If you don’t have a “premium” cable subscription, your viewing options can be frustratingly limited, especially if you are not “entertained” by self-righteous cops, cops who “tweak” the law to catch law-breakers, cops who are completely reliant on technology instead of brain power, people with paranormal powers helping the cops, “reality” TV shows, more “reality” TV shows, movies about people racing around in cars all day, movies about annoying affluent people whose problems merely annoy—that is to say, anything with a right-of-center “sensibility” that turns viewers’ minds into mush. Gone are the days when our heroes were forced to rely on their wits and common sense, without the aid of cell phones, computers and GPS systems. My television heroes, like Joe Mannix, were constantly lied to, beat-up, shot at, drugged and car-wrecked in the quest for truth and justice, always getting back on their feet with a wisecrack and renewed determination--after a spell of thoughtful contemplation--about the matter at hand.
Anyways, on the far side of the cable channel spectrum where humans seldom explore there lies unexpected entries worthy of a brief curiosity. I discovered one of these peculiarities the other morning. Its handle was “RT Network.” I watched two of its news programs, “Capital Account” and “The Alyona Show,” hosted by the usual eye-candy types (helpful because of the low-rent production values). At first it seemed like the content was standard left-wing fare, even more so than MSNBC; there were rants against big banks, outrage over austerity measures in Europe, rage against violations of privacy rights, and ridicule of nut-job Republican presidential candidates. However, I began to detect something else: derision directed at Barack Obama, U.S. foreign policy, claims that U.S. military drones were deliberately targeting Pakistani aid workers and funeral processions, “conversations" with scruffy-looking bloggers who looked like they were sleeping in the rain, non-usual suspect “experts” who had to have their credentials listed on the side so they would be taken seriously.
Official U.S. policy views tended to be absent. Instead, we hear spokespeople for the Syrian government claiming that the West was funding anti-government “terrorists,” a story about how Vladimir Putin’s opponents were setting-up protests against a fraudulent election when there was no fraud at all (because the election hadn’t taken place yet), and a bizarre story claiming that dissident Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya had been killed on the order of her two political allies based in London who just happen to be wanted opponents of the Russian regime—based solely on the claim from the man currently charged with the crime that the journalist had gotten into an “argument” with the pair; there was no discussion about whether it was possible that it had been “suggested” that he make such a claim for leniency. Over all the tone of much of the reporting was oddly conspiratorial; World War III, for example, is due to begin this Spring (or is being pushed back to Summer?), thanks to the Israelis. RT claims to tell you what the “mainstream” media is not telling you, and to a certain extent it does provide some useful information about what lies behind the lies. But the tone is unrelievedly critical of everything American, and Western in general.
So what is the RT Network? It used to be called “Russia Today,” although the only thing it tells you about Russia is what the Russian government wants you to know, which is as little as possible outside cultural concerns. Criticism of Putin, the Russian government, and social concerns is either non-existent or attacked as anti-Russian bias. RT received some notoriety during the Georgian conflict when its reporting resembled German propaganda justifying the invasion of Poland in 1939 (and probably the Russian invasion of Poland in 1939 as well); reporters “on the ground” frequently found civilians who had been “persuaded” to say that the U.S. was to blame for the war. The programming is not surprisingly funded primarily by the Russian government, and its propaganda machine has found its way in numerous countries. Thom Hartmann, of all people, has been allotted a block of time by RT for his own “progressive” show; Thom claims that he has not been pressured to insert a pro-Russian slant, but given his typical MO of addressing the numerous defects in the U.S. body politic, and “debating” the issues with the usual talking points, one suspects that his show fits right in with RT’s intent of making the U.S. look as dysfunctional as possible—at least compared to Russia where “democracy” is largely a sham, an inconvenience Putin’s de facto two-fisted dictatorship has to endure now every six years. You are never likely to get the truth about what’s really go on in Russia watching this network. I mean, how can they tell you with a straight face that a shift in the presidency from Putin to Putin’s stooge Medvedev and back again means a change in policy, foreign or domestic? Medvedev didn’t sneeze unless Putin told him he could.
So how does Ron Paul fit into all of this? One would believe that Paul’s libertarian ideology would be in direct conflict with the Russian idea of governance. Yet Paul is virtually the only American politician that RT treats as something other than a buffoon. One recent segment was entitled “Ron Paul shows ugly truth about Obama,” in which finds Aryola Minkovski raving on (which would be much tougher take if she wasn’t a looker) like one of those LaRouche groupies—taking a break from calling Dick Cheney the spawn of Satan—with their offensive posters of Obama with a Hitler moustache. The other day, some roving reporter was asking people who claimed to be Paul supporters if they would be upset if their man dropped out of the presidential primary race and endorsed one of the other candidates. Like, who cares? RT does. So why do the Russians like Paul? Because to him, there is nothing right about this country. What’s not to like about that? He may be a Republican technically, but no one wants to be associated too closely to him or his crackpot ideas--or his Tea Party son, for that matter.
Of course, we can’t blame the Russians too much for finding Paul’s ideas suitable for their anti-American (and anti-West in general) propaganda campaign; many U.S. liberals and disenfranchised types also find his anti-war and pro-pot harangues right up their fundaments. The problem is that Paul has his own “ugly truth” that makes mush of RT’s tolerance and anti-racist stance. Take these “hilarious” one-liners, all (or almost all) under the by-line of “Ron Paul” on the pages of his various newsletters over the years, as uncovered by James Kirchick in his 2008 piece in The New Republic:
"Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities" as "mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white 'haves.' "
"I think we can assume that 95 percent of the black men in that city (Washington) are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
“I think when people take money from you (as in taxes) and give it to somebody else (as in social programs), that's the equivalent of stealing from you. I don't want to take any of your money.”
"Order was only restored in L.A. (during the Rodney King riot) when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks."
“Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.”
“If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.”
In a 1990 newsletter which warned of “The Coming Race War,” readers were urged “If you live in a major city, and can leave, do so. If not, but you can have a rural retreat, for investment and refuge, buy it.” You need to do this because, as a 1991 newsletter observed, “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.” In a 1992 clarification, “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.” Paul has never acknowledged these comments, let alone apologized for them; he’s too busy accusing his Republican opponents of being racists.
Paul’s version of “libertarianism,” meanwhile, is based on the anti-government, pro-militia, anti-civil rights beliefs of neo-Confederates and Southern apologists. In 1992, Paul wrote that “the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society” and “there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it.” Must have been another part missed by his Russian admirers. As Kirchick noted, “What they (the newsletters) reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.”
It is perhaps useful to keep this in mind if for some reason you encounter the RT network. Despite revealing that which the mainstream media prefers not to indulge in for fear of offending its corporate masters, its intentions are not meant to be constructive or to educate an uninformed public: It is to undermine public confidence in the American system, and at the same serving the interests of the Russian government against its own people.