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Britain’s Foreign Secretary says he wants improved global media freedom while at the same time suggesting that RT has a bit more freedom than he’d like.
Jeremy Hunt was marking World Press Freedom Day whilst on a trip to Ethiopia, which may seem like an unlikely setting to work in a dig about a Russian news organisation, but he did it anyway.
He said: “We shouldn’t forget the international context Channels like RT – better known as Russia Today – want their viewers to believe that truth is relative and the facts will always fit the Kremlin’s official narrative. Even when that narrative keeps changing.
After the Russian state carried out a chemical attack in the British city of Salisbury last year, the Kremlin came up with over 40 separate narratives to explain that incident. Their weapons of disinformation tried to broadcast those narratives to the world.”
So what Hunt, actually wants people to think is that there is only one truth and one narrative, and it’s the one the British government tells you.
To prove that, here’s what he said next: “The best defence against those who deliberately sow lies are independent, trusted news outlets. So the British Government is taking practical steps to help media professionals improve their skills.”
Just in case the point needs underlining, Hunt believes the best defence against lies is for independent news outlets to be trained by the British government, who can then be trusted to report the agreed narrative.
During his speech he drew attention to the best of African journalism, particularly highlighting work by BBC Africa. You can see the pattern of what Hunt considers good journalism, which is the stuff he agrees with.
You only need to look at Iraq, Libya and Russiagate to see how facts are being used to fit narratives and none of those have anything at all to do with RT. RT is such an easy target because it is the only real high profile network which can realistically push back on the agreed narratives. The viewer should be able to make up their own mind, but press freedom should always mean a plurality of views and not the domination of an agreed western narrative.
This idea of the independence of the western media has always seemed spurious. In much of the world the major outlets are owned by unaccounted corporate entities, and in Britain, all the national networks have daily government briefings to tell them what the news is, and when the government goes on holiday the media calls it ‘silly season’ because they don’t know what to report. Strange kind of independence.
When it comes down to media freedom, the best advice is not to be a total Jeremy Hunt about it.