It is the ultimate Catch-22 when you make someone register as a ‘foreign agent’ and then ban them because they are ‘foreign agents,’ said broadcaster, and former British MP George Galloway on RT America being stripped of Capitol Hill credentials.
The decision was taken on Wednesday by a congressional committee citing the channel’s new ‘foreign agent’ status. That’s despite earlier assurances from the State Department that no restrictions would be imposed.
RT asked George Galloway, broadcaster and former British MP, how the US Congress’ decision corresponds with the principle of free speech.
George Galloway: It is monstrous. They are closing down free speech in the name of free speech. They are closing down freedom while posing as the champions of freedom. It is monstrous because it was a pack of lies – the statement… when they forced RT to register as a foreign agent, and then said that would not affect the RT employees doing their job, as reporters – only now to make it impossible for those reporters to perform their duties. It is part of this of this McCarthyite witch-hunt, which is most unbecoming for a country that claims to be a champion of freedom and democracy. If journalists in other countries, or for that matter in the US were true to their craft and to any ethic, which must underpin their craft, they would be condemning this in the broadest possible terms. But all I can hear is silence from British journalists and from American journalists.
I think will not be the last of these witch-hunting events, and the American public will be the poorer for it because RT had added to the tapestry of the journalism in the US, which frankly needed some additional color.
RT: When RT America was forced to register as a foreign agent, the State Department gave assurances the channel’s news operations would not be affected. Why the sudden change?
GG: So either fools, or knaves; either ignorant or willful – you can take your pick – it is a classic Catch-22 that Joseph Heller, the author of the greatest novel of the 20th century, would recognize. You make someone register as a foreign agent, and then you ban them because they are foreign agents. It is the ultimate Catch-22.
‘Censorship is the primary objective.’
Richard Black, Republican Virginia state senator, says that while the US talks about having a free press, it’s in fact heavily controlled.
Richard Black:… The American news media have long been centrally controlled. While we talk about having a free press, it actually is quite heavily controlled, particularly in the area of foreign policy. What this decision does: number one, it tightens the media’s censorship over information that reaches the American public; secondly, it cuts competition by RT News to ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News.
I don’t think it is any secret that RT News has had sort of an explosion of popularity with the American public because they feel that they can obtain news there that is censored from the mainstream media. Hopefully, RT News will be able to bypass this because the information that is received from RT News is absolutely vital to an informed public being able to make decisions.
I would add that it is important to know that if you look at the letterhead on that letter from Congress, normally you’ll see a list of congressmen on the side of who are members of the committee. This is a very unusual committee because the Radio and Television Correspondents Gallery is an organization, which has no congressional representation and it is essentially controlled by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News. So they are able to exclude competitors by saying: “Oh, well, you’re not longer admitted to the Gallery.”
RT: The International Federation of Journalists has called the move “covert censorship.” Do you agree?
RB: It is absolutely censorship. I think censorship is the primary objective. Knocking out competition is a secondary objective… [Such information as, for example, about Libya, which is covered by RT] would not be shown on the mainstream media in the US, because it goes counter to the media narrative that somehow we rescued Libya from a tyrant.
The fact is that we [US] destroyed a secular nonbelligerent country; we launched an aggressive war against them, and we left the nation in absolute shambles. And it is not surprising to see that France wants to attack Libya again because right now they risk losing their control over it to the tribes of Libya, who represent the people of Libya.
So that is a report, that is just an example of the type of thing that would be censored by the US media, and RT News, fortunately, has given Americans a pick into the truth.
RT: When RT America was forced to register as a foreign agent, the State Department gave assurances its operations would not be affected. Why did they change the decision?
RB: I am not sure that the press spokesman realized what was going on behind the scenes. The attorneys for the mainstream media understand the implications. This has been a step by step process, where first the Department of Justice took action; secondly, RT News was found to be a foreign agent. Then as a result of that, you have the situation, where now they’re de-credentialed.
I doubt that the press spokesman recognizes that, but I will guarantee you that the attorneys for the mainstream media, who lobbied the Department of Justice, knew exactly what they were doing, and they had a three-step process.
At the same time, we see efforts by YouTube and by Twitter to censor RT News. The fact is that the truth that is being revealed by RT News to the American public is undermining the ability of the military-industrial complex to wage these wars in foreign countries. Public support just continues to dip lower and lower for waging war all over the world, which is what we [the US] are doing right now.