Is RT Kremlin propaganda, or an alternative to the mainstream media?



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Is RT Kremlin propaganda, or an alternative to the mainstream media? 3

When RT announced last week its UK bank accounts were being closed by NatWest, calling the move an attack on free speech, it once again brought to the fore the debate over the Russian state-funded international broadcaster’s role in the world. Critics charge RT as being a Kremlin propaganda tool, a sharper, more sophisticated instrument in the global information war used to penetrate Western society in a way never possible during the Cold War. They point to largely one-sided, Russian slanted coverage of the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria as key evidence of this. However RT bills itself as an alternative to the Western mainstream media and its proponents point out that beyond its reporting on issues of direct interest to Russia, it also carries a wealth of robust and pertinent coverage on numerous issues of social, political, scientific and economic importance in other countries, much of it underreported. Its British arm frequently exposes the social consequences of austerity and airs voices criticising the war in Iraq and the rise of the surveillance society. It was nominated for an International Emmy in 2012 for its coverage of Occupy Wall Street. Critics, again, say this is a Russian attempt to sow discord and paint Western governments as corrupt, while the Russian government would never receive the same treatment. Is RT solely a Kremlin mouthpiece that should not be granted international airtime? Or does it have a part to play in a pluralistic, international media landscape in which one must see issues from multiple perspectives and absorb a range of viewpoints to come close to understanding what’s going on in the world? And either way, should liberals who oppose dictators, authoritarian measures and the erosion of free speech everywhere, cheer or fear attacks on the broadcaster?

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