The forthcoming chat show hosted by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, supposed enemy of secrets and overbearing governments, will air ten episodes on RT, formerly known as Russia Today, the state-funded English-language network. The program, which plans to feature Assange leading discussions with "key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries," is titled The World Tomorrow and is scheduled to begin in March. The channel is carried widely, including in the West, but has been accused of serving as a propaganda arm to the Kremlin. "Our viewers are open to the discussions that will be presented through Julian's show on our channel," the station's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan insisted.
But the Guardian reports:
That may well be true, unless the guest comes from Russia. The channel, launched in December 2005 as part of a government campaign to boost Russia's lagging global influence, remains slavishly pro-Kremlin, revelling in the antics of Vladimir Putin and avoiding sensitive topics, such as the prime minister's rumoured wealth and his growing authoritarianism.
"Shame on you, Mr Assange!" Alexander Lebedev, the Russian owner of the Independent and London Evening Standard, wrote on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. "Hard to imagine [a] more miserable final[e] for [a] 'world order challenger' than employee of state-controlled 'Russia Today'."
While Assange's ego has been blamed for some questionable decisions in the past, never underestimate the need for airtime.
Updated: "Assange show is independently produced and Assange has control. Broadcasters license, only," WikiLeaks tweets.