C-SPAN viewers were surprised Thursday to find that one of their live channels was suddenly airing footage from Russia Today, the Russian state-owned news channel many have criticized as propaganda.
Apparently C-SPAN was broadcasting from the floor of the House of Representatives as Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters was speaking, and with no warning just switched to Russia Today’s news programming:
Here’s the moment Russia Today took over the C-SPAN1 feed. Unclear what happened. RT aired for about ten minutes before C-SPAN1 came back. pic.twitter.com/mhWVgCoFxF
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 12, 2017
But before anyone could rush headlong into conspiracy theories about the Russians taking over our media in anticipation of a full-scale invasion, C-SPAN put out a statement on their Twitter account explaining the odd event:
This afternoon the online feed for C-SPAN was briefly interrupted by RT programming. We are currently investigating and troubleshooting this occurrence. As RT is one of the networks we regularly monitor, we are operating under the assumption that it was an internal routing issue. If that changes we will certainly let you know.
Russia Today has been criticized widely as being merely a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin and producing anti-American media masquerading as news. In 2014, journalist Liz Wahl dramatically announced on-air that she could no longer work at Russia Today, saying that they regularly “whitewash” the actions of President Vladimir Putin. Last month Wahl opined at CNN that Russia was attempting to undermine our democratic institutions through the spread of disinformation, and said that accusations of Russian hacking fit the pattern of their meddling in other countries.
President-elect Donald Trump was also criticized for appearing on Russian Today last September during the presidential election. His campaign later said they did not realize they would be on the state-owned network. In 2015, the man who helped create Russia Today was found dead in a Washington D.C. hotel – he was also a former aide to Putin.