A Better Set Of Lies

by Jonah Shepp

Rosie Gray flags Russia Today’s new ad campaign:

“The campaign will be comprised of several different posters, and we kicked it off with wild postings in the New York City,” RT spokespersongrid-cell-30824-1408370582-5 Anna Belkina said in an email. “Soon it will be extended to Washington, DC, and London.” … The ads feature a picture of Colin Powell with the tagline: “This is what happens when there is no second opinion. Iraq War: No WMDs, 141,802 civilian deaths. Go to RT.com for the second opinion.” Another poster says, “In case they shut us down on TV, go to RT.com for the second opinion.”

Asked whether RT believes it is in danger of being shut down on American television, Belkina provided a statement from RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan: “Alternative voices, however rare, are often met with fear, hostility and bureaucratic obstructionism in the attempt to stifle them — because they are inconvenient to the establishment. We want the viewers to know that no matter what, RT will remain THE place to go to for that second opinion.”

That’s a well-crafted message, and it illustrates one of the many ways in which the massive missteps of the Bush era are coming back to bite us.

Lies empower lies, and the lies that underpinned the neoconservative project, helped along by a cowed press that parroted them, were inevitably going to create an opening for foreign propaganda outlets and homegrown conspiracy theorists to tell a skeptical public what was “really” going on. When the establishment’s narrative is revealed to be false, that lends credibility to “alternative” narratives, whether they are true or not, and creates a market for anything that contradicts the official line. A deceitful government and a wimpy media make us vulnerable to propaganda. The Obama administration shares some blame for this, but, well, there’s a reason it’s Colin Powell on that poster and not Hillary Clinton.

The most disquieting feature of the poster is that its headline is correct. The foreign propaganda outlets masquerading before American liberals as objective news sources (RT and al-Jazeera in particular, but Iran’s Press TV also comes to mind) are enabled by the fact that when they tell us that our government has lied to us about matters of great magnitude, that thousands have died because of those lies, and that even well-respected mainstream media outlets failed to uncover those lies until it was far too late, whatever else they may be, they’re right about that.