The United States is responding to Russian propaganda with new media efforts aimed at countering “Kremlin distortions” with objective news, Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO John Lansing told a Senate panel.
Lansing said Thursday he has seen a “global explosion of propaganda and lies,” and said the government agency he oversees is now actively countering that disinformation with facts. BBG is the parent organization for VOA and other broadcast entities.
Lansing detailed BBG efforts to counter Russian disinformation by reaching Russian speakers around the world. Specifically, Lansing mentioned “Current Time,” a Russian-language news network, which, according to a promo video played by Lansing, “helps viewers tell fact from fiction.”
“The Russian strategy seeks to destroy the very idea of an objective, verifiable set of facts,” Lansing said. “The BBG is adapting to meet this challenge head on by offering audiences and alternatives to Russian disinformation in the form of objective, independent and professional news and information.”
He said “Current Time” documentaries have been viewed by more than 300 million people between January and July of this year, with about half the views coming from inside Russia.
Russian propaganda efforts have come under scrutiny by multiple investigations into Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and elections in Europe.
Senator Cory Gardner called the U.S. response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and its use of misinformation during the 2016 presidential election “feeble” and said the U.S. needs to do more to combat Russia’s “aggressive interference in Western elections.”
“We must not let Russian activities go with impunity, we must identify and combat them utilizing every tool at our disposal,” Gardner said.
BBG has also launched a new project called “Polygraph,” which Lansing said serves as a fact-checking service to “call out Kremlin distortions.”
The project consists of teams of journalists who “analyze quotes, stories, and reports distributed by government officials, government-sponsored media and other high-profile individuals,” the website says.
One thing the BBG doesn’t do, though, is “propaganda,” Lansing said.
“Our content is protected by a legislative firewall that prevents the U.S. government interfering into our editorial decision-making. And that’s important to understand,” he said.