UK & World News

  • 7 March 2014, 12:03

TV Presenter Defends On-Air Resignation

The presenter at Moscow-backed TV station Russia Today who quit her job live on air has told Sky News she was not willing to be "Putin's mouthpiece" in the US.

Liz Wahl, a US anchor for Russia Today America, told viewers during her last broadcast that the channel was guilty of "whitewashing the actions" of President Vladimir Putin.

The dramatic resignation came after Russian troops entered Crimea following months of pro-European protests that sawUkrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ousted.

Speaking to Sky's Dominic Waghorn, Ms Wahl said the TV channel's reporting of the crisis had been dishonest, and that she chose to take a stand.

"It was kind of spontaneous. I'd decided on that day that for me, in my mind, a red line had been drawn," she said.

"Covering this crisis in Crimea, I've seen censorship there and really RT being used as a propaganda tool to promote the Putin world view.

"I think when I started working there I thought it was an opportunity ... I did not, however, think that his (Putin's) foreign policy agenda would be pushed and used in a newscast.

"When they offered me the job they certainly didn't sell it in a way that I would be Putin's mouthpiece. But as this crisis escalates, I see that this is what it is."

Ms Wahl's grandparents fled to the US as refugees during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution to escape the Soviet Union.

She said she was nervous about resigning live on air.

"(But) I knew that I had to do it ... Eventually, you have to draw a red line."

In a statement on Ms Wahl'sresignation, Russia Today accused the presenter of a "self-promotional stunt".

"When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organisation, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor, and, if they cannot be resolved, to quit like a professional," the statement said.

"But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt."

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