The recent Sony email leaks show that other than getting involved with the US State Department to discuss "anti-Russian messaging," Sony and BBG executives discussed political allegiances in foreign broadcasting.
BBG chairman Jeff Shell made it clear that political allegiances matter in an email to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton discussing the appointment of now-former CEO Andy Lack:
"- He is perfect…a journalist and a businessman and a good guy (and a D [Democrat])"
Since March, a narrative has spread from the BBG outfit RFE/RL that the Russian government is funding an Internet-based influence operation. The story itself was not new, reported in the Russian media as far back as 2012 and in outlets such as Forbes, Buzzfeed and the Atlantic in 2014.
Unlike the BBG's outlets, RT operates as a media outlet according to local laws of the country where it is broadcast. RT has also successfully challenged accusations of unbalanced coverage in Europe, where media regulations are more strict than in the US.
Propaganda Foreign and Domestic?
In 2012, US President Barack Obama signed into law the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which among other things allowed US government broadcasters to propagate their information domestically by revising the Smith-Mundth Act.
"There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false," a Pentagon official told Buzzfeed in 2012.
At the April 15 House hearing on "Militarization of Information," Helle Dale, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said that the BBG plans beginning "broadcasting aimed at Russian audiences in the United States, something that it now allowed under the revised Smith-Mundt Act."
Russians living in the United States possess varying levels of proficiency in their language, which could open the door for English-language political broadcasting by the government, aimed at local audiences.
This shows that RT may not be seen as a real threat and instead is simply used as an excuse to allow more internal broadcasting of BBG programming inside the US.
How Does the BBG Work?
"Public diplomacy" outlets such as the US government-funded RFE/RL tread a finer line between information and propaganda than the military. They are funded with the goal of fulfilling a role in the government's foreign policy but have to compete in that country's public debate to be successful.
This is a twisting of words because "third country" in this context simply means a "third party," any country which is not Ukraine, including Russia. However, RFE/RL editorial guidelines allow this sort of comment, which would be considered misleading and unethical in other media outlets.
The BBG has apparently not set any guidelines for programming aimed at domestic audiences and would still retain the same standards and practices.
What is Propaganda?
The best way to show what propaganda looks like is to go to any country's military website and read any article explaining policy. While information outlets seek to inform an audience with an editorial point of view up for debate, military outlets by definition propagate subordination mandated by the military code.
Where a news website would explain the crimes and human rights violations Saddam Hussein was judged responsible for, a military article simply calls him "Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator of Iraq." This is not because the author had no evidence, but because there is no debate likely to happen on the topic among personnel.
The "factsheet" in part addressed Russia's representative at NATO, who said that organization is preparing non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons, which does not imply that NATO is moving nuclear weapons anywhere. NATO's "fact sheet" replied "This is untrue. At no point have we moved nuclear weapons to Eastern Europe."
Although the BBG does not widely use these propaganda techniques, they are frequently seen in the US State Department's Twitter accounts.