Recently, after I had spent several weeks in Russia, I received an interview request from Worlds Apart a geopolitical analysis program airing weekly on RT.
The host of Worlds Apart, Oksana Boyko, wanted to discuss the concept of citizen diplomacy, as well as my reasons for coming to Russia in a time of war.
Anticipating that I would be criticized in Canada for appearing on RT, I nonetheless accepted the invitation.
Worlds Apart has just published the interview. Titled “One Handshake at a Time?”, the interview can be viewed here.
RT is an international news television network funded by the Russian government, just as the CBC is funded by the Canadian government.
In the past 15 years, I have accepted interview requests from the CBC on many occasions, although virtually all of those interview requests related either to my work as a class actions lawyer or to my activities within the Green Party of Canada. The CBC has shown virtually no interest in speaking with me about international affairs or Canadian government foreign policy.
Some may argue that the CBC is a truly objective news network, whereas RT is a propaganda organ of the Russian state. I strongly disagree. Undoubtedly, RT’s editorial posture is aligned with the objectives of the Russian government, but it is also true that the CBC’s editorial posture is aligned with the objectives of the Canadian government.
The CBC’s Western neoconservative bias is amply demonstrated by the fact that it frequently provides a platform to David Frum, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser of Donald Trump.
As Bush’s speechwriter, Frum coined the phrase “axis of evil” and helped lie the United States into Bush’s criminal war of aggression on Iraq.
Bolton is a bloodthirsty war criminal.
Neither of them should be given a platform by Canada’s national broadcaster. Not only does the CBC provide them with a platform, but its hosts generally treat Frum and Bolton with a level of respect that borders on sycophancy.
Furthermore, notwithstanding the pro-Russian government bias of RT, RT has provided a platform to some outstanding Western journalists whom the Western corporate media have shunned.
One such journalist is Chris Hedges. Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent who once served as the Middle East Bureau Chief of the New York Times. In 2005. the Times formally reprimanded Hedges for criticizing the criminal invasion of Iraq. Shortly thereafter, Hedges resigned from the Times. From 2016 to 2022, Hedges hosted a program, On Contact, on RT America. Shortly after Russia’s invasion began in February 2022, RT America was shut down. All of its 120 employees were laid off. On March 27, 2022, YouTube removed the entire archive of six years of On Contact from its platform, without any notice or explanation.
Another fearless American journalist to whom RT provided a platform was Abby Martin. Martin helped found the citizen journalism website Media Roots. She serves on the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation, which manages Project Censored. She hosted an RT America program, Breaking the Set, from 2013 to 2016. When RT America was shut down last year, Martin wrote on Twitter:
The shuttering of RT America is devastating news. It was one of the only alternatives to US centric corporate domination of our airwaves & it gave unmatched platforms to consistent anti-war voices like Lee Camp, Chris Hedges & myself. I had a show on RT America for three years. I had the editorial freedom to criticize Russia many times & was never told what to do or say. The cartoonish depiction of the network is false & it’s grotesque to cheer on censorship of voices that need exposure. The US establishment grossly exaggerated the impact of Russian propaganda to absolve its own political failures for years & was clamoring to eliminate RT because it featured forbidden viewpoints, not because it had real influence. Every country’s state media is biased for their government. RT is obvious but US has a much more sophisticated propaganda apparatus. 5 corporations that control almost all US news are dutiful stenographers for American exceptionalism, capitalism & imperialism…
In the West today, no major news organization is unbiased, particularly in questions of geopolitics and war. Moreover, whatever a news organization’s bias may be, every news organization has an audience. The point of accepting interview requests is to reach that audience, not to promote the editorial posture of the news organization. No one on RT has ever attempted to restrict what I can and cannot say in its interviews of me. As long as I am free to speak my mind to its audience, there is no sound reason for me to reject its interview requests.
The first time that RT interviewed me was in 2019. At the time, I was in Caracas, Venezuela, covering the now failed and discredited attempt by Western governments to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with Juan Guaido, a marginal figure who has never won election to the Venezuelan Presidency. At the time, RT wanted to talk to me about what I had learned about the political crisis in Venezuela. While I was in Venezuela, no mainstream Western media organization extended to me a similar invitation. Had any such organization done so, I would have accepted the invitation without hesitation.
A final note: RT did not offer to me any compensation for this or any other interview I have given to RT. Had RT offered to me any such compensation, I would have refused it.