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Have Bad Things to Say About Russia? Congress Wants You to Testify! No Expertise Required

Liz Wahl is a former RT news anchor who quit her job on air last year. Her only qualification to testify before House Committee on Foreign Affairs seems to be that she will tell Congress exactly what it wants to hear.

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Liz Wahl is a proud American. So proud, in fact, that she will hear nothing against the USA, even if it’s true. My country right or wrong, baby. For those who do not know Liz Wahl, she was the news anchor for RT America who quit during a live broadcast, saying she could no longer in good conscience work for a network that “smeared America”. Well, that’s one of the reasons she gave. On occasion she says it is because Russia invaded Ukraine. In fact, neither of those is true, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

She decided “arbitrarily” that March 5th would be her last day; she had wanted to quit for months, but what did it was the unconscionable way the network was whitewashing Putin’s dangerous invasion of Ukraine. So she went to the bathroom, a couple of hours before she quit, to compose some heartfelt notes – and called her good friend, Jamie Kirchik, the flaming Russophobe and longtime planner of gimmicky attacks against RT, to let him know she was about to put on a big show. She announced her resignation in an emotional speech on live TV.

In which she did not mention once, not a single time, her reason for quitting, which was – she just told you, how could you forget already – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. No, instead she blathered on about her family, glancing often at her notes as she recounted how her grandparents had escaped Hungary, fleeing before the Soviet forces in 1956. In fact, Grandpa was already in the USA for 10 years, having immigrated without his family at the close of the war. It was Grandma and some other family members who bribed the border guards and made a run for it in 1956, really stirring stuff.

Too bad, when Liz was interviewing Ron Paul, that she didn’t ask him about the 1956 Hungarian revolt. Because he would have told her it might have succeeded if it had gone the way the Hungarians were promised it would…by the United States. Radio Free Europe coaxed the Hungarians to rise up, promising them if they would only get the ball rolling, Uncle Sam would do the rest. The Hungarians believed them, and began large-scale public demonstrations on October 23rd, 1956.

Americans themselves did not learn what really happened until 1960, when Congressman Michael Feighan told a stunned audience in Buffalo, New York:

“You will recall the revolution broke out on October 23, 1956, and that by October 28, the Hungarian patriots had rid their country of the Russian oppressors. A revolutionary regime took over and there was a political hiatus for five days.

Then the State Department, allegedly concerned about the delicate feelings of [Yugoslavia’s] Communist dictator Tito, sent him the following cable assurances of our national intentions in the late afternoon of Friday, November 2, 1956: “The Government of the United States does not look with favor upon governments unfriendly to the Soviet Union on the borders of the Soviet Union” (emphasis mine).

It was no accident or misjudgment of consequences which led the imperial Russian Army to reinvade Hungary at 4:00 AM on November 4, 1956. The cabled message to Tito was the go-ahead signal to the Russians because any American schoolboy knows that Tito is Moscow’s Trojan Horse.”

Oh, Eisenhower’s government made the expected protests, and said “the heart of America goes out to the people of Hungary,” boo hoo, adding that America would “do all within our peaceful power to help them.” 

When Spanish President Francisco Franco committed to sending the Hungarians weapons, and negotiated an agreement with German chancellor Konrad Adenauer to refuel his planes there, Eisenhower applied pressure and got it canceled. Bet you didn’t know that while you were grandstanding about how lucky you were to be born in the USA, did you, Liz? Sounds like the State Department was just as clueless then as it was toward the end of the first Gulf War, when the USA urged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein, and then left them hanging while Saddam rolled over them. Betrayal gets to be a habit.

Anyway, it looks to me like the Soviet forces were “just protecting their country”, in the new-age American Foreign Policy lexicon, so that was probably all a big fuss against nothing, and Granny and her associates were western-backed (sort of, in rhetorical terms only) separatist rebels that Hungary was far better off without.

