Not to be confused with Rooster Teeth.
RT (an acronym for its former name Russia Today) is a Russian state-controlled international television network funded by the Russian government. It was launched in December 2005 and is intended to rival other international news channels, such as BBC and Al Jazeera. The networks have a large reach on the internet, with a combined total of over 10 billion views on YouTube.
While this is not a good source of news and shouldn't be used as your first-hand account, it is still important to watch this at times. Remember that one should consider all sides of an argument before forming their political opinion, and reading different sources to see/hear what they're saying will help you.
We also do not want to use this page to promote the interests of the US, Ukraine, or any other targets of this network.
Why It's Relentlessly Terrible
- RT is owned by an agency of the Russian government. Russia knows how effective operating a news channel can be to further its goals, so it's no surprise that RT is, ultimately, state propaganda. They frequently shoehorn an anti-western agenda whenever they can, which can get very annoying very quickly. It's littered all over the place in their advertising, with their method of reeling in viewers is acting like they're the voice of the resistance when they are almost anything but.
- In addition, they seem to take a very similar approach to American right-wing media in advertising themselves. This also includes putting down other news networks that are against their agenda continuously.
- Speaking of which, sometimes their agenda isn't clear, because they seemingly try to get both left-wing and right-wing audiences with them. These can be seen with them giving a show to former CNN correspondent and Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes, as well as to famed actor, Green Party candidate, & conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura.
- Relating more to their online presence, articles from the network do not list an author, so verification is much harder, because we cannot know the bias of the authors.
- Never once is Russia's President Vladimir Putin questioned, which is a sign of obvious favoritism. It is also unbalanced considering how often US president Joe Biden is criticized, as well as other world leaders, such as German chancellor Olaf Schulz, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy
- They have been a voice for several conspiracy theories, such as denying climate change. It shouldn't be surprising that Alex Jones has been interviewed on 4 separate occasions.
- Working for them is pretty much a death sentence to a journalistic career. They also seem to try to target various reporters that had previously made a great name for themselves, like the late former CNN reporter Larry King (though his shows were syndicated rather than produced by RT).
- Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, much like Fox News, they have spread lots of misinformation about the disease, to the point that RT DE's channel was terminated on 3 occasions.
- This is a rather hypocritical move on their part, because not only is Putin a supporter of vaccines, but RT's Russian feed called anti-vaxxers "imbeciles".
- RT (and by extension, the Russian government) cannot take negative criticism:
- As mentioned in WIS#8, they made attempts to revive their German-language channel on YouTube despite being taken down for violating their COVID misinformation policy.
- When their former anchor Liz Wahl resigned on air, their response claimed it was a self-promotional stunt (though they did wish her well).
- They have repeatedly called out their critics when they bring them up, such as harping on the app NewsGuard for listing them as an unreliable source for news, and trying to save face when called out for climate denial.
- During the current invasion of Ukraine in 2022, RT has taken measures that, as expected, sought to glorify the Russians and defame Ukraine. For example:
- Some of these are more subtle, such as misspelling the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as Kiev, their former name. Another example is referring to the Luhansk region as the Lugansk region, because of how the letter г is used in the two languages (H in Ukrainian, G in Russian).
- Their merchandise store has been selling shirts with the letter Z, which has been used as a meme to represent support for Russia,
- The invasion of Ukraine is still referred to as a "special operation", which is what President Vladimir Putin refers to it as.
- They frame attacks that Russia commits as Ukrainian acts of aggression, such as a blast against a kindergarten.
- Ever since a large portion of their staff left after the invasion of Ukraine, they have been repeatedly showing the same propaganda documentaries several times after the bulletins (except Crosstalk & Worlds Apart).
- While far less egregious by comparison, some stories relating to non-political issues can be spun with sensationalism.
- On their flagship program Crosstalk, commentators and host Peter Lavelle can interrupt each other at any time, which can turn it from serious discussions into incoherent shouting matches.
- Lee Camp on Redacted Tonight, a show on the now-defunct RT America, was painfully unfunny, and came of as annoying in his criticisms.
- There are times when they can cover events that are being overlooked, such as their Emmy nominated reporting on Occupy Wall Street abroad and the UN General Assembly 70th Anniversary session.
- While editorial independence is rare, there are some instances of it occurring, such as former anchor Abby Martin criticizing Russia over the invasion of Crimea on March 4, 2014. This is more prevalent in shows that are syndicated, but not produced by the network.
- The graphics featured on the network make for good eye candy, being sleek and stylized.
Over the years, the channel has faced staunch criticism around the world by people on various levels. Articles have been written by The New York Times and The Guardian pointing out the various issues with their reporting. They have been denounced by various people in both the journalism industry and governments. CNN anchors and interviewers, former US Secretary of State John Kerry, & former Putin advisor have taken shots at the network. In late 2017, the US required RT America to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. They have been banned by Ukraine in 2014, Latvia and Lithuania in 2020, and in the European Union, Canada, the UK, the British territory of Gibraltar since 2022. Their app has been taken off Apple's App Store on 1 March of that same year except in Russia, as well as being deleted from Roku devices. On 3 March, also in 2022, a mere two days after being taken off DirecTV, RT America closed down operations. They have also been banned from YouTube as of 1 March 2022, though they have broadcast their live feed on Rumble, Odysee, and Gab in addition to their own website.
- In early 2017, RT America's feed briefly intruded on C-Span's broadcast. Both sides concluded that this was an accident, with C-Span saying it was because of internal routing, while RT stated that they were testing systems to prepare for incoming President Donald Trump's inauguration.
- Their coverage of the 4th inauguration of Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, spawned the "Wide Putin" meme, where a long clip of him walking would be stretched out so that his body fit the entire screen.