US State Department spokesman John Kirby recently got himself embroiled in a revealing exchange with a news correspondent from RT (Russia Today). As Kirby was performing his usual crocodile-tears act in front of the cameras about civilian casualties that his government is ultimately responsible for due to its military support of a brutal insurgency, he was challenged by the RT correspondent. The correspondent asked him to provide specific details to back up his allegations. Kirby, growing more irritated by the second, finally exploded.
Here is the exchange:
Words in this case speak volumes. We should begin with the basics, without which any discussion about the Syrian war is incomplete. For the past five years, the United States and its regional allies have been arming, backing, and promoting a vicious, bloody military insurgency in Syria with the express purpose of replacing the secular government there with one that is allows itself to be a tool for US policy in the region. Independent players cannot be permitted to survive, in the thinking of US planners.
The slogans of “human rights” and “democracy” are now, as they have always been, nothing more than fig-leaves to conceal the true goal of regime change. For a while, it seemed like the project was going well. But when Syria called in its own allies for assistance, the tide turned. This did not sit well with Washington, to say the least.
Because its crimes and lies have been exposed for all the world to see, the US can do little more than throw temper tantrums and double-down on its deceit. Part of this game is the attempt to characterize dissenting voices as “Kremlin-controlled” or “Russian propaganda.” It is an old game, and one that has gained the US some mileage in the past. In the view of Washington and its acolytes, RT is not a “legitimate” news organ, in the same way that the BBC, CNN, or any number of other US networks are.
RT’s detractors like to make a big deal out of the fact that the network is “funded” by the Russian government. Of course, such voices leave out the fact that almost all mainstream Western networks are also funded—directly or more covertly—by the governments of their respective countries. The truth is that every major network in every major nation is linked to its government with varying degrees of intimacy.
In the US this game is done with more subterfuge and dishonesty than in many other countries, but the links are still there. Who can doubt now, after having seen the media charades over the 2016 presidential election, that the mainstream media works arm-in-arm with the government? Influence-peddling, nepotism, covert funding, even direct investment all demonstrate that the US has no moral high ground it can claim in this respect. RT has never hid the fact that it covers world news from a Russian perspective.
And more to the point: what difference does it make? Are we going to evaluate truth or falsity based on who is doing the speaking, or are we going to look at the statements themselves? Rather than focus on the facts, Kirby’s response instead focuses on the messenger, in this case a RT correspondent.
Parroting the official party line is a recent piece by one Matt Armstrong, who himself works for a US governmental agency. According to Armstrong, RT is part of a Kremlin-directed “misinformation” campaign that cannot be legitimately compared with Western news outlets. By taking this position, Armstrong arrogates to himself the right to decide who is, and who is not, a “legitimate” journalist. Revealing is the fact that nowhere in Armstrong’s article is any space given to how the Syrian war started and why bombing of rebel areas is needed to bring the conflict to an end. This, of course, would lead the discussion into unacceptable realities.
Armstrong goes even further, calling into question the reporter’s qualifications as a journalist for having the audacity to challenge the pre-scripted game of the self-appointed world hegemon:
The disappointing part of the episode was not Kirby rightly calling out RT to ask similar questions of the Russian government, but the response that drew from the Associated Press reporter in the room. He chided Kirby and said “she’s a journalist just like the rest of us.” Yet she is not a journalist, her agency is not like the AP, in that it does not seek to empower its audience with accurate news. Let’s not forget that RT’s slogan is “Question More,” which in practice clearly means “Sow Confusion and Distrust.” RT does not share AP’s values and principle and those of other professional journalists.
In Armstrong’s universe, one professional is not even permitted to come to the aid of another professional who has been subjected to vilification by a US government spokesman. The campaign against RT and its correspondents brings into focus a dangerous tactic of US elite circles, one that is also copied freely by the US politically-correct left. The tactic is de-legitimization: any voices of opposition that threaten the prevailing orthodoxy cannot be acknowledged as legitimate or sincere. Instead, they must be demonized or de-legitimized, using the well-tested tactics of association, smearing, and invention. We can expect to see increasing reliance on this tactic in the future.
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