It's amazing what gets lost in the vortex of long holiday weekend -- not just Roy Halladay's perfect game but of course Obama and Sestak and Clinton in THE SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY and then there was also this from Rand Paul and his quixotic GOP Senate campaign in Kentucky, in which he questioned the 14th Amendment (also a slavery thing, but I digress...) and its interpretation that it grants citizenship to children of undocumented parents born within the United States.
That's an interesting and important debate, but what was really amazing was where he made his comments -- particularly since this was the same time frame in which he cancelled an appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press," when it was clear that the dons of the GOP wanted to reduce the exposure of libertarian Paul and his unorthodox views on matters like the 1964 Civil Rights Act or President's Obama's "un-American" treatment of British petroleum.
So instead of talking to NBC News, Paul talked to a venue in which he clearly felt more comfortable: The Kremlin- linked, conspiracy minded Russia Today.
Um, wait, who's anti-American?
Here's a little about Russia Today (typically ID'd in its reports as "RT"):
Russia's state-owned news agency, RIA-NOVOSTI, has surprised media watchers by announcing plans to launch a new, 24-hour global television news channel to improve Russia's image abroad. Russia Today is to hit the airwaves late this year and is being hailed by organizers as a new Russian CNN. But several analysts say the venture will amount to nothing more than Kremlin propaganda.
Russia's domestic television media, which consists of only two government-sponsored tv channels, already suffers from a credibility problem. Enter plans for Russia Today, whose organizers say it will cover international news with a, "Russian outlook" and the issue takes on a whole new dimension.
As the Washington Post explained more clearly:
Russia Today, a news channel set up in April 2005, is broadcasting in English and Arabic and planning to expand into Spanish. At first glance it looks a lot like CNN, but it can be a breathless cheerleader for the Kremlin.
OK, so Rand Paul spoke with a Kremlin-funded news org -- nothing wrong with talking to the foreign press every so often, right? Except that Russia Today, or RT, also promotes a particular brand of conspiracy theorizing that many voters in Paul's home state of Kentucky would find appalling -- including frequent news stories and commentators promoting the idea that 9/11 was a U.S. government inside job.
Here's a story from RT's website, dated Sept. 9, 2009: "911 Reasons Why 911 Was (Probably) an Inside Job":
9/11 was the day steel-framed buildings fell like sandcastles, the law of physics worked in reverse and the United States Air Force went missing in action. So what is the real story?
Before attempting to identify “nine hundred and eleven reasons why 9/11 was an inside job” (which will start tomorrow as part of an investigative, four-part report), I would like to briefly mention my own “where-were-you-on-9/11-moment” since it has a lot to do with my reasons for rejecting the official version of events that fateful day.
That was hardly a one-off, either. Here you can watch RT's glowing report on the "9/11 truth" movement in New Hampshire, while here is the supposed true story behind "9/11, the new world order and the Fed" and here is another Russia Today report that I've embedded at the bottom of the post, about the idea that explosives and not the hijacked jetliners caused the Twin Towers to fall:
Could the most audacious terrorist attack in history be a “sophisticated masterpiece of demolition”?
That’s what chemistry professor Niels Harrit has been asking, following his investigation of the World Trade Centre rubble, which has revealed traces of explosives.
Where is Russia Today getting its wacky ideas about America and 9/11? It could be from a U.S. commentator that it frequently invites on the air to explain what's happening here -- radio's conspiracy-theorist-in-chief, who makes even Glenn Beck look sane, and that would be Austin-based Alex Jones. You can see some of Jones' TV commentaries for Russia Today here and here and here and here and here, promoting his "Obama Deception" documentary that claims that "America has become a puppet in the hands of private bankers working towards a new world order."
Drawing the circle together is that fact that Jones has been a big booster of Rand Paul's father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, when he ran for president in 2008, and Jones -- who has also promoted the 9/11-inside job theory -- has often hosted Rand Paul on his nationally syndicated show as well. As Mother Jones' David Corn reported last month:
Both men have appeared on his show, which, of course, doesn't mean they endorse his 9/11 views and other opinions. (Last December, Rand Paul's campaign communications director, Chris Hightower, resigned after a blogger exposed Hightower as an anti-Christian who believed that the US government was responsible for 9/11. The Paul campaign, asked by a local newspaper, if Paul agreed with Hightower on 9/11, said it was a "complicated situation" with "truth on both sides.") But Rand Paul has shown sympathy for Jones' overall view of a world of global conspiracies, and he has expressed support for some of Jones' unconventional ideas.
During a July 23, 2009 show, Jones, decrying the Wall Street bailout, asked Paul, "This isn't really socialism….Isn't this more akin to fascism?" Paul replied, "You're exactly right." Later on the show, while Jones was denouncing cap-and-trade legislation (which he says could lead to "toilet paper taxes") and calling for investigating Al Gore, Paul noted that should the climate bill become law, "we will have an army of armed EPA agents--thousands of them." These EPA troopers, according to Paul, would be free to burst into homes and apartments to determine if they were meeting energy-efficiency standards.
This is Rand Paul's world -- where the media circle he feels most comfortable in is the conspiracy web spun by Russia Today and its frequent commentator Alex Jones, while he's clearly not ready for the kind of scrutiny he'd get from a more mainstream show like "Meet the Press." Despite that, polls continue to show Paul with a slight lead going into the fall elections. America and the U.S. Senate may be in for quite a ride.