State Department watchers will have noticed over the past several weeks a noticeable up tick in the frequency of English-language propaganda dispatched from the Department obviously aimed at a US audience. Packaged as "DipNotes," these missives have become so at odds with objective reality that one wonders whether State.gov has somehow been hacked.
The latest "DipNote" is a full-frontal attack on the 24 hour news channel, RT. Leaving aside the matter of whether the US taxpayer should be forced to fund its diplomats attacking overseas media (while the Department itself funds entire networks of overseas media as long as they toe the US government line), the attack itself comes off as bizarre, shrill, and almost desperate.
Titled "Russia Today’s Disinformation Campaign," literally every line of today's DipNote contains a whopper. It was written by the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, a former managing editor of TIME magazine.
For starters, Stengel asserts that RT, "tries to paint a dangerous and false picture of Ukraine’s legitimate government."
The government that is in place in Kiev came to power without the legitimacy provided by a democratic vote, but rather through the use of force. An elected president was deposed and an unelected government took over. The frequent use of the term "legitimate" by the US government to describe the government in Kiev suggests an uneasiness over its embrace of post-coup Kiev. The State Department may have fed the protesters as they engaged in the overthrow, but that in itself does not confer legitimacy. One might think the State Department, headquarters of the democracy promotion agenda, would be particularly sensitive to these facts.
The State Department DipNote claims that reports on RT suggesting "that Kiev is beset by violence, fascism and anti-Semitism...are lies falsely presented as news."
But the author's own former employer, Time Magazine, reported about the "right-wing radical...border[ing] on fascism" Right Sektor leader Dmitro Yarosh. Likewise the BBC and the Jewish Telegraph Agency must be in on the conspiracy, as they among many other media outlets have expressed concern about the "violence, fascism, and anti-Semitism" that have characterized groups active in overthrowing the Kiev government in February.
The State Department writer also slammed RT's "ludicrous assertion last week that the United States has invested $5 billion in regime change in Ukraine."
But it was Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland herself who reiterated her earlier claim to that effect just weeks ago in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
The attack is clearly meant to intimidate those who are employed by the channel, those who appear on the channel, and most of all those (increasing in number) who watch the channel. Describing the channel's coverage in threatening terms like "dangerous," the DipNote makes a point of informing the reader that RT operates out of an office in Washington. The implication seems obvious, though at the end the writer claims he does not mean that the channel should be shut down. "Free access to information is a basic principle, even if that information is nothing more or less than propaganda," he adds.
Had a similar attack on the hundreds of US government-funded media ventures worldwide been launched by the Russian, Chinese, or Iranian governments, the US government would protest at the highest levels. To the State Department, overseas media funded by the US government still qualifies as "free press," while media funded by any state that does not take Washington's line is pure propaganda and illegitimate.
It is difficult to decide what is worse, that the State Department is employing propaganda against Americans at all or that it is so crude and low-level. Perhaps with CNN and the New York Times uncritically repeating the administration's every utterance they believe the population is sufficiently dumbed-down and softened up for them to cut out the middle man.
What really riles the State Department about RT is that the latter dares to feature guests and opinions that challenge the US government and US mainstream media line on a variety of issues. Independent-minded guests like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Lawrence Wilkerson, various Cato Institute and Reason employees, and many others whose opinions and perspectives are nearly completely ignored by the US mainstream media often find themselves welcome on RT. Individuals who challenge the warfare-welfare state in the US are often featured on RT. Those opinions are important to hear and consider regardless of whom is funding the network.