By Ran Aubrey Frazier
Originally published on Advocate.com March 06 2014 5:34 PM ET
Liz Wahl, an American anchor on Russia's Kremlin-backed television station RT, took a bold stance on the air yesterday, quitting her job in protest of Russia's intervention in Ukraine.
Recounting the story of her grandparents, who came to the United States as refugees escaping the Soviets during the Hungarian revolution, Wahl spoke passionately about the "many ethical and moral challenges" she faces as a reporter for the network.
She declared, "I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of [President Vladimir] Putin," before announcing that, following the newscast, she would be resigning.
Wahl's departure comes right on the heels of RT host Abby Martin's condemnation of Russia's actions during her own show, Breaking the Set. "Just because I work here for RT doesn't mean I don't have editorial independence," Martin said, "and I can't stress enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign nation's affairs. What Russia did is wrong."
Martin's and Wahl's pronouncements have traveled the international media landscape, in spite of Putin's best efforts to control news emerging from the nation. In the interest of tightening state control, Putin dissolved one of Russia's oldest state-run news agencies in December, and created a government-sanctioned multimedia venture called Rossiya Segodnya. At the helm of this new media entity, he appointed virulently homophobic Russian television anchor Dmitry Kiselyov, who has since been granted a presidential award for his humanitarianism.
Wahl spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper last night, telling him, "What's clear is what's happening right now amid this crisis is that RT is not about the truth. It's about promoting a Putinist agenda. And I can tell you firsthand, it's also about bashing America."
Today, RT issued a response to Wahl's on-air resignation, calling the incident "nothing more than a self-promotional stunt."
Watch her speaking with Cooper below.