The crisis in Crimea has been dominating headlines.
But, earlier this week, the coverage of the crisis itself became the headline when Abby Martin, a talk show host at RT, an English-language TV news network funded by the Russian government, came out on her show against the Russian government’s involvement in Crimea.
“Russia was wrong,” she said on air.
The following day, another RT anchor, Liz Wahl criticized the network’s coverage of the Crimea crisis, and abruptly quit during her newscast.
“I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth. And that is why, after this newscast, I'm resigning,” Wahl said. She said she faced ethical and moral challenges working for RT, which she accused of white-washing Putin's lies.
RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, who is Russian, responded to Wahl’s resignation and criticism in a blog post online.
"I can see very clearly why I continue to work for a channel that stands alone (!) face to face with thousands and tens of thousands of Western news outlets, showing everybody the other side of the story, under daily attacks from the media that it is hardly managing to fight back. It's my country. There is no other choice for me," wrote Simonyan.
RT began in 2005 as Russia Today. It was part of a wave of state-funded news organizations that were being created, like China’s CCTV and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera, says Ann Cooper, a Columbia School of Journalism professor. The aim was for the governments to get their messages out to the world.
In 2011, Cooper and her students did a study looking at the journalism being done by several of these state-funded all-news channels, including RT.
“What we found when it came to reporting about Russia is that it tended to be a silly feature about Russian felt puppets. It wasn’t doing serious coverage of Russia,” she says.
When they studied these channels, "it was virtually impossible to get any information on who is actually watching them," she says. "I don't have the sense that any of them are really getting an audience here."
She says we all pay attention when there's something dramatic, like an anchor quitting on-air, but she doubts any of these channels are having the intended impact.