Sara Firth quits RT over “lies”

Sara Firth quits RT over “lies” July 19, 2014

This is yet another case of a defector from RT, the Russian news media organisation. Liz Wahl recently quit over the Crimea conflict and demands on her journalistic integrity in the context of what management and Putin were demanding of the network and its conclusions:

Well, lightning does strike twice, this time hot on the heels of a Buk surface-to-air missile striking a civilian Malaysian Airlines plane carrying about 300 people. The sky rained bodies. The fact that simple militia men would not have been able to afford let alone properly operate such a military piece of kit goes to show that the Russian military are deeply involved in the goings on in Ukraine and are at least partially to blame for this horrific event.

The writing is on the wall as far as Putin is concerned. But, apparently, the more the West berates him, the more popular he becomes. It seems that no one has the guts to take them to task, for obvious reasons.

RT has had the opportunity to become a beacon of balance in the world of media. But that beacon has been extinguished by the demands of Putin and the media channel’s management. As such, the journalists themselves are starting to leave, it seems.

Here is The Blaze article on Sar Firth, the latest casualty to integrity:

 

Russia Today Correspondent Abruptly Quits Over Malaysian Crash Coverage and Levies Big Charge

A London-based correspondent for Russia Today resigned Friday over what she called the Kremlin-funded network’s “total disregard” of the facts surrounding Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines crash, saying RT is “spreading lies” for Vladimir Putin.

Sarah Firth (Image source: Twitter)

Sara Firth resigned from Russia Today. (Image source: Twitter)

Sara Firth said in her resignation announcement that while she has respect for “many on the team,” she’s “for the truth.”

Image source: Twitter

Image source: Twitter

Firth told BuzzFeed she believed RT was “disrespectfully” trying to blame the crash on the Ukrainian government.

“When this story broke I ran back into the newsroom and saw how we were covering it already and I just knew I had to go,” she said. “It was the total disregard to the facts. We threw up eyewitness accounts from someone on the ground openly accusing the Ukrainian government (of involvement in the disaster) and a correspondent in the studio pulled up a plane crash before that the Ukrainian government had been involved in and said it was ‘worth mentioning’.”

“It’s not worth mentioning. It’s RT all over, it’s flirting with that border of overtly lying. You’re not telling a lie, you’re just bringing something up. I didn’t want to watch a story like that where people have lost loved ones and we’re handling it like that,” she said. “I couldn’t do it any more, we’re lying every single day. Every single day we’re lying and finding sexier ways to do it.”

She added a quip on Twitter referring to RT’s “style guide”:

Image source: Twitter

Image source: Twitter

Firth’s resignation came about two hours after she said on Twitter that RT anchors “do work for Putin” and spread “lies” in a conversation with RT London correspondent Polly Boiko, theHuffington Post noted. Firth alleged that the network asks its anchors to “obscure the truth.”

Image source: Twitter

Image source: Twitter

RT made similar headlines in March when anchor Liz Wahl resigned live on air, saying she could not “be part of a network that is funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of (Vladimir) Putin.”

Firth said inexperienced RT staffers would be assigned to important stories so they wouldn’t veer away from the company line.

“The way it works with a story like this is first of all the people who are assigned are the very obedient. The second you start to question or report honestly then you’re a problem,” she told BuzzFeed. “The first thing that happens is they assign the usually least experienced in RT, the second is everyone else who’s involved [starts] phoning guests that have a particular viewpoint and are going to say a particular thing.”

More from BuzzFeed:

She insists she never lied in any of her reports but became concerned about the airtime given to her journalism and was concerned her reports were “lending credibility” to the channel’s other output. She alleges she was pulled out of Syria by channel bosses the day after filing a report highlighting the suffering of civilians in areas opposed to the Assad regime, which is backed by President Putin.

Firth said she had immense respect for her “talented” colleagues and said the vast majority of journalists at the channel were working hard to tell the truth but the management “ignore that and push the rubbish.”

“It’s great team, so talented. But at the heart of that organisation it’s rotten. Until they have people operating at the top level who want to tell the truth and tell the facts then it’s not going to change.”

Russia Today spokeswoman Anna Belkina said in a statement to TheBlaze that Firth had “recently informed us that she was likely to take an offer from another firm.”

“The plane crash is an absolutely terrible tragedy, there are a lot of questions that surround it and everybody is looking for answers. More than 15 RT journalists are working on this story – from Moscow, from the Russian-Ukrainian border, London, Berlin, Washington. RT Spanish journalist Francisco Guaita was one of the first TV correspondents to get to the scene late last night. Our reporters are in the Netherlands and Malaysia. Sara was never involved in reporting on this event,” Belkina said.

