Outdoing Dr. Goebbels: The propaganda war against RT

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Anti-war protesters rally in front of the White House in Washington (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)
Propaganda. At its best – a wonderful German pop group of the 1980s who had their biggest hit with a track named ‘Duel’. At its worst – the comments of the new BBG chief Andrew Lack, which put RT in the same category of ‘challenges’ as ISIS.

READ MORE: Head of US state media put RT on same challenge list as ISIS, Boko Haram

“We are extremely outraged that the new head of the BBG [US Broadcasting Board of Governors] mentions RT in the same breath as world’s number one terrorist army. We see this as an international scandal and demand an explanation,” says Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief. Anyone who supports genuine pluralism in the international media should be demanding an explanation too.

It would be easy to say that Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Minister of Propaganda would be proud of Lack’s comments. But in fact the propaganda war against RT – of which Lack’s comments are only the latest example, actually – ‘out-Goebbels’ Dr Goebbels’.

The reason for these attacks is fear. What is clear is that the success of RT has caused real panic in the ranks of the west’s neo-con/‘liberal interventionist’ elite.

RT urges us to question more – and questioning more is the very last thing that the elites in the west want us to do. They want us to accept hook, line and sinker THEIR narrative of world events – a narrative which told us that Iraq possessed WMDs which could be deployed within 45 minutes and which posed a threat to the entire world. A narrative which told us that Muammar Gaddafi was ‘massacring his own people’ and so, for the benefit of the Libyan people, who our leaders cared so much about – we had to have a ‘humanitarian intervention’.

A narrative on Ukraine which casts Russia and its ‘evil’ President as the aggressors and which portrayed a violent, anti-democratic putsch financed by the west and spearheaded by some very nasty far-right extremists as a victory for ‘democracy’.

Again, we’re expected to accept these narratives and not to question them.

For years, the serial-war lobby, which has been at the forefront of the attacks on RT, had it easy. Mainstream news media in the US and other western countries faithfully parroted the official NATO line while neo-con / ‘liberal interventionist’ pundits provided the vast majority of the commentary.

But then along came RT – and millions of people started to watch it.

Voices that we didn’t hear very often – if at all – on the other channels, now had a platform. Voices that actually reflected majority public opinion on foreign policy issues.

So the attacks on the station began. The same ‘free speech’ crowd who had campaigned against Iran’s Press TV- now had a new target for their poison pens.

These attacks intensified after Russian diplomacy – and a vote in the British Parliament – helped to avert planned air-strikes on Damascus in the summer of 2013. As I noted here, the war lobby were furious that for once, they hadn’t got their way. Something I observed from quite early on was the very strong overlap between obsessive RT-haters and people who supported the Iraq war and who wanted western military intervention against Assad’s forces in Syria. (Whenever you read an attack on RT I suggest you put the authors’ name into a search engine with the words ‘Iraq war’ and ‘Syria’. It's usually quite revealing).

Neo-con propagandists writing for neocon propaganda sheets accused RT of peddling ‘propaganda’ showing that the age of satire was not dead.

McCarthyite gatekeepers obsessively monitored RT programmes, using a variety of smears to attack guests and pundits who held the ‘wrong’ views, i.e. views that the McCarthyite gatekeepers didn’t agree with. Those who committed the ‘crime’ of re-tweeting a RT interview or article, or citing RT with approval, were admonished.

Journalists were urged not to appear on the station- and were attacked when they did so. All by people who claimed to be in favour of ‘free speech’ and ‘media pluralism’!

Even the Secretary of State has joined in with the RT-bashing.

In April last year, John Kerry called RT a ‘propaganda bullhorn’.

That‘s the same man who said – with a straight face – “you just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests.” But of course, that wasn‘t ‘propaganda’ was it?

The latest, desperate elite attack – equating RT with ISIS is deeply ironic considering the way RT has covered the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. RT was reporting on the significant jihadist presence in the Syrian ’uprising’ at a time when the neo-cons wanted us to believe that the ‘rebels’ opposing President Assad were all cuddly, peace-loving democrats. RT pundits – myself included – also challenged the ’dominant’ narrative that Assad had little public support in Syria.

Neo-con and ‘liberal interventionists’ repeatedly told us that Assad would soon be toppled – you had to go to RT to find the truth – which was that the Syrian government – whatever our own opinions of it – did have substantial support – and that support for it was growing due to people being turned off by the brutality of the ‘rebels’.

The fact that radical jihadists were a leading part of the ‘popular democratic uprising’, ‘against Assad and his government’ did not fit the official good guys vs. bad guys narrative so it was left out. Only when IS started to threaten the oil fields of Kurdistan did the elite western narrative change. Then it DID become acceptable to talk about jihadists in Syria – and to publicise their massacres. Where just a few months earlier – almost all the atrocities in Syria were blamed on Assad and government forces – it was now fine to report on the violence of those opposed to Assad.

But RT once again, was telling us the truth long before we were supposed to know it. The attacks on RT are evidence that the channel is doing an excellent job. If only it had been around in 2002/3 to challenge the dominant narrative back then.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.