By Xeni Jardin at 4:05 pm Thu, Feb 23, 2012
Boing Boing's managing editor Rob, not Bob, but Rob, Beschizza speaks on the Russian television news network RT about Megaupload, ACTA, the global copyfight wars, and the high-flying hijinks of Kim Dotcom.
This is obviously just pro-Putin, anti-American, Russian government propaganda.
Good job B.Rob
Great piece but I can’t shake the resemblance between Rob and Zach Weiner from SMBC, at least from that video still.
I’ve heard all kinds of bad things about how RT is worthless Russian propaganda. It occurs to me that I’ve also heard bad things about Al-Jazeera being worthless jihadi propaganda, but it seems like one of the most reliable news sources in the region. Should I similarly reassess the accusations against RT?
Al Jazeera isn’t run by a state. RT is, effectively, run by the Kremlin. Very different types of organizations, very different control structures. And I think the nature of their content speaks for itself, with each network.
And in this case it’s to the Kremlin’s advantage to use you guys to support their propaganda campaign inside Russia that America is secretly plotting against them.
It may not be obvious on the face of it, but Russians don’t need a nail gun to the forehead like Americans do to “get” things.
Heads up, everyone else. This comment from tnmc is the kind of criticism I’ve heard before when Chomsky or Denis Kucinich appeared on RT. By granting an interview to a biased state-run media org like RT, Chomsky or Kucinich (or Beschizza) seem to be endorsing RT in general, or endorsing the Kremlin that runs RT, or “playing into the hands” of propagandists. That’s exactly what I wondered when I asked the question earlier.
However, Chomsky and Kucinich and Beschizza say the same things on RT that they have said in the past in other places. Presumably they should feel free to make their usual statements to any media that will listen. I imagine if they participated in interviews with WorldNetDaily or FrontPageMag, the interviews would be hostile, but they wouldn’t be seen as endorsing the methods or bias of those organizations just for agreeing to participate.
If there are valid criticisms to be made of the US govt, should we keep quiet about them because there are competing oligarchs or tyrants who will use it in anti-US propaganda? Or should we only offer those critiques to media we can trust, like granting an interview to Judith Miller at the New York Times?
It’s a real question. My observation was not to suggest that BB “endorses” RT here.
But the venue matters almost as much as the message, to my mind.
If I were to give an interview in my field of expertise to WND or Fox News and that message happened to support – however orthogonally – a propaganda campaign of theirs that is contrary to my interests, is that really of benefit to society?
Despite the fact I’m advancing this one narrow case.
I don’t really know…
Reply to tnmc: “If I were to give an interview in my field of expertise to WND or Fox News and that message happened to support – however orthogonally – a propaganda campaign of theirs that is contrary to my interests, is that really of benefit to society?”
But you could avoid making statements to WND or Fox specifically, and put out your own statements via blog post or tweet or youtube video, whatever. It wouldn’t really avoid the problem. WND or Fox could quote your public criticism of US policy and use it for their purposes just the same. “Chomsky says Obama’s use of drones is assassination. Obama bad! Vote conservative!” (Wouldn’t make much sense for conservative outlets like WND or Fox to say that, but you get the picture.)
So the question becomes not how to positioning your message to the best media outlets, but whether you should make any criticism at all, if any media outlet can repeat your criticism for their own nefarious purposes. I think the best we can do is say what we think is true and hope that audiences are sophisticated enough to recognize the biases of media outlets.
Yeah. Fair comment, I suppose.
But it still gives me the heebie jeebies.
Al Jazeera is owned (not just funded, owned) by the Qatar Media Corporation, which is in turn owned by the state of Qatar.
This is not to say that Al Jazeera isn’t good (I think it is) but they are owned by a non-democratic government and ‘run’ by whoever the royal family put in charge of, well, running that thing.
I was going to say the same thing, but with the caveat that it is possible to put safeguards in place to ensure that a government owned broadcaster is not a government run broadcaster. The CBC/BBC have impartiality checks to prevent political interference, for example.
I don’t know if or what checks Al Jazeera has, but they certainly could have them.
Yes, they probably do, wasn’t trying to put them down.
The BBC isn’t owned by the folks in power though. Big difference. (Trustees are effectively appointed by the government via the Queen though.)
I’ve been really impressed with the coverage given to the SOPA/PIPA/ACTA issue from both RT and Al Jazeera – as well as the Occupy movement and Anonymous stories. They cover the matter in a way that should embarrass most mainstream Western media.
I don’t have any faith in RT’s ability to report serious issues in Russia, or Al Jazeera’s ability to be without bias for certain matters in the Middle East, but then I have no faith in American Big Media full stop, and little in the BBC when it comes to issues undermining the Conservative Party, as with the current way they are reporting the “workfare” issue.
