Russia's propaganda blitzkrieg

As The Daily Beast reported a month ago, RT lies not only about world events or concocts batshit “alternative” explanations for quotidian or self-evident phenomena (the pope is a space alien, the CIA invented Ebola as a bio-weapon, 9/11 was an inside job), but it also inflates its global ratings to justify a ridiculously high annual budget, prospectively set to be close to half a billion dollars this year, if RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan gets her way (and she may not).

But because the channel doesn’t just fabricate the “news” but reacts in real time to Western reporting, it’s pivot on Syria has been more cumbrous, shrill and imaginative than its domestic counterparts. For instance, its website had earlier run several items denying and mocking allegations of any Russian military buildup in western Syria—in one case, even trolling The Daily Beast, which reported on it in early September. Now, with nary a hint of contradiction or irony, RT has accelerated straight past the buildup, into full-on war propaganda mode, offering jingoistic rah-rahs for Putin’s Top Gunnery, falsely characterized, of course, as anti-ISIS in nature.

Still, that doesn’t stop the basic facts from being falsified or fudged. Take, for instance, “US Can’t Find 9 CIA Trained Rebels in Syria, but McCain Claims Russia Did,” which suggests that Sen. John McCain, who accused Russia of bombing CIA-backed rebels in Syria, can’t have been correct since the Pentagon had earlier stated that its rebel proxies had gone “missing” in country. “If only nine out of these US-trained rebels are actually fighting ISIL,” the article read, “while the rest are ‘missing’ somewhere in the Syrian desert, and even worse have joined [al Qaeda franchise] al-Nusra or perhaps other jihadist groups, including ISIL, then the US government is doing an awful and counterproductive job, to say the least.”