RT: State Dept disagrees with head of US state media over equation of RT with ISIS

When the shoe fits.

State Department Spokesperson

An RT report mischaracterized to some degree responses by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki in answering questions posed by RT’s Gayane Chichakyan. Psaki said that the State Department agrees with “challenges and certainly concerns that I think the new head of BBG was expressing.” She also said: “I think the broad point is the U.S. Government – would the U.S. Government put those three in the same category? No, we wouldn’t.”

SEE: State Dept disagrees with head of US state media over equation of RT with ISIS, RT, January 23, 2015.

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 23, 2015


QUESTION: The newly appointed chief executive of the BBG said his agency faces a number of, quote-un-quote, challenges – Russia Today, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram – all in one sentence. Would you call those remarks appropriate or inappropriate?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, let me note that the Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency supervising all U.S. Government-supported civilian international media. I’d certainly point you to them for specifics. I think the broad point is the U.S. Government – would the U.S. Government put those three in the same category? No, we wouldn’t. However, there are concerns, I think, that our – we agree with in terms of the fact that the – Russia’s own independent media space is shrinking and the Kremlin continues to apply pressure on the few remaining outlets. And while RT is available to many viewers in the United States – you’re here in the briefing room today – many Russian authorities have curtailed the ability of BBG broadcasters to broadcast there. So those are challenges and certainly concerns that I think the new head of BBG was expressing.
QUESTION: Do you have – just to clarify, do you have any problem with the way he put it?
MS. PSAKI: I think I’d point you to them, and I just stated that wouldn’t be the way that we would state it from here.
QUESTION: How would you state it?
MS. PSAKI: We wouldn’t state it in those terms.
QUESTION: Well, the Secretary of State is a member of the BBG.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I just stated the concerns we have, which we agree with.
MS. PSAKI: I would state it in that way.
QUESTION: Okay. So you would not, then, put RT in the same category as Boko Haram and —
MS. PSAKI: That’s what I just said two minutes ago.
QUESTION: Yeah, but you would agree that it is a challenge and —
MS. PSAKI: Correct, I said both of those things.

In our view, even though Andy Lack apparently — as reported by The New York Times — mentioned them in one sentence, he did not in fact compare RT to terrorist groups, but his critics believe otherwise.

Stengel and Kerry on RT as a propaganda machine

Richard Stengel, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and a former managing editor of TIME magazine, wrote last April that “RT is a distortion machine, not a news organization.”

RICHARD STENGEL: “…when propaganda poses as news it creates real dangers and gives a green light to violence.
Sometimes it’s even too much for the people paid to make these claims. The network’s clear bias led to an unprecedented on-air rebellion. First, the host of RT America, Abby Martin, condemned Russia’s invasion of Crimea on a broadcast. Then one of the network’s anchors, Liz Wahl, resigned on air, saying, ‘I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin.’
Yet, even so, I would defend the right of RT to broadcast.”

While saying that RT represented a challenge for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andy Lack did not question RT’s right to broadcast.

Last April, Secretary of State John Kerry called RT a “propaganda bullhorn.”

Link to YouTube Video

JOHN KERRY: “In fact, the propaganda bullhorn that is the state sponsored Russia Today program has been deployed to promote — actually, Russia Today network, has deployed to promote President Putin’s fantasy about what is playing out on the ground,” he said.
“They almost spend full time devoted to this effort, to propagandize and distort what is happening or not happening in Ukraine.”

As with Andy Lack, RT also demanded an apology from John Kerry, but apparently did not get it.

SEE: ‘Propaganda bullhorn’: John Kerry attacks RT during Ukraine address, RT, April 25, 2014.

RT REPORT: “RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan responded to Kerry, saying the channel was preparing a letter seeking an apology from the State Department and asking for evidence to back up their assertions.
‘We are planning to write an official request to the State Department for concrete examples of when RT has distorted facts,’ said Simonyan. ‘It’s unfortunate that the head of the State Department knows so little about what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment.’
‘It surprises me that at this difficult and embarrassing time for the US, Secretary of State John Kerry has nothing else to worry about apart from our television channel,’ Simonyan tweeted.”