A top Trump campaign adviser recently appeared on the Russian-government funded TV network RT, which U.S. intelligence agencies have said plays a role in the Kremlin’s plans to undermine American democracy.
Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis’ appearance on RT’s The Alex Salmond Show aired on July 9. She appears to be the first Trump campaign official to go on the Russian-funded network since the 2016 election.
During her interview, Ellis defended Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and bashed the American media as “propagandist activist media.” Ellis also accused Fox News—the cable news network most friendly to the president—of having an anti-Trump bias.
“Even on Fox News, the president has been very outspoken on Twitter that there are some anchors there and there are some particular shows that aren’t really fair in terms of their editorializing some of those stories,” Ellis said. At one point, she told Salmond that he, a former First Minister of Scotland, knew “as a journalist” how proper reporting works and that American media wasn’t doing it.
Ellis and the Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Ellis isn’t the first Trump ally to appear on RT. Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn appeared several times on the network ahead of Trump’s election, and was paid $34,000 by RT for delivering a speech. Trump himself appeared in an RT America interview in September 2016, which was conducted by Larry King, the longtime CNN host who has found a late-career gig at the network.
RT, which was formerly known as Russia Today, has been routinely criticized as a propaganda outlet for Kremlin interests. Its programming is often hyper critical of U.S. policy and in 2016 its editorial content seemed designed for two major purposes: to foster social unrest in the United States and (perhaps relatedly) boost Trump’s candidacy.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence eventually released a report that said the network, whose videos receive millions of views online, produced content “aimed at undermining viewers’ trust of US democratic procedures.” The assessment, released in 2017, added that RT was a key part of the Russian efforts to meddle in that presidential election as part of a “Kremlin directed campaign to undermine faith in the US Government and fuel political protest.”