As a reminder, I would like to quote the Guardian‘s Rory Carroll, who earlier this month reported from Los Angeles that an “American anchor for the Kremlin-funded news channel RT has quit on air and accused the network of “whitewashing” Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea. Liz Wahl, a Washington-based correspondent for RT-America, part of the network formerly known as Russia Today, told viewers on Wednesday she was resigning because of its coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s actions in the Ukrainian region. Veering off script, Wahl said: “I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin. I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.” As the daughter of a military veteran and the wife of a military base physician the network’s coverage of a potentially explosive crisis presented ethical and moral dilemmas, she said. Wahl cited another RT host, Abby Martin, who made headlines on Tuesday [, 4 March] when she declared: “Russian intervention in the Crimea is wrong.” In a tweet she later called Martin “my girl” and commended her for going “spectacularly off-message”. Wahl, a self-described “Filipina-Hungarian-American”, also alluded to Moscow’s bloody intervention in Hungary in 1956. “Just spoke to grandparents who came to US as refugees escaping Soviets during Hungarian revolution. Amazing to hear amid new Cold War fears,” she tweeted”.
And now that the dust has somewhat settled, ‘RT’s Sam Sacks reports on . . . new developments . . . [in the case surrounding] ‘Liz Wahl’s [spectacular] on-air resignation from RT gained her praise across the mainstream media, but there are now questions being raised in a piece by Truthdig.com over her resignation. Alleging this a part of a neocon plan by the Foreign Policy Initiative and James Kirchick to demean Russia and discredit RT, the piece connects the dots between the affiliations that question Kirchick’s and others impartiality’.
On its dedicated website, the Foreign Policy Initiative states that the “United States–and its democratic allies–face many foreign policy challenges. They come from rising and resurgent powers, including China and Russia. They come from other autocracies that violate the rights of their citizens. They come from rogue states that work with each other in ways inimical to our interests and principles, and that sponsor terrorism and pursue weapons of mass destruction. They come from Al Qaeda and its affiliates who continue to plot attacks against the United States and our allies. They come from failed states that serve as havens for terrorists and criminals and spread instability to their neighbors. The United States faces these challenges while engaged in military operations across the globe, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The sacrifice of American lives and significant economic expenditure in these conflicts has led to warnings of U.S. strategic overreach, and calls for American retrenchment. There are those who hope we can just return to normalcy–to pre-9/11 levels of defense spending and pre-9/11 tactics. They argue for a retreat from America’s global commitments and a renewed focus on problems at home, an understandable if mistaken response to these difficult economic times. In fact, strategic overreach is not the problem and retrenchment is not the solution. The United States cannot afford to turn its back on its international commitments and allies–the allies that helped us defeat fascism and communism in the 20th century, and the alliances we have forged more recently, including with the newly liberated citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our economic difficulties will not be solved by retreat from the international arena. They will be made worse”.
RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan came out and wrote this in the aftermath of the Liz Wahl debacle: “These days it takes a lot of courage to work for RT. Never before have I seen RT and its journalists bullied like this. See for yourselves what they did to poor Abby. First, she openly voiced disagreement with Russia’s stance on air – and was virtually made an American hero. But then Abby reminded everyone how much she disagrees with America’s stance as well, adding she takes pride in working at RT, where she is free to express her views. Less than an hour passed before Abby had her name dragged through something I have difficulty finding a decent name for this late at night. The US mainstream media even went as far as claiming we had orchestrated the whole thing as a publicity move. They labelled Abby a conspiracy theorist, bringing to light her past as an activist. In less than 24 hours, they first sang her praises and then excoriated her. All of this in front of her colleagues, including Liz Wahl. How do you think they felt watching that? . . . This is all typical of a media war. We’re not the first and we will not be the last to go through this. During the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera staff in Lebanon made headlines by resigning en masse. Their Egyptian colleagues followed suit. Over twenty journalists resigned citing disagreement with the channel’s editorial line. That this happened without any pressure from the world mass media was due to the fact that, throughout the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera was completely in tune with the global mainstream. So no one sought to criticize the channel, on the contrary, everyone praised its coverage. A couple of minutes after Liz made her statement, we found all the major news media in the world – as our exhausted spokeswoman put it, “CNN, NYT, pretty much everyone” – glowing with schadenfreude, as they lined up for official feedback from RT. This included those who had ignored the news of the Ashton-Paet phone leak revelation, as if it didn’t happen. A rival media anchor’s resignation is certainly much more newsworthy and more relevant to the Ukraine crisis than two European leaders saying opposition henchmen may have been killing people”.
[1 Rory Caroll, “Russia Today news anchor Liz Wahl resigns live on air over Ukraine crisis” The Guardian (06 March 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/russia-today-anchor-liz-wahl-resigns-on-air-ukraine.
[3 Margarita Simonyan, “About Abby Martin, Liz Wahl and media wars” RT (06 March 2014). http://rt.com/op-edge/about-liz-wahl-media-wars-126/.