“Sara has declared that she chooses the truth; apparently we have different definitions of truth,” she continued. “We believe that truth is what our reporters see on the ground, with their own eyes, and not what’s printed in the morning London newspaper. In our coverage, RT, unlike the rest of the media, did not draw conclusions before the official investigation has even begun. We show all sides of the story, even if everyone else has already decided which side is to blame.”

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  • kraut2

    Not so fast with blaming Russia – the only Government that has to gain anything from this incident is the fascist supported Government of the Ukraine. It is a catastrophe for the militias and the Russian Government.

    As to the claim the militias had the BUK:

    http://en.itar-tass.com/world/741271

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-01-190714.html

    I value Escobar’s analysis definitely higher than the so called information of the combined propaganda mouthpieces of Nato (the US) – so called western media.

    I have followed his articles since the Iraq invasion, and found his analysis usually prescient and correct.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2014/07/19/the-downing-of-malaysian-airlines-flight-mh17-5-things-you-need-to-know/

    2) You should still be suspicious of the Ukrainian government, particularly its security services

    “Almost immediately after MH 17 went down, the Security Service of
    Ukraine (which is usually referred to by its Ukrainian abbreviation of
    SBU) released several YouTube
    clips of conversations between separatists in which they discuss the
    downing of a civilian airliner. These recordings quickly made the rounds
    on the internet and were approvingly shared by well-regarded
    journalists like Anne Applebaum.
    The simple fact, though, is that the SBU is a former part of the KGB
    and its claims should therefore be treated with extreme skepticism.
    Throughout the crisis the SBU has repeatedly made claims, for example it
    had captured “dozens” of Russian intelligence and military officers,
    that have proven to be untrue. Basically, given its history as an
    organization and its recent track record, you should extend to the SBU
    the same level of trust that you extent to the Russian FSB.”

    As I said – not so fast, I am actually disappointed that you so eagerly jump on the anti Russian bandwagon. Make no mistake – America wants to keep Russia contained, that policy has not changed since the cold war, and therefore Putin despite his undemocratic leanings and actions is still popular in Russia.

    As to the Ukrainian Government and the role of the extreme right (aka fascists) role in the so called revolution and in the new government:

    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/eus-acceptance-ukraines-radical-svoboda-party-shameful-301110

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/18/yes_there_are_bad_guys_in_the_ukrainian_government

    http://www.dw.de/far-right-weighs-on-ukraine-government/a-17519960

    https://thebluereview.org/after-ukrainian-elections-far-right/

    • I am skeptical of much, but Kraut2, I think you are wrong. And here is for why:

      We need to make a probabilistic analysis after finding out what we DO know:

      1) after this and a similar event, 3 high profile RT journalists have quit, claiming the channel lies and does Putin’s bidding

      2) the plane came down in rebel controlled area

      3) Ukraine has been more than happy to let journalists and crash investigators do there work

      4) Rebel militia and Russian authorities have been obstructing the above

      5) Ukrainian authorities would have hear squawking signals

      6) Rebels would not have had access to this with any likelihood
      7) Rebels and militia have starting destroying and upsetting the crash scene
      8) Rebel/militia Twitter tweets admitting shooting something down, which were then deleted

      9) Rebels have shot down 3 aircraft in this exact area over the last week – a high prior probability going on here

      And then claimed things which are less verifiable:

      10) Ukrainian intercepts of militia admitting shooting it down

      etc

      I trust this guy:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E6DyGqmFRs

      What it comes down to is probability, and to me, the probability of the rebels ding this is extraordinarily higher than that of the Ukrainians dong it.

      • Peter

        Why was this airliner flying 200 km north of it’s intended flight path? And why did Kiev air traffic control not warn it? The jury is still out on this but we’ll never know the truth. NATO and Russia know the “facts” but is anyone going to believe Putin after he’s been demonized by the West. Many questions, few answers.

  • Peter

    Does Ms. Firth think she can retain her journalistic integrity with the corporate owned MSM. The days of journalistic objectivity are long gone, you say what you’re told to say or shut up!.

    • One has to be totally suspect when the pro-Russian militia are bastardising the scene and causing mayhem for those who want to report or investigate it.

      Almost every single piece of evidence supports the rebels doing it (with their Russian support).

      Putin holds all of the keys for making sure the scence got investigated properly, and lo and behold, he does nothing to help. The Ukrainians are doing what they can to help, it seems.

      I think it is worth noting that this issue and the West vs Russia wrt Ukraine in the previous Crimea conflict are TWO SEPARATE events, and one should not carry over the anti-whoever stances from that mess into this one-off incident of mistaken identity.

      • Peter

        What does this comment have to do with Ms. Firth? The airline disaster is a separate story. But, even so, Kraut is right there are to many unanswered questions and we’re only getting one side of the story. Which has everything to do with journalistic objectively.

        • Either she quit for bona fide reasons or she has given up her job to try and smear RT. Considering this is the third person to have done this, what would you infer as the most probable explanation for her quitting?

