April 6, 2016

Progressives are turning to Russian-owned RT America to provide a forum for their views, because there's no progressive major media outlet in our country.

With the release of the Panama papers, the Icelandic PM's resignation and the ensuing fall out which will include investigations of Vladimir Putin and associates alleged funneling of more than $2 billion through banks and offshore companies it is time to ask: Why are some of our most progressive radio hosts only able to find a home on RTAmerica?

It's obviously in Putin's best interests to feature Americans who have contrary views of the American government, and you have to wonder if they are being exploited to further his hegemony. RTAmerica is often a reputable source for news, but the absence of criticism of Russian government is patently obvious on the regular RT site.

The announcement by Ed Schultz that he is joining Thom Hartmann, Larry King and others at RT America is a sad commentary on the absolute desert TV and radio has become for progressives. It's understandable that RT, which pays very well, is the new home of some of our most prominent progressive voices. But why must they find a home at an agency that is financed by Vladimir Putin? And, how wise is it to look past some of the egregious transgressions committed by Vladimir Putin and provide him with anti-American ammunition to strengthen his autocratic efforts?

Here's why: A simple review shows that at this point in time there are zero TV Stations on the public airways that have a progressive point of view! Current TV, which was on cable, was sold to Al Jazeera and lost over 90% of its viewership. Perhaps had they changed their name, people would have tuned in; but they failed and will cease all US operations at the end of April.

Once upon a time MSNBC seemed to become the liberal alternative to Fox's 24/7 Conservatism but with the demise of over 90% of the their progressive programs ( Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Chris Hayes are the last vestiges), most of their broadcast day consists of the usual "both sides" GOP/Conservative excusing pablum.

Progressive radio stations fare a tiny bit better, but represent a small fraction of the entire radio spectrum. If it were not for the Internet -- podcasts, progressive blogs and progressive newspapers online, there would be a virtual blackout to access different points of view other than the GOP's echo chamber. For those who can afford the monthly subscription fees, Sirius/XM offers one designated 'liberal' channel (SiriusLeft) and a few programs on other channels that feature 'both sides.' It's slim pickings for those who are not interested in the rantings of Limbaugh and his sycophants.

Free Speech TV, only available either online or through a paid ROKU site, Direct TV or Dish Network, which seems to be the only TV access for liberal views. Owning TV stations may not be very profitable, but isn't it time for Democratic and Progressive billionaires like Warren Buffett, George Soros, or Tom Steyer to step up and promote liberal 21st century global programming? True, it is hardly a lucrative proposition, at least in the beginning. But these ultra-wealthy philanthropists can risk money as Rupert Murdoch once did, making FOX the fourth major network, which eventually spawned cable-leading Fox 'News.' It worked out well for Uncle Rupey. It would be awesome if they'd take his lead and put out a viable progressive alternative.

Until then, rational voices seem to be tacitly endorsing RT, which is not averse to featuring very far right oligarchical voices that promote Russian hegemony, simply because they really have nowhere else to go. Thanks to six major corporations, all Republican-leaning, owning 90% of American media, it's not a propitious climate for progressive views.

Honestly, there's no problem with Hartmann airing his gripes about the U.S. system on Progressive Voices or his own syndicated radio program, but when he does it on Putin's network? It seems a bit odd that progressives would help a man who orders the 'disappearance' of so many opposition journalists. There's no denying the violent end that many journalists have faced since Putin ascended to power in 1999. We also cannot forget about ex-Kremlin official, Mikhail Lesin's strange death during a visit to the United States.

When RTAmerica post stories of the American political scene, you can't help but notice their anti-Clinton stance, as Schultz and Hartmann fit nicely into this wedge. Is it because Russia also has an interest in promoting anti-Hillary propaganda, much like Fox News? Unlikely. Their coverage is not deeply mired in primary politics. More likely they are against her as a former US Secretary of State with a high international profile.

Strangely, this RTAmerica tweet was supposedly a 'joke,' which few people got. RT America’s tweet of the video is still up, though the video itself has been removed from YouTube.

Of course the bona fides of progressives like Schultz and Hartmann are rock solid, but the fact that they must turn to foreign sources to get their word out is troubling. The nefarious aims of Putin must be considered when choosing RT as a source for news. This is a similar quandary we are faced with our own MSM, which is owned by GOP-leaning plutocrats who provide most of the news available in these United States.

Thanks to Sue in Rockville for her collaboration on this article.
H/T To @dmvaugha for the heads up.

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