Strange Bedfellows: When American Libertarians and Russian Nationalists Align

Russia Today (RT), the global English-language news network funded by the Russian government, has come into the spotlight since the Russian invasion of Crimea. RT has defended the action, and parted ways with one of its American anchors who criticized the invasion. Another American anchor, Abby Martin, also criticized the invasion but still is employed by RT.

A trend over the past five years has been the state-run propaganda network Russia Today promoting libertarian programming, and so-called libertarians promoting Russian national interests.

It's strange, to say the least. Libertarians, as supporters of liberty, are supposed to also believe in a free press rather than a top-down, government-controlled press. Couple this with their belief in a non-interventionist foreign policy -- which would prohibit Russia from invading Ukraine -- and you would think it would be viewed as immoral for libertarians to appear on Russia Today.

Apparently not.

Although RT recently canceled "Adam vs. the Man" with Adam Kokesh, who has had legal troubles since mid-2013, they are still producing other radical libertarian programs like "Capital Account" and frequently promote libertarian guests like Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, and others. RT is praised by Paul Forums members and spokesmen for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace frequently appear on RT.

BuzzFeed published an article last week based on interviews with seven former and current employees. The employees say that RT correspondents begin by receiving between $50,000 and $60,000 per year.

Continues the article: "Former and current RT employees from both the Moscow headquarters and its D.C. bureau, described to BuzzFeed an atmosphere of censorship and pressure, in which young journalists on their first or second job are lured by the promise of a relatively well-paying position covering news for an international network. Soon after joining the network, the current and former employees said, they realized they were not covering news, but producing Russian propaganda."

Anti-American language is injected into TV scripts by editors, and stories that don't toe the editorial line regularly get killed. "On certain stories, like WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street, RT has been ahead of the curve. But former employees say that even that focus was an attempt to force international news to fit a Russian agenda -- one that presents the U.S. as a crumbling, corrupt empire."

Moreover, as James Kirchick explains, libertarian godfather Ron Paul has become one of the biggest cheerleaders for the "referendum" that will lead to Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. Paul labeled U.S. action to prevent parts of Ukraine from being transferred to Russia in a power-grab "criminal", but has never called Putin's intervention of Ukraine anything less than legal. Talk about "non-interventionist" hypocrisy.

If Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Brian Doherty, Carla Howell, Ben Swann, Stefan Molyneux, and Abby Martin are really so libertarian, why do they make appearances on an American-hating propaganda network such as Russia Today? Their promotion of a government-controlled media -- of a government that is anti-liberty -- is not helping their cause.