By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Thom Hartmann, a paid agent of the Russian government’s main propaganda channel, Russia Today (RT) television, is strongly supporting career politician and socialist Bernie Sanders for U.S. president. “Bernie Sanders could be the next FDR,” he says. But it might be more accurate to say that Sanders could be another Alger Hiss, the Russian agent who served FDR as his top aide and helped create the United Nations.
Before examining the curious history of “Bolshevik Bernie,” as analyst Trevor Loudon calls him, Hartmann’s service to the Kremlin is worth a look. Hartmann praises Sanders for trying “to get money out of the political process,” while Hartmann is paid by Moscow and uses a Kremlin TV channel to influence Americans on behalf of the socialist senator from Vermont.
An advocate for “transparency, openness and integrity” in the political process, Hartmann is close-mouthed on how much the Kremlin is paying him, although he claims he has editorial control over his show.
But the Hartmann/RT connection isn’t the only controversy associated with the openly socialist candidate for president, who is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. As we noted in our column, “New Agers Back Socialist Sanders as Messiah,” the Vermont senator is backed by a rich and influential New Age “spiritual teacher,” Marianne Williamson. She thinks the violent Muslim prophet Mohammad had a positive impact on human history, and believes that a federal Department of Peacebuilding can disarm our enemies.
Still, the Russian connection may prove to be even more of a problem for Sanders. Hartmann regularly features a “Lunch with Bernie” segment on his radio show.
Accuracy in Media has reported that Russia is giving an untold amount of Russian rubles to Hartmann to spout his Marxist rhetoric on RT, which is carried across the U.S. on several major cable and satellite systems. When I asked Hartmann about his backing from Moscow, during an appearance he made at a liberal conference, he tried to doubletalk his way out of it, grabbed my Flip camera and stomped away. He is embarrassed by his Russian connection, but not embarrassed enough to refuse the Russian cash.
The entire exchange, including when Hartmann went ballistic, was captured in a video titled “Progressive Star Thom Hartmann gets rubles from Russia.”
RT reporters Sara Firth and Liz Wahl have resigned from the channel in protest over the pro-Moscow slant. But Hartmann continues to take the rubles so he can promote politicians like Sanders.
RT has a large audience in the U.S. by virtue of the fact that major cable providers provide an outlet for its propaganda. “In the United States,” RT says, “about 85 million people in key urban areas can watch RT in English and Spanish via cable or satellite, including Comcast, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable. Key spots include New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.”
The Department of Justice has not acted on complaints from broadcaster Jerry Kenney that foreign channels, such as RT and Al Jazeera, are operating illegally in the U.S., in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, by not disclosing in their propaganda broadcasts that they are agents of foreign powers.
As a result of this penetration of the U.S. media market, RT has been able to promote the Sanders presidential campaign on a regular basis, mostly through the Hartmann show. It is apparent that RT wants to have a role in influencing coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign. Indeed, the coverage could be a factor in a CNN poll that found Sanders leading all Republican front runners, including Donald Trump.
Jeff Cohen, a professor of journalism at Ithaca College, where he gives lectures to students about the media being too far to the right, was recently a guest on Hartmann’s Russia Today television program touting the “revolutionary” Sanders candidacy.
As we noted in a previous article, Sanders hung the Soviet flag in his office when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in honor of the city’s Soviet sister city Yaroslavl. Sanders, who celebrated the victory of the Soviet-backed communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, had also made Burlington a “sister city” with the city of Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua.
The British Guardian had initially reported on how a Sanders trip to Russia “doubled as a honeymoon with his new wife, Jane.”
The paper noted that Sanders “even visited Cuba—a highly unusual journey for any American in the 80s—hoping to meet with Fidel Castro. The encounter did not take place, although he did meet Havana’s mayor at the time.”
Last year Sanders returned to Cuba as a member of a Congressional delegation supporting “normalization” of relations between the U.S. and the regime. After President Barack Obama recognized the regime and removed Cuba from the United States’ list of nations that sponsor terrorism, Sanders hailed the move, saying, “While we have our strong differences with Cuba, it is not a terrorist state.”
Sanders said nothing about terrorist fugitives from justice in the U.S. who are being protected by the Castro regime, such as cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur. She fled to Cuba after escaping from prison with the help of the communist terrorist Weather Underground.
The New York Times noted that Sanders had written an article for an alternative Vermont newspaper on the tenth anniversary of the Castro takeover of Cuba, complaining that “The American press and mass media have been stepping up their usual distorted and inaccurate reporting” about Cuba. The coverage of Castro was apparently not positive enough for Sanders.
By that point in the Cuban revolution, 1969, a Castro agent, Lee Harvey Oswald, had killed President John F. Kennedy, and Castro had hosted Soviet nuclear missiles targeting the U.S. for destruction.
More recently, Sanders endorsed the Iran nuclear deal, saying, “I congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the leaders of other major nations for producing a comprehensive agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Later, however, Sanders issued a statement about how the deal would only “limit” Iran’s nuclear program. He endorsed it anyway, after a telephone conversation with President Obama.
Meanwhile, Iran and Russia have since boosted their military ties, with both countries signing a new deal to guarantee delivery of the S-300 air-defense missile system to the Iranian regime.
Sanders “has no billionaires supporting him,” said Hartmann on the show with Cohen. In fact, Vladimir Putin, who pays Hartmann’s salary, may be worth as much as $200 billion.
Warner Todd Huston of Breitbart has commented on the curious nature of the fact that a liberal like Hartmann is critical of the American political system while he is “in business with a network controlled by the leader of one of the world’s re-emerging dictatorships.”
Backed by a multibillionaire, Hartmann is doing his best to promote Sanders for president. But when will the media report on the billionaire in Bernie’s corner?