RT equated to ISIS for ‘daring to advocate a point of view’
On Wednesday, the new chief of the US Broadcasting Board of
Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, told the New York Times that RT
posed a significant challenge – putting the broadcaster in a list
alongside the Islamic State and Boko Haram terror groups.
READ MORE: Head of US state media put RT on same challenge list as ISIS, Boko Haram
The comments have since been denounced on social networks and across the media spectrum. Speaking to RT, legal analyst and media commentator Lionel said the channel was being outrageously singled out and equated to the Islamic State for “daring to advocate a point of view.”
“In the history of incoherent statements, this might be the
granddaddy of them all. In reading this, he alleges that Russia
Today pushes… ‘a point of view,’” he told RT’s Ameera David.
Georgetown University journalism professor Chris Chambers added that Lack’s words were “supremely silly and careless,” especially considering his media background. Lack previously worked for NBC, Bloomberg, and Sony Music.
“This is a guy who has some media savvy, supposedly, even though he’s moved around a lot – maybe this is one reason he’s moved around,” Chambers told RT. “But this was a very careless and silly thing to say considering the prevalence of corporate media here in the United States, and the purpose of BBG’s constitutes like Voice of America, who are supposed to put out all kinds of views.”
— Lionel (@LionelMedia) January 23, 2015
While Lack’s comments were roundly criticized, Steven Ellis of
the International Press Institute said he was right in one way.
“Mr. Lack could have phrased his comments more carefully: RT
does indeed pose a challenge to US international broadcasting in
terms of competing for viewership,” he said.
Asked about the issue on Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki distanced the US government from Lack’s comments, saying it doesn’t agree with the statement.
“Would the US government put those three in the same
category? No, we wouldn’t,” Psaki said. However, she said
there are “concerns” the US does agree with, stating
that Russia’s independent media is under pressure and that BBG’s
ability to broadcast in the country has become more difficult.
RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan condemned the comparison and demanded clarification.
“We are extremely outraged that the new head of the BBG mentions RT in the same breath as the world’s number one terrorist army,” she said. “We see this as an international scandal and demand an explanation.”
— Tony Gosling ✈ (@TonyGosling) January 23, 2015
To Lionel, the comparison was also troubling because Lack began
his tenure on questionable footing by targeting another media
outlet instead of expressing a commitment to spreading the truth.
“Instead, you pull one organization out and align, and impugn, and suggest – through some strange kind of juxtaposition – that RT is somehow – what? An agent of ISIS and Boko Haram? On day one? I can’t wait for day two!”
Still, Lionel pointed to the reaction on social media, which spread under several hashtags including #NEWSISNOTTERROR, and from other outlets as a sign of optimism.
“We have resoundingly said that this is absurd,” he said. “So the best thing to do is always to disseminate truth.”