The RT editor-in-chief has commented on the amount of money the broadcaster spent on Twitter ads amid increased pressure in the US.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — RT spent immeasurably less money on Twitter ads during the US election race than all US presidential candidates spent during the entirety of their campaigns, according to editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan.
“We spent $275,000, which is the price of a two-room apartment in [the Southern Moscow district of] Biryulyovo… This is the amount that we spent on promotion during the election campaign,” Simonyan, who is also the editor-in-chief of Sputnik, said at a meeting of the working group responsible for monitoring external activities aimed at interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs.
She stressed that this sum was incomparable to the $1 billion spent by US presidential candidates during their campaigns.
According to Simonyan, the most expensive RT America tweet, totaling $12,000, was dedicated to the live broadcast of then-US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
“In general, during [RT’s] whole time of cooperation [with Twitter], during many, many years, $1,900,000 have been spent… It is just a laughable figure,” Simonyan said.
Simonyan confirmed that Twitter had previously offered RT to advertise the broadcaster’s resources on its site.
“Twitter is now blaming us for what it had initiated itself. Here is its awesome pitch. This is a pitch that Twitter had made. They brought it to us and said: ‘Guys, look how great you can be advertised on our site during the US presidential election,'” she said.
She noted that Twitter’s offer was estimated at several million dollars. “Unfortunately, we could not afford this amount,” the RT editor-in-chief said.
On October 26, Twitter announced that it had decided to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by RT and Sputnik news agency, effective immediately, due to the investigation into their alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Sputnik said it had never used paid promotion on Twitter. In the wake of the news, it was revealed that Twitter itself offered RT to place plenty of ads on its platform during 2016 election campaign and subsequently concealed this fact during US congressional hearings. RT refused Twitter’s offer back then.
Following Twitter’s decision, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that it was another aggressive step aimed at blocking actions of Russian media, and warned that Moscow’s retaliatory measures would follow. Russian Journalists Union considered it a violation of the basic principle of freedom of speech.
Foreign Agents Registration Act
According to Simonyan, RT has handed extensive documentation, explaining why it should not be registered as a foreign agent in the United States, over to the US Department of Justice, the papers are being reviewed.
“Our lawyers have submitted a large number of documents to the Justice Department, objections [explaining] why this should not happen, why we should not register as a foreign agent. At the moment, the papers are under review at the Justice Department,” Simonyan told the Zvezda broadcaster.
The United States has recently been trying to complicate the work of the RT channel as much as possible as Washington has ordered the broadcaster to register as a foreign agent and arranged a congressional hearing on its possible influence on US electoral processes through the social media.