James Kirchick on Russia Today. (Photo: YouTube Screengrab)
Articulate, passionate, brave.
Any journalist would relish that description.
Those words describing journalist James Kirchick came from actor Stephen Fry.
Only thing is Kirchick wasn't wearing a journalist's hat at the time of that description. (He was actually wearing rainbow suspenders.) He was sharing his opinions on RT, the Russian television network. RT is funded by the Kremlin and serves as its English language service.
Kirchick knew what he signed up for. He'd been invited to appear on an RT panel discussion yesterday to discuss Bradley Manning's prison sentence, via videolink from Stockholm. But Kirchick showed up with a different agenda: not Manning, but Russia's new anti-gay legislation.
"I'm not really interested in talking about Bradley Manning," he said. I'm interested in talking about the horrific environment of homophobia in Russia right now."
The other panelists must have realized he was taking another tack when he began his Manning comments by alluding to American actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein.
The Russian hosts actually let him go on for a while. Then they tried to get James Kirchick back on the topic of Manning. He wouldn't stop. So after a couple of minutes, the producers shut down the video connection to Kirchick.
Dispatched from the airwaves, rainbow suspenders and all.
But he'd already made his point.
RT's editor-in-chief later went to Twitter to spin what happened: "A comrade decided to troll us on a show about Bradley Manning. Of course, we listened to him but we decided he had nothing to do with the topic."