TV anchor and journalist Liz Wahl with the Kremlin-funded RT America network, which has long been accused by critics of promoting Russian government propaganda, sparked a media firestorm on March 5 after announcing her resignation on air during her live show. Among other concerns, Wahl, citing her own family’s escape from Soviet terror to find refuge in the United States, said she could not be part of a network that is funded by the Russian government and “whitewashes” the actions of former KGB man and current president Vladimir Putin.
RT and some critics of the move suggested Wahl was engaged in a self-promoting publicity “stunt” following the international attention showered on another journalist for the network, Abby Martin, who spoke out on air about her strong disagreements with the Russian government’s policies in Ukraine. Across much of the U.S. establishment media, however, which has also been blasted by critics and even former reporters as largely propaganda, Wahl is being celebrated as a sort of hero for her decision.
“I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government, that whitewashes the actions of Putin,” Wahl told viewers in announcing her resignation. “As a reporter on this network, I face many ethical and moral challenges, especially me personally. My grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet forces.... I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I am resigning.”
Since her departure, the former RT journalist has become even more vocal, lambasting her ex-employer in a series of media interviews. In a segment with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, for example, Wahl said she decided to resign from Kremlin-funded outlet amid the crisis in Ukraine because “the propagandist nature of RT came out in full force.” She also cited an interview she did with non-interventionist champion Ron Paul in which a key question and answer were cut out by RT.
“RT is not about the truth,” Wahl told CNN, which has also come under fire, especially recently with Piers Morgan’s hysterical anti-gun rights tirades, as a propaganda organ for the establishment. “It’s about promoting a Putinist agenda, and I can tell you first hand, it’s also about bashing America.” She cited widespread “self-censorship” at the network, formerly known as Russia Today, as employees seek to please the Russian management. Moscow, which funds the operation, is “calling the shots,” Wahl added.
In a separate interview with the “Daily Beast,” an establishment leftist website that took over from the bankrupt propaganda outlet Newsweek, Wahl had even harsher words to offer about RT. “It actually makes me feel sick that I worked there,” she “exclusively” told the website. “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… In order to succeed there you don’t question.”
RT, however, saw the matter much differently, according to a statement released shortly after the high-profile resignation. The day before Wahl’s resignation, the statement said, another RT anchor, Abby Martin, who despite her employer has gained a reputation in the alternative media as a credible journalist covering stories that much of the U.S. establishment press ignores, publicly slammed what she described as Putin’s meddling in Ukraine. “I can't say enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign nation's affairs,” she told her viewers. “What Russia did is wrong.”
Wahl resigned on the heels of Martin’s recent comments and assertion of “editorial independence,” RT said in its statement. “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,” the network continued. “For years, Ms. Martin has been speaking out against US 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,” RT’s statement about the resignation continued. “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.”
While Wahl’s high-profile resignation has been widely celebrated by the American establishment media, she is hardly the only journalist to quit a media job and publicly blast her former employer as a propaganda outlet. In fact, in recent years, at least several American reporters — one from CNN, another from the New York Times, and two from Fox — have openly slammed their ex-bosses for serving as establishment and government mouthpieces as well.
Ironically, in an explosive 2012 interview with RT, former New York Times foreign correspondent Daniel Simpson lambasted the newspaper as a “propaganda megaphone” to peddle the establishment’s narrative — especially when it comes to war. “It seemed pretty glaringly obvious to me that the 'news fit to print' was pretty much the news that's fit to serve the powerful,” he said, citing the warmongering over Iraq as an example. “The way that the paper's senior staff think is exactly like those in power — in fact, it's their job to become their friends.”
Also ironically, perhaps, the Times served as one of mass-murderer Joseph Stalin’s most important enablers while his communist regime was deliberately exterminating millions of Ukrainians. Pulitzer Prize-winning “journalist” Walter Duranty, who served as the chief correspondent in Moscow, was among the Times’ propagandists who played a key role in concealing what countless historians today refer to as the Soviet dictatorship’s “genocide” via starvation in Ukraine. Plenty of other savage tyrants have benefited from the paper's “reporting,” too.
CNN, meanwhile, founded by population-control and global-governance fanatic Ted Turner, has also faced major criticism from its own reporters for covering up the truth. Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon, for example, exposed routine censorship at the Cable “News” Network and accused her employer of “making me put what I knew to be government lies into my reporting.” She also said the network’s pseudo-reporting is affected by taxpayer funds it receives from foreign dictatorships.
Former reporters at Fox News and other media outlets have made similar accusations against their ex-employers. The Washington Post, meanwhile, is still under fire for failing to disclose its new owner’s (Jeff Bezos) $600 million contract with the CIA. Indeed, the problems in the U.S. establishment press are systemic, with the largest media companies largely controlled by just a handful of establishment mega-corporations. The public, though, is catching on: Less than one fourth of Americans trust TV news programs and surveys show that almost two thirds of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news.
The so-called “mainstream” media — hardly an accurate term considering how discredited and far outside the American mainstream the establishment press has become — is celebrating Wahl’s resignation from RT. Indeed, the Kremlin-funded broadcaster is increasingly viewed with suspicion even among leaders in the “alternative” media, and for good reason. However, the fact remains that RT is hardly alone in parroting propaganda. And Putin, despite his posturing, remains largely committed to the same goals pushed by the Western establishment: less freedom, global governance, and deception.
Photo at top: Screen-grab of announcing her resignation during her live show
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. He can be reached at