Earlier this month I wrote about RT (formerly Russia Today) being ordered by the Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). RT was given several deadlines and finally agreed that it would register, though the network complained bitterly about being forced to do so. Today, another shoe dropped on RT as the Radio-Television Correspondents’ Galleries revoked the network’s press credentials. From the Hill:
“The rules of the Galleries state clearly that news credentials may not be issued to any applicant employed by any ‘foreign government or representative thereof,'” Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association Chairman Craig Caplan wrote in a letter to RT news director Mikhail Solodovnikov, according to CNN.
“Upon its registration as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registrations Act (FARA), RT Network became ineligible to hold news credentials,” Caplan wrote.
Here’s the full letter announcing the decision. Note, this is dated today but says the vote to strip press credentials actually took place last week:
— Miranda Green (@mirandacgreen) November 29, 2017
Effectively this means RT can no longer enter the press galleries in the House and Senate where reporters gather to speak with members of Congress. They are shut out. When the DOJ first ordered RT to register under FARA, the Russian Foreign Ministry threatened retaliation against American companies. Over the weekend, CNN reported that Vladimir Putin had followed through on those threats:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed amendments into law that will allow foreign media outlets in Russia to be listed as “foreign agents,” according to state-run news agency Sputnik news.
Russian officials have said the change is a retaliatory response to the US government’s request that RT, the Russian TV network, register its American arm as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)…
“According to the text of the law, media that receive financial assistance from foreign states or organizations can be recognized as foreign agents, while the decision on which outlets will be classified as ‘foreign agents’ will be taken by the Ministry of Justice.”
One of the networks previously mentioned by Russia was CNN. CNN is obviously an American-based news organization but it’s not receiving money directly from the federal government for its coverage. That’s different from RT which is partly funded by the Kremlin and which has always operated as a propaganda arm for the Russian government. (If you think CNN supports the current US administration, you haven’t been paying attention.)
I suppose Putin could claim that PBS and NPR are U.S. funded entities and force them to register as foreign agents. As someone who would love to see both entities cut off from all public funding, I’d be fine with that. But as much as I sometimes question the bias of the coverage those two outlets provide, they are worlds apart from what RT has been doing for the past decade. In fact, I wrote a post for Breitbart back in 2010 titled “Mr. Putin, tear down this network.” Even then it was clear RT was just Russian propaganda dressed up as news.