Why Was a C-SPAN Feed Suddenly Interrupted By Russian Propaganda?

One of C-SPAN’s official online feeds was interrupted on Thursday by 10 straight minutes of Russian propaganda.

During C-SPAN1’s broadcast of the floor of the House of Representatives on January 12th, Congresswoman Maxine Waters was cut off in the middle of a sentence as the channel suddenly switched to Russia Today, the television network funded by the Russian government. According to Deadspin editor Timothy Burke, Russia Today then played on C-SPAN1 for approximately 10 minutes before the feed returned to normal.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, C-SPAN said it is “currently investigating and troubleshooting this occurrence.” They also said that RT is one of the networks that they regularly monitor, and so they suspect this to be the case of an internal routing issue rather than someone hacking into their feed.

However, C-SPAN adds, “If that changes, we will certainly let you know.”

This interruption immediately set social media aflame with conspiracy theories, especially because it happened on the same day that the power went out during the confirmation hearing of Mike Pompeo, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for CIA director. In fact, the power went out at the precise moment that Russian hacking was being discussed.

Senator Mark Warner said, “As you know, Chairman [Richard] Burr and I have committed to conduct a review of the intelligence supporting the intelligence committee’s assessment that Russia, at the direction –”

The video feed then cut off before Senator Warner could finish his sentence; he presumably was about to say that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee was carried out at the direction of the Russian government. Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearing then had to be moved to another room. According to The New York Post, the U.S. Senate’s superintendent says that this power failure occurred because an electrical company was doing work in the area.

Still, the subsequent conspiracy theories were not just confined to the strange corners of the Internet. Republican Senator John Cornyn tweeted that the lights “suspiciously” went out.