On Monday night, Abby Martin, a host on the English-language and generally pro-government Russia Today, tore Russia a new orifice over its actions in Crimea:
Interestingly, unlike Peter Arnett or Phil Donahue, who were fired by NBC and MSNBC, respectively, for voicing concerns about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, she appears as of this writing to have suffered no repercussions.
The point is not that the Russian government is better than American corporations. For all we know, by tomorrow she could’ve been taken out back and shot.
But it is interesting that she is calling out her own employer’s government for arguably illegal action in real time and, indeed, when there might still be time to stave off further bad acting by Russia (and, yes, Vladimir Putin is a bad actor). When Arnett, who pulled huge audiences for CNN during the first Gulf War in 1991, and Donahue attempted to do more or less the same thing before and soon after the start of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in contrast, they were fired — Donahue even before hostilities with Iraq commenced, because the network was thinking about how to broaden its audience in an anticipated “time of war.” At the time, national support for invading Iraq was somewhere in the 50-50 range, but you never would have known it to watch the MSM.
So are journalists for Russian outlets braver than journalists for U.S. ones? Are the outlets themselves braver? It’s impossible to say on the basis of a single case. But it’s an interesting case.
The bigger picture, I think, is that since Watergate, U.S. journalism has hesitated to take on the government on substantive policy issues (no, Bill Clinton’s penis was not a “substantive policy issue”) even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the government was acting out — in Iran-Contra, bank deregulation, and the numerous international and domestic crimes and violations of the Constitution undertaken after 9/11. That won’t end well, for journalism or the country.
(h/t: The Intercept)
UPDATE, 3/5/2014: She quit. On live TV.