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Thursday, March 7, 2019
MRC Thinks NPR, BBC Is No Different From Russian Propaganda Outlets
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Corrine Weaver bizarrely writes in a Feb. 21 post:

Facebook is willing to take down pages funded by Russia. Now it’s facing the question about what to do about other state-funded media outlets like Al Jazeera, BBC and even NPR?

Facebook suspended three pages on February 15 , including the popular video site Ruptly. All three allegedly failed to disclose that they were backed by RT, which is funded by the Russian government. CNN reported that Facebook would restore the pages if they made public the organization they were affiliated with. While the pages did not include this information initially, they were not required to at the time.

But Ruptly isn’t the only foreign-backed media outlet on the platform. Al Jazeera is funded by Qatar, the BBC by the UK and NPR, PBS and VOA are all funded by the United States, to name just a few.


The BBC is funded by the United Kingdom, which has a special fund from Parliament.

Even in the United States, NPR is funded by two different government bureaucracies. Will Facebook start asking these news outlets to disclose their affiliations with state actors publicly?

Weaver apparently doesn't understand the difference between state propaganda outlets that try to hide their true identities and state-funded media outlets that offer straight news. As the CNN article to which Weaver links, the Ruptly-controlled outlets -- which operate under the corporate name Maffick Media, based in Germany -- were effectively propaganda targeting American millennials:

Like RT, Maffick's videos are generally critical of U.S. foreign policy and the mainstream American media, while largely avoiding criticism of the Russian government. Much of its content, like much of RT's in the US, fits comfortably within fairly mainstream American politics, especially on the left.

A typical tactic of Russian information operations in the US over the past few years has been to try to exploit existing divisions and tensions in the country. When covering and broadcasting in the US, RT has typically not injected some new line of criticism about the country into the discourse; instead it has reflected criticism of the US and the US government's actions at home and abroad that already existed — and that some people argue deserves more attention from the mainstream media.

Business Insider adds of Maffick's channels: "Those channels publish videos critical of US and NATO foreign policy, American waste habits, and news issues like Russia being barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics. While the videos do not overtly criticize the US and applaud Russia, they often play on tensions in the US."

Of course, VOA is effectively a pro-U.S. propaganda outlet -- but it hasn't claimed to be anything else. Al Jazeera has taken stabs at trying to be a straight news outlet but is not trusted as such.

But thinking that the BBC and NPR and PBS are no different than Russian propaganda outlets and should also be removed from Facebook? Weaver needs to lay off the MRC Kool-Aid for a while.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:36 PM EST

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