When Anchors Go Off Script at RT
The Cold War is back. The Evil Empire has risen. And the very epitome of evil, that mad dictator Putin, stands poised with a dagger aimed at the heart of Europe. It’s thus once again time to pick sides: either you stand with the freedom-loving democrats in Ukraine yearning for a piece of that neoliberal European utopia, or you stand with the tyrant in Moscow.
Of course, there was never any doubting just which side the respectable U.S. press was to come down on. But that’s to be expected, for the newshounds of the fourth estate have always prided themselves on their ability to sniff out just when to mount an attack on behalf of Uncle Sam. As Dan Rather once stated, “I want to be a patriotic American without apology.” And with the Red Army—er, the Russian Army—on the march toward central Europe, patriotic journalism demands nothing less than a frontal assault on the Russian barbarians.
Accordingly, any American consuming mainstream news in the past week has been subjected to a universal onslaught of naked Russophobia. In fact, a regular consumer of the American media would be forgiven if they were to wonder just why it is the evil Russians hate us so much. It’s probably for our freedoms, she would no doubt soon conclude.
Amid all the Putin as Hitler howls ricocheting through the echo chamber, RT, the Kremlin-owned English language news channel,[*] has come to find itself a favorite target of scorn form the frothing American press. The network’s unabashedly pro-Russian editorial line (RT stands for Russia Today, after all) has been ceaselessly and mercilessly mocked by the American media. How ridiculous, the professional scribes in the U.S. opine, for a news organization to openly shill for a state illegally violating the sovereignty of a neighboring country. I mean, who has ever seen such a thing?
It was to the great joy of the patriotic U.S. media, then, to see two anchors on RT buck the Kremlin line live on-air. It was like watching Ronald Reagan personally tear down that Berlin wall all over again!
First, there was American reporter Abby Martin, host of RT’s “Breaking the Set,” who declared on-air that the Russian intervention into the Crimea was “wrong.” Martin, needless to say, was instantly celebrated as a hero by the horde of simpletons in the American media. See, Putin really is evil, and here’s confirmation from no less of a source than his own network!
Alas, Martin’s heroism was to be short-lived; for it was soon realized that Martin was as equally opposed to U.S. interventions as well. This, despite the fact that American interventions (what those propagandists at RT call “wars”) have always been undertaken for the most noblest of reasons: to protect civilians, to spread democracy, etc. Anyway, Martin’s apparent unorthodoxy certainly disqualified her from true hero status. Patriot she is not.
But then the second RT anchor went off script.
In a dramatic on-air resignation coming on the heels of Martin’s own on-air stand, RT anchor Liz Wahl decried her network for “whitewashing” Putin’s crimes in Crimea. And, importantly, she went on to declare, “I’m proud to be American and believe in disseminating the truth.” But since when have proud Americans cared about the truth? No matter, I suppose, as Wahl was to later explain, she really jumped the RT ship because we are “approaching possibly a new Cold War.” Indeed, time to come in from the cold then, and nestle up nice and tight with the good ‘ol US of A like any good objective reporter. Now that sounds more like a patriot!
Little surprise, then, that Ms. Wahl was quickly interviewed by the Daily Beast and soon thereafter popped up on both CNN and MSNBC. Wahl’s television appearances offered up quite the spectacle, of course, as a self-confessed pro-Putin propagandist took to the corporate airwaves to repent in front of none other than two Washington shills: Anderson Cooper and Lawrence O’Donnell. As if we all hadn’t been subjected to enough shaming of so-called Russian propagandists by our gang of corporate hacks masquerading as reporters.
Wahl certainly didn’t disappoint, though, delivering the goods her patriotic hosts were seeking, as she lambasted RT for being “hostile to the West.” Just so typical, the average U.S. viewer must have thought, for those philistines in Moscow are always just so nasty to all of us here in the civilized West. They really do hate our freedom.
Unlike the hero turned once again controversial figure Martin, Wahl will likely come to soon find gainful employment in the respectable U.S. press. She just gets it. U.S.-Russia relations may have been reset in 2009, but as no less a figure than Lenin noted, such alliances represent “nothing more than a ‘truce’ in periods between wars.” And the truce appears over. Time to hate Russia again. And time for American journalists to let the hate carry them back home. After all, either you’re an objective journalist, or you’re a propagandist for a dictator.
The Cold War lives.
Ben Schreiner is a writer living in Oregon. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
[*] Full disclosure: I’ve appeared as a guest on RT.