Since the rise of Trump we’ve seen the rise and normalization of State Media.
Here in the states, Fox and right wing talk radio become basically the propaganda arm of the modern Republican Party. In 2009 they were the PR agency for the Tea Party with near constant praise. Fox touted rallies, called disruption of Congressional town halls grass roots patriotism and let on air hosts appear as featured speakers.
Hannity was perhaps the most egregious example during the rise of the burn-it-down mentality. Fox became the carnival barkers of anarchy as the media platform for hateful derision of President Obama and the Democratic Party. That was always their business model and it really came of age in 2008. After all, they groomed Trump as the face of birtherism.
Limbaugh and the rest of the bottom feeders of Right Wing talk radio continued the demonization of legitimate news sources as a liberal cabal. Media elite (often a dog whistle for Jews) were hellbent on destroying traditional American Values, they claimed; business as usual.
In this landscape, Breitbart became considered by the right as an actual news source. As the degradation of reality became the norm, InfoWars gained audience and traction. Someone had to broach and nurture the conspiracy theory nature of modern politics. Both gained audiences by promoting rabid, false narratives and irrational views as the burgeoning political norm. The crazy uncle and Obama derangement syndromes.
With Trump’s hatred of any actual news organization finally calling a lie a lie and doing actual journalism, he lashed out joining the conspiracy chorus. Delegitimizing a robust press saw mainstream outlets branded as “Fake News.”
Reporters were called out as despicable and dishonest. At his infamous press conference Trump actually called for friendly questions. Trump even broke out a favorite Soviet phrase, “Enemy of the people.” The push against the First Amendment became policy with Bannon, Gorka and Miller in the West Wing. Alex Jones of InfoWars talks with the President.
To no one’s surprise, far-right purveyors of disinformation were granted White House press credentials. Gateway Pundit took its seat in the gaggle. Breitbart getting a seat was a given. All of this is a de facto establishment of the State Press. And all are beneficiaries of the First Amendment as they should be. However, when they scream censorship due to backlash they need to realize speech has consequences.
Now comes the scary part.
RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik are now seen as legitimate news sites by a growing number of people supporting Trump. Both are eagerly quoted by apologists for the Russian ties infesting this Administration. And both are owned by the Russian Government.
RT (not to be mistaken for the Dodge Challenger R/T) is Russia Today. RT exists as an international pseudo, imitation news site tool of Russian state-sponsored propaganda. Basically TASS 2.o. The english language version is routinely cited as a source to prove US media as fake news with widespread acceptance here by for too many.
Trump has given interviews with RT signaling policy changes with Russia, Europe and China. Larry King and Ed Schultz are on air personalities. Trump’s fired national Security Advisor has given interviews. He also attended a RT party and sat two seats from Vlad the Impaler. Jill Stein was at the same table.
This propaganda machine has an app. They also have a growing following on social media. For example RT has 2.58 million followers on twitter alone. The growing respect on the apologist right is both disturbing and actually expected as they grasp for straws.
Then there’s Sputnik.
Like RT it’s routinely used as a source for proving the US media misrepresents America with the goal of destroying Trump and hiding American worldwide aggression. Both routinely praise the work of WikiLeaks for exposing the “corruption” of the Democratic Party and American Intelligence.
Both feature Americans close to Trump a platform to defend Trump from the exposure of his Russian ties . Like Rt they have an app. And a Facebook page with 29.1 K likes. Sputnik is overshadowed by RT but is being cited more and more.
The appearance of American politicos criticizing American government and society on RT/Sputnik is unprecedented, to say the least. Their comments are distributed worldwide by these propaganda sites. Their stories hit US social media and are shared as news by real news sites.
They spread across the RW bubble like syphilis. Every time a Trump/Russia story breaks these sites are eagerly shared by anyone buying the being lied to by Media trope. RT/Sputnik are praised as providing the truth repressed by the US press. Those Americans giving interviews are speaking truth to power. They’re embraced and hailed by true believers.
Well, I’m old enough to remember the Cold War. Then the only US citizens criticizing or challenging American society and Foreign policy in Soviet Media were prisoners like Gary Powers or defectors
Let that sink in.
The political world has shifted beneath our feet.
There was a time when support of Russia goals over American policy would have seen pitchfork and torches level of anger. Now it’s soft patriotism. Once there was a time when support of Russian policy, in word or deed was collusion. Now it’s pushed aside in the nothing to see here mode. What else would the State Media do?
The rabbit hole is now seeming sane.