RT anchor Abby Martin, who hosts the Breaking The Set program on the Kremlin-sponsored network’s RT America outlet, blasted the Russian government on the air Monday, condemning the country’s military action in the Ukraine.
RT is the common name for Russia Today, a news organization started by the Russian government in 2005. The RT channel, now carried on over 500 cable and satellite networks around the world in a variety of languages, has been accused of simply being a propaganda arm of the Russian government, but that did not deter Abby Martin.
The 29-year-old founder of the “citizen journalism project” Mediaroots.org used the final 90 seconds of Mondays’ Breaking the Set to lambaste the Russian government, her own employers.
“Just because I work here for RT doesn’t mean I don’t have editorial independence, and I can’t stress enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign nation’s affairs,” Martin told her viewers. “What Russia did is wrong. I admittedly don’t know as much as I should about Ukraine’s history or the cultural dynamics of the region, but what I do know is that military intervention is never the answer. I will not sit here and apologize or defend military aggression.”
Being an American citizen working in America, Abby Martin could be pretty sure she wasn’t going to shipped off to a Russian gulag, as happened to members of the Russian punk-protest group Pussy Riot. But would she keep her job after the diatribe against her RT bosses?
RT brass issued a statement after Martin made hers on the air, assuring her viewing public that she was in no danger.
“Contrary to the popular opinion, RT doesn’t beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air,” the RT statement read. “This is the case with Abby’s commentary on the Ukraine. We respect her views, and the views of all our journalists, presenters and program hosts, and there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin.”
Also on Monday, the Buzzfeed site assembled one of its signature “listicles” detailing the ways RT had slanted its coverage of the Ukrainian crisis. For example, the station described Russian troops who had made an incursion into Crimea as, “a stabilizing force for Ukraine.” The channel also described “the interests of the Ukrainian people” as a “top priority” for the Russian troops who occupied parts of Crimea.
In another segments that ran repeatedly throughout the day RT reported that a Ukrainian nationalist group that backed the country’s new government was seeking alliance with a known Chechen terrorist.
“Basically, Saturday’s takeaway,” as Buzzfeed described the RT editorial position. “Russia is just protecting Russians.”