In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, comedian Dennis Miller and others will stop hosting shows on RT America, the Kremlin-funded cable network that the U.S. intelligence community has deemed a “state-run propaganda machine.”
Miller’s program, titled Dennis Miller + One, had run on the network since March 2020. But a source close to the Saturday Night Live alum confirmed to The Daily Beast that he will stop making the twice-weekly half-hour program. “He has no plans on going back,” a source told NBC News, which first reported the news of Miller’s show ending.
The comedian and conservative pundit’s show, like many on RT America, is produced by Ora TV and is licensed to the Russia-controlled network, which registered as a foreign agent in the United States in 2017. The show was largely a one-on-one interview series focused on entertainment and pop culture.
In fact, all programs that Ora TV produces for the channel have been halted for the time being—including the one hosted by Star Trek icon William Shatner. Ora works with T&R Productions, which runs operations for RT America.
“Given the invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, Ora Media has paused production of content we license to T&R Productions. Future business decisions will be made based on the evolving situation,” Ora Media CEO John Dickey told Deadline on Tuesday.
Shatner unapologetically launched an RT America talk show last year, titled I Don’t Understand, despite widespread criticism. In recent days, however, he's taken to social media to express some solidarity with Ukraine.
In one tweet, which Shatner’s representative said the star wanted to “share” with The Daily Beast, the 90-year-old actor said his “prayers are with the people of the Ukraine” and that the “brave people fighting an overwhelming force” reminds him of Nazis attempting to overthrow Stalingrad in World War II.
Following publication, Shatner provided The Daily Beast with a statement regarding his show’s production and its relationship with RT.
“Ora TV sold the show to RT America. I had no say in the matter. My talk show, ‘I Don’t Understand,’ is purely entertainment and about all the things I don’t understand which is everything because I am at a loss for most things,” he wrote. “It is informative, entertaining and totally, absolutely non-political. My contract for seventy half-hour shows this past year has been with Ora TV. Those seventy shows are in the pipeline and I have no voice in that matter as well.’
Shatner added: “I await with apprehension what will transpire but my total sympathy is with Ukraine. They are the historic change in the world today and I look at them with great admiration and pray that they will emerge victorious.
"As for RT America, my latest information is that all production from Ora TV shows to RT America has been suspended.”
Miller is not the only host to bail on RT America amid Russia’s deadly war against its neighboring democracy, which has provoked international outrage and sanctions.
Famed trial attorney Mike Papantonio has also ended his weekly RT America program, titled America’s Lawyer, as confirmed by Farron Cousins, his partner on the progressive Ring of Fire network.
“After a lengthy discussion this morning, Mike Papantonio and I made the decision to remove America’s Lawyer from RT. We are immensely proud of the stories we’ve covered and the relationships we’ve made, but we’re moving forward on our own,” Cousins tweeted last week.
He added: “This is not a knock against anyone that works at the network. They are tremendous people. But the connection of the network itself is not one that we wish to be a part of, so America’s Lawyer will no longer be there.” RT America did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
While Miller and Papantonio have cut ties with the Kremlin’s state-funded network, some of RT America’s other big names—namely former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and conservative talk-radio host Steve Malzberg—have thus far remained quiet.
Pro-wrestling legend and political iconoclast Ventura has hosted a weekly talk show on the network since 2017. Representatives for Ventura did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Malzberg, a former Newsmax host who now fronts a media criticism show, titled Eat the Press, also did not respond to a request for comment. Interestingly, however, he has used his Twitter feed to boost content praising Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a hero. (At the same time, Malzberg’s on-air mentions of the invasion have expressly focused on the pro-Trump, Putin-friendly narrative that President Joe Biden is to blame for the bloody conflict.)
RT America has come under increasing scrutiny as Putin’s unprovoked invasion grows more violent. A number of staffers have also publicly announced their resignations in recent weeks.
“I have resigned from RT with immediate effect in view of recent events,” former correspondent Danny Armstrong tweeted on Feb. 26. “In light of recent events, earlier today I resigned from RT with immediate effect,” former staff writer Johnny Tickle shared two days earlier.
The defections from RT and its international branches also come as TV providers and tech companies take action to limit the Moscow-backed outlet’s reach over concerns that the channel peddles Putin’s propaganda.
YouTube, TikTok, and Meta all announced this week that they will take measures to block RT on their platforms throughout Europe, making it increasingly difficult for the Kremlin to push disinformation about its war effort.
Furthermore, over-the-top streamer Roku said on Monday night it would drop RT from its service. (A Roku spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast on Tuesday night that the service is removing the channel from its listings everywhere, including the United States.)
And as many of Europe’s satellite and cable providers have booted the channel from their platforms—and even opened investigations into RT’s news programming—companies on the other side of the Atlantic have followed suit. Rogers Communications and Bell Canada, two of Canada’s biggest cable providers, said Monday that they will remove RT from their lineups.
DirecTV, the largest satellite provider in the United States, announced on Tuesday that it will immediately cut ties with the network. “In line with our previous agreement with RT America, we are accelerating this year's contract expiration timeline and will no longer offer their programming effective immediately,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. DISH Network, another satellite provider of RT America, told CNN on Monday that it is “closely monitoring the situation.”