Many experts assert that we are living in a post-fact environment, in which truth is obscured by divisive political agendas.
Information campaigning in various forms is as old as politics itself, and nor is it the sole province of political bogeymen. Research shows that democracies are better than autocracies at influencing foreign public opinion, and businesses, politicians and states all use the mass media strategically for their information campaigns. The names we give a particular information campaign not only reflect our inferences about its aims; they can in fact amplify its power and advance its goals.
In addition to formal public diplomacy mouthpieces like Russia Today and Sputnik, Russia employs armies of paid trolls and botnets to generate false information that can later be circulated and legitimated as if it were true. Then, in 2016, Russian military intelligence went a step further, by hacking into the private network of the Democratic National Committee, stealing information, and releasing it online to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
RT’s coverage may seem shoddy, at times even comical, but it serves its propaganda function efficiently. Media failures over the Iraq War and the financial crisis have disenchanted audiences, making them cynical and distrustful. The cynicism, however, has made them credulous toward those who present themselves as critics of the “mainstream media”...
Mr. Bogachikhin was poking fun at the charge from Western governments, American and European, that RT is an agent of Kremlin policy and a tool directly used by President Vladimir V. Putin to undermine Western democracies — meddling in the recent American presidential election and, European security officials say, trying to do the same in the Netherlands, France and Germany, all of which vote later this year. But the West is not laughing.
Russian-sponsored rants about America get airtime in America, while U.S.-underwritten attempts to fairly and honestly inform Russians are massively curtailed. That’s not an uneven playing field; that’s our adversary owning the field and using America’s own liberality to attack U.S. policies and discredit Western values. The new administration needs to push back.