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更新时间:2017-3-11 7:59:12 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Russia’s RT Network: Is It More BBC or K.G.B.?

LONDON — The London newsroom and studios of RT, the television channel and website formerly known as Russia Today, are ultramodern and spacious, with spectacular views from the 16th floor overlooking the Thames and the London Eye. And, its London bureau chief, Nikolay A. Bogachikhin, jokes, “We overlook MI5 and we’re near MI6,” Britain’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies.

伦敦——电视频道和网站RT以前叫做《今日俄罗斯》(Russia Today),它在伦敦的新闻室和制作间采用超现代风格,空间宽敞,而且位置在16楼,窗外景色壮观,可以俯瞰泰晤士河与伦敦眼。其伦敦分社社长尼古拉·A·波加奇欣(Nikolay A. Bogachikhin)开玩笑说:“我们俯视军情五处,靠近军情六处,”这指的分别是英国对内和对外的情报机构。

Bogachikhin was poking fun at the charge from Western governments, American and European, that RT is an agent of Kremlin policy and a tool directly used by President Vladimir Putin to undermine Western democracies — meddling in the recent U.S. presidential election and, European security officials say, trying to do the same in the Netherlands, France and Germany, all of which vote later this year.


But the West is not laughing. Even as Russia insists that RT is just another global network like the BBC or France 24, albeit one offering “alternative views” to the Western-dominated news media, many Western countries regard RT as the slickly produced heart of a broad, often covert disinformation campaign designed to sow doubt about democratic institutions and destabilize the West.


Western attention focused on RT when the Obama administration and U.S. intelligence agencies judged with “high confidence” in January that Putin had ordered a campaign to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” discredit Hillary Clinton through the hacking of Democratic Party internal emails and provide support for Donald Trump, who as a candidate said he wanted to improve relations with Russia.

当奥巴马政府和美国情报机构在今年1月以“很大的可能性”判断普京下令发起了一个“破坏公众对美国民主进程的信心”的行动时,西方的注意力集中在了RT上。该行动通过入侵民主党内部电子邮件来削弱希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)的公信力,给唐纳德·特朗普帮忙;特朗普作为总统候选人,说他希望改善与俄罗斯的关系。

Watching RT can be a dizzying experience. Hard news and top-notch graphics mix with interviews from all sorts of people: well known and obscure, left and right. They include favorites like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Noam Chomsky, the liberal critic of Western policies; odd voices like actress Pamela Anderson; and cranks who think Washington is the source of all evil in the world.

观看RT可能会令人产生眩晕感。纯新闻、制作一流的图表和各种人物访谈混合在了一起,采访对象有的名气不小,也有人无籍籍名,立场有左也有右。维基解密的朱利安·阿桑奇(Julian Assange)和批评西方政策的自由派诺姆·乔姆斯基(Noam Chomsky)是他们的最爱;还有一些奇特的声音,比如女演员帕米拉·安德森(Pamela Anderson);以及一些认为华盛顿是世界上所有邪恶源头的怪人。

But if there is any unifying character to RT, it is a deep skepticism of Western and U.S. narratives of the world and a fundamental defensiveness about Russia and Putin.


Analysts are sharply divided about the influence of RT. Pointing to its minuscule ratings numbers, many caution against overstating its effect. Yet focusing on ratings may miss the point, says Peter Pomerantsev, who wrote a book three years ago that described Russia’s use of television for propaganda.

对于RT的影响力,分析人士之间分歧严重。很多人提到它的收视率非常低,警告不要夸大它的效果。但彼得·波梅兰采夫(Peter Pomerantsev)说,把重点放在收视率上可能没有抓住要领。他在三年前写过一本书,介绍俄罗斯用电视进行宣传的情况。

“Ratings aren’t the main thing for them,” he said. “These are campaigns for financial, political and media influence.”


RT and Sputnik propel those campaigns by helping create the fodder for thousands of fake news propagators and providing another outlet for hacked material that can serve Russian interests, said Ben Nimmo, who studies RT for the Atlantic Council.

为大西洋理事会(Atlantic Council)研究RT的本·尼莫(Ben Nimmo)说,RT和Sputnik推动这些活动的方式是,参与制造供成千上万的虚假信息传播者使用的素材,并将窃取的能够服务于俄罗斯利益的材料提供给别的机构。

Bogachikhin and Anna Belkina, RT’s head of communications in Moscow, insist it is absurd to lump together RT’s effort to provide “alternative views to the mainstream media” with the phenomena of fake news and social media propaganda.

波加奇欣和RT在俄罗斯的传讯负责人安娜·贝尔基娜(Anna Belkina)坚称,把RT提供“主流媒体之外的观点”的行动与虚假新闻与社交媒体宣传现象混为一谈实在荒谬。

“There’s a hysteria about RT,” Belkina said. “RT becomes a shorthand for everything.”


