Ukraine and Russia: the perceptions and the reality (2)
Have you ever heard of Liz Wahl? Or Sara Firth? How about Abby Martin? And what do they have to do with Russia’s information campaign in Ukraine?
The first two are journalists who resigned from the Moscow-funded Russia Today television channel. They said they could no longer work for a channel that unashamedly twisted stories to fit the Kremlin line.
Wahl resigned on air in March, stating that she could no longer be ‘part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin’. The channel had taken a particularly pro-Yanukovich line during the Maidan protests in Kiev, blaming protestors (or fascists as they were dubbed) for the ensuing deaths.
Firth resigned a few months later following RT’s coverage of the MH17 disaster when a civilian airplane was shot out of the sky, possibly by Russian-backed rebels. ‘I couldn’t do it anymore, we’re lying every single day,’ she said after resigning.
And what of the third name - Abby Martin? Some would say she is the star of the RT network. And in March, she finished her show by saying ‘What Russia did is wrong’ referring to events in Crimea. Within an hour, RT said she was being reassigned to cover the conflict in the Crimea. She refused to go and continued her show from the US. But one has to wonder if she would have been afforded the same leniency if she were a low profile Russian RT journalist based in Russia.
All this to say that whoever prevents opposition loses credibility. One of the finest examples of speaking truth to power in my opinion is the UK Parliament. Nobody, especially the country’s leader, is given an easy time by opposition parliamentarians.
This basic foundation of democracy was best expressed by Evelyn Beatrice Hall when she famously wrote: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.’ Perhaps it’s an idea that could be introduced into editorial meetings at RT?