Op-Ed: Another new Russia-funded entertainment and propaganda TV channel

Posted Dec 21, 2016 by Ken Hanly
There is a new offshoot of the popular Russia-funded RT news channel called In The Now. It claims that it wants to attract social media users who want their news "served with a side of smile".
Syrian families freel from eastern Aleppo November 29  2016 in Jabal Badro  as they walk towards gov...
Syrian families freel from eastern Aleppo November 29, 2016 in Jabal Badro, as they walk towards government-controlled western Aleppo, as the Syrian government offensive to recapture rebel-held Aleppo continues
Naturally given the funding there is also a propaganda element along with entertainment, Internet goings on and some serious news. In The Now has its own Facebook page. The top banner image is filled with a collage of world leaders, two cute foxes and celebrities. In an article on In The Now, BuzzFeed News notes that it is not immediately made clear that In The Now is a venture of RT, the Russian funded news channel. In The Now actually used to be a regular show as part of the RT channel offerings. It started as a separate project this spring. The In The Now website is at A recent article suggests that the Dalai Lama could be a CIA agent. Many articles express skepticism about Western foreign policy and is supportive of Russian positions.
A recent hit was the appended video titled "Independent Canadian journo totally crushes MSM reporter on what's actually going on in Syria". Indeed, Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett does make some significant points, but she also makes some claims that are quite questionable. She uses the Syrian elections as evidence that Assad has the support of Syrians; but the voting took place only in areas controlled by Assad. If they had been held throughout Syria the result would have been quite different. She also makes claims about some reports using the same child several times. This claim is criticized in some detail in an article by BBC Channel 4.
However, other sources have also been critical of news reporting from the Aleppo offensive as for example Patrick Cockburn writing in The Independent. In my opinion actions on both sides have probably been war crimes; but most western mainstream media descriptions and accompanying images have been chosen so as to demonize Assad while only criticizing rebel actions to a much less degree.
A second hit for In The Now claims that a series of "farewell" videos that were posted by civilians in the besieged portion of Aleppo "looks like a coordinated PR campaign". RT picked up on the video, noting in an article that, "In The Now found there's little to indicate that the people appearing in the mobile videos were actual civilians experiencing the hyped "Russian and Syrian shelling". BuzzFeed points out that the Russian embassy in Canada then tweeted the RT story. Does BuzzFeed think that U.S. and Canadian diplomats do not often tweet material that supports their points of view? There is a constant propaganda warfare going on that has heated up considerably over the last while.
BuzzFeed News asked RT some questions about the relationship of RT to In The Now. An RT spokesperson said that In The Now was originally part of RT but was spun off when its creator Anissa Naouai wanted to "explore a less formal, digital format".
The press conference shown in the video took place on Dec. 9 at the UN building in New York. Krostoffer Ronneberg the U.S. correspondent for the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten was the journalist who asked the questions. Ronneberg said that he had gone to the conference only to hear what Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari would say about the situation. However, Jafaari did not show up but instead four activists appeared whom he claimed gave a message that you would expect to hear from the Syria or Russian government. Ronneberg said that the exchange was being used as part of an information campaign in a military conflict. Wouldn't the ambassador have engaged in a similar campaign?
Bartlett explained to BuzzFeed that Jafaari was supposed to introduce here but that he had another meeting and could not be present. She said the press conference was organized at her request and with the help of the U.S. Hands Off Syria coalition.