March 6, 2014
Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl resigns on-air. (NowThis News)

There’ll be no hunkering down by the leadership of RT (Russia Today) following the sudden and dramatic resignation of presenter Liz Wahl. In a much-discussed move, Wahl decided yesterday to call it quits right on RT’s air, saying, “I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. I’m proud of being an American and believe in disseminating the truth and that’s why after this newscast I’m resigning.”

RT later issued a statement comparing Wahl’s resignation to the flareup earlier in the week over presenter Abby Martin’s public disagreement with the position of RT, which is funded by the Kremlin. That statement said, in part: “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.”

And there’s yet more from official RT. Editor in Chief Margaret Simonyan has put out a longish essay standing up for RT, its position on the Russia-Ukraine issue and standing up for RT journalists everywhere. It starts this way:

These days it takes a lot of courage to work for RT. Never before have I seen RT and its journalists bullied like that. See for yourselves what they did to poor Abby. First she openly voiced her disagreement with Russia’s stance on air – and was virtually made into a hero of America. However, later Abby reminded everyone how much she disagrees with America’s stance as well, adding she takes pride in working at RT, where she is free to express her own views. Less than an hour passed before Abby had her name dragged through something I have difficulty finding a decent name for this late at night. The US mainstream media even went as far as claiming we had orchestrated the whole thing as a publicity move.

Simonyan also explained that she’d spent some time telling a correspondent from the New York Times why she thinks that Russia’s position on the Ukraine is the right one. “I’m Russian,” writes Simonyan. “I support my country and I will fight for the truth for as long as it takes. Neither Abby, nor Liz, nor some other employees – none of them are Russians. They are all foreign nationals. And now their country is likening my country to Nazi Germany.”

Then she draws out an RT vs. Rest-of-the-Media scenario: “And now we’ve got a genuine war going on – no, thank God, it’s not in the Crimea. It’s a media war. Every single day, every single hour the guys who work for us are told, ‘You are liars, you are no journalists, you are the Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece, you’ve sold yourselves to the Russians, it’s time you quit your job, and everybody is laughing at you, so change your mind before it’s too late.’”

There’s more. Have a look for yourself.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.