Recently, while discussing my most recent article about Margarita Simonyan with a friend, he suggested there’s no point in covering her interviews anymore since every one is basically the same whataboutism-laden mess. One is basically interchangeable with another. And yo know what? He’s 100% right. A recent interview in the New York Times demonstrates this clearly.
Basically there are the two main pillars of every interview in two quotes:
“Contacted for this article, representatives from RT issued a lengthy statement from the network’s editor in chief, Margarita Simonyan, who wrote: “There is no special policy for treating any news stories differently when they pertain to Russia.”
Really? So it’s just a coincidence that RT expends zero effort questioning the claims of the Kremlin, while at the same time fostering conspiracy theories against the US and Western governments? Loyal RT staff are also fond of talking about how free they supposedly are, but how can you talk of freedom when everything you write just happens to line up with the Russian governments claims? If you want to demonstrate your editorial freedom, do some actual investigation and write a scathing indictment of any of the government’s claims or policies and see how well that does.
Oh wait…I forgot. It’s literally impossible for RT’s journalists to demonstrate their editorial freedom in that manner because the Russian government literally never does anything wrong, nor does it lie. It’s the one government in the entire world that never lies. Therefore RT’s intrepid writers could not possibly write a critical article of the Russian government not because they would be censored, but simply because doing so would entail lying.
But of course that’s not what you came here see. You want that sweet, sweet whataboutism. The kind of whataboutism that’s debunked with 5-10 seconds on Google. Well dear readers, I deliver:
“The same talking heads never mention the rampant crackdowns by the absolute monarchies, theocracies and ruthless strongmen allied with the U.S.,” Ms. Simonyan added.”
Here’s a report from Vice about the Saudi-led airstrikes:
Also if we go back to Arab Spring, the Western media seemed to have no problem reporting on the crackdown of the Egyptian government, in spite of the fact that the Mubarak being well-known as a US puppet for decades.
Turkey, though it seems to be warming up to Russia lately, is still a NATO ally. I wonder if the Western media is ignoring the crackdown there. Nope. Here’s Time. Here’s Reuters. Here’s state-funded Voice of America. The Guardian. BBC.
Here’s one on the crackdown in Bahrain five years ago:
Now I know some folks who work for RT follow this blog, so if you have Margarita’s ear maybe you can pass along this small piece of advice. Stop using the word “never.” The main reason why these statements sound so idiotic is because of the way she and others insist that the “mainstream media” doesn’t cover any of these stories. If she just said something like, “They don’t cover these events as much as they cover these other ones, ergo they’re biased,” she’d be far closer to the mark. In truth, major media outlets are biased, just to the same degree as Margarita thinks and for very different reasons.
Of course the funniest thing about that particular quote is that she talks about how the media supposedly doesn’t cover the crimes of regimes friendly to the US. If that argument came from someone like Noam Chomsky (and it does, constantly), it would have more impact. The reason being that unlike Simonyan and the state she serves, Chomsky doesn’t defend the Assad regime, the Iranians, or Putin’s Russia. See if RT reported honestly about the Russian government, its activities in Ukraine, and the atrocities of the Assad regime while simultaneously devoting a significant portion of their coverage to the actual problems of Ukraine, the failure of US policy in Syria, and the human rights abuses of regimes like Qatar or Saudi Arabia, then they’d not only be objective, but they’d be a much better news network than the rest. But that’s not what we see.
Instead we get constant fawning praise for Putin, phony claims about Ukraine, conspiracy theories, and cowardly anonymous attacks on anyone who criticizes their network. I’m sorry but this isn’t the same as CNN or BBC. As I’ve said before, the closest RT comes to a Western network is Fox News, which incidentally happens to be the shittiest network in America.
Apart from the details, my friend is absolutely right. There’s nothing in this interview that we don’t here in any interview with Simonyan or Kiselyov. “We don’t censor! We don’t have an editorial line! If we do then you do it too! We’re the same as you but somehow better!” They could write that on index cards and save a lot of journalists’ time by handing them out.