RT Anchor Liz Wahl Resigns On-Air, Cites Kremlin-Funded Network’s Pro-Putin ‘Whitewashing’
Two days after one of her colleagues criticized Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, RT anchor Liz Wahl resigned on-air, citing the Kremlin-funded network’s “whitewashing” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions.
Wahl, who like fellow RT (formerly Russia Today) host Abby Martin is American, resigned during a Wednesday broadcast.
“Last night RT made international headlines when one of our anchors went on the record and said Russian intervention in Crimea is wrong,” Wahl began, looking unhappily into the camera. “And indeed, as a reporter on this network I face many ethical and moral challenges, especially me personally… My grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape Soviet forces.”
“I’m very luck to have grown up here in the United States,” Wahl continued. “I’m the daughter of a veteran. My partner is a physician at a military base where he sees every day… the ultimate prices people pay for this country. And that is why personally I cannot be a 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.”
Following her resignation, Wahl spoke with the Daily Beast about her reasons for quitting. She said that she first reached out to the Daily Beast’s James Kirchick last August after he appeared on RT and launched into his own on-air protest of Russia’s draconian anti-gay law. Wahl said she felt morally compromised, but was not quite ready to call it quits.
“I think management is able to manipulate the very young and naïve employees,” said Wahl. “They will find ways to punish you covertly and reward those who do go along with their narrative. In order to succeed there you don’t question… In a way you kind of suppress any concerns that you have and play the game.”
Wahl added that although many Americans work at RT America, Russians are “definitely at the top.”
“It actually makes me feel sick that I worked there,” lamented Wahl. “It’s not a sound news organization, not when your agenda is making America look bad.”
On Monday, former RT host Abby Martin blasted Russia’s “state intervention” in Ukraine, asserting that “military intervention is never the answer.”
RT, which is funded by the Russian government, has been criticized for disseminating pro-Putin, pro-Russian “propaganda.” But the network, which broadcasts in multiple languages and offers RT America for US viewers, has also gained a reputation as a counterbalance to US corporate media outlets. Renowned investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is also American, responded to Martin’s act of on-air dissent by asking if “there was even one single US television host who said anything comparable to this in the lead-up, or early stages of, the US invasion of Iraq?”
RT America issued a statement claiming Wahl’s departure was a publicity stunt.
“When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organization, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor, and, if they cannot be resolved, to quit like a professional,” the statement read. “But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt.”