GT’s Wang Wenwen interviews Lee Camp.
Against the backdrop of the Ukraine conflict, RT America, the US branch of the Russian national media outlet, has been permanently shut down, with more than 100 staffers laid off. Lee Camp (Camp), who had hosted a satire comedy show Redacted Tonight for eight years, was one of them. Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen talked to Camp about how he views the shutdown of the Russian TV channel, the one-sided negative information about Russia in the US, and his future plans.
GT: You and the other colleagues were laid off after RT America was shut down on March 1. Do you face any safety threats? What are the plans of your colleagues?
Camp: I haven’t faced any threats that I know of, but simultaneously, not only did my show get ended because RT America was shut down, but also all of the old Redacted Tonight videos – over 1,000 videos – were all banned on YouTube. And they’re not just banned in America. Apparently they’re banned in almost all countries. So the old episodes can no longer be seen on YouTube, which is kind of incredible for a comedy show that has spent eight years and 375 episodes, trying to just be anti-war and anti-imperialist and promoting peace, sustainability, environmental health and caring for our fellow human beings. That is what led me to write and create my show. And yet here I am being deleted and banned from so many platforms.
Also simultaneously, my Podcast, which is called Moment of Clarity, was deleted from Spotify, which is one of the largest Podcast carriers. This is very bad for listenership and for the number of people that may want to access it. Again, this is a wave of censorship that is sweeping across America that is just very dangerous. It won’t stop with me and RT America, it will keep going.
Now I’m on Patreon, which is for creators to create any kind of work. I hope if I find enough members that are willing to join my Patreon, maybe I can recreate something. It’ll never be quite like Redacted Tonight, but hopefully it will have the same feel and passion and the same harsh truths about our reality.
I have not heard much about the plans of my colleagues. Some of them that are not kind of well-known will have a very tough time getting a job because of what in the US we call McCarthyism based on the 1950s when a senator named McCarthy called everyone communist and got everyone fired from their jobs. And if you just knew someone, then you would get fired from your job and blacklisted. So, due to this McCarthyism plague, I think many people will have trouble getting jobs.
For the people that are a little bit famous, I think they will continue trying to do what they do. I assume people like Chris Hedges will continue writing excellent books and people like former governor Jesse Ventura will continue making videos.
A lot of people don’t realize RT America was essentially the only television in America where you could be clearly anti-war, anti-imperialist and question capitalism. It was just the only one that existed. So now that’s gone. There is really no large channel that allows such a thing.
GT: Now the US can hardly hear any news from Russia. Russian media are banned, many social media have left Russia, and some even allow hate speech against Russia. How will such one-sided negative information mislead the American public?
Camp: I think right now it is misleading the American public. I am opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but I also am very clear on saying that we should understand the context that has led to this war in Ukraine. The context, to keep it very short, is the expansion of NATO, which is a military alliance encircling Russia that is mainly led by the United States and Britain and pointing missiles at Russia and on the border of Russia. Another reason is the 2014 US-backed coup in Ukraine that put people in power that were aligned with Nazis.
And there are real Nazis in Ukraine. Nazis with swastikas on their helmets that have been waging war in various regions of Ukraine for eight years now. That’s what’s led to this. I don’t support invasion. I think a lot of innocent people are being harmed in one way or another. I’m anti-war in general and anti-imperialist. And again, those are things you’re not allowed to say. So the American people right now are being led to believe that there is no context and that nothing happened before this, and that Putin just woke up one morning and said I’m going to bomb people. It really is a silly way to view reality. It’s not a mature and intelligent standpoint on our view of reality. And the US government, I think it’s pretty clear, wants this war to go on as long as possible. They view it as good for them to keep the war going, to keep Russia dragged down in a long-term war to harm Russia’s economy.
That’s why the US government is not trying to stop this war. They’re trying to keep it going. And I think Americans need to understand that.
GT: US politicians are fanning the confrontation between the US and Russia – two nuclear powers. Without effective information from the Russian side, do you think the US society will be hijacked to face a military conflict with Russia?
Camp: I certainly hope we don’t get to that, because a military conflict with Russia would probably equal nuclear war. And it is totally insane. It’s lunacy. It would kill, God knows, how many people. We really are playing with fire here, and even being this close to nuclear conflict. I think the only way to solve this is for people to sit in a room over a peace table and come to some terms that ended. That is the only way this will end. It will not end by sending missiles and guns to Ukraine and hoping they continue to fight a military that’s far stronger than them. And it will not end by senators and government officials telling people to kill other government officials. All of that is another garbage that is not how this ends. It has to end over a peace table.
GT: What do you think of the news that the White House approached 30 top TikTok influencers to counterattack Russian “disinformation?”
Camp: I find it kind of funny. Obviously it’s bad. It’s wrong. The White House should not be trying to influence TikTok creators. But beyond that, most of the influence of TikTok and YouTube creators is done with propaganda. Most of them just believe what’s on our evening news. So they don’t have to be sat down in a room at the White House. It’s just done with the New York Times or CNN or one of those. It doesn’t have to be a meeting at the White House for these influencers and content creators to have been manipulated into believing something that is not true so that they continue to create content that will benefit the US empire.
GT: The White House and US government officials have sent mixed, contradictory messages about US bio labs in Ukraine. From your experience, what do you think is the purpose of these bio labs in Ukraine?
Camp: I know that the US government has admitted that they had some sort of involvement in bio labs in Ukraine. I don’t know if that means necessarily bio weapons. You can have bio labs that are not bio weapons. But I think it’s a question that everyone should ask, why does the US have bio labs in Ukraine?
It should be a concern to everyone as bio labs are innately dangerous things, and every citizen should know where they are, why they’re there. I think the fact that the US wants to put such labs in Ukraine, as opposed to putting them in the United States, probably tells you something. It sounds like the reason for doing that is they’re not very safe, but I don’t know why they’re there. And I think the US government should have to account for why they’re there.
GT: In our previous interview, you told me, as an American working for a Russian media, you still serve US interests. Now you continue with your show. Has your purpose changed?
Camp: I hope to continue my show on Patreon. I was on a Russia-backed TV channel, but I was always doing my own stuff. No one ever told me what to say. I wrote my own words. I was doing my own thing, and so all my stuff, all my material, all my videos will continue to be the same. It’s not going to change.
The topics and the truth and the comedy will continue, but I can’t guarantee that it’ll look the same as Redacted Tonight because it’s different when it’s not in a big news studio. But the points and the ideas and the topics and the comedy will be the same.
People want to say that when you reveal the truth about America and our endless wars, you are being anti-American, but I view it as pro-American. We want to make this country better. And if you want to make it better, you should want our military to not be killing people overseas every day. There are the latest estimates that 6 million people have died from our wars on terror over the past 20 years. The United States of America is responsible for that. So if you want this country to be better, I’m speaking basically to other Americans, then you should want to reveal that truth so that we can stop doing that. You should want to reveal the truth about destruction of the environment so that we can stop destroying the environment. I view it as the most American thing I can do, to try and make the country better.
GT: You are very popular on China’s social media. Will you consider opening an account and putting your shows there? What topics would you like to discuss?
Camp: I’d like to cover all of the things I already cover. I just like to do with a new audience. But as an American who was born and raised in America, I feel that’s what I understand best. So I understand America’s foreign policy best. That’s what I would like to continue to cover. I’ll have to figure it out if there can be any special design for the Chinese audience. That would be fun obviously.