Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Into the Alt-Left, Alt-Right Russian Alt-Universe

Josh Marshall, "Into the Alt-Left, Alt-Right Russian Alt-Universe," talkingpointsmemo.com

image from article
States run news services of all sorts. There's the BBC which functions or at least did function as a national news source of record for the country itself. There's Germany's Deutsche Welle and the US Voice of America, which fill out the spectrum from the BBC to the public diplomacy model. Russia Today, known as RT, operates nominally on something like the Deutsche Welle model but has leaned in an increasingly propagandistic direction over recent years. RN popped up in the Trump/Putin story because Trump's top military advisor, retired General Mike Flynn sometimes writes for RT and was hosted last December, along Green Presidential candidate Jill Stein, at Putin's table in Moscow to celebrate RT's anniversary.
Most of us know about RT. What I wasn't aware of was something new called Sputnik News. I'm definitely not the first to write about it. Many others have since it launched in 2014. I just wasn't familiar with it myself until I started seeing it referenced by various alt-left folks on Twitter. At first I thought it was some US outfit with just an arch name. But no, like RT, it's produced by the Russian government for foreign audiences. As Foreign Policy put it two years ago, if RT is a Russian mix of Deutsche Welle and VOA, Sputnik News is their propaganda Buzzfeed or maybe more like some combination of Free Beacon and the supermarket weekly world news. It's punchy, conversant or maybe more more like sorta conversant in all the new-fangled Internetn [sic] memes. At least in its American incarnation it's basically Russian propaganda for millennials.
What's fascinating about it is how much it plays to post-2012 internet motifs and cliches and how tightly it tries to inveigle itself in US politics. ...
What does it all mean? I'm not totally sure. What struck me was the effort to jump so clearly into the US political mix and continue to do so while fairly significant questions about being raised about whether Russia is trying to influence the presidential election in ways considerably more nefarious than just running a clownish website. ...

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