Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · United States

Dems call on FCC to investigate Kremlin-run news agency’s influence in election

I am quite certain domestic politics is behind these three Democrats calling for an investigation, but I’ll be darned if I know or understand their motivation.  Somebody fill me in, please?

The ulterior motive appears to be an honest investigation into Russian efforts to influence the US election of 2016 through US media. I would also project that these Congresspersons want to bar Sputnik News from owning a US radio station, especially one in the nation’s capital. Also at issue, should be that there is no reciprocity, as the US operates no radio stations in Moscow.  

I have no doubt this is only one small part of Russia’s information warfare program, specifically pointed at sowing distrust, confusion, and doubt into American citizens, undermining American democracy, and promoting Russian national interests. These three Representatives do not use these words, do not allude to these motivations, and by all counts, seem to believe this is a singular effort. I would project they understand there is a much larger Russian information warfare effort focused on the US, but this does not come across. They do mention the Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election but, once again, I do not feel Congress understands the depth and breadth of Russian information warfare.  I would be glad to educate anyone interested. 

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Three Democratic House members are calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to investigate the role of the Russian government-run radio network Sputnik in the 2016 presidential election.

In a letter to Pai on Monday, Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) argue that Sputnik may have been used as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to meddle in the election and urge Pai to evaluate whether the radio network’s broadcast license is serving the public interest.

“In Washington, D.C., listeners need only tune their radios to 105.5 FM to hear the Russian government’s effort to influence U.S. policy,” the letter reads. “Disturbingly, this means the Kremlin’s propaganda messages are being broadcast over a license granted by the FCC.”

Under the 1934 Communications Act, the FCC is charged with ensuring that broadcasters licensed in the U.S. act in the public interest.

In their letter, Eshoo, Doyle and Pallone contend that, if Sputnik was used by the Russian government to influence the 2016 election, it constitutes a clear violation of the U.S. public interest.

Eshoo and Doyle signed onto a similar letter to Pai in May, expressing concern about the Russian government-funded RT cable network.

“Sputnik’s alleged role in the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election raises the same concerns and violates the public interest by giving a foreign government a microphone to spread propaganda,” the letter reads.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report made public in January that the Russian government sought to sway the 2016 election through an influence and hacking campaign.

The Kremlin has denied the allegations. Multiple congressional committees are investigating the matter, and special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed in May, is conducting a criminal probe into the allegations.



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