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Rancid wrote:RT is just as much trash as fox and most other news outlets.
RT Was Forced to Register as a Foreign Agent
And too many free-speech advocates and journalists have been silent about it
On Monday, the Russian state-funded television network RT America met a Justice Department deadline to register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). RT rejects the designation and has vowed to mount a court challenge, but says the possibility of asset freezes and arrests forced it to comply.
The demand is unusual. Although hundreds of foreign entities are registered under FARA, international media outlets are almost entirely exempt, and none have registered in over a decade. RT America is headquartered in Washington, DC, and RT has bureaus in several other cities. Its operational structure closely resembles US-based, state-owned counterparts like BBC America, Al Jazeera English, and China’s CCTV, yet RT stands alone in being compelled to register under a law established in 1938 to counter Nazi propaganda.
The Justice Department has not offered a detailed public explanation. But in a January 2017 report accusing Russia of interfering in the 2016 election to elect Donald Trump, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence determined that RT and sister radio network Sputnik “contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging.”
The DNI report does not say if RT had an influence on the American electorate, an unlikely prospect given that its “platform” boasts less than 30,000 daily viewers (and is deemed so marginal that Nielsen excludes it from a survey of the nation’s top 94 cable networks). Instead, the network is chiefly faulted for “highlight[ing] criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties.” A lengthy appendix—written in 2012, four years before the election—critiques RT for covering Occupy Wall Street and depicting the “current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations”; running “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health”; hosting “third-party candidate debates and [running] reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates”; and airing programs like Breaking the Set, which is described by the DNI as offering—before ending its run in February 2015—“criticism of US and Western governments as well as the promotion of radical discontent.”
As a foreign agent, RT says it could be forced to hand over the private data of its employees, disclose any contacts with US officials or media, and file its content with the Justice Department within two days of transmission. Decrying what it calls a violation of “democracy and freedom of speech principles,” RT says the foreign-agent designation will subject it to “conditions in which we cannot work” in an attempt to “drive [RT] out of the country.”
Yet RT has found few defenders among the foremost advocates of media freedom and free speech in the United States. The Nation sent queries about RT America’s foreign-agent designation to the leading US civil-liberties and media-freedom groups. Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Poynter Institute, and Columbia Journalism Review did not respond. Human Rights Watch and the National Coalition Against Censorship declined to comment. The silence by Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders contrasts sharply with their condemning of the ongoing Gulf-state effort to close Al Jazeera.
There are some exceptions. Michael W. Macleod-Ball, a legal adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the foreign-agent investigation of Russian outlets “highlights the potential for mischief” in having FARA applied unequally, but that not enough is known about the government’s criteria to reach a conclusion. Others were less equivocal.
“Compelling RT to register under FARA is a bad idea,” says Alexandra Ellerbeck of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “This is a shift in how the law has been applied in recent decades, so we have little information about how its reporting requirements might affect individual journalists. We’re uncomfortable with governments’ deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda.”
“You don’t have to like RT to realize that threatening to arrest employees of a state media organization is an incredibly dangerous road to head down,” says Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “This opens up serious risk of retaliation for many brave journalists who work in Russia—both independent reporters who may get funding from the US and the US government’s own Voice of America. It also calls into question how this affects other state broadcasters that operate in the United States. Are these rules only being applied to Russian state television or does the Justice Department plan on issuing these threats to dozens of other foreign broadcasters as well?”
The Washington director for PEN America, Gabe Rottman, says that, while “it’s reasonable to be concerned about foreign influence in elections,…it’s very hard to distinguish between state propaganda and ‘bona fide’ news.” Echoing Timm, Rottman adds that PEN is primarily concerned that deeming a foreign-owned news outlet a foreign agent could lead to “retaliation against U.S.-supported outlets such as Voice of America or public broadcasters like the BBC.”
The retaliation has begun. On Wednesday, the Russian parliament passed a bill requiring all mass-media outlets in Russia that receive overseas funding to register as foreign agents. Calling the RT crackdown an “attack on our media,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters Saturday that “we will definitely respond and it will be reciprocal.” Along with the US government–funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, the Russian government has reportedly considered CNN International as another possible target of censure.
https://www.thenation.com/article/rt-wa ... ign-agent/
mikema63 wrote:Voice of America wasn't considered a foreign agent in Russia? Are they stupid?
Rugoz wrote:... any other run-of-the-mill dictator limiting foreign government influence on its news, much more radically so I would say?
SpecialOlympian wrote:and just lol @ the idea of honest, hard working Russian oligarchs who genuinely care about making the world a free-er, more open place.
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