By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
The Russia Today (RT) Moscow-funded propaganda channel, which is backing the murderous regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, aired a special program on Tuesday night on how progressives in the U.S. can “Take Back the American Dream” by defeating Republicans. The propaganda effort was broadcast throughout the United States and produced in collaboration with major liberal groups such as the Campaign for America’s Future, MoveOn.org and Demos, all of them Soros-funded.
The host was Thom Hartmann, who regards himself as the nation’s number one progressive radio talk-show host.
The “National Teach-In to Take Back the American Dream” featured Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor; Heather McGhee of Demos; Leo Hindrey, a businessman and self-styled “Patriotic Millionaire;” Natalie Foster, the co-founder of Rebuild the Dream; and Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future.
Nobody on the program, which also aired on DISH Network, DirectTV and the Free Speech TV Network, demonstrated any concern about appearing on a Moscow-funded channel to promote the “American dream.”
The Russian regime, which has a habit of murdering journalists and political opponents, has a covert and overt program of manipulation of the Western media, similar to what the old Soviet KGB used to specialize in. Interestingly, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has just posted a blog on The Huffington Post, one of RT’s official “partners” in the media business.
However, demonstrating sensitivity to the charge that he is a paid Russian agent working in the progressive movement, Thom Hartmann has refused to discuss how much the Russians pay him to air his program “The Big Picture” on RT. When I questioned him about this, he actually grabbed my camera recording his response in order to avoid being seen stonewalling.
RT is the same channel that recently announced it was going to host a show with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, now under investigation for espionage against the U.S. The alleged WikiLeaks source for the largest theft of classified documents in U.S. history, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is being formally arraigned on February 23 on charges that include aiding the enemy.
In this video, produced by Accuracy in Media, several Soviet-like broadcasts are shown on RT featuring denunciations of the U.S. This is fairly typical of the fare offered by RT.
The Vladimir Putin regime started the channel in order to promote Russian interests abroad and serve as a cover for Russian intelligence operations. Anti-communist blogger Trevor Loudon calls RT “a propaganda arm of the Putin-Medvedev-KGB-run Russian thugocracy” and notes that former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky has described it as a channel for disinformation and propaganda from the Russian intelligence services. Medvedev is the current Russian president stepping down from the post at Putin’s direction so Putin can run again for president on March 4.
Putin, a former Soviet KGB officer, has just made headlines praising the Russian spies who stole U.S. atom bomb secrets.
Putin said, “You know, when the States already had nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union was only building them, we got a significant amount of information through Soviet foreign intelligence channels.” Putin was undoubtedly referring to atom bomb spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, members of the Communist Party who were executed for stealing U.S. atom bomb secrets on behalf of the Soviet Union.
These days, however, some Russian collaborators operate in the open, such as Hartmann and his ilk.
The purpose of the Hartmann show, a special edition of The Big Picture, was to push President Obama to the left, in terms of promoting more federal government economic programs, and discrediting proposals for smaller government and lower taxes coming from conservatives and Republicans. As such, however, the program may constitute foreign interference in U.S. election campaigns, a violation of federal election law.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits foreign corporations such as RT from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.
For purposes of the law, it can be argued that Hartmann, who is paid an unknown amount by the Russian regime, is operating as an agent of RT and prohibited from electioneering in the U.S.
The “American dream” show was promoted by many other liberal-left groups, including the AFL-CIO, without any hint that it was made possible through the generosity of the Russian regime. The Russia Today channel was referred to in promotional advertising simply as “RT TV,” which is how the channel wants to be known in the U.S., so that its Russian connection can be hidden from the viewing public.
Officially, however, RT is the first Russian 24/7 English-language news channel that promotes the Russian government’s view on global news. RT TV is the American-based arm of the news organization, which is headquartered in Moscow and completely paid for by the Russian regime.
Thom Hartmann used to be a host on Air America, the liberal radio network which went bankrupt because of mismanagement and lack of listeners. His mentality is illustrated by the title over an article on his blog, “Why do Republicans let sick Americans die just to avoid a legislative victory for President Obama?” The post in favor of socialized medicine was written by his wife, pictured here in an unusual pose for a liberal—firing a gun. “Don’t mess with Louise,” the caption says. Louise Hartmann produces his show.
Thom Hartmann serves on the advisory board of Progressive Democrats of America, along with such notables as Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, former Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) leader Tom Hayden, Steve Cobble of the Institute for Policy Studies, and left-wing Democratic members of Congress John Conyers (Michigan), Donna Edwards (Maryland), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Raul Grijalva (Arizona), Jim McGovern (Massachusetts) and Lynn Woolsey (California).
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].