'Obama administration at war with RT, an alternative media source'
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova began Thursday’s press briefing with a statement regarding a comment by the US State Department that RT will no longer be treated on the same 'level' as other news outlets.
It came after a RT journalist asked for evidence to back up the department's allegations that Russia hit a number of hospitals in airstrikes in Syria. It also claimed Moscow blocked humanitarian aid from reaching conflict zones.
Zakharova said, “Is this a new means of segregation? This separation of the media by ideology?”
“I want to remind my colleagues at the State Department that there are American journalists working officially in Russia. I see some of them here regularly. Would you like them to experience this kind of attitude even once? I don't think they would be happy about that - but trust me - I can do that too. If there's such an attitude toward RT in Washington again, there will be a special place marked out for American journalists here,” she added.
Brian Becker, Answer Coalition, national coordinator, told RT that “perhaps it is about the exchange in the State Department where the State Department spokesperson Kirby loses his temper and says actually what all officials are saying to themselves or to each other in private, which is that RT or any media or any journalists associated with Russia shouldn’t be treated the same.”
“Kirby said it out loud, in public and it is a real embarrassment. Because Kirby’s assertion that Russian media or Russian journalists are decidedly just a mouthpiece for Russia is premised on the fact, that it is a state-owned company. And he said RT reporters 'are not like the rest of you in the room,' appealing to the other journalists who are with the so-called free press," he continued.
“But if you look at CNN, or MSNBC, or the Washington Post, or the New York Times or any of the independently – that is, corporate-owned – media in the United States they are all an echo chamber of US propaganda and that way it is completely outrageous. Kirby… broke a taboo by speaking publicly what they say to each other. In fact, there’s a war going on, a war against any alternative media, in this case, the Russian media, because it’s effective and because millions of Americans are depending on it because they are sick and tired of the corporate-owned media… as an echo chamber for the Pentagon or for the US government," Becker added.
According to him, “they are at war with RT, they are at war with Sputnik, they are at war with Ruptly, not because it is ‘weaponized’ information, but because it really is an alternative media source."
Former CIA officer Ray McGovern said, “It is terribly embarrassing for Obama to have such an amateur as the spokesperson for the State Department.”
“Here you had... a retired admiral of all things, faced by sensible questions by an articulate woman who had done her homework. There was no excuse for his behavior. What it reflects is a reaction of insecurity. He had been battered and bashed earlier that interview or that press briefing by questions that he could not handle about the International Criminal Court and so he lashed out at Gayane," he told RT.
“The irony here is ‘state-controlled.’ If Maria Zakharova were to reciprocate using the same criterion, there would be no US journalists left at her press conferences. We see from the WikiLeaks revelations how state-controlled our own media is and whether it is self-censorship on the part of the correspondents in Moscow, or whether it's their editors in New York and Washington; we get only what the New York Times and Washington Post allow us to get," he said.
“RT is very popular, it is increasing in popularity. And people forget that RT has one big fan and her name is Hillary Clinton. Five years ago, she was complaining about the US losing the public relations and propaganda war and this is what she said: 'The Russians have opened an English-language network, I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.' So, they are feeling very much under defensive, particularly when they cannot answer key questions such as the bombing of hospitals. Gayane was simply asking, ‘what is your source,’ and they could not answer.”
In the opinion of former Pentagon official Michael Maloof, “Kirby has had it out for RT for quite some time. He and the RT correspondent get into it invariably on other things as they have in the past.”
“I think partially, too, that this was frustration on the part of the Obama administration over the loss and also the fact too that the incoming administration of Mr. Trump has sent a signal that they want to work with Moscow on a variety of issues, which is fair. But the Obama administration has always held Moscow up as a bogeyman in order to justify a lot of their actions in Europe, real or imagined… What is interesting is that fellow American journalists came to the defense of the RT correspondent in asking what was a perfectly legitimate question. And what it turned out to be was a press release from WHO for which they don’t even account for any blame as to the basis of the destruction on these hospitals…”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.