National Public Radio’s syndicated program "On the Media" discussing the topic of Global Media Wars, portrayed RT as having an “extremely confrontational stance when it comes to US,” and alleged that the channel perpetrates an anti-American agenda.
Secretary of State Clinton, while speaking this past March, said the US is on the losing side of a global information war, citing RT as an example of a successful rival to American media.
Although CNN International (and, to a degree, BBC) monopolized the playing field in terms of news delivery for decades, new 24/7 information channels have emerged in recent years and have challenged the coverage of the mainstream media.
While RT is delighted to be recognized by NPR, their choice of expert used to profile the channel raises some questions about NPR’s own stake in the media war. NPR reached out to a student of Columbia University, Nathanael Massey, to get his take on the topic, which prompted him to analyze the coverage of RT and other international news outlets.
In the piece published by "On The Media", Mr. Massey lampoons RT for its lack of coverage of the death of Osama Bin Laden, claiming that RT neglected to touch on the subject for 12 to 24 hours. On the contrary, RT broadcast coverage of the matter that same evening. Should NPR attempt to condescend RT for their journalistic integrity, perhaps checking their facts before airing them erroneously would be in their own best interest.
Mr. Massey lauds RT for its innovative usage of the Web as a means of reaching out to their audience. When Mr. Massey goes on to critique the credibility of RT, however, he ranks the network a “1” on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the lowest possible score. He quoted former CBS Moscow correspondent Jonathan Sanders, saying the station calls in guests on the “fringes of respectability.” Mr. Massey, though, fails to mention the names of some of RT’s most frequent experts—all of whom are of inarguable importance to American politics today. Presidential candidate Ron Paul, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, former UN Ambassador Jon Bolton are all frequent guests on RT programs, and it is hard to imagine that these prominent politicians would thus chose to appear on an anti-American fringe network. As of late, RT has conducted several exclusive interviews with Wikileaks founder Jullian Assange, arguably the most important person in the media world today.
If NPR and Mr. Massey would like to challenge the journalistic practices of RT, we ask that they make sure they report the facts before they attempt to identify an unruly agenda by means of falsified information. When NPR turns to a college student to misspeak on a subject as important as this, both National Public Radio and Mr. Massey are only accentuating the notion that, yes, perhaps American media is taking a backseat to other outlets in this information war.
When Broadcast Board of Governors Chairman Walter Isaacson said last year that America “can’t allow ourselves to be out-communicated by the enemy” in reference to RT, our correspondents made sure to speak to him about his exact intentions. And the outcome? That competition needs to exist among media outlets, said Isaacson. While we could not agree more, we are saddened to know that NPR could not take the high road and come to the horse’s mouth before analyzing our so-called “agenda.”