Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center tended to leave Russia Today -- the Russian government-operated channel in the U.S. -- to its own devices ... unless it served a right-wing narrative to do so. It showed some interest in the channel when Ed Schultz and Larry King had shows there circa 2015-16, but had done little since. In fact, after its last Schultz-related post in May 2016, it had published only two posts related to the channel in the following five and a half years (ones that were tagged with the "Russia Today" category, anyway).
Then came Russian aggression toward Ukraine, and suddenly the MRC cared about RT again. Catherine Salgado served up a familiar Trump-centric lament in a Jan. 25 post: "Twitter and Facebook allow Russian state-controlled media to maintain verified accounts even as Russia prepares to invade Ukraine. Both sites ban organizations involved in violence. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump remains banned from the social media platforms for allegedly encouraging violence." She added:
As one example of RT’s propaganda, last week it tweeted an article by Australian journalist Graham Hryce. Hryce explicitly accused Trump of a “ham-fisted coup attempt,” referring to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and insisting Trump “had cynically manipulated [his supporters] for his own purposes.”
Hryce’s basis for his extreme accusation against Trump was unspecified “evidence” from the partisan Jan. 6 committee established in the U.S. House. Trump had actually advised his supporters “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” Trump later tweeted a plea to “stay peaceful.”
Salgado didn't mention that Trump instigated "the events of Jan. 6, 2021" -- better known as the Capitol insurrection -- and didn't tweet his call for peace until hours after the riot started. He also told the rioters, "We love you. You're very special," and falsely claimed that "We had an election that was stolen from us."
Salgado also didn't mention the conservatives who had shows on RT at the time. There were at least three of them:
- "Dennis Miller + One," hosted by the formerly funny comedian-turned-right-wing talk radio host.
- "Eat the Press," hosted by right-wing radio host Steve Malzberg, who at one point had a show on Newsmax TV.
- "News. Views. Hughes," hosted by Scottie Nell Hughes, a conservative activist who became a non-person in the conservative movement (including at the MRC) after she accused one of the MRC's favorite people, Fox Business host Charles Payne, of having coerced her into a sexual relationship. Fox News settled a lawsuit filed by Hughes over the controversy.
The MRC didn't get around to addressing RT again until Feb. 28, when Curtis Houck touted his new favorite channel NewsNation (you know, the one filled with ex-Fox News staffers) focusing on RT:
Thursday night on NewsNation, primetime host Dan Abrams pulled back the curtain on the abject sham and disgustingly pro-Kremlin RT, a so-called news outlet that’s spent 17 years spewing Russian propaganda and doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding seeking to expand his influence and splinter the west.
Over the course of his first two segments totaling north of 19 minutes, Abrams played numerous clips to then eviscerate the “astonishing” “cuckoo stuff” peddled in their “alternative universe” by Putin “stooges” that, prior to the European Union’s axing of RT, was “available in more than 100 countries,” including the U.S.
In a second segment, Abrams made the case for RT being kicked off American TVs, noting Germany made the move last year and, in the U.S., “RT has been registered as a foreign agent since 2017” with “U.S. intelligence agencies call[ing] it Russia's state-run propaganda machine.”
An editor for Mediaite (which Abrams founded), Colby Hall noted that “RT was always sort of a joke,” but the war has made their “propaganda...no longer just a funny joke” nd instead “really sort of dangerous.”
Like Salgado, Houck didn't mention the conservatives who had shows on RT. He did, however, mention in passing a segment with a former RT anchor that he complained "went off the rails as she fixated on how Fox News was part and parcel with RT" but made no effort to refute the claim or even bother to identify who the interviewee was.
But the MRC wasn't done bashing RT -- or hiding the fact that conservatives had shows on the channel. More soon.