Jesse Ventura, the former Navy SEAL turned professional wrestler who eventually became Minnesota’s governor, has never been fond of decorum or the media.
As “The Body,” Ventura provoked ire inside the ring as a blond bully and went on to become “the most controversial announcer in WWE, calling it like he saw it on a weekly basis, no matter what political correctness might dictate,” according to his WWE profile.
He has written a book advocating for marijuana legalization, taught about wrestling and politics at Harvard and found himself in a legal battle with the estate of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle that earned him sharp criticism from some in the military community.
Now, Ventura will star in his own reality show, “The World According to Jesse,” on RT America — the Washington-based branch of Russian state television.
Known previously as Russia Today, RT is funded by the Russian government and describes itself as a TV channel “for viewers who want to Question More.” Critics call RT a propaganda tool with poor journalism standards, as The Washington Post has reported.
“RT covers stories overlooked by the mainstream media, provides alternative perspectives on current affairs, and acquaints international audiences with a Russian viewpoint on major global events,” according to the channel’s website.
But, as The Washington Post’s Adam Taylor and Paul Farhi reported, RT initially focused on reporting events in Russia and combating negative news about Russia, then shifted to offering an alternative view of international events. Its coverage of the 2016 U.S. presidential election appeared to favor Donald Trump, whose interview with Larry King during the last year’s campaign was aired on RT America.
Ventura told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he been reassured by RT that he will not be censored.
“I have total artistic control and I can talk about anything I want,” he told the Star Tribune. “We’re more interested in talking about our country. I didn’t join RT to report on Russia.”
Ventura’s show premieres this month and will air on Fridays, with weekend reruns, according to RT.
The episodes will capture “the feeling of freedom,” Ventura said in a promotional video for the program, which showed him zooming down an isolated road atop a motorcycle, wearing a sleeveless leather jacket.
“Everyone in the world should experience the feeling of freedom, and you get it on the open road,” he says. “Welcome to my world. Come along for the ride.”
According to a news release from February, Ventura’s show will tackle “both the current news agenda and deeper issues such as government hypocrisy and corporate deception, with Jesse’s distinctive take on stories sidelined by the mainstream media.”
“I am working for the enemy of mainstream media now,” Ventura told the Star Tribune.
The RT news release said Ventura will conduct in-depth interviews and “reporting from the field” with his “uncensored, bold and bare-knuckled approach.”
“What you will hear from me is opinions, not agendas,” Ventura said in a statement. “I look forward to holding our government accountable. I will be exercising my First Amendment rights with no filters.”
Ventura previously hosted a different talk show, “Off the Grid,” for Ora TV, an online channel. But last year his new bosses demanded he take a pay cut, the Star Tribune reported, so instead he signed a contract with RT. He’ll do 16 shows in 2017 and 16 more in 2018, according to the Star Tribune.
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