy. So, Mr. Secretary of State, I have a proposition for you. Maybe strong words [those are], I can use my soft side as well. Instead of bull-horns and RT program and whining like a kid, why don't you visit one of RT’s offices, like in Washington, DC, your town for instance, and then we can discuss geopolitics and American foreign policy among adults, among grown-ups and not among the whining children, groupies and cheerleaders? You may be surprised, you may even learn something.
RT:Do you think viewers can get an unbiased view of the events in Ukraine solely from Western mainstream media?
PE: Of course not. And this is information war in fact. And the America's absolutely terrified. Because now it's not only CNN all over the world like during the war in Bosnia or during the first Iraq war. Now there is RT, Al-Jazeera, France 24, Deutche Welle, TVE, ССТV, and one day we are going to have Brazilian TV going global, not only in Portuguese. They are terrified of Press TV in Iran, which also broadcasts in English, so they ban Press TV all over the place. And I'm speaking not as an RT employee. I want to make this very clear.
I am a foreign affairs journalist, and I've been a foreign correspondent for 30 years. I've reported from all over the world, everywhere that matters. I am a frequent guest at RT and I write op-eds for RT. I visited bureaux in London, New-York, DC and Moscow. I met a lot of very bright, very committed and hard-working people. There is no propaganda about this. This is an alternative media enterprise. It's another point of view. It has a Russian point of view, but it has also a developing global south point of view that until recently was totally absent in the international media escape.
I talk from experience. When you work all over the world you see how the media work all over the world. I see BBC, CNN, Fox News in action in war theaters and interviewing prime ministers - it's only scripted and it's only their own script. And if you have an alternative script like RT you are banned, they don't even talk to you, because they are afraid.
RT:You travel a lot covering events worldwide - how would you describe the level of trust viewers now have for the mainstream media and their take on the Ukrainian crisis in particular?
PE: The narrative of Ukrainian crisis is so complicated. You need tomes and tomes to decipher the nuances. TV is a very instantaneous medium. RT is trying to do something very complicated, which is not only to give the Russian point of view, but also other points of view in the region, including the developing world's point of view, to counteract what is essentially American propaganda.
The Americans don't listen to Russophones in Ukraine, they don't listen to people who oppose the changes in Kiev. They do not listen to Russian public opinion about the referendum in Crimea. It's always one-sided. I've seen this in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan. I've seen this during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when the only spin of American corporate media was that this bunch of irresponsible southern countries, where I am right now - one of them was Thailand - they brought their own demise. And they were not analyzing the deeper causes of the Asian financial crisis, which included a lot of Western interference and currency manipulations. It's always one-sided.
Speaking as an independent journalist, why do I contribute to RT? Because I made a conscious decision that at least I could explain different points of view, especially the global South point of view, not what the Americans call the international community which is an absolute fiction. It's what they think is the international community is, because the groupies, the cheerleaders and the shills behind the State Department or the CIA or the Pentagon say it is. It's not, it's the global South, and Russia is the part of the global South. Any of the BRICS countries and the emerging countries like Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines where Obama is going to be in the next few days, selling militarism against China and a trade deal that is going to be good for the US big business. Is America's big corporate media telling the real story about the Obama's trip to Asia? Of course not!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.