'Money can’t buy all airwaves': RT host launches campaign against US media empire

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RT’s Anissa Naouai has launched a crowdfunding campaign urging viewers to send a symbolic message to the US State Department and Washington’s media empire, donating money to fight autism.

The GoFundMe project was launched by the host of RT’s 'In the Now' program, Anissa Naouai, after the US Secretary of State asked for more money from the government for propaganda and “democracy promotion” programs around the world. Instead, Anissa urges support for Our Sunny World, a partner foundation with Autism Europe.

Kerry asked for $639 million “to help our friends in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova as they seek to strengthen their democracies, withstand pressure from Russia” and over $2 billion more for “democracy, human rights, and governance programs.” Speaking at a House Committee meeting, Kerry explained the plea by the fact that US media is losing the battle for international audiences to RT.

“Russia Today [now RT] can be heard in English, do we have an equivalent that can be heard in Russian?” he said. “It’s a pretty expensive proposition. They are spending huge amounts of money, speaking languages other people understand and putting out information other people understand to other countries around them. And we are not.”

Kerry failed to mention that Voice of America has been broadcasting in Russian since 1947. In addition, if you compare RT’s budget ($220 million in 2015) to the one US government media receives, you find RT’s pales in comparison.

“Mainstream media who are backed by American corporations have a hold on almost all outlets… I'm talking hundreds of billions of dollars,” says Anissa. “Plus 700 million dollars for government media projects under the US Broadcasting Board of Governors.”

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READ MORE: For propaganda & 'democracy promotion’: State Dept seeks budget to counter RT

The 2015 budget was set at $721 million for programs under the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which is a bipartisan agency that supervises government-sponsored media and targets international audiences.

“So RT's open and modest budget of $220 million isn't the real problem for the American government,” Anissa says. “This is the problem: YOU. Our audience. They see through the propaganda.”

This is not the first time Kerry and other US politicians have lashed out at RT. During a press conference with the State Department in April 2014, Kerry rounded on RT for its coverage of the Ukraine crisis saying it’s a “propaganda bullhorn.”

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.

Furthermore, in January the BBG chief Andrew Lack put RT in the same breath as ISIS and Boko Haram as one of the challenges facing his agency. It wasn’t the first time the BBG referred to RT as a ‘challenge’. In August 2014, Jeffrey Shell, BBG chairman at the time, called for a “plan” detailing how to “compete with Russia Today.”

READ MORE: More money, more problems?

Anissa reminded that RT presents another point of view that counters the US media, adding that viewers should be aware of this.

People both in America and abroad need and want to hear about the trillions spent on Iraq and Afghanistan, about made-up dictators, traitors, and axes of evil. About the civilians killed with US drones and soldiers forgotten. Wars started again and again to uphold a military industrial complex - all to keep a grip on global power.”

"Money can't buy all the airwaves and RT is not the enemy," Anissa states.

This crowdfunding campaign is a message to corporate US media and the State Department. However, the cause of the campaign is autism, which now affects one in 68 children and one in 42 boys. Autism’s prevalence is growing and there is no medical detection or cure for the complaint. The US National Institutes of Health’s total budget in 2012 was estimated at $30.86 billion, while only a small part, $169 million, went directly to autism research.