International broadcasting very much in the news: Many comments about Julian Assange's debut on RT.

Posted: 19 Apr 2012   Print   Send a link
AP, 18 Apr 2012: "The opening episode of Julian Assange's new talk show featured an interview with militant leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose Syria-backed Hezbollah militia is considered a terrorist organization in the United States and Europe. The opening episode of Julian Assange's new talk show featured an interview with militant leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose Syria-backed Hezbollah militia is considered a terrorist organization in the United States and Europe. ... Getting Nasrallah on air was something of a coup. The Shiite militant boss rarely gives interviews, and when he does they usually are on Hezbollah's Manar TV station."

New York Times, 17 Apr 2012, Alessandra Stanley: "[T]here is something almost atavistic about the outlet he chose. RT, first known as Russia Today, is an English-language news network created by the Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin in 2005 to promote the Kremlin line abroad. (It also broadcasts in Spanish and Arabic.) It’s like the Voice of America, only with more money and a zesty anti-American slant. ... Basically, it’s an improbable platform for a man who poses as a radical left-wing whistleblower and free-speech frondeur battling the superpowers that be. ... Mr. Assange said he would be able to attract hard-to-get guests because 'they are not dealing with a standard interviewer, they are dealing with someone who is under house arrest.' In his first foray as a talk show host, however, Mr. Assange did everything he could to minimize his prisonlike isolation and behaved surprisingly like a standard network interviewer.'"

The Independent, 17 Apr 2012, Jerome Taylor: "With Mr Nasrallah, the soft-spoken Australian was largely deferential, asking just one question on Hizballah's firing of rockets into northern Israel, questioning him on his childhood memories and even sharing a joke about computer encryption. But there moments when Mr Assange showed some flair for asking tough questions. 'Why have you supported the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and other countries but not in Syria,' he asked the leader of Hizballah, whose closeness to the Syrian regime is well known and has placed the militant group in a difficult position given the popularity of the Arab uprisings."

The Power Index, 18 Apr 2012: "The program, based on a Skype conversation, was made to look natural -- with a makeshift studio, Assange's creased and casual collared shirt, sporadically placed notes and empty coffee cups -- but it was anything but. ... He asked questions that were obviously pre-prepared and sounded as if they'd also been pre-approved (or at least pre-provided to Nasrallah). He did not fire back at Nasrallah's responses." With video.

The Guardian, 17 Apr 2012, Luke Harding: "Assange's debut interview wasn't quite the incendiary event that Russia Today had promised. The questions were clearly agreed in advance. Some were softball, others fawning, with Nasrallah's answers unchallenged."

Business Insider, 17 Apr 2012, Adam Taylor: "While watching Julian Assange's new Russia Today talk show, 'The World Tomorrow', is not going to convince anyone that the embattled Wikileak's founder isn't a megalomaniac, we have to say we were pleasantly surprised by the relatively tasteful show."

New York Daily News, 17 Apr 2012, Ethan Sacks: "Don't quit your day job."

Forbes, 18 Apr 2012, Mark Adomanis: "I think it’s extremely telling that most of the criticism of Assange been about things that he should do or could do, not about things that he actually has done. This doesn’t make him a saint, nor does it make him immune to criticism, but it does mean we should try to engage with the material that he actually produces, which hardly seems like a radical proposition."

Salon, 18 Apr 2012, Glenn Greenwald: "There is apparently a rule that says it’s perfectly OK for a journalist to work for a media outlet owned and controlled by a weapons manufacturer (GE/NBC/MSNBC), or by the U.S. and British governments (BBC/Stars & Stripes/Voice of America), or by Rupert Murdoch and Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (Wall St. Journal/Fox News), or by a banking corporation with long-standing ties to right-wing governments (Politico), or by for-profit corporations whose profits depend upon staying in the good graces of the U.S. government (Kaplan/The Washington Post), or by loyalists to one of the two major political parties (National Review/TPM/countless others), but it’s an intrinsic violation of journalistic integrity to work for a media outlet owned by the Russian government. Where did that rule come from? ... The real cause of American media hostility toward RT is the same as what causes it to hate Assange: the reporting it does reflects poorly on the U.S. Government, the ultimate sin in the eyes of our 'adversarial' press corps. A bitter little rant about RT and Assange today in The Guardian from Luke Harding ... unveils the real reason for the hostility toward that network. On RT, Harding frets, 'The west, and America in particular, is depicted as crime-ridden, failing, and in thrall to big business and evil elites.' Oh, perish the thought."

Forbes, 17 Apr 2012, Tom Watson: "There can be little doubt, meanwhile, that despite the somewhat numbing format of the show RT believes it has a new star to build upon. Assange is all over the network’s website, social feeds, and blog and the network is openly bragging about the 'media storm' Assange fomented with his first guest."

RT, 19 Apr 2012: "While the general public expressed their interest in what Nasrallah had to say in his first interview since 2006, the media pounced on Assange accusing him of… Actually Assange beat them to the punch, saying it all before the show was even launched."

See previous post about same subject.