Fact check for dummies: Teaching Washington Post & Co how to do journalism one last time
A number of outlets are on a (Quixotic) quest to prove that no one watches RT on air, no one views it online and that basically it doesn’t exist. “RT is a myth.” “Fake media that has no following.” “Propaganda channel that lies about everything.” But it seems that in their haste to accuse RT of fake news, fake numbers and whatnot, reporters forget to do one simple but quite important thing – fact check and verify their claims. As if “fact check” is “so last century” and “fake news” is “the new black.”
Well, if that’s the reality of modern American journalism, RT will have to step in and do the job for our colleagues. Here’s the latest Washington Post “investigative” story which digs up an ancient groundless report about RT and tries to sell it as news. Below, we will examine reporter’s article and help him fill in the gaps.
“RT is credited with… denigrat[ing] Secretary Clinton” with segments like ‘Clinton and ISIS Funded by the Same Money’”; and casting doubt on the outcome of the US election with clips like “Trump Will Not be Permitted to Win”
What is clearly missing here are the hyperlinks to the mentioned “segments” and “clips”. Here is this segment and here is this clip. Now, we see that what is being presented as RT’s editorial materials, are in fact extracts from Julian Assange’s interview with John Pilger, which RT licensed from Dartmouth films last November. Another important note: This interview became one of the most viral news interviews of the year with the full 25-minute version almost hitting 2 million views.
In this one short line, the Washington Post somehow manages to fit as many as three hyperlinks, but only one actually refers to RT content, which is… a segment about the Assange interview with John Pilger. Either it was an editor mixing up with accurate link placing, or “it’s true that it seemed” to prove nothing. But what is really true is that RT’s US election coverage motto was “Voting lesser of 2 evils” and even featuring the bleeding eyes of Lincoln in a Trump promo clip.
RT claims it has more than 500,000 unique viewers every day and more than 800 million views on its YouTube channel since 2005.
These numbers would be correct… if the WaPo article was published in 2012. RT’s actual online audience is much bigger now. And it’s not RT who claims it. Here’s is comScore (one of the largest measurement and analytics companies based in US) from 2016 concluding that RT’s online audience has been reaching 50 million unique visitors a month last year. Here is Alexa (Amazon-owned company providing web traffic data) which places RT.com among the 300 most popular web sites in the world (RT’s current global rank is at 280 and has been constantly rising since April 2016). Here’s SimilarWeb (a global digital market intelligence company), which gives RT a lower global rank but places it in the 500 most visited websites in the world (yes, both ratings include ALL websites in the world, the top 100 being mostly social networks, search engines and porn sites)
Regarding YouTube numbers, RT’s flagship English-language channel has 1.9 billion views and over 2 million subscribers since 2007, while RT YouTube network is the most watched TV news network on YouTube in the world with way over 4 billion views.
When RT does get attention — mostly through its viral video hits online — it's not for its political coverage. RT's biggest hits aren't scoops about the American election, but rather clips of insane weather patterns or people doing crazy things.
We’ll just leave it here:
Trump’s victory speech – 3.7 million views
Putin on Trump victory – 2.4 million views
RT’s special non-stop LIVE election coverage – 1.3 million views in total on RT and RT America
Exclusive 2-hour LIVE stream from NYC anti-Trump (!) protest – 1.4 million views
Trump blackballing CNN reporter at 1st presser – 900k views
Should we go on?
And finally, regarding the Daily Beast 2015 “investigation", based on a leaked 2012 erroneous report which the Washington Post quotes extensively in 2017 (earnestly presenting unverified numbers from 5 (!) years ago). We have already replied to that nonsense – if you’re interested, you can find it under the link below:
Hopefully, American media will try a bit harder next time when targeting “unpopular, non-existent Trump-loving Kremlin propaganda” and will actually attempt to use facts and proof-links instead of fake reports, groundless numbers and unsupported claims. But to be honest, we doubt that will happen anytime soon.