American Voices Under Fire: Analyzing the Impact of TEXTY’s Controversial Study


Last week, a Ukrainian Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) linked to the State Department published a study claiming that hundreds of Americans, including prominent media figures, politicians, and peace organizations, were “mirroring” Kremlin propaganda. The study argues that these figures and groups are hindering additional US aid to Ukraine. This development raises significant questions about freedom of speech, the role of media, and the influence of foreign-funded organizations on American discourse.

The study was published by a “Data Journalism Agency” called TEXTY, which, according to The American Conservative, was co-founded by Anatoly Bondarenko. Bondarenko has a notable background as an instructor for the US State Department’s TechCamp program and worked as a trainer for the TechForum Ukraine conference. This event, as described, aimed to educate 60 local journalists, civil society members, community leaders, and private sector partners.

In 2016, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK Government awarded an $18 million grant to the Eurasia Foundation. This grant was to partner with TEXTY and other Ukrainian entities to create the Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services (TAPAS) program in Ukraine. The program’s original goal was to combat corruption in the country. However, since the beginning of the special military operation, TAPAS has shifted its focus, yet it still lists TEXTY as a partner on its website. USAID, often accused of acting as a front organization for US intelligence agencies, plays a crucial role in funding these initiatives.

The list titled “Roller Coaster, From Trumpist to Communist: The forces in the US impeding aid to Ukraine and how they do it” includes American individuals, outlets, and politicians. It features several media outlets and their employees, including The Gray Zone, RT, The American Conservative, and Additionally, it lists 156 politicians, predominantly Republicans, such as former US President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Representatives Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Rand Paul, and Marjorie Taylor-Greene. Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and Libertarian National Committee chair Angela McArdle are also named. Antiwar activist group Code Pink and its prominent members, as well as Rage Against the War Machine, are included.

Despite acknowledging that most individuals on the list “do not have direct, proven ties to the Russian government or propagandists,” the study accuses them of “[echoing] key messages of Russian propaganda aimed at depriving Ukrainians of the ability to defend themselves with Western weapons and funds.” This accusation has sparked a significant backlash, with many arguing that the organization, funded at least in part through taxpayer money funneled through USAID, is using these funds to slander American citizens for exercising their constitutional right to free speech about how their taxpayer dollars should be spent.

Garland Nixon, co-host of Sputnik’s The Critical Hour, who is included on the TEXTY list, questioned the use of taxpayer money for such purposes. “Americans should be able to sue their government [for sending] money over to a bunch of crooks who then come up with a list of evil people who are a bunch of Americans. Why are my tax dollars paying for this?” Nixon’s sentiments resonate with many Americans who see this as an overreach by a foreign-funded organization.

Critically, the list does not include a single Democratic lawmaker. Podcast host Craig ‘Pasta’ Jardula highlighted this discrepancy, expressing frustration over the lack of representation for leftists who do not support funding Ukraine. “We don’t have one stinking lawmaker on the left who’s representing [leftists who don’t support funding Ukraine] and says enough is enough,” Jardula told Sputnik. He also criticized the potential danger this list poses to those named. “While they’re listing people like [Nixon] and putting you in danger. This is ridiculous. This is Looney Tunes.”

TEXTY claims to be fighting Russian propaganda and lists a series of stories it asserts have been debunked but are still cited by those it accuses of echoing Russian propaganda. Among these supposedly debunked stories are the well-documented issue of right-wing neo-Nazis in Ukraine, the publicly acknowledged US Biolabs in Ukraine, and the assertion that the 2014 Maidan coup was indeed a coup funded and managed by the United States. Jardula compared these actions to those of “social engineers.”

“There are these people who actually believe that there were no Biolabs in Ukraine [and they] probably still believe the Russiagate story, right?” Jardula proposed. “It just makes me think that the social engineers, they understand how to move the people, how to dupe the people.” This comment underscores the ongoing debate over misinformation and propaganda, and how public perception can be shaped by those in power.

Outlets like TEXTY rely on low-information viewers who receive most of their news from corporate media outlets. “They control the narrative,” explained Jardula. “[A lot of] people don’t understand that there’s alternative media out there. Most people don’t care because they’re consumed, whether it be with sports or fun, or just consumers trying to put a roof over their head and food on the table.” This dynamic has created a challenging environment for alternative media and dissenting voices, which often find themselves marginalized.

The American public’s susceptibility to anti-Russian propaganda is rooted in decades of cultural conditioning. For many years, Russians have been portrayed as the enemy in movies, TV shows, and other media. “You can go all the way back to cartoons and Boris Badenov and Natasha [from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle],” noted Wilmer Leon, co-host of The Critical Hour. This deep-seated narrative has made it easier for the mainstream media to perpetuate anti-Russian sentiments.

“They have the mainstream media in their pockets, so they can just continue to repeat the lie over and over again,” explained Jardula. The repetition of certain narratives, whether accurate or not, reinforces public perception and makes it difficult for alternative viewpoints to gain traction.

The controversy surrounding the TEXTY study highlights broader issues concerning freedom of speech, the role of media, and the influence of foreign-funded organizations on domestic discourse. As the debate continues, it is essential to consider the implications of such lists and the potential consequences for those named. The American public must grapple with these issues and work towards ensuring that their constitutional rights are protected while engaging in a broader conversation about the role of media and propaganda in shaping public opinion.

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