‘State Dept aspires to be news agency packaging propaganda messages’
Following Kerry’s attack on RT over its coverage of the Ukraine crisis, on Thursday the US State Department posted its own version of events in a video entitled “Sanctions: How Did We Get Here?” – blaming Russia for the whole crisis.
The description of the video reads: “An overview of the steps that have led the United States and the international community to apply sanctions on those responsible for violating Ukraine's sovereignty,” a message which Schechter calls a “one sided view.”
RT:RT is being accused of propaganda, but what do you think of that clip?
Danny Schechter: That is the point. It seems as if the State Department is now becoming a news organization, or aspires to be one, to package its message points and its propaganda into some sort of acceptable television-type graphic presentation of format.
I've never quite seen it done that way, but it certainly is a totally one-sided view deal of what is happening. And to put out a one sided view when you are criticizing someone else for being one sided is ‘a little’ hypocritical.
I edit mediachannels.org, which is a network that monitors media coverage, and we see media propaganda on all sides, particularly in the corporate media in our own country. I was very disappointed to see John Kerry emerge as the person attacking the media. It seems like he is going after the messenger. He does not really have a point that people would find very credible.
John Kerry was criticized himself, let’s not forget this. In the whole Swiftboat crisis, he was the target of vicious propaganda. He was in the Vietnam war that was dominated by American news propaganda in the US. So he of all people should be sensitive to this, and to call RT a “propaganda bullhorn” raises the question about what he is.
RT:Doesn't it mean, from the recent deportation of Russian journalists from Ukraine, that they are actually doing their job?
DS: Again when you have a war going on, you know that the first casualty in war, any war, is truth. So you want to dominate the media with your narrative, with your point of view, and that is what the US government, Ukrainian government, the Western governments are trying to do, is basically spin the story in a way that they're happy with it.
Anybody challenging that spin, and believe me, it is not just RT, we have a whole independent alternative media in this country that is challenging all of this. The NYT just retracted photographs that it claimed were examples of Russian troops, in the Ukraine and it did not turn out to be true. So this is a propaganda war and a lot of this propaganda is totally inaccurate.
The idea that as an informed person, you should not have access to all viewpoints on all sides of the conflict is preposterous. You know big brother has one point of view but there are others. And those others should be heard and should be seen.
RT:Are Kerry's statements going to hurt RT's image?
DS: I don’t think it will hurt RT's image. It will actually call RT to the attention of millions of people who never heard of RT before. ‘Now there, what is he talking about?’
Because he himself has just come off a tremendous failure in the Middle East of peace negotiations that are broken down, a big failure in Asia where this Pacific Trade Deal has exploded and imploded. The Ukraine is another diplomatic failure.
So he is trying to find a moral high ground and by denouncing RT, he thinks that it will help him, but actually what it does is it promotes RT to a larger audience of people who never heard of it.
RT:John Kerry praised the interim president's efforts to de-escalate the situation in the East – did he mean the deadly military crackdown and blockade in Slavyansk?
DS: American officials don’t ever want to talk about the things that are not on their message points, like the right wing in Ukraine and fascist type groups. They are not on their message points, they never get discussed.
The role of the US in sending various secret service there, visit of the head of the CIA to the Ukraine does not really gets discussed.
So they really want to keep the attention focused on Russia, Big Bad Putin. They have an enemy. The American media loves to have an enemy, Good guys vs Bad guys, it is like the Cowboys vs the Indians. It is an old theme in the American media culture, and we are seeing it play itself out here too, where you assume that your “enemy” is lying but you always give an impression that you are of course telling the truth, which is not always the case.
RT:Russia's call for all sides of the conflict to lay down arms have been completely ignored – in fact, Kerry even claimed Moscow never said such a thing. Why?
DS: Because when you are a politician you are selective of what you chose to recognize and what you chose to ignore. And that is the problem in media.
The biggest problem is not commission, where you deliberately show bias. It is omission when you leave out the background, the context and information that makes the audience make up its own mind. That is the danger here, that is a threat to the politicians and somebody might see this differently than the way the American government wants them to see. This was true during Vietnam, this was true during Iraq and it is true here in the Ukraine.
We have to have a bad guy to be against, and so Putin is sort of playing that role. And because the US has an uninformed audience, an uninformed population, it does not know much about the background here, it is easy to manipulate the information and that is what we're seeing.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.