An American news anchor working in the Washington DC bureau of the Russian Government owned Russia Today network stunned viewers on Wednesday with an on-air resignation after blasting the network's coverage of Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine invasion.
Liz Wahl ended her Wednesday 5pm broadcast with this statement:
Last night RT made international headlines when one of our anchors went on the record and said the Russian intervention in Crimea was wrong. And indeed as a reporter on this network I face many ethical and moral challenges especially me personally coming from a family whose grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet forces. I have family on the opposite side, on my mother's side that sees the daily grind of poverty and I’m very lucky to have grown up here in the United States. I’m the daughter of a veteran. My partner is a physician at a military base where he sees every day the first-hand accounts of the ultimate prices that people pay for this country. And that is why personally I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian Government that whitewashes the actions of Putin. I am proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth and that is why after this newscast I’m resigning.
In a statement to BuzzFeed, RT America called Wahl’s move a “self-promotional stunt.”
Ms. Wahl’s resignation comes on the heels of her colleague Abby Martin’s recent comments in which she voiced her disagreement with certain policies of the Russian government and asserted her editorial independence. The difference is, Ms. Martin spoke in the context of her own talk show, to the viewers who have been tuning in for years to hear her opinions on current events, the opinions that most media did not care about until two days ago. For years Ms. Martin has been speaking out against U.S. military intervention only to be ignored by the mainstream news outlets — but with that one comment, branded as an act of defiance, she became an overnight sensation. It is a tempting example to follow.
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. But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt.
We wish Liz the best of luck on her chosen path.
On Tuesday, RT anchor Abby Martin denounced Putin's invasion of Crimea saying, "I can't say enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign nation's affairs. What Russia did is wrong."