The Propaganda of Russia Today

A few days ago the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report detailing how the Russian government influenced the United States presidential election of 2016.

In the report, they detail the vital role played by Russian propaganda.

The Intelligence Community specifically singled out the television network, Russia Today.

The Media. 

Media's always at the center of these things.

Here's some interesting excerpts from this damning declassified intelligence assessment:

RT Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan claimed in a popular arts magazine Afisha on 3 October:

"It is important to have a channel that people get used to, and then, when needed, you show them what you need to show.

In some sense, not having our own foreign broadcasting is the same as not having a ministry of defense.

When there is no war, it looks like we don't need it.

However, when there is a war, it is critical."

According to Simonyan, "the word 'propaganda' has a very negative connotation, but indeed, there is not a single international foreign TV channel that is doing something other than promotion of the values of the country that it is broadcasting from."

She added that "when Russia is at war, we are, of course, on Russia's side."

(Afisha, 3 October; Kommersant, 4 July). 

Simonyan asserted on 3 October in Afisha that RT's goal is "to make an alternative channel that shares information unavailable elsewhere"

in order to "conquer the audience"

and expose it to Russian state messaging. 

In her interview with pro-Kremlin journalist Sergey Minaev, Simonyan complimented RT staff in the United States for passionately defending Russian positions on the air and in social media. Simonyan said:

"I wish you could see…how these guys, not just on air, but on their own social networks, Twitter, and when giving interviews, how they defend the positions that we stand on!"

("Minaev Live," 10 April).

RT aggressively advertises its social media accounts and has a significant and fast-growing social media footprint.

In line with its efforts to present itself as


and to provide viewers

alternative news content,

RT is making its social media operations a top priority, both to avoid broadcast TV regulations and to expand its overall audience. 

RT uses social media to expand the reach of its political reporting and uses well-trained people to monitor public opinion in social media commentaries.

RT requires its hosts to have social media accounts, in part because social media allows the distribution of content that would not be allowed on television.

Simonyan claimed in her 3 October interview to independent TV channel Dozhd that Occupy Wall Street coverage gave RT a significant audience boost.

RT hires or makes contractual agreements with Westerners with views that fit its agenda and airs them on RT. Simonyan said on the pro-Kremlin show "Minaev Live" on 10 April that RT has enough audience and money to be able to choose its hosts,

and it chooses the hosts that

"think like us,"

"are interested in working in the anti-mainstream,"

and defend RT's beliefs on social media.

Some hosts and journalists do not present themselves as associated with RT when interviewing people, and many of them have affiliations to other media and activist organizations in the United States.

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