What's the point of having a government-funded propaganda network if your journalists refuse to accept the party line?
That's a question Russian President Vladimir Putin is probably asking himself right about now. On Wednesday, Liz Wahl, an anchor for the Kremlin-funded RT network, resigned on air to protest Russia's invasion of Crimea. "Personally I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government which whitewashes the actions of Putin," Wahl said on air.
The full video of her resignation is here:
In reporting on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, RT has dutifully repeated Moscow's propaganda, arguing that its military actions in Crimea come in response to the repression ethnic Russians face on the peninsula. In the network's view, Russia's intervention in Ukraine constitutes a legitimate response to the borderline fascism of the revolutionary government in Kiev, which last month deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. (Just have a look at the chyron displayed during Wahl's resignation: "Ultra-nationalists take center stage during Ukraine crisis.")
But this was apparently too much for Wahl, who cited her own family's persecution at the hands of the former Soviet Union in saying that she could no longer work for a network funded by and supportive of the Russian government. "My grandparents came to here as refugees during the Hungarian Revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet Union," Wahl said.
Wahl is the second RT journalist in recent days to flout the network's editorial line on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. On Monday, Abby Martin, a presenter on the network, denounced Russia's actions in Ukraine. "Just because I work here for RT doesn't mean I don't have editorial independence, and I can't stress enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign nation's affairs," Martin said. "What Russia did is wrong."