The New York Times Condemns Russia Today

We hope this is a sign of further investigative journalism into the malignant propaganda exercise that is Russia Today Kremlin-controlled TV. The New York Times reports:

Viewers outside Russia who tuned in this morning to watch the inauguration of Russia’s new president, Dmitri Medvedev, on the Kremlin-backed, English-language, 24-hour television news channel Russia Today heard a man recite the oath of office in deep, rich tones that evoke power and authority, but it wasn’t the new president — it was a voice-over artist, dubbing Mr. Medvedev’s remarks into English.

What was odd, and striking, about the voice chosen by what is billed as “Russia’s answer to CNN,” is that it was obviously the same man who records all the station-identification and upcoming program announcements for Russia Today.

In American TV terms, it was like tuning in to CNN for the inauguration of a new U.S. president, seeing his (or her) mouth open and then hearing the words spoken in the voice of James Earl Jones, in the same tones he uses to remind us that “this is CNN.”

Perhaps it should not have been a great surprise, given how close Russia Today veers at times to seeming like an official mouthpiece of the Kremlin, despite mission statements about “western-style narration … allowing viewers space for consideration and independent conclusions.”

But a quick look at the talent behind the channel reveals that the “Voice of Russia Today” belongs to a man named George Watts, a Canadian-born announcer who emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1952 with his parents. Before the fall of communism, Mr. Watts worked for Radio Moscow’s Foreign Broadcasting Service and did some simultaneous-translation work, according to his official Russia Today biography, including serving as the English-language voice of Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev at official party congresses.

Any doubts that Russia Today easily crosses the line into promoting rather than simply reporting on Russia’s leaders ought to be resolved by an item now featured on Russia Today’s YouTube channel, just below the full video of this morning’s inauguration ceremony. In a look at Mr. Medvedev’s hobbies, the reporter informs us that the new president is “a veritable Renaissance man,” based solely on his love of Deep Purple, weight-lifting, yoga and his cat.

Russia Today plays this sort of adoring coverage so straight that it manages to make even the 21st century version of Pravda look subversive. Pravda’s report on Mr. Medvedev’s cat taking over as first pet from former president Vladimir Putin’s dog noted that Mr. Medvedev’s pet is a “a castrated tomcat” named Dorofei, and featured the story of his defeat in claw-to-claw combat by a cat owned by the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

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2 responses to “The New York Times Condemns Russia Today

  1. RT’s purpose and goal is to help Putin stay in power and they’ll tell any lie in order to do this. Considering the station is founded on telling lies the complaint of this article, that the same voice is used for promos and news translations, is very minor and hardly worth mentioning.

  2. Peter O'Rourke

    I thought for a minute he was going to say: “it would be like turning on CNN and having (CIA linked) Anderson Cooper doing a voice over at an inauguration.”

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