It's Election Night 2016, and so far, the race has been neck-and-neck. Media coverage is obviously in full swing — and somewhat hilariously, Russian TV network put "the end is near" on screen during their Election Night live stream, along with some projected numbers for specific states as the polls begin to close. It sounds more than a little apocalyptic, does it not?
But first, let's back up a step: Russia Today (RT), is a 24-7 Russian English-language news network. Launched in 2005, RT is fairly new and funded by the Russian government; however, as the Washington Post noted in 2013, it "positions itself as like the BBC, state-funded but editorially independent." WaPo also made the observation that in an interview with the network, Russian President Vladimir Putin described RT in such a way that "undercut RT's official description of itself as editorially independent."
RT has increasingly covered the American presidential election since Donald Trump's entry into the race; additionally, various political commentators have drawn parallels between Putin and Trump. As such, it's perhaps understandable that American journalist and author Michael Weiss was so struck when the words "the end is near" scrolled across the bottom of the screen of RT's coverage, and accordingly tweeted about it:
It took a little digging to find the source of this poignant line. To media connoisseurs, the green "RT" logo immediately revealed Weiss's screen capture to be from Russia Today, and rewinding of their live stream's YouTube video yielded a match. "The end is near" segment occurred during a segment featuring a few experts and journalists, including Washington D.C.-based RT correspondent:
She's speaking with Thom Hartmann, a progressive radio host and New York Times bestselling author whose talk show "The Big Picture" is now hosted by RT. The screenshot in Weiss' tweet features what looks like Hartmann's shirt collar as he weighs in on whether or not "the end is near":
The conversation also includes EMILY's list executive director Jessica O'Connell, who brings a feminist perspective on whether "the end is near" to the RT table.
Now, to be fair, in one sense the end almost certainly is near — it's been a long and grueling election cycle, and soon it will be behind us (election of 2000-style recount notwithstanding). But seeing "the end is near" on the screen like that really bumps the melodramatic factor up to 11, adding new tension to an already plenty dramatic scenario. With a banner like that, you could totally be forgiven for thinking we were discussing whether a literal apocalypse is nigh.
Images: RT Today/YouTube (3)