On Saturday, Russian forces effectively seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Formerly known as Russia Today, RT is a Kremlin-funded television network. Its U.S. version, RT America, is carried in the United States by Comcast, Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable, and other providers. (Larry King actually has a show on RT, if you’ve wondered where he went.) We decided to watch RT to see how it covered the news.
1. So on Saturday, RT used all kinds of chyrons to explain the situation in Crimea. For example: The Russian military is a “stabilizing force for Ukraine.”
The top story on RT’s website blasted basically the same headline. From 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, the network ran basically a handful of segments, including a history of Crimea, over and over again. They also rotated through just a few chyrons like the one above.
2. This one was the hot chyron of the day: “Russia force to act.”
It ran intermittently during the afternoon. Was “Russia forced to act” or is a “Russian force to act” soon? If you look at it one way it’s an old woman — another, it’s a young girl!
3. But the highlight of the day was when two RT anchors literally gave the exact same, word-for-word monologue hours apart on the history of Crimea.
Even the graphic moves at the same time! If there was one thing to learn watching RT on Saturday, it was this: There are a lot of Russian speakers in the Crimean region.
4. Other parts were more like traditional news segments, like this one that accused the United States of hypocrisy over Iranian and Ukrainian nuclear weapons.
“Double standards galore!”
5. Another segment was all about a Chechen terrorist who RT claimed was enlisted by supporters of the new government in Ukraine.
The group that posted the online appeal to the terrorist denies the authenticity of the post. Segments on this topic ran more than once.
6. Basically, Saturday’s takeaway: Russia is just protecting Russians.
7. During the afternoon, RT was also airing segments from its other shows, like this one with an electronic song that featured Barack Obama’s spliced voice saying “we’ve killed” children, MLK, Bobby Kennedy, and people on 9/11.
(The song is titled, “We Killed Kids on the Basketball Court” by the band Fluorescent Grey.) Randomly, just after the news about the call between Obama and Putin broke, RT aired a documentary on Skid Row’s homeless population.
8. On Sunday, RT.com upped the ante and published this dispatch, which begins, “Contrary to expectations, security in Crimea has actually become more stable.”
“And Lenin…?” RT noted, “The old Soviet leader is fine, if the locals have anything to say about it!”