A New York Times’ story suggesting “Russian propaganda” had arrived in America’s heartland because a Kansas City radio station was broadcasting Radio Sputnik certainly drew my attention.
The story highlights the tension that arises in free countries (which the U.S. becomes less identifiable as the longer Donald Trump is president) between free speech and giving voice to the enemy. And we know Russia in America’s white-hot enemy right now.
The brouhaha surrounding the 2016 presidential election and “Russian interference” remains a daily conversation among many on the left who cannot accept that other factors contributed to Hillary Clinton losing to Trump. (And let’s not pretend Trump was the better choice; he’s a bully, a fascist, a thug, and a man with no moral authority to lead the country.)
Radio Sputnik and its television partner RT are the Bobo dolls of American media, with critic after critic lining up to throw a punch. (Consider, as just one example, this report from PBS.) The narrative in the U.S. is now locked in: Radio Sputnik and RT exist to deceive, lie and distort, but they deliver just enough legitimate news to appear credible.
This narrative ignores what FOX News and MSNBC do on a daily basis. The narrative dismisses that China, which also easily reaches a U.S. audience, is equally interested in promoting its interpretation of international events. This narrative forgets that American interference in foreign elections runs long and deep.
Tell someone on the left you watch FOX News, and a sneer will follow. Tell someone on the right you watch MSNBC, and you’ll be told you’re not a “real” American. Tell anyone you watch China’s CGTN and a look of confusion will be evident.
But tell someone you listen to Radio Sputnik or watch RT, and, well, you might as well surrender your citizenship and move to Russia; you are going to be tarred and feathered with the “traitor” label.
Radio Sputnik in Kansas City (and let’s not forget it already had a presence in Washington) will not doom America’s heartland. Let’s be honest: With a majority of Americans going online daily, accessing Radio Sputnik or RT can be done at any time and in almost any location. So, unless some Republicans get their way and set up Internet bans, Radio Sputnik and RT will continue to reach Americans.
As they should.