A former Breitbart News writer is launching a radio show for Russian propaganda network Sputnik.
“I’m on the Russian payroll now, when you work at Sputnik you’re being paid by the Russians,” former Breitbart investigative reporter Lee Stranahan told me. “That’s what it is. I don’t have any qualms about it. Nothing about it really affects my position on stuff that I’ve had for years now.”
Stranahan’s new position is the latest twist in the increasingly atomized world of niche right-wing media, which has seen an increase in prominence and influence during the Trump era. It also reflects a realignment on the right towards Russia as the administration, led by an unusually Russia-receptive president, becomes increasingly entangled in a drip-drip of stories about Russian influence.
Stranahan, who quit Breitbart in protest last month claiming that the site’s Washington editor was preventing him from covering the White House, told me he is launching a Crossfire-style liberal vs. conservative show called Fault Lines With Nixon and Stranahan with liberal pundit Garland Nixon. It will be carried by Sputnik online as well as on an HD radio station.
Stranahan says he is not bothered by the idea of working for a Russian government outlet, and rejects the narrative that Trump is too close to Russia.
“I think the whole narrative trying to tie Trump to Russia is a huge problem,” Stranahan said, calling it “bogus.”
Stranahan said he is considering offers from two different companies to cover the White House in addition to the Sputnik gig. The show begins airing next week.
“There’s no restrictions on what I can say, what I can do, anything like that,” Stranahan said. “I’m not easily controllable.”
The site he left, Breitbart News, has begun to change its image during the early days of the Trump administration, hiring reporters from the mainstream media. It was a key pro-Trump voice during the election. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon was previously the company’s chairman.
The FBI’s investigation into Russian influence on the election reportedly includes an examination of whether Breitbart, Infowars, and other sites like Sputnik played a role in Russian bot attacks.
"Rather than be coy about it, 'yeah I'm on the Russian payroll,'" Stranahan told followers on Periscope later on Wednesday. "That affects me in no way."