An American anchor for RT has resigned live on air in protest of the Russian state-owned TV network's coverage of ongoing events in Ukraine. Invoking her family's background as refugees during the 1950s revolution in Soviet-controlled Hungary, Liz Wahl used a news broadcast to speak out against RT, saying she faced "many ethical and moral challenges" as a reporter for the station, which was previously known as Russia Today.
"I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth."
"I'm very lucky to have grown up here in the United States," said Wahl. "I'm the daughter of a veteran; my partner is a physician at a military base where he sees every day the firsthand 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'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I'm resigning."
Wahl told The Daily Beast that the Kremlin exerts a subtle influence over RT, with management repeatedly censuring reporters that stray from the official narrative. "In order to succeed there you don’t question," she said. RT hit back in a statement to The New York Times, calling Wahl's resignation "nothing more than a self-promotional stunt" and saying that she should have addressed concerns with an editor or "quit like a professional."
Another American RT anchor, Abby Martin, went similarly off-message earlier in the week, saying: "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 military intervention in sovereign nations' affairs. What Russia did is wrong." RT tried to use the controversial Martin, whose show Breaking the Set is pitched as "cutting through the prewritten narrative that tries to tell you what to think," as proof of the network's authenticity.
"Contrary to the 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," RT told The Huffington Post. "This is the case with Abby’s commentary on the Ukraine. We respect her views, and the views of all our journalists, presenters, and program hosts, and there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin." RT said it would be sending Martin to Crimea to let her make up her own mind about the conflict, which the anchor later denied.