Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his supporters have been attacking the “corporate media” for not paying enough favorable attention to his “democratic socialist” campaign. But Sanders has his own “alternative media” outlets prepared to give him serious time and attention. They are led by Russia Today (RT), the anti-American propaganda channel funded by Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Just before the Iowa vote, Sanders appeared on air with new RT hire, Ed Schultz, formerly of MSNBC. On his MSNBC show, Schultz had attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin as “Pooty” and said he was violating human rights and arms control treaties. At RT, Schultz ultimately reports back to “Pooty.”
Schultz must have thought he was getting a great exclusive interview for his new Kremlin bosses. But the interview didn’t go quite as Schultz expected because a person suddenly came up to them as they were walking down the street talking for the RT cameras. Schultz didn’t seem upset, but Sanders got noticeably angry that an ordinary citizen would disrupt his interview with Russia Today’s new “progressive” TV personality Ed Schultz. It’s worth watching but here’s the partial transcript:
Schultz: I know you don’t care about the ‘damn emails,’ but the FBI does.
Sanders: (laughing) All right.
(A man interrupts to ask Sanders a question).
Sanders: Excuse me. Excuse me! I’m talking to him. You know, that’s not very nice.
It clearly wasn’t the best way to conduct an interview with the candidate who achieved a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. But at least Sanders was able to fit Schultz into his busy schedule.
Schultz had hosted “The Ed Show” on MSNBC until it was cancelled last year. Bernie Sanders had blasted the cancellation, issuing a statement declaring:
We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives. He has talked about income and wealth inequality, high unemployment, low wages, our disastrous trade policies and racism in America.
I am very disappointed that Comcast chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.
At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda.
Some in his “progressive” audience had said the cancellation was because Schultz “stood up” to Obama and opposed his trade agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership. MSNBC gave Schultz’s time slot to “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.
Whatever the reason for the cancellation, it was somewhat surprising that Schultz ended up on Russia Today. David Rutz of The Washington Free Beacon noted that Schultz did a segment on his show in 2014 blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin as “Pooty,” and saying Putin had a “nasty human rights record” and had “violated a weapons treaty.” He then accused conservatives of excusing or justifying Putin’s bad behavior.
Now, apparently, Schultz wants to put all of this behind him. Forget about the violations of human rights and arms control treaties. For the love of money, in this case Russian rubles, it’s now appropriate to go on Putin’s channel to promote a “progressive” message.
RT is doing all it can to exploit Schultz’s willingness to bow at the altar of Putin. Buzzfeed’s Miriam Elder pointed out that an English translation of the Russian announcement of the hiring called Schultz “one of the most famous journalists of the USA.”
The practice of inflating the image and reputation of an American in this way is standard fare for Soviet/Russian propaganda broadcasts. Prominent Americans appearing on the channel are exploited to give the impression that RT is a legitimate news outlet that attracts top journalistic talent.
Schultz had said, “I am very excited to be joining RT,” adding, “The network is firmly established outside of U.S. corporate media and is not afraid to give a platform to diverse voices, stories and perspectives to its viewers, even if it ruffles some mainstream feathers. I can’t think of a better fit than a news broadcaster that bullishly pursues issues that matter to hardworking Americans.”
Of course, the network is “outside of U.S. corporate media” because it is a state-funded, owned and controlled media organization. Putin is the ultimate boss, as demonstrated by his speech at the RT 10th anniversary gala in Moscow. He took complete credit for RT’s launch.
Attacks on “corporate media” are standard for Sanders as well.
Reviewing a 1997 book by Sanders, Alex Seitz-Wald of MSNBC concluded that Sanders “hates the media,” and that he “reserves almost as much fury for mainstream media as he does for the 1%.” He says Sanders attacks the “big money interests” which “own the media.”
Seitz-Wald added, “In an era before the Internet sparked the proliferation of dozens of new political news outlets, Sanders worried about the consolidation of the press and called on Congress to ‘pass media antitrust legislation today.’” Sanders said that media conglomerates are “one of the greatest crises in American society” and “clearly a serious danger to our fragile democracy.”
But that phrase, “in an era before the Internet sparked the proliferation of dozens of new political news outlets,” demonstrates that Sanders’ claims about “corporate media” are propagandistic and hollow. He has plenty of liberal or progressive media outlets on his side.
How can Sanders continue to bash “corporate media” when there are so many different sources of news and information? It appears that Sanders and Ed Schultz are just looking for an excuse to cozy up to government-funded propaganda channels like RT.
Another staple of the typical Bernie Sanders stump speech is the attack on the “billionaire class.” The attack apparently doesn’t include the top Russian billionaire responsible for RT. A recent BBC show on “Putin’s Secret Riches” estimated the Russian president’s fortune at $40 billion.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].