The gala in Moscow on December 10, 2015 was a sumptuous affair, held at the famous Metropol Hotel, located between the Kremlin and FSB (previously KGB) headquarters. It was the tenth anniversary of RT (formerly Russia Today) and the guest list was handpicked from the political, business and propaganda elite.
Placed demonstrably beside Vladimir Putin was Michael Flynn, some years later serving briefly as the National Security adviser to Donald Trump – then disgraced for perjuring himself in front of Congress.
The invitees included many other Western politicians. It was obvious that the Kremlin was schmoozing those decision-makers/agents of influence that could be supportive in recognizing the annexation of Crimea, in justifying Russia’s assault on eastern Ukraine, in removing punitive sanctions against Russia etc.
The Western guests were evidently seen as Moscow-friendly and equally significant – their presence at RT’s anniversary celebration was seen as giving credence to RT’s claim of being a legitimate, independent news-and-views medium, the equivalent of BBC, NBC, CBC or CNN.
RT has never been known to enjoying freedom from government control or meddling. Their insistence that they bring ‘balance’ to a biased, Western anti-Kremlin media environment simply lacks credibility.
A 2017 incident in France aptly describes the current standing of RT in the eyes of the majority of Western decision-makers. During a joint press conference of Putin and newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron, an RT reporter asked why Russian journalists weren’t allowed to participate at the press briefing. In a candid reply, Macron casually observed that, “RT and sister internet portal Sputnik did not behave as media organizations and journalists”. The state funded organizations act as “agencies of influence and propaganda, lying propaganda – no more,no less”.
This appraisal of RT is held by Western academics and officials in general. It’s agreed that RT is not an autonomous organization and that RT’s boast of bringing alternative viewpoints which stimulate ‘anti-establishment’ discourse is nonsense. (Pikemalt Eesti Elu 15.03.2019 paberlehes)