David R. Henderson  

Media Bias: RT May Have Less Than I Thought

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Like many Americans, I have been skeptical about RT, the TV network, previously called "Russia Today," that is funded by the Russian government. That didn't stop me from going on the network because I don't have a policy of going only on stations I agree with. If I had such a policy, I would never do any media work. For that reason, I did this show a couple of years ago.

So, if you had asked me to predict whether anyone critical of the Russian government's invasion of Crimea would be given a chance to state his or her views, I would have put a low probability on that. I would have put an even lower probability on the dissenter being one of the regular employees of RT.

Nevertheless, that's just what happened yesterday. Check out Abby Martin's strong criticism of the Russian invasion.

Again, I carry no brief for RT. I'll always be skeptical of any network funded by a government and I'll be especially of a network funded by a government run by Vladimir Putin.

But then I think back to how much evidence there was, even before the U.S. government's March 2003 invasion of Iraq, against the idea that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I also think back to my argument, before the invasion, that even if he had WMD, he was not a threat to the United States. Yet I can't think of one regular employee of any U.S. network who made such a strong statement, on his/her own network, against the U.S. invasion. Also, I can't think of any regular employee of a U.S. network who came out so strongly against the U.S. government's attack on Panama. Can any readers cite such a person?

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COMMENTS (7 to date)
Tom Lee writes:

RT tends to have a liberal bias, but sometimes features prominent libertarians, including Lew Rockwell. I agree with David's observation here.

She's been sent to a Crimean re-education camp, according to The Telegraph.

A TV presenter working for a Kremlin-funded channel who spoke out against Russia's military invasion in Ukraine live on air has been sent by the broadcaster to Crimea to "better her knowledge" of the situation.

gwern writes:

Patrick: I was going to comment 'the real test is what happens to her', but I guess events have preempted my criticism...

> Miss Martin however told the Telegraph: "I am not going to Crimea despite the statement RT has made."

Looks like Miss Martin's tenure with RT has come to a predictably abrupt end.

Richard Besserer writes:

So apparently (claims the New Republic) Miss Martin was a leader of Occupy Oakland and a 9/11 conspiracy theory group before being recruited by RT, who presumably thought they were getting a knee-jerk anti-American. Even Miss Martin didn't think she and RT were a good match at first. Looks like her fears were confirmed at breakneck speed.

And she is not wrong about Crimea, at least. Not at all.

But yeah, Miss Martin's career as a journalist is over. Tony Ortega of Rolling Stone, a publication not famous for toeing any administration line, claimed in a tweet that "[if] Abby Martin talks herself out of a job at RT, no one else is going to hire a truther." For better or worse, he might have a point.

Richard Besserer writes:


Abby Martin remains at RT, though she did not accept the Crimea assignment (no word on whether the offer was serious).

Another RT America anchor, Liz Wahl, did resign last night in protest of Russia's Crimean operation, serving notice to quit to viewers at the end of her newscast. The interested reader can find her on-air resignation on RT's YouTube feed and make of it what he will.

enoriverbend writes:
Yet I can't think of one regular employee of any U.S. network who made such a strong statement, on his/her own network, against the U.S. invasion.

These two come close enough to be considered:

Peter Arnette, fired by NBC for his comments regarding his comments during an interview by Iraqi TV (!) rather than on NBC. But his prior statements and coverage on NBC had already been objected to in certain quarters, so this may have just been the final straw.

Phil Donahue, a man I have hardly ever complimented for any reason, spoke out enough to get fired by MSNBC.

I would not include Brian Walski or Geraldo Rivera, since their firings were for what I regard as misbehavior rather than just opposition.

David R. Henderson writes:

Thanks. Interesting that they got fired.

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