It’s fairly clear that the whole resignation thing was staged; Ms. Wahl describes how she had “reached out” to Jamie Kirchik “a few months before” when he actually appeared on RT and made a great spectacle of himself over gay rights. A subject America dropped like a hot potato as soon as the Olympics in Sochi were over, incidentally, and the issue was no longer useful to beat Russia over the head; see anyone outside lately in rainbowlederhosen, pouring vodka into the gutter? That’s right – you don’t.

Although she describes her decision to make a public show of her resignation as spontaneous, it was actually about as spontaneous as open heart surgery. She struck a deal with Kirchik when she first made contact with him, admitting she told him she was willing to “tell the truth about RT”.  She called Kirchik from the bathroom the day she resigned, and told him what she was going to do in plenty of time for him to prime other media sources for a PR coup; they were giggling like schoolboys about it on Twitter well in advance of the event.

But it’s only fair if a gal wants a little attention, isn’t it? She certainly would never have gotten it through her journalistic chops. Before her stint as a reporter on Saipan, where she covered local politics, she was an intern at several U.S. networks and freelanced local news at a station in Connecticut. When she was offered the RT job, she grabbed it because she knew if she did not, she’d probably have to “move to some Podunk town to cover rescued kittens and the Fourth of July parade.” Hardly sounds the role of a fireball reporter, what?

She did show an early nose for a great story, though, bitching about RT’s coverage of the Occupy Movement because it “made America look terrible”. As well it should. As she described it herself, “Occupy was our lead story for weeks and then months, even as the number of protesters dwindled and tents cleared out. We sucked that story completely dry…Eventually, it was accepted that a revolution was not upon us.”

I guess they did suck that story completely dry, because RT was nominated for an Emmy by the international peer community for its coverage of the Occupy Movement in America. But Liz thought they should have devoted more attention to the ill-fated “White Revolution”, in which less than .10% of the population of Moscow staged a couple of weeks of protests while the USA talked it up as if the government of the Russian Federation was about to fall. When liberal Russian celebrities Ksenya Sobchak and Alexei Kudrin took the stage, they were booed off by the Russian crowd. Alexey Navalny shouted that he had enough people to take the Kremlin, but he wasn’t quite sure enough to try it, more’s the pity. The opposition selected a “shadow government” from among its members, partly through internet voting, which held a couple of meetings, playacted at governing to see how it liked it, couldn’t stop quarreling, and disbanded. Sorry, I made it as exciting as I could. Eventually it was accepted that a revolution was not upon them.

Great instincts, Liz. I can’t understand why the New York Times isn’t beating down your door.

Putin supports dictators. Yes, I can see how that would prey upon the mind of a native of the country whose government propped up dictator Hosni Mubarak in Egypt for 30 years, during which time his own subjects tried 6 times to assassinate him, just to let him know how much they loved him. A country whose government was complicit in overthrowing the democratically-elected Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran – because he was going to nationalize Iranian oil assets, which would have been uncomfortable for the USA’s British friends – and foisted the dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the people of Iran for another 26 years. Or, more recently, backed and participated in the coup that deposed democratically-elected Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine and installed a self-appointed junta, which promptly banned opposition parties and brought to power candy king Petro Poroshenko, who has presided over the complete collapse of Ukraine while ignoring his campaign promise to divest himself of his personal business connections.

There is no evidence thus far that Russia has “invaded Ukraine”. None. Oh, Kiev sends the western media its talking points every week, and the western media dutifully reports that Russia invaded yet again, sometimes using photos of bearded cossacks from Georgia in 2008 or idling columns of Russian armor waiting on some road that is not even in Ukraine, or squeals that Russian forces are massing on the other side of the Ukrainian border – which just happens to be Russia, surely an odd place to find the Russian army. The United States Ambassador to Ukraine fires off satellite photographs from Digital Globe on Twitter, showing blurry holes in the ground which he claims were made by Russian artillery, and maybe you can tell a hole made by Russian-fired artillery from one made by Ukrainian-fired Russian artillery of the same caliber, but I’m damned if I can see how. The U.S. State Department claims to have tons of proof, but it can’t show it to the public because – sorry – it’s all classified. You should just believe them because of their track record for timely, accurate information. Ha, ha; sorry, I tried to say that without laughing, I really did, but I just couldn’t do it.  Associated Press reporter – a real reporter, Liz, take note – Matthew Lee regularly reduces State Department press conferences to comedy turns, as spokespersons run out of lies and have to just move on to another questioner.

