Nation & World News

U.S. Anchor For Russian TV Quits, Says Network ‘Whitewashes’ Crimea

By Scott Neuman on March 6th, 2014

An American host for the Kremlin-backed Russia Today television has quit on air, announcing from the channel’s Washington, D.C., anchor desk that she doesn’t want to be “part of a network … that whitewashes the actions of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

Liz Wahl announced her resignation on Wednesday, saying Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula is wrong and that she feels “very lucky to have grown up in the United States.”

“As a reporter on this network, I face many ethical and moral challenges,” she said. “Especially me, whose family … my grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet forces,” Wahl said.

“I believe in disseminating the truth and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning,” she said.

Wahl is the second RT America anchor to make on-air waves over the Ukraine crisis in recent days. As we reported on Tuesday, host Abby Martin also filed an impromptu op-ed at the end of her Breaking the Set program, decrying Russia’s “intervention in a sovereign nation’s affairs.”

Following the incident with Martin, the network said it would send her to Crimea to “make up her own mind” about the situation there. Later, she announced on social media that she wasn’t going to Crimea after all, but didn’t say whether that was by mutual agreement with her employer.

Wahl, speaking with The Daily Beast after her resignation at RT, said: “It actually makes me feel sick that I worked there.”

The website says:

“She had been planning this move for some time. ‘When I came on board from the beginning I knew what I was getting into, but I think I was more cautious and tried to stay as objective as I could,’ she said, explaining that she was repeatedly censured by her superiors.

“The Kremlin’s influence over RT is subtle, Wahl said, but management manipulates its employees, punishing those who stray from the narrative. ‘In order to succeed there you don’t question,’ Wahl explained.”

Update at 6:00 p.m. ET: RT America Responds

In a statement issued Thursday, RT America said:

“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,” the statement read in part, adding “We wish Liz the best of luck on her chosen path.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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