Russia outguns US in information war

Not only is the U.S. outgunned in the information war, it has allowed propaganda news outlets such as state-run (KGB) Russia Today to broadcast within the gates and manipulate the minds of American citizens for years already.

The Soviet propaganda factory Russia Today has gotten so bad that even one of the news anchors quit live in TV because she was sick of the lies she had to push forward on the Evil Empire’s behalf:

 

 

The West does not have one message and it’s up against a co-ordinated information war, academic says.

Washington: The troubled US agency responsible for delivering news around the world is being outgunned in Eastern Europe by Russian outlets unrestrained by notions of fact-based journalism.

The unequal competition raises fears among US officials that Moscow is winning the information war about events in Ukraine, even as the Russian economy staggers under economic sanctions imposed after the takeover of Crimea.

“Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that I’ve seen since the very height of the Cold War,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate subcommittee in late February. It’s “spending hugely on this vast propaganda machine”, he told another panel the same day, and it’s succeeding “because there’s nothing countering it”.

Not literally nothing. Up against Russia 24, Rossiya 1, Russia K, First Channel, Sputnik and other around-the-clock operations, are new US-sponsored Russian-language offerings including, Current Time, a newscast of just 30 minutes beamed into Eastern Europe on weekdays. The Voice of America show, co-hosted from Washington by Natasha Mozgovaya, is part of $US23.2 million ($30.6 million) in programming aimed at Russian speakers. That comparatively small sum is up 49 per cent from last year, according to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.

How much Russia spends on its information programs is difficult to pin down, but in the face of sanctions forcing cuts elsewhere, President Vladimir Putin pledged to increase budgets for state-run outlets and cultural outreach. He said outlays for Rossotrudnichestvo, an organisation devoted to spreading knowledge of Russia and its values abroad will rise from $60 million to $300 million by 2020.

Beyond the Russian-speaking region, RT, with an annual budget of at least $241 million, sends Moscow’s version of events to the world in English, French, German, Spanish and Arabic.

The network is seen by more than 600 million people worldwide, said Peter Pomerantsev, who described Russia’s “weaponisation of information” in his book, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. US and European officials and analysts say one of its aims is to undermine Western unity over economic sanctions.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has called RT “no less destructive than military marching in Crimea”. Its editorial stance is that there is no objective truth, Pomerantsev said. The point isn’t persuasion, says Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, but to muddy the waters. “You have your truth, I have mine, there is no truth.”

The network’s slogan is “Question More”.

That editorial approach means RT gives air time to people who blame the US Central Intelligence Agency for the September 11 terrorist attacks and entertains multiple theories about who shot Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 out of the skies over eastern Ukraine.

RT is amplified by social media disguised to look like ordinary people’s accounts, said Angela Stent, director of Russian studies at Georgetown University in Washington. Its social media use is “very sophisticated”, she said, and includes “people who troll and immediately bite back” at critics.

Full article: Russia outguns US in information war (Sydney Morning Herald)

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