Media critic

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via Associated Pewaa)

As this blog reported last week, Andrew Feinberg is out as the White House correspondent for the pro-Russia news outlet Sputnik. Disagreements over coverage topics, said Feinberg, drove both sides to terminate the relationship, which started in January. Editors at the outlet, he said, sought distorted pieces on hot-button issues in U.S.-Russia relations, such as the use of chemical weapons by Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, the killing of Democratic National Committee aide Seth Rich and others. “I was ready to go. They were ready with a termination letter. They were faster on the draw,” he told the Erik Wemple Blog.

Now Sputnik has sent a response to inquiries that we sent Friday:

Сollaboration with Mr.Feinberg has been terminated as of 05/26. We would like to extend our gratitude to Mr. Feinberg for passion he demonstrated at the beginning of his career at Sputnik. Unfortunately, as high as it was this passion did not convert into the same level of professional journalism and the amount of exclusive stories that our clients and readers are looking for. He started on a merry note, and ended on a sad one. Thus, we are doubly saddened by false accusations spread by Mr. Feinberg and hope that the fruits of his rich imagination would not create more conspiracy theories around Sputnik.

That, from the “Sputnik Press Office.”

“This is interesting,” said Feinberg about the statement, noting that he’d never been “reprimanded” or “cautioned” regarding his work product. Just days before the separation, Feinberg played a starring role in a piece by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who noted the irony of a correspondent for a Russian propaganda mill pressing Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney on the fine points of the administration’s spending plan. Feinberg “took the job because it was a paying gig,” Milbank reported him as having explained.

“That wasn’t what they were upset about,” Feinberg told this blog, noting that Sputnik didn’t want its correspondents to have a public profile.

On Thursday afternoon, Feinberg wrote this tweet:

Asked about that salvo, Feinberg said it wasn’t part of a job search. “That was me defending the place for hiring me,” he says, also noting, “I’m still grateful that they were willing to hire me.”