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25 Apr, 2014 08:09

‘Propaganda bullhorn’: John Kerry attacks RT during Ukraine address

John Kerry has attacked RT for its coverage of the Ukraine crisis, calling it a “propaganda bullhorn.” Neglecting to address the US’ role in the conflict or back up his assertions with any evidence, Kerry said Russia was behind the unrest in Ukraine.

During a press conference with the State Department on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry rounded on RT, lashing out at its Ukraine coverage.

“The propaganda bullhorn that is the state-sponsored RT program has been deployed to promote – actually, RT network – has been deployed to promote President Putin’s fantasy about what is playing out on the ground,” Kerry said. Furthermore, he said RT spends almost all its time “propagandizing and distorting what is happening, or not happening, in Ukraine.”

Dismissing the entire eastern Ukrainian, anti-Maidan movement as being sponsored and controlled by Moscow, Kerry did not address allegations of American involvement in Ukraine. Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that America was “running the show in Ukraine” and referenced the visits to Kiev of CIA head John Brennan and Vice-President Joe Biden.

Lavrov decried John Kerry’s latest comments about RT as “uncivilized” and “prosecutorial.”

“[The West] was convinced for some time that it had a full monopoly on mass media,” said Lavrov in a statement. “Russia Today has won a large audience in the US and Western Europe, not to mention in Latin America and the Arab world."

RT's Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan responded to Kerry, saying the channel was preparing a letter seeking an apology from the State Department and asking for evidence to back up their assertions.

“We are planning to write an official request to the State Department for concrete examples of when RT has distorted facts,” said Simonyan. “It’s unfortunate that the head of the State Department knows so little about what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment."

“It surprises me that at this difficult and embarrassing time for the US, Secretary of State John Kerry has nothing else to worry about apart from our television channel,” Simonyan tweeted.

Удивительно, что госсекретарю Керри в это тяжелое и унизительное для его Родины время больше не о чем переживать, кроме нашего телеканала.

— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) April 25, 2014

Back in 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared the US was losing a media war with up-and-coming, alternative outlets like Al Jazeera and RT.

“We are in an information war and we are losing that war,” said Clinton.

Previously, the US State Department had attacked Al Jazeera for broadcasting videos of Osama Bin Laden justifying the 9/11 attacks. They accused the channel of engaging in propaganda for terrorists and tried to get the emir of Qatar to shut it down.

Kerry's statements follow a flurry of anti-Russian rhetoric from Washington and, when it comes to the facts, it's not the first time broad statements without the backing of evidence have come out of Washington.

RT correspondent Gayane Chichikyan was shot down by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki when she asked about the launch of Kiev’s anti-terror operation which coincided with Vice-President Joe Biden and CIA head John Brennan’s visit. Psaki accused Chichikyan of repeating “ludicrous claims” by the Russian government and refused to answer the question.

Psaki treated RT’s Anastasia Churkina in a similar manner back in March when asked to clarify American assertions that Russia had “shot first” in a fight at a Ukrainian military base in Crimea on March 17 that left two people dead. Psaki cut Churkina short with a swift “I think we’re ready to move on” and refrained from answering the question.

Russia has called the coup-appointed government in Kiev “illegitimate” and accused it of instigating anti-Russian policies and alienating the east of the country, which is largely Russian-speaking.