For example, she says, while RT was featured heavily in the U.S. intelligence report, it was largely in a seven-page annex (of a 13-page report) that was written more than four years ago, in December 2012, a fact revealed only in a footnote on Page 6.


She flatly denies any suggestion that RT seeks to meddle in democratic elections anywhere. “The kind of scrutiny we’re under — we check everything.”


For RT and its viewers, the outlet is a refreshing alternative to what they see as complacent Western elitism and neo-liberalism, representing what the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently called a “post-West world order.”

对RT和它的观众来说,该机构令人耳目一新,是除了他们眼中自鸣得意的西方精英主义和新自由主义之外的另一个选择,代表着俄罗斯外长谢尔盖·拉夫罗夫(Sergey Lavrov)最近所说的“后西方世界秩序”。

With its slogan, created by a Western ad agency, of “Question More,” RT is trying to fill a niche, Belkina said. “We want to complete the picture rather than add to the echo chamber of mainstream news; that’s how we find an audience.”

在由一家西方广告公司设计的口号“提出更多质疑”(Question More)的带领下,RT正在努力填补一个利基市场,贝尔基娜说道。“我们想呈现完整的情况,而不是加入主流新闻传声筒的行列。这就是我们吸引观众的方式。”

Afshin Rattansi, who hosts a talk show three times a week called “Going Underground,” came to RT in 2013 after working at the BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, Al-Jazeera and Iran’s Press TV. “Unlike at the BBC and CNN, I was never told what to say at RT,” he said. There have been two cases of RT announcers quitting because of what they said was pressure to toe a Kremlin line, especially on Ukraine, but not in London, Rattansi said.

2013年,曾就职于BBC、CNN、彭博社(Bloomberg)、半岛电视台(Al-Jazeera)和伊朗Press TV的阿夫欣·拉坦西(Afshin Rattansi)加入RT,主持一档名为《秘密行动》(Going Underground)的脱口秀节目,一周三期。“和在BBC和CNN的时候不一样,在RT,从来没人告诉我应该说什么,”他说。拉坦西也表示,有过两名RT主持人因为被迫说与克里姆林宫立场一致的话而辞职,尤其是在乌克兰问题上,不过他们都不是在伦敦。

Michael McFaul, a Stanford professor who was the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama years, said that RT should not be lightly dismissed. “There is a demand in certain countries for this alternative view, an appetite, and we arrogant Americans shouldn’t just think that no one cares.”

曾在奥巴马执政期间担任美国驻俄罗斯大使的斯坦福大学教授迈克尔·麦克福尔(Michael McFaul)说,不应轻视RT。“在某些国家,有对这种不一样的观点的需求和欲望,我们傲慢的美国人不要以为没人在乎。”

But there is a considerably darker view, too. For critics, RT and Sputnik are simply tools of a sophisticated Russian propaganda machine, created by the Kremlin to push its foreign policy, defend its aggression in Ukraine and undermine confidence in democracy, NATO and the world as we have known it.


Robert Pszczel, who ran NATO’s information office in Moscow and watches Russia and the western Balkans for NATO, said that RT and Sputnik were not meant for domestic consumption, unlike the BBC or CNN. Over time, he said, “It’s more about hard power and disinformation.”

北约莫斯科信息办公室主任、为北约关注俄罗斯和巴尔干半岛地区西部动态的罗伯特·普什切尔(Robert Pszczel)表示,不同于BBC和CNN,RT和Sputnik不是为了国内消费。他说,随着时间的推移,“它会更注重硬实力和虚假信息。”

The Kremlin does not care “if you agree with Russian policy or think Putin is wonderful, so long as it does the job — you start having doubts, and of 10 outrageous points you take on one or two,” he said. “A bit of mud will always stick.”


Stefan Meister, who studies Russia and Central Europe for the German Council on Foreign Relations, agreed that “we shouldn’t overestimate RT. The main success of the Russians is the link to social media through bots and a network of different sources.” That network, he said, is “increasingly well organized, with more strategic and explicit links between sources and actors — Russian domestic media, troll factories, RT, people in social networks and maybe also the security services.”

为德国对外关系委员会(German Council on Foreign Relations)研究俄罗斯和中欧问题的斯特凡·迈斯特(Stefan Meister)也认为,“我们不应夸大RT。俄罗斯主要的成功是通过机器人和不同消息来源组成的网络连接社交媒体。”这个网络,他说,“组织得越来越好,消息来源和演员——俄罗斯国内媒体、煽动性言论工厂、RT、社交网络用户,也许还有安全机构——之间的联系更具战略性、更明确。”

“Open societies are very vulnerable,” Meister said, “and it’s cheaper than buying a new rocket.”