Don’t do it: why the Foreign Agent designation is welcomed by RT and Sputnik

The discussion on whether to classify the broadcasters RT, formerly Russia Today, and Sputnik as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act is full of nuance, most of which is absent in the public debates over the topic. The fundamental question at issue is whether these two broadcasters are under both the direction and receiving funding from the Kremlin. There is no debate over the latter, while management of both unconvincingly disputes the former. But as we ask the question, we should know not just why we are asking, but what is the outcome we seek to achieve. Continue reading “Don’t do it: why the Foreign Agent designation is welcomed by RT and Sputnik

Sputnik and the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA)

Earlier this week, Yahoo News reported the FBI is looking into whether Kremlin-funded and directed media agency is operating in the U.S. as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. Ironically, the FBI obtained a cache of internal Sputnik email and documents that will assist the bureau in its investigation. The timing of the probe coincides with interest by some in Congress to update the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA, to deal with modern operations such as Russia’s Sputnik and RT, the media outlet formerly known as Russia Today.

Over two years ago, May 2015, I wrote about FARA as it related to RT. The article has not aged and applies equally to Sputnik today. I suggest you read it if you haven’t already as it includes the relevant history of the creation, implementation, and evolution of FARA. Today, as it has been for over two decades, the application of FARA to foreign media activities in the U.S. has been neutered as a direct result of watering down the impact of FARA on information created and distributed by the Canadian government in the United States designed to influence public opinion and U.S. policies.

Continue reading “Sputnik and the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA)