BBG Watch Media
Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, rebuts RT’s (formerly Russia Today) coverage of the Ukraine crisis and belittles the network’s “tiny, tiny” audience in America, Foreign Policy reported. She spoke at a Brookings Institution event in Washington, D.C.
FP: “Although Nuland correctly assessed RT’s modest broadcasting penetration in the United States — it’s only distributed to a dozen or so cable markets on top of a satellite deal with Dish — her remarks did underestimate the considerable reach of its website.
RT.com, which traffics in a kooky mix of anti-American conspiracy theories, Kremlin hagiography, and occasionally valid criticisms of U.S. policies, in 2013 became the first news channel to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, underscoring the virality of its alternative content and user-generated videos.”
In her speech, Nuland referred to “a new and vile foreign-financed propaganda campaign on our airwaves and in our public spaces.” FULL TEXT (RT was discussed during a question and answer session following Ambassador Nuland’s remarks.)
U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) devoted a few sentences in a report on the VOA main English news website to Nuland’s Tuesday speech at the Brookings Institution, but the VOA report, “US Official:’ A Free Europe Rises or Falls With Ukraine’ | VOA,” did not mention her comments about RT’s propaganda.
RT posted its own far more extensive report on Nuland’s comments. RT reported, which VOA did not, that during a session that was almost entirely focused on the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, Nuland accused RT and other Russian outlets of broadcasting “lies about who’s responsible for the violence” in the region.
RT: “However, dismissing RT as irrelevant is a somewhat passé tactic which has been rejected by senior US officials. Poll results have also shown RT’s steady growth.
A survey conducted in the seven biggest cities in the US last year showed that RT was the most watched international network in the country, far outperforming CNN International, BBC World News, Al Jazeera America, and Euronews. Its weekly audience had doubled in a year, reaching three million.
RT’s online presence is even more extensive. Its combined YouTube channels were the first of any news organization to hit both one and two billion views, with the latter milestone reached in December. RT’s Facebook page has over 2.3 million ‘likes,’ while RT.com receives tens of millions of page views each month.”
RT again mentioned the controversy over Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO Andy Lack’s comment to The New York Times that RT represents a challenge for U.S. international media outreach, as do terrorist organizations. RT strongly objected to being listed alongside Boko Haram and ISIS, although Lack did not compare RT to these groups.
The independent NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org), whose co-director helped to launch BBG Watch, described RT’s criticism of Lack as a “ploy” and expressed strong support for Lack.
“When asked whether the Moscow-headquartered channel – which launched RT America, a US-specific broadcast station, in 2010 – should be banned, Nuland asserted that there was no need,” RT reported.
“We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of media in this country. The question we ask Russians, is why are you so afraid of diversity of opinion in your own space?” she told a receptive audience at the Washington think-tank, according to RT.