Germany bans Russian broadcaster RT’s German-language channel


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On the one hand: Yes.

On the other hand: For the most part, it seems to me that it's fine for a country to have a state-controlled news service, as long as regular people can see that the news service is state-controlled.

Even during the Cold War, the USSR had TASS, and it sent a pretty monthly magazine to subscribers in the United States, and everyone was OK with that.

It's actually pretty amazing that RT is lively enough that anyone ever mistakes it for being an ordinary news service.

The nightmarish thing is when Russia, the Republicans, etc. set up these weird fake local or regional news sites, that have something like "[email protected]" as the owner contact, or, these days, maybe a mailing address at a Mailboxes Etc. store. These sites look as if they're ordinary specialty news or domestic news sites, but are actually controlled by Russia, PR firms, the Republicans, etc.

You can find them by searching for a term like "zika," selecting for today's news, and looking at the results below the first few pages of results. (Example: Instead of starting with the first page of results and going down, start with Page 9 and go up.)

It seems as if hardly anyone talks about the anonymous puppet sites, but I think the social media outreach teams from Russia and other manipulators use links to those sites to manipulate Twitter feeds. To me, those anonymous puppet sites are way, way creepier than Russia operating an annoying state-controlled media channel.

But, on the other other hand: The last time I watched RT, what really bothered me about it is that it never gave me a clear understanding of Putin or Russia's side.

I got the message that RT and Russia thought that the United States was racist and classist. OK, fine; sure. Yes. And some of that coverage was probably pretty good coverage that focused attention on issues that should have been getting attention.

But RT would cover Ukraine. I'd understand that RT is supporting Russia being in Ukraine. But I never really understand why. I have the sense that, a lot of times, Putin thinks he's communicated what Russia wants and why, very clearly, but that a lot of times, even when Russia wants something pretty reasonable, we regular people have no idea whatsoever that Russia wants that, or why. Putin is, in effect, threatening to start WWIII because he's no good at using his words.

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