At 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was speaking out against H.R. 78 — a bill that would decrease regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission— when C-SPAN’s live feed of her testimony abruptly switched to a stream of Russian state-owned television.
Notably, the unusual switch happened just after Waters expressed concern that Trump’s SEC might be unduly friendly with Russia.
“I urge my colleagues to join me, investor and consumer advocates, public pension plans, civil rights groups, labor unions and supporters of financial reform in opposing H.R. 78 to ensure that the actions of Trump’s SEC are in the interests of Americans’ economic stability and not in Russia’s or Wall Street’s interest,” Waters said. “At this time, with the bill that would basically take our cop on the block, the SEC, and literally obliterate — ”
The C-SPAN feed switched to Russia Today before Waters finished her sentence.
Deadspin editor Timothy Burke posted the footage:
Here's the moment Russia Today took over the C-SPAN1 feed. Unclear what happened. RT aired for about ten minutes before C-SPAN1 came back. pic.twitter.com/mhWVgCoFxF
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 12, 2017
The legitimacy of the video was confirmed by Brandon Richards, a press intern for Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA). Boyle told ThinkProgress he was watching a C-SPAN livestream on his computer when it switched over to RT. He was obviously confused, and when he looked at TVs in Boyle’s office, they were suddenly airing RT as well.
C-SPAN didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. But later Thursday afternoon, the station posted a statement saying staffers “are operating under the assumption that it was an internal routing issue.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 12, 2017
The incident occured six days after the U.S. intelligence community released its declassified intelligence report about Russia’s meddling in the presidential election. A significant portion of it details RT’s efforts to help Donald Trump.
In addition to accusing RT employees of collaborating with WikiLeaks, the report says RT “consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional U.S. media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.”
Following Trump’s victory, RT “hailed President-elect Trump’s victory as vindication of Putin’s advocacy of global populist movements — the theme of Putin’s annual conference for Western academics in October 2016 — and the latest example of Western liberalism’s collapse.”