          I was all for RT as presenting the other side of the story, but all too often you hear of their objectivity being overtly challenged. An
          d yes, other organisations have this too, though less from an actual government (I rail constantly against the Mail, Telegraph and Times, too, of course).

          Of course, there will always be more to it, I just think this is almost certainly the fault of the rebels in Ukraine. This is a costly mistake for them.

          • kraut2

            My main reason for being skeptical as to what NATO and its master the US claim, is that they are immensely invested in following the Brzezinski doctrin

            http://www.voltairenet.org/article30038.html

            In this context the incident becomes even more doubtful as to who might have been behind it.

            Yes, it is possible that the rebels made a bad mistake by taking down a plane they might have thought being a troop transporter, but it is amazing how well this incident plays into the plans of the US and it foreign policies towards Russia.

            Russia plays its game to escape the encirculating attempts by the west, and this makes it a fine target for western propaganda, who is always eager to play the card of the righteous west against the evil empire.

            Both blocks are controlled by an oligarchy, no doubt about that. But I rather see the reality of what they are playing and not being taken in by one sided propaganda that paints the one side as the good one to achieve their dreams of empire while painting the other side as the evil that has only one goal: to suppress the “free” people of an equally nasty capitalist system where the almost exponential increase of wealth and power of a small elite gets hidden behind walls of propaganda and disinformation and religion..

        • Also, what we do have is incontrovertible video evidence of the black box being taken away by the pro-Russian authorities, whilst the Ukrainians release a seemingly genuine recording of the militia saying the one thing they need to do is get the black box to give to their ‘comrades’. Since this appears to be what has ACTUALLY happened, it all seems to be rather in the hands of the Russians.

          It doesn’t help that the site has been utterly looted, and that, 4 days after the crash, not a single solitary international crash investigator has had access to the site.

          • kraut2
          • Peter

            And then there’s this by Paul Craig Roberts who was an official in the Reagan White House and an editor of the Wall Street Journal and hardly a flaming liberal bleeding heart.
            How American Propaganda Works
            .

          • kraut2

            yes, I have his site bookmarked. excellent and thoughtful analysis away from the wildly thrashing hysteria of the “presstitudes” including Der Spiegel among others.

            as an antidote, although very pro russian:

            http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca/

            a bit more about the political economy behind the conflict between Nato and Russia:
            http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-01-230714.html
            http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-01-220714.html

          • Have you ever seen John Pilger’s superb War on Democracy?

          • kraut2

            Unfortunately not.
            However, German Magazines that I had read till I emigrated to Canada very well exposed in the late seventies the motives and policies behind US involvement in South America i.e. Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, the torture schools like the School of the Americas and the CIA involvement in those countries.
            Now that the US lost much of its influence, and South America leans towards economic ties with China, Russia and India, the US in its attempt to keep the Dollar the main trading currency with all the benefits that this entails tries to prevent this from happening at all costs.
            This includes the military encirclement of China and Russia and tries to prevent a closer relationship between the EU, Russia and China, a natural partnership considering that they are all on one big continent with easy ties through pipelines, rail and road.

            This scenario and the loss of economic and political influence is a nightmare to the US, but as usual their own incompetent foreign policies seem to push the Russians, Iranians and Chinese partners closer together in a hurry, with Europe under the leadership of Merkel (who can communicate with Putin in Russian) still trying to figure out how to not alienate Russia and still somewhat accommodate the demands of the US for measures against Russia.

          • Peter

            Yes I get his newsletter. He had another good entry today. I love his term “presstitudes.” A bit of clear thinking in this screwed up world.

          • kraut2

            http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca/2014/07/the-catastrophe-of-mh17-bbc-in-search.html

            Friday, July 25, 2014

            The Catastrophe of #MH17: BBC in the Search of the “#BUK” – The Video Report Censored by BBC

            “Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov
            Note: Videos & a PDF of the Google Web-cache Have Been Preserved and Are Available Upon Request

            Preamble: Why did the BBC delete this report by Olga Ivshina? Is it
            because the BBC team was unable to find any evidence that a rocket was
            launched in the area that the Ukrainian Security Service (“SBU”) alleges
            to be the place from which the Novorossiya Militia launched a “BUK”
            missile?

            Or is it because every eyewitness interviewed by the
            BBC team specifically indicated the presence of Ukrainian military
            aircraft right beside the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH17 at the time
            that it was shot down?

            Or is it because of eyewitness accounts
            (like the one posted following the transcript of the BBC report)
            confirming that the Ukrainian air force regularly used civilian aircraft
            flying over Novorossiya as human shields to protect its military
            aircraft conducting strikes against civilian population from the
            Militia’s anti-aircraft units? ”

            and this statement, quite a contrast to the western press hysteria:

            http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca/2014/07/russian-deputy-defense-minister-anatoly.html