In April 2012, the relationship between Assange and Russia became direct for the first time. Specifically, Assange became a star on Russia Today (RT), Russia’s state-funded English-language propaganda outlet.“With WikiLeaks’ funding drying up — under American pressure, Visa and MasterCard had stopped accepting donations — Russia Today began broadcasting a show called ‘The World Tomorrow’ with Mr. Assange as the host,” the New York Times reported in a 2016 piece on Assange’s Russian ties.The exact nature of the arrangement between RT and Assange has never been very clear. Assange and WikiLeaks insist that Assange was never employed by RT, and that RT was only one of many broadcasters that bought rights to air Assange’s show. Either way, though, Assange was paid by the Kremlin. According to the Times, the amount of money he received has never been disclosed.The World Tomorrow had a decidedly anti-American bent, in keeping with much of RT’s programming and Assange’s own writing. Its first episode was a polite interview with Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. In the interview, Assange refers to Nasrallah as a “freedom fighter,” telling him “you have fought against a hegemony of the United States.”That this was serving an ideological purpose could have been lost on Assange. RT is designed to be the voice of the Russian state in the English-speaking world, particularly America. It’s part of a broad-based Russian propaganda effort aimed at whitewashing Putin’s government, using attacks on alleged US misdeeds as a key strategy.It’s an old tactic used by Soviet apologists, called “whataboutism.” Whenever an American criticized the Soviet Union, the Soviet apologist would say, “What about the bad things America does?” This wasn’t a genuine moral criticism of the United States, which was often quite deserved, so much as a debating tactic aimed at deflecting a moral critique of Soviet policy.Assange eagerly participated in an extended campaign of whataboutism. Not just that, in fact: He was paid by an authoritarian government, one that kills and arrests dissenters, for doing so. His principles as a transparency activist seem not to have gotten in the way.