The BS Argument that Chris Hedge’s Shows Were Deleted From YouTube Because Ad Revenue Was Going to Russia

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As has often happened in the past, the current bout of “anti-enemy” hysteria in the United States can and will be used by those in power to attempt to stifle discontent, dissent and to settle scores. And the powers that be will be aided in this pursuit by a volunteer army of ordinary citizens, who will become self-appointed sentinels standing watch for the slightest signs of anyone saying or doing anything that might “help Russia.”

Case in point, a friend who might be described as a moderate — to progressive on some issues — Democrat, recently showed me a Democracy Now! Facebook post about journalist Chris Hedges former RT America show, On Contact, having been deleted from YouTube. He told me, “They did that because when you click on an ad link, the revenue goes to the Russian government. Like an inquisitor in 15th century Spain, he then asked me, “Do you want money to go to the Russian government?” In truth, I probably don’t want money to go to a reactionary regime, like Putin’s, that has engaged in illegal, preemptive war and committed monstrous atrocities. But was that actually the reason why Hedge’s valuable and important show was deleted from YouTube?

Though I may deplore the Russian regime and its actions, I also refuse to just take what I’m told about Russia, from the United States government, friends or anyone, at face value without further inquiry. Hedges claims he received no form of communication from YouTube whatsoever regarding the actions it was about to take or why it was taking them. YouTube’s terms of service regarding the removal of content states the following:

If any of your Content (1) is in breach of this Agreement or (2) may cause harm to YouTube, our users, or third parties, we reserve the right to remove or take down some or all of such Content in our discretion. We will notify you with the reason for our action unless we reasonably believe that to do so: (a) would breach the law or the direction of a legal enforcement authority or would otherwise risk legal liability for YouTube or are Affiliates

Since Hedges says he received no notification regarding the deletion of his content, it gives rise to the entirely reasonable presumption that this might indeed have been done at the behest of a “legal law enforcement authority,” possibly the Justice Department.

My friend, who is also an attorney, later refined his argument, making the subsequent comment on Facebook that, “RT owns” Hedge’s content and would thereby get a percentage of YouTube’s advertising revenue. That may very well be true regarding content posted originally on RT’s website But it’s less clear with regard to posts on YouTube. Again, referring to its terms of service:

You grant YouTube the right to monetize your Content on the Service (and such monetization may include displaying ads on or within content or charging users a free for access) This Agreement does not entitle you to any payments. Starting November 18, 2020, any payments you may be entitled to receive from YouTube under any agreement between you and YouTube (including for example payments under the YouTube Partner Program, Channel membership or Superchat) will be treated as royalties

It does appear that RT was in fact earning ad revenue from YouTube, though the amounts weren’t exactly astronomical. According to the internet research firm Omelas, “the Kremlin” earned $27 million between 2017 and 2018 and over a twelve year span brought in as much as $73 million in YouTube ad revenue from RT and other state affiliated channels.

But here’s the kicker: Within two days of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, YouTube officially cut off all ad revenue for RT and several other Russian state-owned media channels, which it was legally allowed to do based on its terms of service.

So, how is it exactly that people watching Hedge’s show on YouTube were helping to earn money for the Russian government, when as of February 26, YouTube itself said it had cut RT off from all ad revenue? Moreover, Hedge’s content was deleted roughly a month after YouTube made the announcement. All of this at least points to the possibility that there was another reason for the deletion of Hedge’s content.

So, why would a “legal enforcement agency of authority” of the U.S. government want a show like On Contact to disappear? A brief perusal of some of recent episodes gives us at least an indication:

February 20th’s episode was an interview with author and columnist Kai Bird about his 2009 book about physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Hedges said the following during his introduction:

“J. Robert Oppenheimer, “the father of the atomic bomb,” was by the end of World War II one of the most celebrated men in America. He was instrumental, as one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists, in the massive government effort to build the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But in the post-war anti-communist hysteria he was declared a security risk because of his warnings about the use of atomic weapons and his opposition to the development of the hydrogen bomb as well as the Air Force’s plans for massive strategic bombing with nuclear weapons — plans he condemned as genocidal. He was hauled before Red-baiting congressional investigative committees, the FBI tapped his home and office phones and put him under surveillance. Scurrilous stories about his political past were planted in the press and he was put on trial, becoming America’s most prominent victim of the post-war anti-communist witch hunts.”

At a time when the U.S. government is putting ever more money and effort into developing and upgrading its nuclear arsenal, including, “battlefield” nuclear weapons, more likely to be used, wouldn’t it be in the government’s (self-perceived) interest to have Oppenheimer’s story and his warnings about the danger of nuclear annihilation, swept under the rug as much as possible?

February 13th’s episode was an interview with Richard Wolff, perhaps the only somewhat well-known, self-described Marxist economist in the United States, which is enough of a reason alone for the U.S. government to take any opportunity to bury anything he had to say to whatever extent possible. But Hedges may have courted retribution himself with a very rare venture into criticizing U.S. policy towards Russia just before the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. In particular, Hedges called out two Democrats, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Representative Gregory Meeks of New York regarding their co-sponsorship of what Menendez described as the “mother of all sanctions bill.” Hedges noted that the bill:

“[D]emands that the administration “not cede to the demands of the Russian Federation regarding NATO membership or expansion.” This cuts off the ability to discuss Moscow’s core demands, including a ban on future NATO membership for Ukraine.``

January 30th’s show discussed the case of Native American activist Leonard Peltier with one of his lawyers, Kevin Sharp, a former federal judge. In his intro, Hedges tells us that Peltier at age 78, is America’s longest serving political prisoner and that his:

[T]rial was riddled with inconsistencies and the withholding of exculpatory evidence. The FBI, it was later learned, threatened, and coerced witnesses to lie and used these false statements to convict Peltier. Most jurists who have examined the case consider the trial deeply flawed. Over the years, numerous world leaders, including Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Coretta Scott King, have called for his release…James Reynolds, who was the US attorney who helped put Peltier in prison in the 1970s, has written a letter to President Joe Biden decrying the unfairness of Peltier’s trial and asked the president to grant Peltier clemency

Needless to say, President Biden hasn’t said a word about Peltier’s case or taken any action on his behalf. Most Americans have no idea who Leonard Peltier is or the way he was treated by the American “system of justice.” And it’s a fair bet that the Biden administration and FBI would like to keep it that way.

But perhaps Hedges greatest crime in the eyes of the U.S. government, may be his staunch, unrelenting defense of journalist Julian Assange. Hedges has done numerous On Contact shows about Assange, most recently on January 26, dealing with Assange’s appeal to the British High Court of England and Wales to reverse an order to extradite him to the U.S. to face espionage charges that carry a maximum sentence of 175 years. Recently, Hedges also had the temerity to try to attend Assange’s wedding at London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, a rare grant of momentary mercy to someone the British government (acting on behalf of the U.S. government) is clearly trying to destroy both mentally and physically through torture. But even so, it still prevented Hedges and other guests, including dissident former UK diplomat Craig Murray, from attending the ceremony at the last minute.

On April 1’s Democracy Now! Hedges discussed this as well as the fact that, since his On Contact Content is still available on RT’s website (for the time being), he has been able to copy the shows, which he may be able to upload to his new Substack page or somewhere else. While they’re still available on RT, I’d highly recommend watching as many of them as possible, if you haven’t seen them. And I would also ask that you help to sponsor Chris Hedges on Substack, if you can, as I am now.

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