RT America, the Russian-government-funded news channel that served as a fly on the ass of American liberalism since its launch in February 2010, has finally been shuttered.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not been good for Russian state-sponsored news. First, the European Union announced it would ban RT, RT America's parent company. Then DirecTV pulled RT America from its lineup, essentially deplatorming it altogether.
And it's a shame. You really couldn't ask for a more surreal viewing experience.
When I was an editor at the tech site Engadget many years ago, we had a term to described copycat consumer technology: KIRF (pronounced "kerf"), an acronym for Keepin' It Real Fake. These were devices that come from the shady fringes of the Consumer Electronics Expo, things like $160 iPhomes and Magnetbox* TVs.
(* Magnetbox is a joke from The Simpsons)
Washington D.C.-based RT America (just like its parent station, the Moscow-based RT) was KIRF cable news. The anchors weren't quite as polished as their counterparts on CNN or Fox. The production, from the studio itself down to the anchors' wardrobe, was clearly trying to keep up with the big boys with a tenth of their budget. Of course, the straight news programs were every bit as biased as the detractors claim. But so what? They were obviously biased, in a way that could be instructive to any savvy news viewer. It was like watching the satirical newscasts in a dystopian sci-fi flick like RoboCop.
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RT America was as biased as NBC News or Fox News, except it was forced to admit that its funding had strings attached, which is more than one could say about its American corporate counterparts.
Where RT America was important, however, was in its feature programming. The station, for whatever reason, platformed pro-peace, anti-imperialist voices like Chris Hedges and Abby Martin. Which is more than Viacom ever did.
RT America was never a great channel. Hell, it was often not even a good channel. But it was important. Which, in a media landscape as pathetic as America's, is really all you can hope for.
Here are some highlights from the last ten years of RT America: