Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 34 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/30/14

Kerry's Propaganda War on Russia's RT

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   8 comments
Message Ray McGovern
Become a Fan
  (176 fans)

This piece was reprinted by OpEd News with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Cross-posted from Consortium News

When specialists with a good sense of history insist that war with Russia is "not unthinkable" precipitated by events in Ukraine, one should take careful note. The "not unthinkable" quote is from pre-eminent American historian of Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, who recently appeared with John J. Mearsheimer, historian of U.S. foreign policy, on RT's Crosstalk.

That Cohen and Mearsheimer are professors should not be held against them. They typify the best; they are not of the ivory-tower type. And, on Ukraine, they are a far cry from the ersatz-professors, the former U.S. officials and the blathering pundits dominating TV and newspapers, including the New York Times which is supposedly pledged to provide "all the news that's fit to print."

The Cohen/Mearsheimer commentary provided much-needed historical perspective for what is going on in Ukraine. And the possibility of a war between nuclear-armed U.S. and Russia over Ukraine is unsettling. But watch the Crosstalk program; it will help you understand why Secretary of State John Kerry has launched his own personal vendetta against RT, which is funded by the Russian government but offers important on-the-ground reporting and diverse opinions on a wide variety of topics.

Ironically, Kerry was warned three years ago by his predecessor of the steady strides being made by RT -- as well as Al-Jazeera and CCTV (the new English-language programming set up by China). At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with then-Sen. Kerry in the chair, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented that the U.S. is "losing the information war," and added that she finds watching RT "quite instructive."

Are Kerry and Clinton unable to grasp that the U.S. corporate media's regurgitation of the manifold and manifestly deceitful justifications for U.S. actions abroad is the main reason why RT and others are gaining on us? Despite awesome advances in communications technology, it remains difficult to make a silk purse out of a pig's ear, which is often what U.S. policies abroad are, especially to the people of the targeted countries.

It is easy to blame "Russian propaganda" for just about everything, including the public distrust of the endless propaganda pouring forth from Official Washington and its "fawning corporate media." But people tire of the constant spin from U.S. officials and the one-sided coverage by the U.S. mainstream press. I may be naïve about this, but I think people really do prefer the truth.

Yet, it is in vogue to blame Washington's loss of credibility on Kremlin propaganda. At a State Department press conference last Thursday, Kerry lashed out at RT for its coverage on Ukraine:

"The propaganda bullhorn that is the state-sponsored RT program has been deployed to promote -- actually, RT network -- has been deployed to promote President Putin's fantasy about what is playing out on the ground," Kerry said, adding that RT spends almost all its time "propagandizing and distorting what is happening, or not happening, in Ukraine."

After years leading CIA's Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, I know what effective propaganda looks like. The "public diplomacy" effort led by Kerry and his merry propagandists at the State Department is a poor facsimile. True, Soviet propagandists played fast and loose with the truth -- as all propagandists do. But they were pros at it, which led them, inter alia, to avoid embarrassing their government for the short-term gain of 24-hour spin.

President Barack Obama needs to have a counseling session with Kerry, who could not resist the temptation to run with the spurious story on new registration requirements for Jews in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine. Nor could he pass up the chance to be able, finally, to adduce "proof" of Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine by citing photos front-paged by the New York Times, with the photos and story very quickly debunked and retracted. [See's "NYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop."]

And he wonders why the U.S. is continuing to lose what Hillary Clinton called the "information war?" As for "state-sponsored," is that not an apt description for what has become of the mainstream U.S. media, given the eagerness of career-minded "journalists" to accept U.S. government handouts as a way to prove their "patriotism" and to shield themselves from accusations that they are pawns of Russian "propaganda"?

Full disclosure: I am a regular guest on RT and an occasional interviewee on Al-Jazeera and CCTV-America. Have I ever been given "guidance" as to what would be acceptable for me to say? No. Am I free to speak on live broadcasts as critically of President Vladimir Putin as of President Barack Obama? Yes. Lately, have I been more critical of Obama and the mischief-making Kerry people than of their Russian counterparts? Yes.

And why is that? Simple. In Ukraine, the U.S. has sponsored one "regime change" too many. And, although this is rather obvious to thinking people, Obama has not yet been able to rein in his neoconservative "regime changers" and do what is necessary; i.e., fold his cards on Ukraine before he makes more of a fool of himself.

And how do Obama and Kerry get a pass from the American people for what they are doing? Because the mainstream U.S. media has left Americans brainwashed. In the biased U.S. coverage, for example, there has been little or no mention of NATO's eastward expansion despite solemn promises at the highest U.S.-Russian level not to do that. Indeed, a cartful of relevant facts that could provide crucial context goes unmentioned. It's simply, "Putin bad; Putin very bad. Shame on him; he sometimes has no shirt on, even on a horse. Bad, bad Putin."

Degraded U.S. Media

It was 51 years ago when I began work in Washington, so I have seen not only a lot of propaganda, but a lot of significant change, as well. By far the most important change I've witnessed is today's near-total absence of a genuinely free U.S. media (elements of the Internet/Web being the sole and salutary exception). There is no way to exaggerate the significance of that sea change.

What has this to do with Stephen Cohen's warning that events in Ukraine could lead to war with Russia, and John Mearsheimer's instructive comments on U.S. exceptionalism? Everything -- particularly since most Americans citizens seem pretty well brainwashed by U.S. government propagandaeven though only a small minority can point out Ukraine on a map. Certainly, the "group think" on Ukraine and against Putin seems almost total among Americans who have access to a TV talk show or a newspaper op-ed page.

True, the corporate media was not able to convince many Americans that the U.S. should attack Syria last summer. Russia is another story, given the animosities engendered by nearly a half century of the Cold War between Washington and Moscow. Thus, it is much easier to conjure up fear and hatred of Russia's alleged "expansionist ambitions." We all remember the "Red Dawn" movie.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 10   Well Said 5   Valuable 4  
Rate It | View Ratings

Ray McGovern Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

What's Hayden Hidin'?

Asylum for Julian Assange -- Former Awardee for Integrity

Petraeus Cons Obama on Afghan War

Obama Stands Up to Israel, Tamps Down Iran War Threats

Note to Nancy Pelosi: Colin Powell Got Snookered at CIA, too

Mullen Wary of Israeli Attack on Iran

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend