No such thing as shame in Washington when the subject is Russia – media executive
Staff of RT’s American branch face arrest and property seizure if it fails to register itself as a foreign agent by October 17, as demanded by the US Department of Justice, the news channel's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan explained at a meeting of the Russian Federation Council’s Interim Committee on the Protection of Sovereignty.
RT: The internet has always been a haven for free speech. How does registering as a foreign agent and being identified as a foreign entity change that?
Patrick Henningsen: It doesn't. All it does is show that this is a politicized move by the US, by the ruling parties in Washington right now. It doesn't change anything in terms of the information sphere. What it is, it is indicative of a new culture in America, a culture of intolerance, a culture of paranoia and also a repressive culture. The fact that this is the case in the US is not the fault of Vladimir Putin or Russia. This is something the American leadership and the mainstream media have colluded to do themselves.
RT: Many foreign outlets are operating in the US, but there seems to be a lot of restrictions coming against RT. Do you think there is a specific bias against RT?
PH: There is a complete bias. Look at the media coverage for the last year. Ever since RT was in the Director of National Intelligence report, which looked something like a high school or undergraduate sort of briefing paper that was submitted as a National Intelligence Estimate which should be highly embarrassing. But there is no shame anymore in today's Washington when it comes to all things, Russian. The problem is it is an automatic assumption of guilt of anything that is Russian. Does that mean that everything that comes out of RT is propaganda? Does that mean every single person on RT is spewing propaganda on behalf of the Russian government? This is what people in America believe. This is what the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and most mainstream media outlets in America have been promulgating this idea. They've thrown all journalistic standards completely out the window. Everything that we've built up in a civilized society in the last 300 years has just been basically thrown out the window. No longer is the marketplace of ideas the best way to sort of getting to the truth; now they want to put restrictions and labels on things, in this case, it is the excuse of Russia. This is where America is at. Somehow I think this is going to fail because it is completely politicized, there is no evidence that Russia hacked the US elections or that Russia meddled in the US elections or that Russia influenced the US elections. There's no evidence been presented. What is the basis of all of these policies and all of this rhetoric? It's based on nothing.
RT: Do social networks have guidelines for outlets that are labeled as foreign agents, and if they don't, do you think it is possible that some sort of restrictions could be created in light of these developments?
PH: If that is the case, and I'm going to say this, the fact that Senator Mark Warner from Virginia had made multiple trips to Silicon Valley to convince Facebook executives to come up with some sort of evidence of Russian bought activity on Facebook, that right there is a pure example of collusion. That is real collusion between a Silicon Valley corporation and leading Democrats and the Obama White House. That is the only clear case of collusion that we've seen so far in 'Russia-Gate'. And so this is by definition, this collusion between corporations and government, if this is what is going to happen if this is how the regulation is going to be extended, that by definition is fascism. This is Donald Trump it is not fascism. This is fascism - corporate collusion with government together in lockstep and essentially regulating the information or labeling the information or discrediting, defaming, labeling sources of information which they don't like the content. It is not that it is doing anything against the American people or the American electoral system. It is that it has been labeled as a sort of ‘foreign belligerent.’ And this is all expedience of politics in America, it has nothing actually to do with the veracity and the content. No one has ever presented one RT article or one news story - if they have, we haven't seen it yet - that it is so somehow fake news or actual officially an academic can say “This is propaganda." They can deconstruct it. None of that has been done. This is completely neo-McCarthyist. But it is worse than McCarthy because this is now getting into the international information sphere because the information sphere is global. The US is trying to exert hegemony over this information sphere.