What was it like working for Russian state television

The official was a tall, red-bearded veteran of Russian state-backed news, Mikhail Solodovnikov, who went by Misha. He ran the business through T&R Productions, a limited liability company, which said in a 2017 Foreign Agents Registration Act filing to the Department of Justice that he was the only member and managing director and that he acted as managing director and editor-in-chief. He added that he “respectfully disagrees with FARA applying” to RT America.

In an email on Saturday, Mr Solodovnikov said he had been privileged to have “legendary” hosts and “dozens of budding young intellectuals and journalists”, and he pointed the finger at major US media for hypocrisy. “It’s obvious that most of the American media is celebrating a brutal act of censorship that happened to us on their watch,” he said.

In the early days of the network, it recruited budding personalities online. In 2012, Abby Martin, an outspoken mainstream media critic and 9/11 skeptic, launched the show “Breaking the Set”; in the opening credits, she swung a hammer at a TV playing clips of cable news stars like CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

In 2013, Ms. Martin invited Tyrel Ventura, who is the son of Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota’s Reform Party, as a guest on her show. He had a YouTube talk show, where he often spoke out against the war and was skeptical of mainstream media. After his guest appearance, he said, Mr. Solodovnikov said he liked what he heard. He also told Mr. Ventura, who is skinny with a clean-shaven head, that he looks good on TV, Mr. Ventura said.

Mr. Ventura was soon recruited to present his online show, “Watching the Hawks”, hosted with Mr. Stone, on RT America.

Around the same time, Mr. Solodovnikov got a huge break. In May 2013, RT America signed a deal with Larry King’s Ora TV to distribute shows by Mr. King and possibly other personalities, including William Shatner and Dennis Miller. Some of the programs would be created out of RT America’s Washington office. Suddenly, the network had some familiar names on its list. Ora Media chief executive John Dickey declined to disclose the value of the contract.

Soon, RT America faced a major public test. In February 2014, Russia quickly invaded and annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, then escalated its aggression and supported separatists who attacked Ukrainian forces in the Donbass region.

Karl M. Bailey