So much for the claim that Russia invaded Ukraine as an excuse for quitting; let’s look at how RT  “smears” America. Does it? Does it really? Liz says it “makes America look bad”. By extrapolation, the allusion is that America really is doing well, while RT broadcasts a false vision of what’s happening. Let’s look.

Oh, dear; according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research, using Federal Reserve data, about half of American households will be unable to maintain their living standard in retirement. That could potentially affect about 160 million people; it sounds important.  The middle class is being wiped out as manufacturing steadily declines in the USA, and the income gap continues to widen. Nationally, the income gap between wealthiest and median-income households in the United States gained by 15.8 % over 20 years.  The proportion of the population aged 25-34 who have post-secondary education has fallen from first to sixteenth in the world, according to the OECD, because of tuition rates which have climbed up and up and up. What do you think the Occupy movement was about?

Well, thanks to the internet, we know what Liz thought. It was about “hippies who were camping out, barefoot and beating drums, [who] had jumped at the opportunity to come together in solidarity against The Man.” Those liars at RT. And the liars who nominated them for an Emmy for the coverage, which they say nobody else seemed particularly interested in supplying.  I daresay Putin would derive a great deal of satisfaction from seeing the decline in American manufacturing reverse, college admissions in the USA increase as tuition came down, and American living standards begin to climb again instead of dropping like a rock. That’d be just like him, the soulless bastard, and the slimy propaganda network that does his bidding.

So it was only natural that Liz, with her obviously comprehensive knowledge of the RT organization, should be called to testify before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The deep wellspring of experience who had to google RT two and a half years ago because she knew no more about the network than the night baker at Tim Horton Donuts does; who describes the management of RT as “all Russian guys” but does not appear to know who they are, referring to them even in Congressional testimony as “these people”.

The Committee could have summoned someone from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), who would have told them RT easily leads foreign broadcasters in the United States, with an audience more than 6.5 times as big as its next-closest competitor (Al Jazeera) at a time when FOX, MSNBC and CNN are hemorrhaging viewers. British reporter Oliver Bullough, dedicated Putin-hater, would have told them RT had passed other broadcasters in Britain in 2013 to be the third most-watched in the UK after the BBC And SKY. The BBC, incidentally, is funded entirely by the state and has been caught in lie after lie. Quoth Bullough; “RT does not lie, but it is selective about what facts it uses. Indeed, from its coverage of US politics, you might gain the impression that the only thing saving the Obama administration from collapse is police oppression of dissidents .” Bullough has nothing good to say about RT or about Putin, but he does say that RT doesn’t lie. Or the House Foreign Relations Committee could have summoned representation from the broadcast community which nominated RT for an Emmy.

But the U.S. government already knows RT is increasing viewership, and making inroads on public opinion. That’s why it has to be stopped, by whatever means necessary. At the same time America knows – and has acknowledged – that it is “losing the propaganda war". Therefore, in the interests of fair play, the appearance must be created that the USA is under attack and defending itself – hence the outlandish accusation  that Russia is “weaponizing information”, and that its insidious propaganda tentacles are everywhere. They are setting up to ban RT as a threat to national security because they can’t compete with it any other way. John Kerry mumbled something about the USA starting a news service in Russian to be aired in Russia, and thereby push the U.S. viewpoint, and I wish he would. It would get the same reception Al Hurra got in Iraq. But if you’ve got money to throw away…

Since the U.S. government has become almost exclusively an organization which solicits information only from sources it knows will tell it what it wants to hear, let me put it to you: would it be likely to want to hear from a source that will tell it it is losing its mind as it pursues ever-crazier fantasies of global economic and military domination? Or would it rather hear from Liz Wahl, who will tell it that RT is a cult of fringe nutjobs who are making up lies about the USA in order to unfairly tarnish its image?

No contest.

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