Foreign television broadcast on American cable channels have become more numerous of late. I get a French station, (sorry can't recall the name at the moment) that does a bank up job on both French and international news. I get DW German TV. I also get the BBC which, while opinionated to the left has a lot of good basic journalism. Since the earthquake/tsunami, NHK has increased it's programing dramatically. NHK is the face of Japan to the world and they take that job very seriously. Of course they are partial to their own country as are the others, but in a most inoffensive way. Their nature and human interest programing is truly engaging.
And then there is RT. RT formerly Russia Today, is awful in so many ways that it's difficult to know where to begin. First, will someone please tell these people that the Cold War is over? RT's "coverage" of the American scene is strait our of the old Pravda. For instance, RT is covering the Occupy Wall Street protesters in a way that leaves the impression that our government is in crisis and is about to fall. Now it's a fact that the leftists in our own media are boosting the protests, but only a tiny dyspeptic minority think that anything big is underway. And that includes mainstream leftists. The national media are already beginning to hedge their bets as the simpleminded among the protesters are giving way to the hard line psycho's. As the temperature sinks and the ratio of do-gooders drops in favor of troublemakers, these occupations will either peter out or end in ugly but very small scale violence.
RT has the feel and content of a network concerned with presenting a positive view of Russia to the world and with telling the world what shits we Americans are. OK, so far so good, but what idiot thought it was a good idea to broadcast the second part of that message to me, in America? RT strains so hard to detect any and all bad news about the US that it gives propaganda a bad name. Whoever runs it has so little feel for how Americans think and express themselves that one suspects that they must have studied under A. Arbotov from the old days. It's as though NHK was still run by elderly chums of Tojo. RT's economic news is a numbing night after night screed against capitalism. RT's political analysis doesn't so much report on what is happening as apply the conspiracy theory du jure to even the most anodyne happenings. The last two sports reports I caught were more about the unfairness of non-Russian referees than to actual play.
RT has a mix of genuine foreign reporters/correspondents and Russians who almost but not quite sound like Americans. The effect of this last is a bit creepy. One imagines a fake American village somewhere out on the steppes where people practice passing for Americans. It sounds OK for a sentence or two then just collapses. Why does RT do this? Who expects BBC America news readers to be pseudo-Americans. Some of the people appearing as experts are simply ridiculous. Max Kaiser looks like someone drawn by the late Dr. Seuss while not reporting on Wall Street so much as denouncing its existence, and I mean every night.
I don't write this in an anti-Russian spirit. I am one of those conservative Americans who disagreed with my countries policies toward Russia in the aftermath of the breakup of the USSR. We should not have pressed NATO so close to your borders. We had no business meddling in places like Georgia or Serbia. Neoconservative hipsters from my country had a hand in the misappropriation of the USSR's resources, and the rise of the oligarchs.
This said, I want to inform my Russian readers that their government's clumsy propaganda efforts via RT is having the opposite effect intended. I wish you could see the contrast between all the other foreign networks and the one that purports to represent you on my TV. I think you would be embarrassed.