Thursday, March 6, 2014

Is JBS Upper Management More Stalinist than RT News?

Comrade Art: More Communist than the folks running RT News

When Abby Martin condemned Putin's actions in Ukraine, RT didn't fire or reprimand the host. Instead, the network offered her a chance to visit Crimea to do on-the-scene reporting.

"Contrary to the popular opinion, RT doesn’t beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air. This is the case with Abby’s commentary on the Ukraine," the Russian government-subsidized network told Huffington Post.
"We respect her views, and the views of all our journalists, presenters and program hosts, and there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin."

Martin has often been expansively critical of the corruption, authoritarianism, and hypocrisy of the US government. She was similarly unsparing in her criticism of Russia's deployment of military assets to Crimea.

"Just because I work here, for RT, doesn't mean I don't have editorial independence and I can't stress enough how strongly I am against any military intervention in sovereign nations' affairs," Martin declared on-camera. "What Russia did is wrong."

JBS CEO Art Thompson spent three weeks trying -- with no discernible success -- to explain why Americans should see RT News as part of an insidious "Soviet" plot to subvert the Western mind.  He insisted that conservative and libertarian-leaning Americans were being seduced by the network into focusing solely and exclusively on the evils of the US government, while being diverted from Moscow's oh-so-subtle campaign for world domination.

Even truth is a weapon in the strategic arsenal of the incomparably wily "Soviets," according to Art: "When Moscow starts telling the truth, you can bet they have something in mind."

Stipulating to the fact that Putin is a repellent individual, the regime over which he presides -- like nearly every other, Washington's emphatically included -- is a ghastly criminal enterprise, and RT News is a propaganda outlet, it's noteworthy that Abby Martin enjoyed more editorial freedom in her official capacity than I did, while employed by The New American, on my own time. As an employee of people who ultimately answered to the "ex"-KGB officer who now rules Russia, Abby Martin faced no professional reprisals for going "off-message" and biting the hand that wrote her paycheck.

The professional even-handedness displayed by the leadership of RT News makes for an interesting contrast with the behavior of the Politburo in Appleton in their dealings with me. My supposed firing offense was to start a personal blog in August 2006 and publish writings deemed unsuitable by The New American -- including one essay in which I offered a principled dissent regarding the immigration issue.

"You do not understand that once you are a public figure everything that you say or do publicly reflects on the organization you work for, particularly when these things are in opposition to the position and principles of The John Birch Society and Robert Welch," pontificated Art in the letter of termination he sent to me. "Also, you do not understand that once we have rejected an article or nuance, you cannot go around us to post it elsewhere, identifying it as rejected material and publicly criticizing your employer for the rejection.It is not a matter of freedom, or control, it is a matter of responsibility to your employer."

That was written by the same Art Thompson who, in three embarrassingly inept video presentations, attempted to persuade anyone foolish enough to seek wisdom from him that RT News is a Communist propaganda organ.

Abby Martin didn't disagree with the Russian government in a matter of "nuance," nor was her criticism oblique. Yet her "Communist" supervisors didn't fire her for failing to fulfill her "responsibility to [her] employer"; they recognized the principle of editorial freedom and the limits of their legitimate control over her editorial decisions. The network's editor-in-chief has reiterated the organization's commitment to editorial freedom and described how the US media -- which is much more tightly aligned with the nation's power elite -- has been peddling exactly the same line about RT News that Art Thompson was a year ago.

RT News exercised institutional self-restraint with respect to something Martin had said and done on the job, in a program that network produced. My "firing offense" consisted of publishing my views in a personal blog, on my own time.

Not content merely to fire me without cause, the JBS hierarchy has lied to people about my character and professional performance, purged nearly everything I have written or produced from its archives and catalog, blocked me from commenting on articles published at The New American and videos posted to their YouTube channel, and otherwise treated me as if I had become an un-person. 

We are defined by what we do, not who we claim to be. I can testify from personal experience, buttressed with copious documentation, that in some circumstances Art Thompson and his little clique are more Stalinist than the people running RT News.