The chyron that repeated throughout Ed Schultz’s broadcast on RT, the Kremlin’s English-language television network, was “The End Is Near.” How right he was.
Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. Vladimir Putin became one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump but bizarrely, the one network that ought to be crowing about it, rubbing it in our faces, was remarkably restrained in its coverage, devoting the bulk of its coverage to ho-hum Electoral College counts and “progressive” talking points.
RT, which has claimed in the past that the Republic of Georgia was guilty of “genocide,” that the CIA invented the Ebola virus as a form of biological warfare, that the Catholic pope is a member of a “second species,” that the global events require an “Illuminati correspondent”—was almost the picture of sang-froid in its presentation of what was arguably the greatest proxy victory of the government that finances the channel. Most of the evening was devoted to what the other networks specialized in: calculated percentages and electoral votes.
And yet, there were signs that RT (née Russia Today) hadn’t quite abandoned its foundational remit of being a water-carrier for Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.
A recurring segment threw cold water on the allegation that Russian intelligence hacked the Democratic National Committee. It makes a concerted case for denying that there is any connection between WikiLeaks and RT, but then quoted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to assert that Clinton lied when she said 17 U.S. intel agencies said Russia hacked the DNC. This segment was repeated throughout Election Day and featured clips of Ivan Drago—yes, Dolph Lundgren’s “I must break you” character of Rocky IV fame—being presented as a stand-in for Russophobic Cold War symbolism and a confident exoneration of Russian intelligence agencies of the crime of trying to sway the U.S. presidential election. “Blaming Russia is the new parlor game and favorite media pastime,” we are told. No evidence of Russia’s hacking of the DNC was ever offered, the presenter adds, despite considerable technical and circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
The fact-checking websites Politifact found that Clinton’s accusation was “True” based on the assessment offered by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who heads up the self-same 17 intelligence agencies. Meaning that Julian Assange is either mistaken or a liar.
At one point, an RT correspondent called Trinity Chavez dutifully read from her cue cards, and relayed the essential news of the night that Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, would not be the next commander in chief.
Jesse “The Mind” Ventura, whose son Tyler is a roving correspondent for RT, and who has alternated between 9/11 and chemtrails conspiracy theories, has become an accidentally astute observer of what the anti-establishment voter was galvanized by. The “original Bernie” voter and the “original Trump” voter were two ends of a horseshoe, what Ventura called the “far left and the far right” of the political spectrum. I suppose we’re meant to appreciate this confluence. Yet for Ventura, the Clinton campaign platform was a disingenuous one of “blame the Russians.” The messenger and not the message was the fixation. Ed Schultz, who used to call Donald Trump a “racist,” is now reconciled to the anti-establishment candidate being the next occupant of the White House. “It’s not going to be the end of the world if Donald Trump is going to be president,” Schultz said, as it looked increasingly likely that Trump would sweep the Electoral College.
Meanwhile, Tabitha Wallace, the RT correspondent at the Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, went from remarking upon the “commendable” atmosphere of bonhomie, even as bad news started to trickle in earlier in the night, to saying that supporters of the Democratic nominee had begun to depart the venue “in tears” as the poll results indicated that a Clinton victory was becoming increasingly remote.
A ponytailed, green-tied commentator said, “This is the end of the Clinton era that began in 1992,” he said, adding that the rot at the heart of American politics was Jay Z, Beyoncé, and hot sauce.
RT spoke openly of a “Trump administration” before the Republican had reached 270 electoral votes.
Schultz averred that this was a chance for the “progressive movement in America to go back what Bernie Sanders was talking about.” The election, he said, was “bought and paid for for months in advance… to recapture the national zeitgeist. This is a chance for the Clintons to go off into the shadows."
Earlier, Schultz lamented, “It should be pointed out that the Clinton campaign has refused interviews on RT America. This is manufactured news by the Clinton campaign to vilify Donald Trump and connect him to Vladimir Putin, and that’s their strategy to win the election.”