A German regulator’s depiction of RT DE as an “irritant” to be disposed of shows ignorance on the role of journalism in covering power, Pulitzer Prize-winning American reporter Chris Hedges said.
“Of course,” the actions by German regulators to go after the Berlin-based production company look political, Hedges told RT on Friday, comparing it to the US interference with RT America and its removal from cable channels after the 2017 report by US spies.
The infamous intelligence community assessment “attacked RT for giving a voice to third-party candidates, anti-fracking activists, Black Lives Matter,” Hedges noted.
He also pointed out the treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and said his own coverage of Assange’s imprisonment and extradition has been suppressed by social media networks.
Hedges said he “actually laughed” at the statement by Tobias Schmid, current chair of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA), who called RT DE a “nuisance” or an “irritant” that needed to be taken care of. According to the American, Schmid’s remark showed “how utterly naive and tone-deaf he was about the role of journalism.”
“Journalists who are not an ‘irritant’ to people in power are called propagandists,” Hedges said. “We should always have an adversarial relationship to power. It’s what journalism is about.”
EXPLAINER: EU regulators’ case against RT DE unfair: Here’s why
Hedges spent 15 years at the New York Times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for coverage of the war on terrorism. He left the paper in 2005, after criticizing the US invasion of Iraq, and currently hosts ‘On Contact,’ a weekly show on RT America.
RT’s German-language service began broadcasting on Thursday from Moscow via Serbia. Authorities in Berlin-Brandenburg on Friday filed a complaint in court, alleging that RT DE Productions company based in Berlin was a broadcaster that needed a German license.
RT has countered that the company only produces content, and that satellite broadcasting through Serbia is entirely legal and appropriate under the European Convention of Transfrontier Television (ECTT), which Germany signed and ratified.