Ex-Russia Today Correspondent Sara Firth Quits Over Malaysia Airlines MH17 Coverage
After coverage that, allegedly, "disrespectfully" pointed fingers at the Ukrainian government for Thursday's Malaysia Airlines crash, longtime London-based correspondent Sara Firth resigned from Russia Today Friday. She wasn't quite as vocal as her colleague Abby Martin, who went rogue on a broadcast to denounce the Russian occupation of Ukraine. Particularly not Liz Wahl, who resigned live on air this year. But Firth didn't sneak out quietly, taking to Twitter to outline her grievances with the Kremlin-backed news channel.
Firth, who has been at Russia Today since 2009, explained to BuzzFeed:
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 Russia Today 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.
I couldn’t do it any more. Every single day we’re lying and finding sexier ways to do it.
Firth told Buzzfeed that she never lied during her reports, but had concerns with the airtime given to her work, and felt that somehow she was "lending credibility" to the channel's other reports.
Anna Belkina, head of communications for Russia Today, provided a statement on Firth's resignation to BuzzFeed, saying that Firth had previously talked about leaving the channel and defending the coverage.
We were not surprised by Sara Firth’s decision to leave RT after 5 years as a Moscow and London correspondent, as she has 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.