News out of the UK about Russian propaganda targeting that county’s politics is a new “Russia hoax” being perpetrated by liberals and the mainstream media, according to One America News. The pro-Trump network put its very best alum of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine on the story.
One America News’ Kristian Rouz covered the controversy in Britain surrounding an unreleased parliamentary report investigating Russia’s interference in UK politics and its online trolling in support of the 2016 Brexit vote. Lawmakers are accusing prime minister Boris Johnson of slowing-walking the report to keep it under wraps until after the December 12 election.
“The mainstream media continues attempts to revive the failed Russia hoax, designating as a Russian agent none other than British prime minister Boris Johnson,” Rouz reported.
As The Daily Beast reported in July, Rouz, a graduate of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, was a regular contributor to the Kremlin-run propaganda site Sputnik while simultaneously working in the San Diego, California offices of OAN, a Trumpist cable channel with a history of regurgitating conspiracy theories and Russian propaganda.
In a letter to The Daily Beast following that story, Rouz said he filed approximately 1,300 articles with Sputnik over four-and-a-half years, and was paid $11,500 a year. He also defended his work, which at Sputnik was primarily covering economic news.
“I have never written propaganda, disinformation, or unverified information,” he wrote.
One 2017 Sputnik article by Rouz described Russian election interference in the US and UK as “largely debunked narratives.” One of his OAN segments that year claimed Hillary Clinton was secretly funding Antifa.
(“It's a great network,” Donald Trump said of OAN during a 2017 news conference.)
Rouz’s byline hasn’t appear on Sputnik since July, but even when he was being paid by the Russian government, his duel-affiliation wasn’t disclosed in his on-air reporting for One America News, even when his segments touched on Russian affairs, and despite the fact that Sputnik’s role in Russia’s 2016 US election interference was highlighted in an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community.
OAN didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But in a letter responding to The Daily Beast’s previous reporting, OAN attorney Louis Miller said Rouz’s work for the two outlets was unconnected. “He is paid by OAN—not the Russian government—for the content he creates for OAN,” Miller wrote. “Every article he writes goes through OAN’s editorial process … His outside work for other media outlets has no relation to—or bearing on—his work for OAN.”
OAN’s support for Putin extends beyond any one reporter. In May, OAN’s Pearson Sharp aired a segment based on Russian propaganda claiming to reveal that dozens of Syria’s White Helmets confessed to faking chemical weapons attacks, making no mention of the false claim’s Russian origin.
OAN filed a lawsuit in September against MSNBC host Rachael Maddow, who commented on the air that OAN “is literally paid Russian propaganda." OAN is suing for defamation on the grounds that Russia is not paying them.