As long as you stay alert and aware that certain biases exist everywhere, and source information from a broad range of media, these networks prove valuable, especially where defacto censorship is in operation in places like the UK and USA when it comes to certain interests.
What are you looking for? Facts are neutral – X did Y – but comment is not and editorial decisions about which ‘facts’ to include and exclude are always necessary. You decode accordingly. Anything is better than some spurious claim to impartiality. Just mix up your sources.
I haven’t watched RT for news items, mainly when I heard about people I liked giving interviews to RT, like Chomsky or Denis Kucinich. Then I heard them criticized for choosing to give interviews to state-run media. See the comment above from tnmc and my reply. I’m less interested in whether to trust statements of news items by RT than whether Rob B or Chomsky are tainting themselves or giving ammunition to propagandists when they agree to appear on RT. (I don’t think they are.)
I think whether any particular individual has tainted himself by being used by propagandists is not that problematic for me. I think it is important for anyone to use all sorts of media to expose as many people as possible to opinions they may not previously have heard rather than speak simply to those who support them. I would have thought that people like Chomsky could stand up for themselves and counter propagandists when necessary. There can be no communication without interference – it is essential to its functioning. The ambiguity of the message when people turn up in unexpected places may be the problem.
“Al-Jazeera being worthless jihadi propaganda, but it seems like one of the most reliable news sources in the region.”
Forget the region, I’d trust them over the BBC.
Funny, it makes sense that his last name is pronounced “beh-skitsa”, but I’d always imagined it as “beh-shizza” because it’s more fun to say. Beh-shizza beh-shizza beh-shizza beh-shizza!
What’s funny is the anchor got that part right!
Ditto. It sounds like Yiddish pejorative: “That shmuck’s gone completely beschizza!”
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, not Anti Computer Piracy Treaty like the dude said
He was trying to get inside your head B- Rob! He kew you had you first lines memorized, but he thought he’d put you out of whack by calling you Bob, leaving you flummoxed as to whether to correct him. Masterfully ignored!
This was actually a short-notice segment with no clue about the subject except ‘internet freedom’! I winged it with some on-screen cues — you can see me chancing quite a few glances at them.
That interviewer has a voice for sketch comedy.
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In our days (and nights) we cannot indulge in much of being choosy–Russia Today, despite its basic agenda and purpose, is one of the rare media sources where EXTREMELY important things are being covered (not omited), there’s often sharp and intelligent analisys on stuff and also competent guests invited who don’t get outlet in the mainstream media. I have fun watching the keiser report from time to time for example.
Worst Pittsburgh accent I’ve ever heard. Kidding. Good job.
while on RT, he should have asked about ongoing russian armsales to the syrian government.. I feel RT is abusing this occupy/anti-ACTA rethoric to gain ideological traction with the western left to eventually further the kremlin’s own agenda. Trying to rob the USA of it’s moral high ground.. (not very hard to do these days) I think they should be avoided and people, despite the lure of finally getting to talk on TV about important issues, should boycott it, since RT’s underlying motives for having you on the show are very questionable.. i’d feel dirty going on there..
Trying to rob the USA of it’s moral high ground..
I think you’ll find that the US threw that away, except for the threadbare version it still peddles to the feeble-minded.
Worse than Fox.
English TV presenter at a Russian station talks to English director of American company.
It’s like a Hollywood movie and you’re all the bad guys!
RT is a major media outlet that is not beholden to the current US/UK/EU oligarchy (Fed, Crown and ECB – IMF, WTO and World Bank – the gang) – so they can actually get the important stories out. Yes they have an agenda – so does ABC. I think we’re collectively waking up and seeing through the current Western MSM agenda, so I’m glad that RT is at least tackling the issues where the US is dirty. Kucinich is a champion, and him being on RT enforces that, not the other way around.
I had to watch this clip twice. And on second viewing, let me just say I agree with a lot of what Rob has to say. Why I didn’t get it on the first viewing? Well, with all due respect (and with NO sense of disrespect!), the moment Rob first popped up on camera, his apparent glee was only overshadowed by the fact that Rupert Grint obviously has made a career of being a Rob Beschizza impersionator!
That being said, I have always liked Rob’s posts, and I’ll probably (irrationally) like them more now that I can put a voice to them.
Wait til you see Ed Sheeran.
I see what you did there. :-D
i’ll watch it later – but it is hard for me to take anything on RT seriously.
RT = PutinTV
Hey Rob good interview.
I’m curious, did going on RT knowing their connection to the russian government make you nervous?
I watch a fair amount of RT but I almost feel dirty watching it. Sort of a Fox News reaction.
PS Canadian here, on an interesting side note our government wants to privatize our national media company, CBC, because of a perceived bias.
We also wear our shoes on our hands and dogs walk people.
It didn’t make me nervous. It’s like going on Fox News. You just have to know what you want to say and try not to be steered.
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