Moral Low Ground


RT Anchor Abby Martin Criticizes Russia’s Ukraine Intervention

A news anchor for Russia’s state-funded international news network has raised eyebrows following her on-air criticism of Moscow’s intervention in neighboring Ukraine.

RT (formerly Russia Today) anchor Abby Martin, host of “Breaking the Set,” broke with Moscow’s talking points on Monday when she turned to the camera just before the end of the program to “say something from her heart about the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s military occupation of Crimea.”

Said Martin:

“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. What Russia did is wrong. I admittedly don’t know as much as I should about Ukraine’s history or the cultural dynamics of the region, but what I do know is that military intervention is never the answer and I will not sit here and apologize or defend military intervention.

Furthermore, the coverage I’ve seen of Ukraine has been truly disappointing from all sides of the media spectrum and rife with disinformation. Above all, my heart goes out to the Ukrainian people, who are now wedged as pawns in the middle of a global power chess game. They’re the real losers here. All we can do now is hope for a peaceful outcome to a terrible situation and prevent another full-blown Cold War between multiple superpowers. Until then, I’ll keep telling the truth as I see it.”

RT, which is funded by the Russian government, has been blasted for its “shameless pro-Putin propaganda.” But since debuting English-language broadcasts and RT America, the network has gained something of a reputation as a counterbalance to US corporate mainstream media news outlets, which are widely viewed as mouthpieces of the ruling elite.

Displays such as Martin’s may be a rare occurrence on RT, but renowned investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald noted that such dissent was nearly non-existent in the US corporate mainstream media in the run-up to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

“Was there even a single US television host who said anything comparable to this in the lead-up, or the early stages of, the US invasion of Iraq?” Greenwald asked.

Huffington Post reports RT has responded to the publicity generated by Martin’s commentary.

“Contrary to popular opinion, RT doesn’t beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private, but on the air,” the network said in a statement.

“This is the case with Abby’s comments on the Ukraine,” the statement continued. “We respect her views… and there will be absolutely no reprimands made against [her]. In her comment, Ms. Martin also noted that she does not possess a deep knowledge of the reality of the situation in Crimea. As such, we’ll be sending her to Crimea to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicenter of the story.”

Martin, who resides in Washington, DC, is also an accomplished artist. An exhibition of her work titled “Psychedelic Earth” will be on display in San Francisco on March 15.

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