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Why TV News Watchers Should Add RT to Stations They Follow

It's a well-produced, quality program that tells westerners what their government would rather they not know

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This is an abridged version of an article that originally appeared at

Rob Kall and I disagree on the value of foreign TV news, whether it be 'Putin's bullhorn' or France 24, both available 24/7 in Philadelphia thanks to independent MIND TV, which also brings us NHK, the Japanese English channel that brings a far Eastern perspective on the news.

For me, the most overlooked fact about 'Putin's Russia' is the specific socialist tradition of pumping for peace. It is well illustrated by a quote from The New Detente, a compendium of articles by government officials and academics from across Europe, who were inspired by German Chancellor Willy Brandt's 'Ostpolitik' that was inaugurated in 1969.[tag]

RT's motto is 'Question More', and it seems to take a wicked pleasure in showing up America's faults and failings. But that constitutes a small part of its offerings, and many Americans are on its roster.

Larry King has two programs, one in which he interviews media personalities, the other that features political interviews. Thom Hartmann is a progressive American icon, and his Big Picture features pushback discussions with conservative contributors as well as little known authors. Abby Martin recently left RT after a three-year run of Breaking the Set, a hard-hitting rival to Democracy Now.

Tuesday, Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor and 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate, was interviewed on the four o'clock news. The news anchors are mostly American or British, but most of the reporters are Russian. And two remarkable Russian women interview a wide range of cultural and political figures: Sophie Schevarnadze, who I believe is the granddaughter of Gorbachev's Foreign Minister, and Oksana Boyko whose questions are as complex as the answers they elicit.

I don't know of any TV personality who can hold a candle to her: she possesses in-depth and up-to-date political knowledge and holds her own with academics twice her age. A recent guest on her program was Princeton's Joseph Nye, and today's guest, as news breaks that the deal could fall apart, is Dr Abbas Milani, the Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, to whom Oksana cedes no points.

Finally, historian Peter Lavelle's Crosstalk pits three knowledgable guests against each other in what are often acrimonious discussions of front-page news, and rounding out RT's offering are documentaries on incredibly varied and newsworthy subjects from all over the world by international film makers, that you will not see on any American channel.

I am not suggesting that Americans should get all their news from Putin's bullhorn, but they are wrong to think they are broadening their news sources by watching the BBC: the British flagship channel is simply a more sophisticated rendition of Washington's message.

Very differently, France 24 not only provides the French government's take on national and international news. In addition to documentaries and reports, some of which are suggested by viewers around the world, it closely follows events in the twenty-eight--nation European Union.

And as a former colonial power, France continues to be heavily involved in both Asia and Africa, and France 24's coverage of Africa's fifty odd countries is a must for anyone who wants to be informed about the wider world.

Its debate programs involve both French and foreign participants, and although American journalists are frequent guests, ensuring that Washington's message is heard, the debates can sometimes be quite hard-hitting.

Obviously, not everyone can spend their days channel hopping as I do, but the advantage of foreign television news is that it covers a broader spectrum than either the mainstream or the on-line press. And there is a distinct advantage to being able to balance out what our own government, under the guise of a so-called 'free' press, serves up, with what foreign governments want you to know about them.

The cherry on the cake is that what individual foreign governments don't want you to know about them is revealed by their respective adversaries.

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