RT America recruiting US journalists ahead of 2020 election
The Russians are coming — and this time they’re looking to recruit US journalists who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus.
RT America, a newsgathering unit of Moscow-based media company RT, is looking to beef up its US staffing ahead of the 2020 election, a flurry of recent job postings shows. Formerly called Russia Today, it’s the same stateside operation that was accused by intelligence agencies of spreading misinformation in the US prior to the 2016 election.
In September 2017, RT was forced by the Justice Department to register as a foreign agent of the Russian government. At the time, RT representatives disputed the Justice Department’s findings but said they agreed to register to avoid charges.
Currently, the company is posting on journalism job boards under the name RT — without disclosing its Russian roots or its alleged ties to Vladimir Putin’s government.
One source who responded to an ad was called from a number in Moscow by a person identified as Igor Ogorodnev, the Web editor-in-chief in the US.
Ogorodnev told our source that he was interested in stories that can investigate the “rumor” that COVID-19 deaths are being exaggerated by US media outlets.
“No anti-Trump coverage,” Ogorodnev told our source. “We’re not The Washington Post.”
The source said Ogorodnev would only communicate via the encrypted WhatsApp messaging app.
Media Ink contacted Ogorodnev via WhatsApp on Wednesday and placed a conventional call on Thursday. Ogorodnev asked if he could call back on the secure WhatsApp line to “save money.”
He called moments later and said he had already checked out Media Ink’s stories. He said the recruitment drive is “an expansion and an upgrade.”
We asked him about the reports that RT is a propaganda outlet backed by the Russian government. As he comprehended that Media Ink was writing a story about RT rather than applying for a job, he said, “I cannot give you a quote. I hope you understand.”
He then sent an e-mail address, again via WhatsApp, for a press contact. On Thursday afternoon New York time, the RT reps responded that it was too late in Moscow and that “we will do our best to respond to your inquiry tomorrow at the earliest opportunity.”
Some former RT reporters have accused the organization of spreading misinformation. The British government’s Ofcom has said that RT had breached its rules of impartiality and on at least one occasion broadcast “materially misleading” content.
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