A number of prominent British MPs have defended receiving hefty pay checks for speaking appearances on the broadcaster RT, formerly Russia Today, which some believe is a biased propaganda outlet that exists to regurgitate Kremlin talking points.
At least 10 members of parliament have been paid up to £1,000 an hour for appearing on various RT shows, The Guardian newspaper reported Saturday (18 November).
The government's register of interests showed that a number of MPs including Welsh Conservative MP David Davies, Labour's David Lammy and outspoken Respect MP George Galloway are all well-funded for working with the controversial news outlet.
Davies, the MP for Monmouth, was paid £750 an hour plus travel expenses for 4 visits to a show called News Thing between December 2016 and September 2017.
He told The Guardian that he had no regrets about being interviewed on the RT network's programming.
"The News Thing has given me a fair chance to explain my opinions on Brexit immigration and transgender issues, for which I am grateful," Davies said.
"Sadly, I have not received the same courtesy from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)," he continued. "Instead, on several occasions, its highly paid presenters have criticised me by name without giving me a right of response."
The Labour Party's Lammy was reportedly handed £1,000 for two hours work, on two occasions. Tory MP and assistant government whip, Mike Freer, was paid £1,000 an hour for two appearances in January and April last year, the newspaper revealed.
Galloway, meanwhile, is seemingly earning the big bucks by actually presenting his own show – making more than £100,000 between November 2013 and February 2015.
Right-wing politician Nigel Farage, who has been accused of having secretive links to US president Donald Trump and Russia, is a regular talking head, but his fees remain unknown. Alex Salmond, former first minister of Scotland, has recently been criticised for his new RT show.
According to the assessment of the US government, the Kremlin takes advantage of RT – and its sister network Sputnik – to spread soft propaganda and misinformation.
Both were named in a landmark January 2017 intelligence report into US election interference.
It read: "Russia's state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.
"State-owned Russian media made increasingly favourable comments about president- elect [Donald] Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton."