RT ‘covers’ the shooting down of MH17

Adam Holland writes: Operating a fake news channel to promote state propaganda comes with considerable intrinsic problems and contradictions. Propaganda and news reporting have contrary purposes that propagandists carefully work to obscure by various means. That’s the art of propaganda: blurring the line between reality and BS, creating false equivalencies between the two, and implicitly arguing that the BS is superior. That’s easy for the propagandist when he can cherry-pick what he covers and restrict the information that enters into the conversation. But occasionally events overtake the propagandist’s ability to control the message. The mask slips, and he is revealed as being what he was all along: a craftsman of untruths.

That’s exactly what’s happened very suddenly and clearly yesterday at Russia’s RT news agency. As the wreckage of MH17 burned in the streets and yards of a small town in Donetsk Region in Ukraine, and as the bodies of its 298 passengers and crew lay where they were strewn, unburied and still warm, the people at RT and other Russian propaganda outlets rushed to fill the void between rapidly unfolding reality and the needs of those in power in Russia. How could they both present the appearance of reporting while maintaining Putin’s brand?

Under ordinary circumstances, RT can carefully craft their reporting to fit their underlying message, but when a surface-to-air missile downed that plane, this process was exposed and thrown out of control.

In the morning, as their video showed the smoking wreckage of MH17, RT repeatedly aired two sound clips from two interviews: one with an anonymous witness who off-handedly claimed that he saw the SAM launched from a Ukrainian army position, and another with an anonymous Russian military expert who asserted that the Ukrainian military must have downed the plane. The expert based this conclusion not on any particular knowledge of the facts concerning the shoot-down, but on his assessment of the Ukrainian military as being “inept”. These two clips were repeatedly played on Thursday morning, at least once every 15 minutes. [Continue reading…]

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