Earlier this week, the 90-year-old Canadian actor—known for taking on the legendary role Captain James Kirk in the Star Trek saga—announced he would be hosting a new general talk show on the American branch of RT called “I Don’t Understand,” where he’ll be posing questions to guests on a variety topics. The show is set to debut later this month.
Alexey Kovalev, an investigative editor for Meduza—one of the most popular independent Russian-language news outlets—had some choice words for Shatner on his work with the network.
“Quick reminder about [RT’s] views and editorial policies @WilliamShatner is now endorsing (whether he wants to or not),” he tweeted on Thursday, linking to a thread that ends with “Don’t go on RT, unless you are okay with sharing a mic with some of the most vile racist degenerates out there. It’s not a legitimate media platform. It has no redeeming qualities. And if no other platform will have you, then you really shouldn’t have *any* platform.”
Those comments seem to have hit a nerve with Shatner, who wrote back, “Perhaps instead of rebuking me with facts that have zero influence on my show, a better use of your time would be to move? It seems that you being in Moscow means you are directly supporting the very regime you are berating me about. #hypocrite.”
In response to another tweet backing up the Russian journalist, the actor suggested Meduza should “find better editors who can spend time on real issues & not berate an actor in a distribution deal, right? All he’s doing is showing how petty his professionalism is. He should watch the first episode & then tell me his thoughts if he thinks it’s propaganda.”
RT has long been dubbed a Kremlin “propaganda machine” by journalists and experts across the world. The various news shows featured on the network are largely packed with Putin loyalists dedicating significant amounts of airtime denigrating the U.S—and any Putin rivals, for that matter.
The head of RT, Margaret Simonyan, has warned of an “inevitable war” with the U.S., is a staunch supporter of a “sovereign” state-controlled Russian internet, and once tweeted that she was “jealous” of Belarus over their abhorrent nabbing of a dissident journalist mid-flight.
Responding to yet another jibe over his RT deal on Thursday, Shatner tweeted: “If you are berating me that the RT network picked up distribution rights to my show as a horrible thing while you are sitting in Russia, contributing to the economy & paying taxes to them: it is hypocritical.”
That tweet even caught the attention of exiled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once the wealthiest man in Russia. “No regrets I’ve never watched #StarTrek,” he wrote.
And of course, there were those who had an altogether different reaction to the news of the American actor joining team RT—namely, the network’s editor-in-chief, Simonyan.
On Thursday, the infamous propagandist tweeted: “Captain Kirk went over to the good side.”