Kremlin’s US News Network RT America Shutters in Wake of Ukraine Invasion

March 8, 2022Lauren Coontz
RT America

The Russian-backed English-language mouthpiece for President Vladimir Putin will no longer create content, according to its parent company, T&R Productions. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

RT America, a US cable news channel controlled by the Russian government, is ceasing production and laying off all its employees in a move that appears to be tied to operational struggles exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

DirecTV — RT America’s biggest distributor — and Roku dropped the channel Tuesday, March 1. Misha Solodovnikov, the general manager of RT America’s parent company, announced in a March 3 memo to the channel’s roughly 100 employees in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC, that the outlet was shutting down “as a result of unforeseen business interruption events,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The US Department of Justice required RT America (RT stands for “Russia Today”) to register as a foreign agent in 2017 over its Russian connections. Canada, Australia, and the European Union also banned the content producer, and the UK has conducted at least 15 investigations into the channel’s purported biases. 

“We all stand for freedom of speech, but it cannot be abused to spread war propaganda,” EU representative Věra Jourová tweeted March 3.   

RT America news anchor Elizabeth Wahl resigned on-air in a 2014 broadcast just after Russia annexed Crimea. In a 2014 Politico article titled “I Was Putin’s Pawn,” Wahl outlined her reasons for quitting in dramatic fashion. She listed mass content censorship in favor of political spin and lack of journalistic integrity as her main objections to the channel’s coverage.

A declassified 2017 US Office of the Director of National Intelligence report assessed Russia’s goals using RT America and directly linked the founders of RT America to Russian government officials.

“The Kremlin has committed significant resources to expanding the channel’s reach, particularly its social media footprint,” the report said. “A reliable UK report states that RT recently was the most-watched foreign news channel in the UK. RT America has positioned itself as a domestic US channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the Russian Government.” 

The DNI report points to RT America as a significant contributor to rumors of election insecurity in the US leading up to the 2012 and 2016 elections. The report blamed Russia’s 2016 election controversy partially on the misinformation disseminated by the network. 

“The channel portrayed the US electoral process as undemocratic and featured calls by US protesters for the public to rise up and ‘take this government back,’” the report states.

Read Next: Can We Just Hand Over Fighter Jets to Ukraine? The US Has Done It Before

Lauren Coontz
Lauren Coontz

Lauren Coontz is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. Beaches are preferred, but Lauren calls the Rocky Mountains of Utah home. You can usually find her in an art museum, at an archaeology site, or checking out local nightlife like drag shows and cocktail bars (gin is key). A student of history, Lauren is an Army veteran who worked all over the world and loves to travel to see the old stuff the history books only give a sentence to. She likes medium roast coffee and sometimes, like a sinner, adds sweet cream to it.

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