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9 Jul, 2019 13:59

RT’s ban from media freedom conference shows British irony is alive and well

RT’s ban from media freedom conference shows British irony is alive and well

Britain’s Foreign Office can’t keep its diplomatic secrets, but it has managed to keep its sense of irony, and banned RT from attending a conference on media freedom.

A spokeswoman told British media: “We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation.”  

The accusation of ‘disinformation’ is the exclusive view of the Foreign Office, because it’s worth remembering that while RT has been censured by OFCOM (like every other broadcaster in Britain), it still operates freely under a license from the broadcasting watchdog, so this claim of disinformation is at best subjective.

After it was prevented from attending the Global Conference for Media Freedom: London 2019, RT replied:

"It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media."

Also on rt.com UK Foreign Sec supports increased press freedom for all, but not for RT

I always like to use the ‘imagine if this happened in Russia’ test when some petty accusation is thrown in RT’s direction. In this case, we have a government department (actually the UK and Canadian governments) putting on a conference which purports to fight for media freedom, and then cherry-picks who is allowed to attend. Imagine if that was Russia!  

I wonder what the organizers think would happen if employees from RT were allowed into the meeting? Would they be fatally exposed to a Russian perspective?

There’s some weird logic applied to RT that no one seems willing to question. For example, if you’re going to accuse a channel of not meeting your standards of ‘freedom,’ wouldn’t it be the perfect guest for a conference on media freedom? Imagine how superior it would allow everyone else to feel, if nothing else.

It’s the same logic used by those figures who refuse to come on RT, alleging a lack of balance, when they’ve just been asked to come on to provide the balance!  

From what I can see, RT is the one trying to engage and is being rejected, not the other way around.

It’s clear that accusing what is actually a transparent media operation of carrying out ‘disinformation’ is just a fancier version of Trump’s ‘fake news’ mantra and really means ‘news we don’t agree with.’

‘Disinformation’ is a flexible term which can be applied, or not, depending on your whim.  So, for example, the Guardian, running a story alleging links between a member of Donald Trump’s staff and Julian Assange, which to this day remains unproven, is not disinformation because... well, who knows why.

And all those mainstream journalists writing columns after being fed stories by the British intelligence services about weapons of mass destruction in sandy countries; that’s not disinformation because… erm. I won’t labor the point, but you get the idea.

There is a government trying to define what freedom and objectivity looks like, and it’s not Russia’s.

By Simon Rite

Simon Rite is a writer based in London for RT, in charge of several projects including the political satire group #ICYMI. 

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