‘US spends millions on overseas propaganda, but no one is buying it’
US Secretary of the State, John Kerry, said he is concerned the US is falling behind when it comes to putting out information. He stressed that RT’s influence is growing worldwide and the US doesn’t have“an equivalent that can be heard in Russian.” Claiming that RT has huge costs he asked for money to be provided for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in the US. RT’s budget for 2015 is $220 million while the budget of the BBG is $721 million. Kerry also heaped praise on the appointment of Andrew Lack as a head of BBG who recently put RT into the same context as ISIS and Boko Haram.
RT:John Kerry insinuated the US is losing the public relations war with Russia. What do you make of that?
Daniel McAdams: The numbers speak louder than words: $700 and some million versus $200 and some, maybe up to $300 million for RT. I think the problem the US has is they have an unlimited advertising budget, but the product they’re selling is not very attractive overseas. People are tired of US interventionism; they’re tired of US exceptionalism; they’re tired of the US bombing their country – if you’re a Somali, you don’t care about listening to a radio broadcast from the US, you just wish the US would stop bombing you.
But I’ll say one thing: the BBG budget is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the US government influences media overseas. There’s probably another $100 million in direct support to so-called ‘independent news publications’ overseas, and these are all different newspapers and broadcasting outfits that tow the US line that aren’t directly US-related.
There are also various programs within the US government. There is a program that brought over about a thousand journalists from overseas to come train in the US; this is one of the State Department projects. And just one bureau of the State Department has by their account 86 media programs overseas. Even the $700 million figure… is just a tip of the iceberg on how much the US spends to influence the media overseas. And, sorry, the effect is not very good.
RT:Given what you’ve just said, do you think there will be people in the US government that might disagree with John Kerry?
DM: Yes, then there is a solution- you got to double the money. They want to double the money to sell something that nobody is buying - that is the problem. The problem is the policy, not the PR that tries to sell the policy. In that hilarious clip from Victoria Nuland, she says: “Oh, RT is just a tiny audience and we have a great wonderful diversity in the media in the US.” Sorry, that is not the case. I’m personally not a fan of any government-funded media, but the fact of the matter is that the so-called private media in the US marches lockstep in line with the White House and the State Department, there is no diversity in the mainstream media. So she is just absolutely wrong in what she says.
RT:What’s the reason do you think that RT is getting so much attention amongst the US government officials at the moment?
DM: You have alternative people like The Ron Paul Institute on your program… The fact that you have diverse and interesting shows, you challenge the paradigm, and people are interested in that. People are tuning out of new news in the US at record levels - they don’t watch TV news, they don’t take newspapers. It’s all boring; they all say the same things. When something comes along the alternative media is a different story in the US and it is growing by leaps and bounds. People that are offering a different perspective - Americans are increasingly finding it very attractive.
RT:Do you think that there is any significance in the timing of Mr. Kerry’s remarks?
DM: I think he is always looking at a way to poke Russia, and he is also looking for a way to get more money, there is never enough money for these things. That is all about spending the money and influencing things overseas.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.