In Feature Articles, Media critique

Editorial by, May 12, 2017

RT wishes to make a formal complaint in relation to the Reuters article headlined ‘U.S. increasingly convinced that Russia hacked French election: sources’ [Reuters article here].

Voting in 2017 presidential election in France (photo by Eric Gaillard, Reuters)

Despite the severity of the accusations levied against RT in the report, via statements made by anonymous and thus unaccountable “U.S. officials”, namely, that RT has spread “fake news” in its coverage of the French election, Reuters failed to reach RT for comment.

Furthermore, the allegation of spreading fake news – despite its gravity – is presented not only without a response from RT, but also without evidence. Indeed, there is not a single example that would support this claim. This is somewhat remarkable, given how Reuters itself reported in April that Emmanuel Macron’s campaign team had failed to provide even a single example of the fake news that RT has allegedly put out, despite multiple instances of said team accusing RT of doing just that.

In fact, not a single piece of evidence has been produced to support the claims that RT spread fake news about Macron or the French election – not one article, quote or social media post. This is because all these accusations are entirely baseless. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims that it has any part in spreading fake news in general and in relation to Mr. Macron and the French election in particular.

This is the fourth time in recent months that Reuters has published serious accusations against RT without appropriately fact-checking or providing the network with the right to comment. In April, an article about RT’s role in the U.S. presidential election claimed that RT did not respond to a request for comment when, in fact, no such request was received. A February article about the French election claimed that RT published an interview that RT did not actually carry. Earlier that month, Reuters once again falsely claimed that RT refused a request for comment in a story about NATO when no such request was made.

It is disappointing to see that the high journalistic standards that Reuters has always prided itself on are apparently easily discarded when reporting concerns RT. It is also important to consider that every time Reuters publishes erroneous or unsubstantiated information or denies RT the right to reply, the misleading stories are picked up and reprinted by hundreds of media outlets worldwide. Thus, while RT might be able to eventually add a comment or correct an error on Reuters’ own platforms, we are not able to do the same with thousands of syndicated news items and articles that rely on Reuters’ material. As a result, inaccurate and defamatory remarks regarding RT continue to spread.

On April 28, RT directed a letter of complaint to the Reuters leadership with regards to the pattern exhibited by the agency when reporting on RT. We are still awaiting a response on how Reuters hopes to address its reporting standards in relation to RT.

We insist that, having failed either to challenge or substantiate the accusations leveled against RT in its latest report, and having denied RT an opportunity to respond to these accusations in the original article, Reuters issue a prompt correction to the original report.

Note by New Cold editors:
False and unsubstantiated smears against credible, alternative media often levy the anonymous accusation ‘pro-Russian websites’. RT is the most common of the anonymously accused, but there are many others, too.

A classic example is a May 10, 2017 article by Katie Simpson of the pro-U.S. state broadcaster in Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Commenting on the meeting of the eight-country Arctic Council which opened in Anchorage, Alaska on May 11, Simpson writes, “In March [2017], she [Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland] was targeted in a smear campaign appearing on pro-Russian websites that link her grandfather to Nazi Germany. When asked about the articles, Freeland warned Canada should be prepared for Russian attempts to destabilize its democracy…”

There is a double irony here. One is that the writer’s claim is patently false. But the other is that many mainstream and less-than-mainstream journalists in Canada (as well as academics) reported at the time that Freeland was deliberately creating a distraction from the documented, historical fact that her maternal grandfather was a pro-Nazi journalist during World War Two (examples here and here). They criticized the foreign minister for seeking to ‘change the story’ of her grandfather’s past into a story of ‘Russian meddling in Canada’, drawing upon the ongoing, anti-Russia hysteria south of the border.

Mainstream journalists who beat the anti-Russia drum at such outlets as the CBC count on the short attention span of readers as well as the confusion and disarray that result from telling lies so often that the listener assumes there must be ‘some truth’ amidst the mountain of lies.


EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

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