‘Europe signals discontent with Russian sanctions, US moves to strengthen propaganda’

© Jean-Paul Pelissier
$20 million over the next two fiscal years will be made available in the form of grants to unspecified people in Europe who will presumable carry stories that are more in line with US policy, Jim Jatras, former US diplomat, told RT.

US lawmakers have introduced a new bill aimed at preventing alleged efforts to subvert democracy. In particular, they want to create a new body, to counter so-called 'disinformation' spread by Russia and China.

RT: Is there any factual basis that this legislation is based on? Or is it just legislators blowing hot air? 

Jim Jatras: I don’t think they are just blowing hot air. They are addressing what they perceive to be a need. We all know that Secretary [John] Kerry denounced it [RT] as a “propaganda bullhorn,” which means in essence that the material that your network puts out disagrees with the official narrative which, I am sorry to say, American media pick up like bulletin boards from government agencies very uncritically and just simply put it out there. And no other points of view are really entertained. 

So what this is really designed to do is to insure that there is no corrective to the information put out by our government and then dutifully picked up by the Western media. This is especially, it seems, targeted toward Europe where there will be a $20 million over the next two fiscal years made available in the form of grants to unspecified people in Europe that one assumes in the European media to carry a story that is more in line with US policy. 

RT: Do you believe that the US government has been negatively affected that much because of Russian and Chinese broadcasters? 

JJ: I think it is, particularly in Europe. If you read the text of the bill, it is pretty clear when you look at the reference to the American intelligence agencies, but then also the European Endowment for Democracy and some NATO structures. This is very much focused on Europe. In fact, there is very little in here about China at all. What I think the fear is, especially if you look at the changing mood in Europe towards, for example, the sanctions on Russia, I think that the people here in Washington feel they are losing that argument and rather than reexamine their policy and think: "Well, maybe there is something wrong here, maybe we should change our course," they are saying: "They just don’t understand us well enough. We just have to make our propaganda better than it has been." 

RT: If the bill passes who should draw the line between propaganda and censorship? 

JJ: I don’t know if there is an element of the censorship here, but rather to put out a government-controlled narrative, which is what it boils down to. This group is chaired by the State Department with the participation of the Director of the Central Intelligence, with the US Agency for International Development, and one or two other elements of the US governments. In a sense what they are going is saying: "Let’s get our stories straight and let’s find a more effective way to deliver it and we will find people in Europe that we can fund who will, we hope, deliver the story a little more effectively than the private media," who are, in my opinion, already very subservient to the government position are doing.

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