An anchor for the Russian-owned television network RT America resigned live on the air Wednesday, saying she couldn’t be "part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions" of President Vladimir Putin.
"I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I am resigning," Liz Wahl told viewers.
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The Washington, D.C.-based Wahl began her announcement by citing the Tuesday broadcast of fellow RT anchor Abby Martin, who forcefully denounced Russia’s actions in Crimea at the end of her "Breaking the Set" program.
"Just because I work here, for RT, doesn't mean I don't have editorial independence," Martin said.
"What Russia did is wrong…. I will not sit here and apologize or defend military aggression."
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Wahl agreed with Martin, further adding that "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. "
She then announced that she was leaving the network, formerly known as Russia Today.
Before Wahl’s resignation, the National Journal
conducted an email exchange with RT’s Moscow press office on Martin’s strong denunciation of Russia’s actions on a Russian-government-owned network.
"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. This is the case with Abby's commentary on the Ukraine," the Moscow office said.
"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."
The Moscow office said RT would be giving Martin the chance to witness the situation in Crimea first-hand.
"In her comment Ms. Martin also noted that she does not possess a deep knowledge of 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."
When asked by the National Journal to respond to charges RT is a propaganda organ of the Russian government, the Moscow office made a bold announcement of its own.
"The charges of propaganda tend to pop up every time a news outlet, particularly RT, dares to show the side of events that does not fit the mainstream narrative, regardless of the realities on the ground. This happened in Georgia, this is happening in Ukraine," the office said.
"Some of the most striking facts about the actions of the opposition, such as its extreme right wing and anti-Semitic leanings, were being glazed over by most of the Western press. The fact that the protesters were receiving significant aid from abroad in violation of Ukrainian sovereignty was also ignored. Ditto how violent the protesters were, how they attacked the security personnel and refused injured policemen access to medical aid," the email continued.
"No, the story across the Western mainstream media was all about peaceful, democracy-loving opposition being brutalized by the police. This was simply not the case, and it is our duty to show the truth on the ground."
As for that trip to Crimea, Martin posted a tweet on her Twitter account saying that will not be happening.
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