The most insidious aspect of Assange’s show is not what is in it, but what isn’t. Russia Today – now styled RT – is state-owned and Kremlin-controlled. It is remarkable for how little reporting it devotes to what is going on inside Russia today. There is no mention, for example, of top-level corruption, Vladimir Putin’s alleged secret fortune – referenced in US embassy cables leaked by WikiLeaks – or the brutal behaviour of Russian security forces and their local proxies in the north Caucasus.
Instead, the channel offers a shiny updated version of Soviet propaganda. The west, and America in particular, is depicted as crime-ridden, failing, and in thrall to big business and evil elites. RT’s favourite theme is western hypocrisy: “How dare you criticise us when you do the same?” The English-language channel portrays itself as “anti-mainstream”. In reality it reflects Putin’s own conspiratorial, touchy and xenophobic world-view while staying mute about Russia’s own failings.
The mystery is why Assange should agree to become a pawn in the Kremlin’s global information war. Perhaps he needs the money. Assange’s anti-American agenda, of course, fits neatly with the Kremlin’s own. Russia prides itself on having undesirable allies; expect Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez or Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko on future shows. In Tuesday’s interview Nasrallah expressed support for the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. By happy coincidence this is Moscow’s position.