They make no sense if you've not heard of "RT"—and if you have, you'll probably know enough to avoid itby Steve Bloomfield / October 13, 2017 / Leave a comment
The new adverts for the Kremlin-backed news channel, RT, which have popped up this week on the Tube, are a little odd. “Missed the train? Lost an election?” asks one. “Blame us.” Another, dripping with sarcasm, read “Watch RT and find out who we are planning to hack next.”
Who the adverts are aimed at is something of a mystery. Unless you know the story of RT—formerly known as Russia Today—they won’t make sense. And if you do know the story of RT, then either you’re already a viewer—or you would have vowed never to watch it long ago.
Russia Today was launched in 2005 to try to break the stranglehold on news that Vladimir Putin believed the West held. In its early years its schedule was filled eclectic features about Russian life and straight news with a Russian angle.
That began to change following the Georgian war of 2008. Now known as RT—a half-hearted attempt to hide its Russian ownership—the channel aggressively promoted the war, casting all blame on the Georgians and the West.
But relentless pro-Russian propaganda only gets you so far. RT’s great trick was to position itself as an anti-establishment network that told stories the Western mainstream media were less interested in.
During the Occupy Wall Street protests it ran daily coverage, often at the top of it bulletins. From the UK, RT ran more stories about the iniquities of the bedroom tax than all other news channels put together. This helped to build itself a reputation among British viewers who mistrust traditional media organisations.
Russia Today ad on the tube. RT does not "question more" – it unquestioningly spouts Putin's lies to undermine our democracy and security. pic.twitter.com/spbWSeRqUQ
— Oliver Cooper (@OliverCooper) October 12, 2017
It attracted then-fringe politicians like Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn, both of whom saw the channel as an improvement on the BBC. It gave Julian Assange and George Galloway their own shows. Despite the negative attention RT has in recent years received, some left-wing politicians still see no problem in appearing: Corbyn-supporting Labour MPs Richard Burgon and Laura Pidcock have both been guests in recent weeks.
RT is aiming for the same audience that furiously shares Canary stories on Facebook, thinks the BBC is biased against Jeremy Corbyn and insists that even liberal-left newspapers like the Guardian are all part of a mainstream media plot that does everything it can to protect the establishment.
Take a look at its running order today: the main story…