Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

American Uses Kremlin-Financed Network to Denounce Russia’s Anti-Gay Legislation

The American journalist James Kirchick’s appearance on the Kremlin-financed news channel RT, or Russia Today, was cut short on Wednesday.

An American journalist who accepted an invitation to appear on a television channel owned by the Russian government surprised producers in Moscow on Wednesday by raising the subject of Russia’s anti-gay legislation and denouncing the network’s employees as propagandists for Vladimir Putin.

The columnist James Kirchick’s two-minute outburst â€" which began with a quote from the gay-rights activist and playwright Harvey Fierstein and the donning of rainbow-colored, “gay pride suspenders” â€" took place during live coverage of the Bradley Manning trial on the Kremlin-financed news channel RT, or Russia Today.

When the host, Yulia Shapovalova, tried to steer her guest back to the Manning trial, Mr. Kirchick said, “I’m not really interested in talking about Bradley Manning; I’m interested in talking about the horrific environment of homophobia in Russia right now, and to let the Russian gay people know that they have friends and allies, and solidarity from people all over the world, and that we’re not going to be silent in the face of this horrific repression that is perpetrated by your paymasters, by Vladimir Putin. That’s what I’m here to talk about.”

He continued: “I don’t know as a journalist how you can go to sleep at night, seeing what happens to journalists in Russia â€" who are routinely harassed, tortured and sometimes even killed by the Russian government â€" how you can call yourself a journalist and and how you can go to sleep at night, I find that abominable. You should be ashamed of yourself; everyone who works for this network should be ashamed of yourself.”

Given that guests on the network generally express support for criticism of the United States government, whoever booked Mr. Kirchick apparently failed to do much research on his politics or writings. Just three weeks ago, Mr. Kirchick, who was a fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in a column for New York’s Daily News that Private Manning had committed treason and should have been sentenced to death. Last year, in an essay for Out.com headlined “Bradley Manning is No Gay Hero,” he attacked Wikileaks, whose founder Julian Assange has hosted a talk show on RT, arguing that Private Manning’s leas had “imperiled the lives of brave human rights defenders around the world.”

In a Daily Beast post earlier this month, Mr. Kirchick also denounced Russia’s “infamous measure banning ‘non-traditional relationships propaganda,’” and called the prosecution of Pussy Riot for an anti-Putin stunt a “show trial.” The RT booker also apparently missed Mr. Kirchick’s coverage of a gay pride parade in Belgrade in 2010 and failed to scan his Wikipedia page, which notes that he is a past winner of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists’ Association Journalist of the Year Award.

Before the network’s producers dropped the satellite feed bringing Mr. Kirchick’s comments to their viewers, the English-language channel’s Irish news editor, Ivor Crotty, stressed that the network, which was set up by the Russian government’s information office, had covered the debate over the anti-gay legislation.

Last week, the channel did host a panel discussion on calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics over the new law, although the debate was moderated by a news anchor who constantly undercut criticism of the law and stressed that “Russia’s interior ministry has said there’ll be no discrimination against gay people coming to watch of even participate in the Sochi Winter Olympics.” The segment began with a representative of the Russian L.G.B.T. Sport Federation rejecting calls for a boycott.

A panel discussion of calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia on the Kremlin-financed news channel RT, or Russia Today.